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12 November 2009

The budding field of astrobiology

The budding field of astrobiology:

Astronomers discover young galaxies giving rapid birth to stars

Astronomers have discovered that young, fertile galaxies give birth to stars such as the Sun at a “runaway” rate of up to 50 a year. They found that “stellar nurseries” within early galaxies similar to the Milky Way, produced stars far more rapidly than first thought.

Dr Mark Swinbank, an astronomer from the University of Durham, said: “The runaway effect in this galaxy suggests it is growing much faster than expected.

“Given the size of the star-forming regions, we would expect it to be forming stars at the rate of about one sun per year, but it seems to be much more active than that.

“We think this galaxy is fairly typical of galaxies at this time and we expect that the Milky Way once looked like this as it formed its first stars.

“In effect we are seeing the first generation of stars being born in a galaxy like the Milky Way. This gives unique insight into the birth of our own galaxy.”

Most of the observed stars would have eventually exploded as supernovae at the end of their lives, said the scientists. However, light from the explosions will not reach our part of the universe for billions more years.

Supernova explosions hurl debris into space which eventually forms new stars and planets.

“In this respect these stars are the seeds of future star formation in the universe,” said Dr Swinbank.

The discovery shows that ''stellar nurseries'' within early galaxies similar to our own were producing stars far more rapidly than was previously thought

And here's the Vatican's take on things:

Vatican looks to heavens for signs of alien life

VATICAN CITY — E.T. phone Rome. Four hundred years after it locked up Galileo for challenging the view that the Earth was the center of the universe, the Vatican has called in experts to study the possibility of extraterrestrial alien life and its implication for the Catholic Church."

The questions of life's origins and of whether life exists elsewhere in the universe are very suitable and deserve serious consideration," said the Rev. Jose Gabriel Funes, an astronomer and director of the Vatican Observatory.

Funes, a Jesuit priest, presented the results Tuesday of a five-day conference that gathered astronomers, physicists, biologists and other experts to discuss the budding field of astrobiology — the study of the origin of life and its existence elsewhere in the cosmos. ...

"Both science and religion posit life as a special outcome of a vast and mostly inhospitable universe," he told a news conference Tuesday. "There is a rich middle ground for dialogue between the practitioners of astrobiology and those who seek to understand the meaning of our existence in a biological universe." ...

Scientists have discovered hundreds of planets outside our solar system — including 32 new ones announced recently by the European Space Agency. Impey said the discovery of alien life may be only a few years away.

"If biology is not unique to the Earth, or life elsewhere differs bio-chemically from our version, or we ever make contact with an intelligent species in the vastness of space, the implications for our self-image will be profound," he said. ...

Today top clergy, including Funes, openly endorse scientific ideas like the Big Bang theory as a reasonable explanation for the creation of the universe. The theory says the universe began billions of years ago in the explosion of a single, super-dense point that contained all matter.

Science and religion are going to converge directly on aspects of the Transudationist paradigm:
  • the "Big Bang" was in actuality a "Big Seed"
  • there is a Creator, but we do not know the identity of the Creator
  • Nature is permeated by essences and holonic teleology
  • matter evolves to Spirit via evolution
  • evolution is correct, scientific, and undeniable; evolutionism is on the other hand merely metaphysical nihilism: The emergence of consciousness/sentience from the void - and all the exquisite balancing of the forces, laws, and substances of Nature required to induce said emergence, as well as the progression of the cosmos from a minuscule singularity to today's universe - self-evidently prove this assertion
  • the multiverse hypothesis, in all its forms, does not refute the above assertions, because the multiverse hypothesis has three fatal flaws: (1) it is not falsifiable, (2) it begs the question, and (3) it violates Occam's razor. Furthermore, even if there is a multiverse, we can never know if we're microorganisms existing within a super-organism, or if life is teleologically intended to seed the other constituent universes composing the multiverse, or if the other consitutent universes composing the multiverse aren't already themselves too teeming with life processes. The multiverse hypothesis merely raises the entire issue to a higher level of abstraction; it does absolutely nothing whatsoever to answer the ultimate questions raised through rational inquiry into the nature and origin of reality
Question with boldness even the existence of God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear.

Thomas Jefferson

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