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Conservatives Love Science More!
So I've been thinking a lot about the charge that conservatives are bad because they hate science. But it's just not true. Here's a beginning of my explanation why.
We conservatives say that the middle-class college or university of the libertarians doesn’t respect science for what it is. In some immediate or obvious sense, there’s no one less productive than the theoretical physicist or mathematician, no one who cares about money less, no one who has less respect for the descriptive pretensions of the libertarian economist. We conservatives, no strangers to popular culture, love and respect the incisively witty portrayal of Sheldon Cooper on TV's The Big Bang Theory. The caricature Sheldon highlights in neon letters something true and good about being human.
For the young, natural-scientist Socrates (not to mention the more mature conversational Socrates), the economist is nothing but a sophist. Sophists know some useful stuff, and so they often deserve the money they command. But they know a lot less than they think they do, which is why their theory of education reduces each of us to less than who we really are. The biggest threat to higher education in America today is the sophist—the expert.
But we conservatives also think physicists know a lot less than they think they do. As Walker Percy observes, the physicist might well understand everything but himself. His mind might well be at home in the cosmos, but the trouble is he's more than a mind.
Sheldon is also more than a body or some combination of mind and body. The real mind-body problem is that the persons for whom it is a problem are neither minds mor bodies.
So Sheldon Cooper mistakenly understands himself as a mind trapped in an alien body. As long as he can't get over thinking and feeling that way, he'll think he was made to love string theory and not his girlfriend Amy, quite "the piece of work," a unique and irreplaceable person.
Physicists these days often become “new atheists” because they can find no room for persons—including a personal God—in the cosmos they can impersonally or deterministically comprehend. But that's because they've made the mistake of forgetting to wonder whether there's even room for themselves.
As Tocqueville says, there’s nothing more strange and wonderful and genuinely mysterious than the being who truthfully understands himself to be caught for a moment between two abysses. More wonderful than what the physicist can know through his science is the physicist—the real person—himself. We wonder not because we’re minds, but because we’re whole persons. Our eros and willfulness, our fears and our anxieties and our singular pride, animate our minds. As our philosopher-pope Benedict reminded us, logos is personal, as far as we know it can only be found in persons.
The young natural-scientist Socrates, many physicists have forgotten, changed his “method” because he saw there was truth in the poetic criticism of his self-forgetfulness. His new method was the dialectical or conversational inquiry into who we are as beings in particular places facing predicaments unknown to the other animals or, of course, the stars. Once he changed the focus of the wonder, he knew that he no longer could claim to know enough to live in atheistic certainty. He even knew that he didn’t know enough to develop a comprehensive theory of education that corresponding to the whole truth about who each of us is.
So for us conservatives liberal education or the highest part of education is the search for who we are as more than technological or deterministic beings. We begin with the thought that a determined being couldn’t be a technological one. The determined beings—the other animals who live by instinct alone and so are perfectly content with the lives they’ve been given by nature—don’t use their freedom to change—to impose their (free?) wills on—nature.
We add that we can’t pretend to be indifferent to and be ignorant—or at least wholly ignorant—about what our freedom is for. We know we’re not only free but relational and truthful beings, and we can’t live either authentically or happily in “relativistic” denial of what we can’t help but know.
This storm rained electrons, shifted energy from the sun's rays to the magnetosphere, and went unnoticed for a long time.
- An international team of scientists has confirmed the existence of a "space hurricane" seven years ago.
- The storm formed in the magnetosphere above the North magnetic pole.
- The storm posed to risk to life on Earth, though it might have interfered with some electronics.
What do you call that kind of storm when it forms over the Arctic ocean?<iframe width="730" height="430" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/8GqnzBJkWcw" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe><p> Many objects in space, like Earth, the Sun, most of the planets, and even some large moons, have magnetic fields. The area around these objects which is affected by these fields is known as the magnetosphere.</p><p>For us Earthlings, the magnetosphere is what protects us from the most intense cosmic radiation and keeps the solar wind from affecting our atmosphere. When charged particles interact with it, we see the aurora. Its fluctuations lead to changes in what is known as "space weather," which can impact electronics. </p><p>This "space hurricane," as the scientists are calling it, was formed by the interactions between Earth's magnetosphere and the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interplanetary_magnetic_field" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">interplanetary magnetic field,</a> the part of the sun's magnetosphere that goes out into the solar system. It took on the familiar shape of a cyclone as it followed magnetic fields. For example, the study's authors note that the numerous arms traced out the "footprints of the reconnected magnetic field lines." It rotated counter-clockwise with a speed of nearly 7,000 feet per second. The eye, of course, was still and <a href="https://www.sciencealert.com/for-the-first-time-a-plasma-hurricane-has-been-detected-in-space" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">calm</a>.</p><p>The storm, which was invisible to the naked eye, rained electrons and shifted energy from space into the ionosphere. It seems as though such a thing can only form under calm situations when large amounts of energy are moving between the solar wind and the upper <a href="https://www.reading.ac.uk/news-and-events/releases/PR854520.aspx" target="_blank">atmosphere</a>. These conditions were modeled by the scientists using 3-D <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-021-21459-y#Sec10" target="_blank">imaging</a>.<br><br>Co-author Larry Lyons of UCLA explained the process of putting the data together to form the models to <a href="https://www.nbcnews.com/science/space/space-hurricane-rained-electrons-observed-first-time-rcna328" target="_blank">NBC</a>:<br><br>"We had various instruments measuring various things at different times, so it wasn't like we took a big picture and could see it. The really fun thing about this type of work is that we had to piece together bits of information and put together the whole picture."<br><br>He further mentioned that these findings were completely unexpected and that nobody that even theorized a thing like this could exist. <br></p><p>While this storm wasn't a threat to any life on Earth, a storm like this could have noticeable effects on space weather. This study suggests that this could have several effects, including "increased satellite drag, disturbances in High Frequency (HF) radio communications, and increased errors in over-the-horizon radar location, satellite navigation, and communication systems."</p><p>The authors <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-021-21459-y#Sec8" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">speculate</a> that these "space hurricanes" could also exist in the magnetospheres of other planets.</p><p>Lead author Professor Qing-He Zhang of Shandong University discussed how these findings will influence our understanding of the magnetosphere and its changes with <a href="https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2021-03/uor-sho030221.php" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">EurekaAlert</a>:</p><p>"This study suggests that there are still existing local intense geomagnetic disturbance and energy depositions which is comparable to that during super storms. This will update our understanding of the solar wind-magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling process under extremely quiet geomagnetic conditions."</p>
Research reveals a new evolutionary feature that separates humans from other primates.
- Researchers find a new feature of human evolution.
- Humans have evolved to use less water per day than other primates.
- The nose is one of the factors that allows humans to be water efficient.
A model of water turnover for humans and chimpanzees who have similar fat free mass and body water pools.
Credit: Current Biology
Being skeptical isn't just about being contrarian. It's about asking the right questions of ourselves and others to gain understanding.
- It's not always easy to tell the difference between objective truth and what we believe to be true. Separating facts from opinions, according to skeptic Michael Shermer, theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss, and others, requires research, self-reflection, and time.
- Recognizing your own biases and those of others, avoiding echo chambers, actively seeking out opposing voices, and asking smart, testable questions are a few of the ways that skepticism can be a useful tool for learning and growth.
- As Derren Brown points out, being "skeptical of skepticism" can also lead to interesting revelations and teach us new things about ourselves and our psychology.