Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Our Amazing Sun

Did you know that "The sun lies at the heart of the solar system, where it is by far the largest object. It holds 99.8% of the solar system's mass and is roughly 109 times the diameter of the Earth — about one million Earths could fit inside the sun.

The surface of the sun is about 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit (5,500 degrees Celsius) hot, while temperatures in the core reach more than 27 million F (15 million C), driven by nuclear reactions. One would need to explode 100 billion tons of dynamite every second to match the energy produced by the sun, according to NASA.

The sun is one of more than 100 billion stars in the Milky Way. It orbits some 25,000 light-years from the galactic core, completing a revolution once every 250 million years or so. The sun is relatively young, part of a generation of stars known as Population I, which are relatively rich in elements heavier than helium. An older generation of stars is called Population II, and an earlier generation of Population III may have existed, although no members of this generation are known yet.

Read more here.

Friday, May 19, 2023

Dinosaurs on Noah's Ark?


Join us at the next CWiS Live! this Sunday, May 21 at 5:30 pm ET / 2:30 pm PT and/or on Tuesday, May 23 at 7:30 pm ET / 4:30 pm PT.

You are invited to attend "Writing as a Christian Woman in Science: personal experience from Baby Dinosaurs on the Ark with Janet Kellogg Ray." We will be listening to Janet talk about her recent book, Baby Dinosaurs on the Ark?: The Bible and Modern Science and the Trouble of Making It All Fit. She will share her personal story as a Christian Woman in Science and discuss the book publishing process as a professional writer in science and faith. This will be an enlightening time for those interested in the science and faith dialogue, as well as those interested in publishing their own work one day.

Janet is the author of Baby Dinosaurs on the Ark? The Bible and Modern Science, and the Trouble of Making It All Fit, A Study Guide for Baby Dinosaurs on the Ark, and releasing in October, The God of Monkey Science: People of Faith in a Modern Scientific World.

Join Zoom Meeting on May 21 or 23:


Check out this book review by CWiS member, Kristine Johnson.

Friday, April 28, 2023

Male Sea Lions Rebounding

California sea lions have managed to maintain -- and, in the case of males, increase -- their average body size as their population grows and competition for food becomes fiercer. This is in contrast to other marine mammals, whose average body size tends to decrease as their numbers increase. Researchers report that sexual selection was a strong driving force for males to grow bigger and to strengthen muscles in their neck and jaw that help them fight for mates. Both male and female sea lions evaded food shortages by diversifying their diets and, in some cases, foraging further from the shore.

To explore how California sea lion ecology has changed as their population has grown, the researchers analyzed museum specimens of adult male and female California sea lions collected in central and northern California between 1962 and 2008. To estimate changes in body size, they compared the overall size of more than 300 sea lion skulls collected over the years. They also measured other skull features, such as the size of muscle attachment points, which allowed them to assess changes in sea lion neck flexibility and biting force.

Read more here.

Friday, March 31, 2023

Women Excel in STEM

A medieval transcription of Euclid's Elements featuring a woman teaching geometry.

Science has the power to expand our horizons and helps us to see how great God is…Our response to what we see in the world is rational, emotional and active: worship as well as systematic theology. - Ruth Bancewicz

From Presidents and CEOs of organizations, to researchers, science writers, and journalists, Christian women in STEM are leaders in their fields and paving the way for others to follow. As Women’s History Month draws to a close, we highlight the work of ten Christian women in various STEM fields, including astrophysics, engineering, biology, and climate science. We also include science communicators who are doing the important work of sharing science with lay Christian audiences through writing and journalism. Of course this is not an all inclusive list of Christian women in STEM. There are countless others throughout history who have pioneered and unlocked discoveries in their fields. And there are many more contemporary Christian women in STEM fields like Mary Schweitzer who found the first evidence of soft tissue in a 68-million year dinosaur bone, Carol Hill whose research gave us a better understanding of the age and origin of the Grand Canyon, and Katherine Johnson, a NASA mathematician whose work helped send Apollo to the Moon.

Christian women are also leading important conversations on the intersection of faith and science, which has traditionally been dominated by white male voices. Faith and science organizations like the American Scientific Affiliation (ASA) was previously led by rocket scientist Leslie Wickman, the Dialogue on Science, Ethics and Society (DoSER) program has been led by astrophysicist Jennifer Wiseman, and BioLogos is currently led by astronomer Deb Haarsma. Christian sociologist Elaine Howard Ecklund has dedicated her career to understanding how scientists and religious people perceive each other, helping combat misconceptions and bridge the communication gap between faith and science communities on important topics like Climate Change, COVID-19, and evolution.

