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Skeptic Summary #317

By The Staff
Posted on: 1/29/2011

Petitioners, pro-lifers, blamers, Hubble and more!

Week ending January 29, 2011 (Vol 8, #5)

Welcome to the Skeptic Summary, a quick week-in-review guide to the Skeptic Friends Network and the rest of the skeptical world.

Forum Highlights:
Petition to remove YEC groups from Google Scholar - Google has its own web-indexing view on what is “scholarly.”

So-called ‘pro-lifers’ at it again - What is moral is in the eye of the beholder.

Wretched Radio blames the victims? - Yeah, everyone’s a sinner.

Kil’s Evil Pick:
HUBBLESITE — This site is about all things Hubble. The Hubble Space Telescope that is:
Since the earliest days of astronomy, since the time of Galileo, astronomers have shared a single goal — to see more, see farther, see deeper.

The Hubble Space Telescope’s launch in 1990 sped humanity to one of its greatest advances in that journey. Hubble is a telescope that orbits Earth. Its position above the atmosphere, which distorts and blocks the light that reaches our planet, gives it a view of the universe that typically far surpasses that of ground-based telescopes.

Hubble is one of NASA’s most successful and long-lasting science missions. It has beamed hundreds of thousands of images back to Earth, shedding light on many of the great mysteries of astronomy. Its gaze has helped determine the age of the universe, the identity of quasars, and the existence of dark energy.


Hubble’s discoveries have transformed the way scientists look at the universe. Its ability to show the universe in unprecedented detail has turned astronomical conjectures into concrete certainties. It has winnowed down the collection of theories about the universe even as it sparked new ones, clarifying the path for future astronomers.

Among its many discoveries, Hubble has revealed the age of the universe to be about 13 to 14 billion years, much more accurate than the old range of anywhere from 10 to 20 billion years. Hubble played a key role in the discovery of dark energy, a mysterious force that causes the expansion of the universe to accelerate.

Hubble has shown scientists galaxies in all stages of evolution, including toddler galaxies that were around when the universe was still young, helping them understand how galaxies form. It found protoplanetary disks, clumps of gas and dust around young stars that likely function as birthing grounds for new planets. It discovered that gamma-ray bursts — strange, incredibly powerful explosions of energy — occur in far-distant galaxies when massive stars collapse. And these are only a handful of its many contributions to astronomy.

The sheer amount of astronomy based on Hubble observations has also helped make it one of history’s most important observatories. More than 6,000 scientific articles have been published based on Hubble data. The policies that govern the telescope have contributed to its incredible productivity. The telescope is an instrument for the entire astronomical community — any astronomer in the world can submit a proposal and request time on the telescope. Teams of experts then select the observations to be performed. Once observations are completed, the astronomers have a year to pursue their work before the data is released to the entire scientific community. Because everyone gets to see the information, the observations have given rise to a multitude of findings — many in areas that would not have been predicted by the telescope’s original proposals. Hubble’s success with these policies has helped spread them throughout the astronomical community, and they are becoming common with other observatories.
Also of interest:
…At the heart of STScI’s mission are outreach and education. Our Office of Public Outreach, which created this Web site, finds innovative ways to share Hubble’s remarkable discoveries with the public. OPO exists as a unique blend of communications professionals and scientists working together to prepare and disseminate the photographs and animations seen in the news… as well as posters, slide shows, exhibits, and educational products in print and electronic formats.

The Hubble Deep Field Images, are considered to be the most important photos of all time.

This site’s main menu includes:And it is from those topics that the adventure begins. Along with articles, videos, magnificent photo images of our universe, taken by the Hubble Telescope of course, and honestly, so much more of that should be of interest to anyone with a pulse, I couldn’t recommend this site enough. Sure, I’ve linked to other dedicated astronomy sites, but this one just blew me away. It’s up there with the very best of them.

Please take some time and explore what is being explored. The Hubble Telescope has expanded our knowledge of the universe in a way that no other telescope has ever done. And it’s still up there taking pictures!

Our species needs, and deserves, a citizenry with minds wide awake and a basic understanding of how the world works.
— Carl Sagan

Chat Highlights:
Wednesday: Hello, good night! Why isn’t “good night” a greeting if you meet at night? Will Ken Ham be interesting on CNN? Other crazy people have had air time. Setting up dates through online service, you might get what you pay for. Money is also a great attractor, apparently. If you can’t find work to make money, is waiting for an inheritance an option? Vox Day is a Mensa member, but who would want to brag about such things? ABBA is a four letter word. Also: taking on creationists in verbal debate or arm wrestling. Then we continued on with various aspects on education. Finally, Kil fired Boron10.

Come chat with us.

New Members This Week:
julie jay

(Not a member? Become one today!)

Elsewhere in the World:
An Astronomer’s Field of Dreams

Balance unaffected by Power Balance wristbands: study

CSI and CFI Urge Walmart to Stop Marketing Homeopathic Remedies

Ex-racist Says He’s Sorry

Hidden the workings out? You might as well be a Raelian

How to be Happy

I prefer my food dead, thank you very much

Magnificent Seven on Mars: Opportunity

NASA’s first solar sail makes unlikely comeback in orbit

The Signs May Have Changed but Astrology is Still Bogus

Wakefield’s Warriors

What’s New by Bob Park

Got some skeptic news items? Send them to us, and we’ll think about adding them.

Book of the Week:
Illustrated Stories From The Bible (that they won’t tell you in Sunday School), by Paul Farrell.

“An adult parody of children’s Bible-story books. Because it is extremely accurate — even anatomically accurate — in depicting the often shocking tales that make the bible an ethicist’s nightmare Illustrated Stories From The Bible can be recommended for children no more than one could recommend the Bible itself. Each tale (illustrated by cartoonist Kathy Demchuck) is told in the wide-eyed, isn’t-God-wonderful manner of the books usually employed to entice children into churches. Each story is followed, however, by a rationalist’s ethical critique that draws upon the best modern scholarship concerning the Bible. Stories include: Elisha and the Bears; Jephtha’s Daughter; Little Gershom’s Penis; Uriah the Hittite; David’s Census; Moses Helps God Understand; Slaughter Of the Midianites; Famine In Samaria; Where Giants Came From; Wives For the Benjamites; and When Jesus Drowned the Pigs.”

— Product Description

This Week’s Most-Viewed Pages:
Forum Topics:
  1. Moon-walker claims alien contact cover-up
  2. Funny FAILS
  3. The Supper
  4. Dr. Jeffery Life and Cenegenics
  5. Wrong images of Saturn
  6. Webcam, bald eagle nest
  7. PZ expelled from Expelled — Dawkins slips in!
  8. Scattershots: gargoyles & grotesques
  9. Alan Grayson to Chris Matthews on the swine Cheney
  10. Wretched Radio blames the victims?
  1. Fundamentalists Hate Noah’s Ark
  2. Evolving a Venom or Two
  3. The Bible’s Bad Fruits
  4. Evolution is a Lie
  5. Miracle Thaw — The Bogus Miracle
  6. Tommy Debates the Bible Answer man
  7. Scientific Truth
  8. Cold Reading
  9. TAM5
  10. Skeptic Summary #316
There were 7,519 daily visitors this week.

More issues of the Skeptic Summary can be found in our archive.

The Skeptic Summary is produced by the staff of the Skeptic Friends Network, copyright 2011, all rights reserved.

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