Thursday, December 26, 2013

Seven Year Old Future Astronomer


My name is Bronwen. I am seven years old. I am a girl. I would like to be a Space Scientist when I grow up. I am interested in this because I am in love with science! I love science because it is very interesting and awesome. I would like to explore outer space so I can discover and name some planets.  I wonder how many planets are not named yet. I bet 100’000’000’000! Well, probably more.

I would like to learn how fast the earth moves. I want to learn if oxygen can be made in space. I know that the universe is super large and that it is still expanding like a balloon that you blow up.

Another reason that I think it is important to study space is because we can learn about the history of the universe.

My family loves science too. We read science books, watch science shows, and even tell science stories. I was talking about this report earlier to my family and they told me I should write this down.

I hope that some girls my age will read this and get interested in science.

Bronwen Todd

Friday, December 20, 2013

Good Science Blogs

Alice C. Linsley

I have been a blogger for eight years and I maintain six active blogs. I also serve as "blog mistress" for two other blogs. Obviously, blogging is a communication medium that I enjoy and appreciate for its versatility and potential to inform beyond my classroom.

What follows is a list of blogs organized alphabetically by the branch of science. I have not listed the science blogs maintained by mainstream media or science magazines as these are easy to find. This list will take the reader to lesser known blogs that deserve more traffic.

Some of the blogs listed are maintained by Christians. These are designated by † before the link. Christians in the sciences often offer a different perspective and sometimes their findings are not given much attention. I encourage readers to visit the sites in their field of interest and to participate in the discussions.

  †  Biblical Anthropology
  †  God is in the Details (Ingie Hovland)
      John Hawks' Weblog (Paleoanthropology)
  †  Just Genesis
  †  Yam Suph (Susan Burns)

     Bad Archaeology (Keith Fitzpatrick Matthews)
     Elfshot: Stick and Stones (Tim Rast)
     Middle Savagery  (Colleen Morgan)
     Biblical Archaeology (Rob Bradshaw)

    Astrobog (Ian Musgrave)
    Tom's Astronomy Blog
    .py in the sky (Thomas Robitaille)
†  Star Stryder (Dr. Pamela L. Gay)

†   An Evangelical Dialogue on Evolution (Steve Martin)
     The Biology Blog
     The Sea Blog (Marine Biology)
 †  BioLogos Blog

     ChemBark (Dr. Paul Bracher)
     The Sceptical Chymist
 †  Daily Reactions of a Chemist (Dr. Amanda Nichols)
     Chemistry World Blog

  †  Naturalis Historia
  †  The GeoChristian
     Clastic Detritus (Brian Romans)

     Bits of Language (Adrien Barbaresi)
 †  Sunshine Mary
     The Seuren Blog (Pieter Seuren)

  †  Christena Cleveland (Social Psychology)
  †  Society of Christian Psychology
  †  Musings of a Christian Psychologist (Phil Monroe)
     Evolutionary Psychiatry (Emily Deans)

     Quantum Diaries
     Antimatter (Cormac O’Rafferty)
     Nanoscale Views (Douglas Natelson)
     The Reference Frame (LuboŇ° Motl Pilsen)

  †  Science and Belief (Ruth Bancewicz)
  †  Rachel Held Evans
  †  Reasons to Believe
  †  Old Earth Creationism Homeschool
  †  Krista Bontrager's Blog
  †  Proslogion (Dr. Jay L. Wile)

STEM (General Interest)
AWIS Blog: Championing the interests of women in STEM

If you know of other blogs of interest to Christians in the sciences, please let me know.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A Quaker Astronomer Reflects

Dr Ruth Bancewicz

As a young child I detected the cosmic microwave background – the radiation left over from the Big Bang. That doesn’t mean I was a child prodigy, it just shows that we had an old fashioned dial TV. About 10% of the static in between channels is caused by the remnants of that first explosion. I am staggered that even a five year old can detect the whisper of the universe’s origins.

The Astronomer Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell shared this fact during her presentation at the Wesley Methodist church as part of their Science Meets Faith lecture series this month. It was a fascinating talk, and she was very honest about her own faith and how her science had affected her beliefs.

In the beginning, said Bell Burnell, all of space, matter and energy was contained in a space smaller than a grain of sand. Then time began with bang, and space unfurled like a new leaf from its bud. As space expanded and the radiation from the big bang cooled, energy converted into mass and particles formed. After millions of years, those particles came together and began to form stars: immense flaming balls of gas fuelled by nuclear fusion reactions.

The first stars were made of hydrogen and helium, and when they had burnt themselves out they exploded, scattering their waste products across the universe. Those waste products included new elements, and when our own third generation star was formed there was enough carbon, oxygen and other elements around it to form rocky planets like Earth, and for life to develop.

