Saturday, April 25, 2009

Hisstory of science: Copernicus to get new tomb

From the excellent magazine, Touchstone, much recommended by me:

Bishop Finds Copernicus - competition for sarcophagus

The bones of a man, which later proved to be those of Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543), were found in 2005 using geo-radar scanning among the graves in front of one of 20 altars in the 14th century Frombork Cathedral. Final proof was provided last November when forensic experts made an exact DNA match between a tooth from the skull and hairs found in a 1518 book, Calendarium Romanum Magnum, which Copernicus used for many years. Jacek Jezierski, Roman Catholic auxiliary bishop from Poland’s Warmia archdiocese, who organized the search for the remains of Copernicus, said a competition would be launched to design a sarcophagus for Copernicus in time for his reburial during the cathedral’s 750th anniversary in 2010. (ENI 12/15/08)
Copernicus, who would never have endorsed it, became associated with the infamous "Copernican Principle", fronted by late twentieth century science popularizers like Carl Sagan - according to which Earth is nothing special. That is not what Copernicus was trying to do.

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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Fine tuning

I haven't been able to post recently, due to the demands of a recent freelance job, but my friend Wintery Knight advises me that this and this are useful defenses of the fine tuning of our universe. Personally, I haven't the least doubt that our universe is fine tuned, and I am hardly interested in hearing about a zillion imaginary flopped universes as an alternative explanation.

Many years ago, a missionary doctor told me that most Africans - in the nation he was proud to serve - had little use for communists or communism because the communists said there is no God - so we can do whatever we want.

The Africans generally said, "Everyone knows there is a God. Every reasonable person can see that. The world we live in shows it clearly. What people want to know is how to get in touch with him, and get help for our problems."

I think the Africans had the better of that argument.