Thursday, October 30, 2014

On-line bullying

In an article by the press agency Europa Press published on June 28 2012, which refers to a study performed by Microsoft among youths in the age range 8 to 17, it is stated that 37% of Spanish youths suffer on-line bullying through the Internet. This looks like a high figure, but it may depend on how bullying is defined.
Reading the article, it appears that 17 per cent of the polled declares having been addressed in an unfriendly way, 13 per cent have been targets of mockery and 19 per cent have felt insulted. Also, 24% of the youth confess that they bully other people.
Neither in the Europa Press article, nor in the summary of the Microsoft study, is there a definition of unfriendly behavior and the other forms of bullying. It appears that the youths who answered the poll just considered it thus.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Atheist arguments are still in the nineteenth century while theists have modernized

Interview with Manuel Alfonseca published in

Manuel Alfonseca was born in Madrid in 1946. He is the son of the painter and sculptor Manuel Alfonseca (Santana), is a doctor in Telecommunication Engineering and a Computer Scientist, has been a full professor, and is currently a honorary professor at the Universidad Autónoma of Madrid. 

His great gift is his ability to popularize science and express himself clearly, which has led him, not only to teaching and science, but also to the literary world (he has published fantasy, science fiction and historical novels). His work makes a bridge between "science" and "humanities", attested in his blog on popular science and his personal website. Now, in addition, he is one of the co-editors (along with Francisco-José Soler-Gil) of an unusual work for its breadth and ease of comprehension: 60 preguntas sobre ciencia y fe respondidas por 26 profesores de universidad (60 questions on science and faith answered by 26 professors). Without getting into the 60 questions, we shall try to explore the science-faith dialogue with a few questions, while strongly recommending the book to those who seek answers to the others.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Life expectation and happiness

First, the news.
Headline: For sheep horns, biggest is not better
Text: Sometimes it pays to be mediocre. A new study shows that sheep with a 50/50 blend of genes for small and big horns pass along more of their genes than their purely big-horned brethren, who mate more often... The results, published online August 21 in Nature, reveal that while biggerhorned sheep mated most successfully
each season, small-horned sheep survived longer... and mated more successfully than those with the smallest horns.
My comment:

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The curse of Chalion

The Curse of Chalion: a fantasy novel based on Spanish history

Book cover
The Curse of Chalion, by Lois McMaster Bujold, is one of the best fantasy novels of the latest years. It belongs to that rare category, which also contains Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, C.S.Lewis's Perelandra, Walter M. Miller Jr.'s Canticle for Leibowitz, or Poul Anderson's Orbit unlimited, that combine an interesting adventure plot with important ethical dilemmas and deep questions about the nature of man and God.
In this novel, as deftly crafted as her Vorkosigan saga, Lois McMaster Bujold has pushed further the bounds of subcreation as defined by Tolkien in his paper On fairie stories. She presents us, not just a coherent imaginary universe, but even a strange God, which rather than three persons displays five, together with important differences from the God we have heard about.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The origin of life in other worlds

In a recent article published in the Annals of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Christopher McKay analyzes the requirements and limits for life in other worlds. Since we have no data at all about any concrete planet outside the Solar System, and very few about the planets and satellites in our system, apart from the Earth, the study focuses on the limits for life in our world and tries to extrapolate the results to the possible existence of extraterrestrial life.
Thus, for instance, he notices that on Earth there are extremophile organisms, able to survive in environments apparently hostile for life: between -15 and 122ºC; in conditions of extreme dryness; in an almost total absence of light (100.000 times less than the solar flux we use to receive); in the presence of ultraviolet rays and ionizing radiation...