These vast timescales always send my mind reeling. Bell Burnell said there is a sense of awe when she does Astronomy but you can’t think about the vast size and history of the Universe all the time, or you wouldn’t be able to function normally!

Astronomers noticed a long time ago that the Universe is still expanding. What they found more recently is that is the very distant galaxies are now much further away than expected. The expansion of Space is speeding up, and no one is quite sure why. When the galaxies eventually accelerate away from each other faster than the speed of light, everything outside of our galaxy will be invisible. So in a few billion years, we will appear to be alone in the universe.

This is a pretty bleak picture, and it gets bleaker when you realise that eventually all the hydrogen will be used up, having been converted to other elements, and no new stars will be able to form. There will only be black holes left. The long-term prospects for humanity are poor. The short-term prospects are also poor if you step outside a space ship without the right protective gear! The Universe is – outside of the thin atmosphere of our own planet – a deadly place.

So where is hope? Jocelyn is a Quaker, and it was interesting to hear how she made sense of this scenario. I didn’t agree with everything she said, but it was good to hear someone taking the history of the universe seriously when thinking about God’s character. She said that God either isn’t able or chooses not to be in day-to-day control of the world, but being present before God in worship is an encounter ‘beyond words’ that puts things in perspective.

I am unwilling to share more of what Bell Burnell said about her faith, partly because her lecture was not recorded and made publicly available, and partly because she made a point of saying that her thinking is still evolving. She did use a number of poems to explain her feelings, and I think this one by Michael Leunig reflects the tone of what she said very well.

Love is born with a dark and troubled face
When hope is dead
And in the most unlikely place
Love is born:
Love is always born

(Reproduced with the author's permission.)

Sunday, December 8, 2013

CWIS Connections and Happenings

Workshop on Public Speaking
The Southern California ASA chapter is hosting an all-day workshop on science and faith topics at the January 25 Winter Conference at Azusa Pacific University.  At the request of CWIS , Dr. Monica Ganas of APU's Film, Theater and Television has offered to do a workshop on public speaking!  We know most of you can’t get there, so we plan to record this and make it available to CWIS members.

The CWIS Blog
We are up to 22 blog posts now, with inspiring information on CWIS topics, and now all indexed by Alice Linsley, our blog mistress. Check out the INDEX here. Perhaps reading the INDEX will give you ideas for articles you might like to write. Write what’s on your heart about being a Christian woman in science. You can be published where other women who share many of the same concerns can read your work. Send your articles to Alice at

CWIS on Facebook
We now have a CWIS Facebook page, courtesy of Kristen Tolson on our Board!  Check us out and like us today!

The CWIS Website
We continue to add content and refine the CWIS website, which is a part of the ASA website.  Since we are changing it often, we put “under construction” on everything.  Be patient with us; we are all volunteers and not professional website designers, and have no money for hiring help.  Nonetheless, we are making progress. Check it out, and send any comments or suggestions to Lynn at 

Attention! Students and Early Career Women in STEM

Opportunities for Students/Early Career CWIS Members

Faith Tucker, the Board member focusing on students and early career members, describes our special focus on students and early career women at :

We are working on several special opportunities for this group.  If you are a student or early career scientist interested in getting involved, or an established scientist willing to serve as a resource, email Faith at
  • CWIS Mentorship Program pairing students and early-career scientists with established Christian women in their discipline
  • Role Model Stories on the blog profiling the women of CWIS who blazed the trail before us
  • Virtual (and hopefully at times physical) community and support of other women in the same stage of their schooling or career
  • A platform to request answers to specific questions regarding school, research, career, family, faith, or anything else
  • And more!
Give us some feedback and help us connect with Christian women preparing to enter careers in science and technology and young career women now working in STEM.

CWIS Call for Abstracts

The 2014 annual meeting (July 25-28, near Toronto, ON) has a special symposium for Christian Women in Science.  This is our “coming out,” so to speak, in the broader ASA community, and we need you to help make this a strong session.  Our intention is to raise awareness of gender issues and their intersection with Christian faith and science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) through high quality research that contributes to our understanding and actions.  Some ideas to stimulate your interest:

·        What issues impact the retention of female students in STEM fields and their persistence in professional work?
·        What are the barriers to success faced by females in STEM fields and how do they differ from those faced by males?
·        What is the Biblical and/or theological rationale for the appropriateness of female participation in STEM careers?
·        What does psychological research say about gender differences and their impact on Christian female participation in STEM disciplines?

The deadline for abstract submission is Feb. 14, 2014 through the ASA website. Details provided here.

Contact Gayle Ermer ( with questions. She is the Christian Women in Engineering and Science Symposium Chair and serves on the CWIS Board.

Also, we are planning a social event and/or fellowship time for members during the conference. If you have any ideas for the format or timing of this event, contact Gayle at the email above.