Brian’s Links 10 August 2011: God, Science, & Ethics

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GTU trustee emerita Jane Newhall has died, at the beautiful age of 97. I received one of the GTU teaching fellowships that bear her name, and the course I designed and taught on anthropology and ethics (together with another student) with that award has been a high point of my GTU academic career. God rest her soul.

Seven immoral science experiments that could each us so much if only they weren’t so wrong. Interesting premise for a science article.

Marc Hauser, popular Harvard psychology professor involved in scientific misconduct, resigns.

The morality of the (still hypothetical) morality pill.

Patrica Churchland: Aristotelian-Humean-biological-ethicist.

Amazonian deforestation is revealing ancient human-made structures. Fascinating to discover the ruins of ancient civilizations, depressing that it has to come because of destroying the forest. The only bright side I see other than the knowledge gained of our past is that it shows that the rainforest has recovered from humans once before.

A Swedish man is apprehended trying to split atoms at home. He said it was his hobby, and he did ask (somewhat belatedly) the Swedish Radiation Authority if it was okay. It wasn’t. They arrested him. Besides being extremely unusual, this was very stupid, basically risking turning his kitchen into a nuclear waste site. He was in possession of radium, americium, and uranium.

The Onion has made it official: the nation is down to its very last few grown-ups. Luckily they’ve left us an envelope for when they are finally extinct with some money (“only for an emergency”) and instructions for how to re-light the pilot light in the water heater should it happen to go out.

Speaking of grown-ups, some of the people we might like to think of as grown-ups had a discussion on the Discovery channel Sunday night about Stephen Hawking’s show Curiosity: The Questions of Life Episode 1: Did God Create the Universe? Now I can’t say I was terribly interested in the show (there’s not much suspense for Hawking’s answer), though the discussion afterwards was interesting, consisting of atheist physicist Sean Carroll, Catholic theologian John Haught, and physicist Paul Davies who is something like a deist.  Here are the two parts of the video.

Part 1

Part 2


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