Despite numerous role-models, Christian women still remain underrepresented in STEM, and the numbers are even starker for Christian women of color. Being a woman in STEM comes with its own set of challenges, but there are also challenges that are unique to Christian women. In an interview with BioLogos, Loryn Phillips, a graduate student in biology and member of the Christian Women in Science (CWiS) leadership board shared: “On top of the challenges that already come with being a woman in science, Christian women in science carry additional burdens. We don’t want to lose the respect of our colleagues or jeopardize our careers because we identify as Christian, especially when we desire to be public and vocal about sharing God’s majesty in our work with others.” Sadly even in the Church, Loryn shared that Christian women in science face the challenge of, “feeling ashamed or not feeling safe to discuss their research for fear of ridicule or judgment, and feeling alone.” There is still work to be done, but thankfully there isn’t a shortage of Christian women role-models in STEM for the next generation of women and girls to look up to and see themselves represented.

Read more here: 10 Christian Women to Know: STEM Edition - Post - BioLogosSister Mary Celine Fasenmyer; Sister Mary Gervase; Agnes Giberne: A Lover of Science; Christian Women in Science, Technology and Engineering

Monday, February 13, 2023

Pangaea, Rodinia, Columbia, and Kenorland


Scientists theorize that supercontinents have formed in cycles throughout Earth's history. Pangaea was the most recent one, and it broke up approximately 200 million years ago. Some scientists believe we are in the middle of the formation of a new supercontinent that will include the mountains formerly known as the Mediterranean Sea

This should not create anxiety. The movement of Earth's plates is very slow. It will be another 50 million years before the Mediterranean Sea disappears as the African Plate and the Eurasian plate join.

The Pangaea supercontinent existed during the late Paleozoic and early Mesozoic eras. Pangaea is the most recent supercontinent to have existed and the first to be reconstructed by geologists.

Rodinia (Russian родина, meaning "motherland" or "birthplace") was a Neoproterozoic supercontinent that assembled 1.1–0.9 billion years ago and broke up 750–633 million years ago. Rodinia's continental fragments reassembled to form Pannotia 633–573 million years ago (shown below). 

Pannotia was named by Powell (1995, University of Western Australia) based on the term "Pannotios" proposed by Stump in 1987 for "the cycle of tectonic activity common to the Gondwana continents that resulted in the formation of the supercontinent."

Another of Earth's supercontinents is called Columbia (Nuna or Hudsonland) and is thought to have existed approximately 2,500 to 1,500 million years ago in the Paleoproterozoic Era (from 2,500 to 1,600 million years ago). Zhao et al. 2002 proposed that the assembly of the supercontinent Columbia was completed by global-scale collisional events during 2.1–1.8 billion years ago. Other sources give 1,820–1,350 million years ago.

Columbia consisted of proto cratons that made up the cores of the continents of Laurentia, Baltica, Ukrainian Shield, Amazonian Shield, Australia, and possibly Siberia, North China, and Kalaharia as well.

Kenorland was one of the earliest known supercontinents on Earth. It is thought to have formed during the Neoarchaean Era c. 2.72 billion years ago by the accretion of Neoarchaean cratons and the formation of new continental crust.

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

2023 "Year of Open Science"

In a time when many distrust Science or feel that their input is neglected, NASA proposes a corrective.

NASA has declared 2023 as the Year of Open Science to celebrate the benefits and successes of open science and to inspire more scientists to adopt open science practices. NASA's Year of Open Science is part of the five-year Transform to Open Science (TOPS) mission and the Open Source Science Initiative (OSSI). TOPS is an ambitious plan to accelerate open science practices and major scientific discoveries by increasing understanding and adoption of open science practices and broadening participation by historically excluded communities. 

In 2023, TOPS will release an introductory open science curriculum, engage with historically underrepresented groups, and develop incentives for open science practices. 

The success of the Year of Open Science will be driven by collaborations with individuals, teams, and organizations who are ready to transform the culture of scientific research into one that celebrates openness and inclusion.

Strategic Objectives

Open Science creates more advanced and inclusive research faster, builds a more just and equitable world, and ensures that minds from all walks of life can participate in science. TOPS is NASA’s ambitious plan to accelerate open science practices. It’s a 5-year journey that will: 

Accelerate major scientific discoveries.

Broaden participation by historically excluded communities.

Increase understanding and adoption of open science principles and techniques.

