Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Pope's stargazers teach tomorrow's astronomers

I thought this was pretty neat:

"For the past 20 years, the Vatican Observatory, one of the world's oldest astronomical institutes, has selected young, promising scholars for courses at the papal summer palace. "The Vatican wants to show its appreciation for science," said Father Chris Corbally, a soft-spoken Jesuit from Britain who is the observatory's vice-director and dean of its international summer school. "Science is an important value in human life and therefore it is important to the Catholic Church," he said on the palace terrace during a break in classes. Popes have been intertwined with astronomy for centuries.

Father Emmanuel Carreira, a Jesuit who taught physics for decades in the United States and his native Spain, is a link between the old and the new worlds. He shows a visitor the giant telescope -- built in 1935 but still going strong -- with the pride of someone showing off a vintage pre-war Rolls Royce that no-one would ever dream of equipping with an on-board computer. "

Ignoring the jabs at the Church about Galileo- who was condemned not because of his Copernican beliefs, but beacause he used these to call into questions certain theological dogmas, such as transubstination- this article is pretty neat!

Ok, I can't ignore...If he hadn't tried to mix his science with theology, he wouldn't have had any problems. The main belief at the time was the Ptolemaic school of thought, and it wasn't just Galileo who would have been ridiculed a bit for the idea of heliocentrism (which had been around since Aristotle), but Johannes Kepler at the University of Tübingen (a protestant uni.) was condemned by Tübingen this belief. It wasn't until Galileo began pushing the theology along with heliocentrism that he got in trouble.

If you want to read more about him, here is a good place to begin.

Anyway, I'd like to find out more about the Observatory. I wonder if they have published any pictures they have taken? That would be awsome! I also wonder what the reactions of the students learning there are; they are being taught by a bunch of Jesuits to boot, that's not even fair!!! I would love that!


At 2:21 PM, Anonymous Marty Helgesen said...

You might want to look for the book Brother Astronomer : Adventures of a Vatican Scientist by Guy Consolmagno, S.J. The author was an astronomer before he became a Jesuit brother. For a introduction see, http://www.astrobio.net/news/article966.html
(I haven't read the book yet, but I've heard about it.)

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