Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Science to Science-Fiction to Silliness

New York Times article: Vatican’s Celestial Eye, Seeking Not Angels but Data, by George Johnson:

Last year, in an opening address at a conference in Rome, called “Science 400 Years After Galileo Galilei,” Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the secretary of state of the Vatican, praised the church’s old antagonist as “a man of faith who saw nature as a book written by God.” In May, as part of the International Year of Astronomy, a Jesuit cultural center in Florence conducted “a historical, philosophical and theological re-examination” of the Galileo affair. But in the effort to rehabilitate the church’s image, nothing speaks louder than a paper by a Vatican astronomer in, say, The Astrophysical Journal or The Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

While we're on the subject of outer space, let me call attention to a poem about the astronomer Tycho Brahe that my mom reintroduced to me during my Santa Fe visit: The Old Astronomer, by Sarah Williams. I suspect my first exposure to the poem might have come through Madeleine L'Engle in one of her Crosswicks journals, but I'm not sure. (Those of you with fresher memories, do you know?) The lines that resonate:

Though my soul may set in darkness,
it will rise in perfect light.
I have loved the stars too fondly
to be fearful of the night.

When we were in Santa Fe, Bede and I went out one night to look at the stars. We could see them clearly as we were far away from the city lights. Like so many others, we wished we could go out to the stars. We're convinced we're not alone in the universe, but think it's probably no mistake that we're all so far apart. Look what we do on our own planet.

Speaking of our own planet, I just picked up The Many Colored Land, by Julian May. It's a science-fiction novel published in the early 1980's about people in the future who decide to travel back in time on a one-way ticket to the Pliocene epoch in the hopes of living out the rest of their lives without being pestered. Instead, they encounter enslavement by an alien race that landed on Earth as part of their own exile. It's up to our intrepid heroes to save Earth from those dastardly aliens so they don't ruin it for the humans millions of years later.

I'm surprised that no one has yet made a television series out of this concept. I suspect that if they did, they'd change the epoch so they could fit in dinosaurs somehow a la Land of the Lost.


Lone Star Ma said...

That poem does sound familiar. And now I know why sci-fi writers always name something on the moon "Tycho Station".

I read that Julian Maye series as a teen and finished up the prequel series in college - I really enjoyed it.

Kathleen said...

A poem in praise of Tycho Brahe? Really? I think that's one of the best things I've heard all month.

tanita davis said...

Oh, THAT'S the title to that Julian May book!! D. had actually asked me about a storyline about that just a few weeks ago, and he couldn't remember who had written it, and it was close to another two or three books I'd read, so I couldn't help. THANK YOU.

Charlotte said...

I've read The Many Colored Land, and its sequels, more times than I can count--I hope you're enjoying it!