Open Science will broaden participation, increase accessibility to knowledge, and embrace new technologies that can respond to these changes at scale. 

If your organization wishes to create an open science infrastructure, TOPS will show you how.

Monday, January 30, 2023

Dr. Judith Curry Deserves a Fair Hearing


Dr. Judith Curry is a true climatologist. She once headed the department of earth and atmospheric sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology, until she gave up on the academy so that she could express herself independently. She once told a journalist, “Independence of mind and climatology have become incompatible.”

She added, "Climatology has become a political party with totalitarian tendencies,” she charges. “If you don’t support the UN consensus on human-caused global warming, if you express the slightest skepticism, you are a ‘climate-change denier,’ a stooge of Donald Trump, a quasi-fascist who must be banned from the scientific community.”

The climate models used by scientists working for the United Nations cannot explain why the climate suddenly cooled between 1950 and 1970, giving rise to widespread warnings about the onset of a new ice age.

Curry notes that between 1910 and 1940, the planet warmed during a climatic episode that resembles our own, down to the degree. The warming cannot be blamed on CO2 emissions because the carbon-dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels were relatively small in those years. Curry says, “almost half of the warming observed in the twentieth century came about in the first half of the century, before carbon-dioxide emissions became large.”

Speaking of climate changes, she points to natural factors, of which there are many. These factors reveal far greater complexity than is generally acknowledged by global warming alarmists.

The following organizations are in agreement that climate changes: the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the National Academies of more than 30 other countries, the American Association for the advancement of science (AAAS), the American Meteorological Society (AMS), The American Institute of Physics (AIP), The Geological Society of America (GSA), The American Physical Society (APS), and the American Geophysical Union (AGU).

However, among the scientists in these organizations there is a range of positions as to which factors contribute most to warming. All tend to agree that solar radiance and Earth-Sun geometry are very significant. Yet we hear about this less than we hear about the danger of CO2 emissions from fossil fuel energy sources.

Earth's climate varies from region to region and from age to age. Therefore, it is misleading to speak of "climate change". Instead, we should speak of "climate changes" over vast periods of time. The Pleistocene glacial epoch (2,600,000-11,700 years ago) saw substantial variations in the extent of glaciers and ice sheets. These variations were driven by changes in the distribution of solar radiation across Earth’s surface. The insolation pattern is strongly affected by the geometry of Earth’s orbit around the Sun and by the orientation, or tilt, of Earth’s axis relative to the direct rays of the Sun.

Worldwide, the most recent glacial period, or ice age, culminated about 21,000 years ago in what is called the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). During this time, continental ice sheets extended well into the middle latitude regions of Europe and North America, reaching as far south as present-day London and New York City. Global annual mean temperature appears to have been about 4–5 °C (7–9 °F) colder than in the mid-20th century.

The Sahara was once wet, and with on-going reforestation projects and changes in monsoons, it will likely be wet again.

The Botswanan basin in southern Africa was once a sea, filled by water from the Angolan Highlands. Thousands of stoneage tools have been found there. 

At its peak, Mega Lake Chad covered more than 400,000 square kilometers (150,000 square miles), making it the largest lake on Earth today.

Researchers identified two distinct environments at the South Pole at the close of the Permian Period. There was a warm rainforest with tree-ferns, palm trees, and baobab trees at the lower elevations, and a cooler mountainous region dominated by beech trees and conifers.

NASA bases climate change on a 136-year record. According to NASA, 16 of the 17 warmest years in the 136-year record all have occurred since 2001, with the exception of 1998. What happened to make 1998 different? This marked the completion of Earth's axial precession, a cycle of about 25,800 years (Earth's Great Year). Obviously, we have no climate records going back that far.

In the cycle of Earth’s Great Year, the line off the North Pole axis (extending toward Polaris) scribes a complete circle in the heavens about every 25,800 years. A complete cycle takes between 25,000 and 28,000 years, depending on the amount of Earth's wobble. One cycle is Earth’s Great Year. Climate and atmospheric changes appear to become more acute toward the end and beginning of a new year.

Judith Curry is not alone in her consideration of natural causes. In June 2013, Dr. Roy W. Spencer wrote, "Hundreds of millions of dollars that have gone into the expensive climate modelling enterprise has all but destroyed governmental funding of research into natural sources of climate change. For years the modelers have maintained that there is no such thing as natural climate change…yet they now, ironically, have to invoke natural climate forces to explain why surface warming has essentially stopped in the last 15 years!"