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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Intelligent design and popular culture: NASA people can say the most surprising things ...

Here, for example, from Science Question of the Week from the Goddard Space Flight Center, on the position of the North Star, ever the friend of mariners:
Polaris or the North Star is nearly directly above the North Pole (it's actually about 1 degree away from the celestial pole). You might think that with all of the stars in the sky, it shouldn't be that unusual for a given star to rest above the pole, but really, it's an extremely unlikely occurrence. It's even more unlikely that our pole star would be relatively bright - second order magnitude. If you divided the night sky into squares that are one degree latitude by one degree longitude in size, there would be 41,253 square degrees in our night sky. There are approximately 2,000 stars that we can see on the clearest night, and perhaps 6,000 different stars are visible to us throughout the year, but only 50 of these are as bright or brighter than Polaris. The chances of a star like Polaris occupying a place over the pole are about slim indeed - about 1 in 1,000. Nevertheless, Polaris defies the odds and has become our guiding light.


We are told that Polaris will shove off in a couple of centuries, and not come b ack for 20 000 years:
Polaris and the Sun are now about as close to each other as they'll ever get. Alas,all good things must come to an end, and in a few centuries, Polaris will drift away from it's current heralded post to a location carrying much less esteem, somewhere to the south of where it is now. If it's any consolation, Polaris will return to the pole again but not for another 20,000 thousand years.

Well, in the meantime, we will have to make do with the Global Positioning Satellite.

Maybe I should revisit Guillermo Gonzalez's "Privileged Planet" hypothesis. Wait! Isn't he the one they're trying to get rid of at Iowa State? Maybe the guy talks too much ...

It makes me want to revisit Guillermo Gonzalez's "Privileged Planet" thesis.

My other blog is the Mindful Hack, which keeps tabs on neuroscience and the mind.

If you like this blog, check out my book on the intelligent design controversy, By Design or by Chance?. You can read excerpts as well.

Are you looking for one of the following stories?

Animations of life inside the cell, indexed, for your convenience.

Anti-God crusade ... no, really! My recent series on the spate of anti-God books, teen blasphemy challenge, et cetera, and the mounting anxiety of materialist atheists that lies behind it.

Catholic Church A summary of the Catholic Church's entry into the controversy, essentially on the side of ID.

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