Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Truth of Science for Justice and Peace

Monsignor Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, who graduated from the Angelicum magna cum laude and is chancellor of both the Pontifical Academy of the Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of the Social Sciences, gave the keynote speech for Arizona State University (ASU)'s Consortium of Science, Policy, & Outcomes entitled "The Truth of Science for Justice and Peace" on May 18, 2010. It included many references to St. Thomas Aquinas. Here is an excerpt of the interview afterwards:

The transcript and full presentation slides:
And a commentary by the ASU philosopher Farzad Mahootian:

Other enlightening reactions to the Monsignor's speech include those of Heather Douglas, Associate Professor, Philosophy, University of Tennessee and Carl Mitcham, Professor, Liberal Arts and International Studies, Colorado School of Mines.

Heather Douglas's article quotes this by St. Bernard of Clairvoux, which the Monsignor quoted in his speech:
“There are people who only wish to know for the sake of knowing: this is base curiosity. Others wish to know in order that they themselves may be known: this is shameful vanity, and such people cannot escape the mockery of the satirical poet who said about their likes: ‘For you, knowing is nothing unless someone else knows that you know.’ Then there are those who acquire knowledge in order to re-sell it, and for example to make money or gain honours from it: their motive is distasteful. But some wish to know in order to edify: this is charity. Others in order to be edified: this is wisdom. Only those who belong to these last two categories do not misuse knowledge, since they only seek to understand in order to do good.” (Quoted on pp. 5-6, from St. Bernardus, Sermo XXXVI in Cantica, PL, CLXXXIII, 968.)

Friday, March 11, 2011

Japan Earthquake ≈ Tsar Bomba's Energy

According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS)'s energy and broadband solution of the recent earthquake near the coast of Honshu, Japan, it has radiated an estimated 3.0×10¹⁷ Joules of energy. Fat Man, the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki during World War II, was 88 TJ (88 terajoules = 8.8×10¹³ Joules). So this earthquake was about 2,000 times more energetic. The largest nuclear bomb ever detonated was the Tsar Bomba, detonated on October 30, 1961, in Russia. It released 210 petajoules = 2.1×10¹⁷ Joules of energy, roughly 70% what this Japan earthquake released.

Does one need any more proof for original sin?
Despite the vision and farseeing wisdom of our wartime heads of state, the physicists have felt the peculiarly intimate responsibility for suggesting, for supporting, and in the end, in large measure, for achieving the realization of atomic weapons. Nor can we forget that these weapons as they were in fact used dramatized so mercilessly the inhumanity and evil of modern war. In some sort of crude sense which no vulgarity, no humor, no overstatement can quite extinguish, the physicists have known sin; and this is a knowledge which they cannot lose.

—J. Robert Oppenheimer, Physics in the Contemporary World (1948) pg. 66 presents Japan One Year Later Japan One Year Later