View Full Version : Angry Astronomy and Centauri Dreaming

2006-Sep-19, 02:53 PM
I wanted to take a moment and point your browsers at a few websites that I really enjoy, and I think you will too. You've probably heard of the <a href="http://www.badastronomy.com">Bad Astronomer</a>, but do you know of the <a href="http://angryastronomer.blogspot.com/">Angry Astronomer</a>? Jon Voisey is an astronomy major at the University of Kansas. Jon has recently been journaling the battle against intelligent design and antiscience movements, but if you dig a little deeper into his archives, you'll see some great articles explaining concepts in astronomy.

A second site I really enjoy is called <a href="http://www.centauri-dreams.org/">Centauri Dreams</a>, written by Paul Gilster. Paul is the author of the similarly named book, which <a href="http://www.universetoday.com/am/publish/book_review_centauri_dreams.html?2122004">we reviewed here</a> on Universe Today. Paul's website supports his investigation into concepts for interstellar travel - realistic ways that we could actually get spacecraft from here to neighbouring stars. Roll through the archive, it's absolutely fascinating reading.

Read the full blog entry (http://www.universetoday.com/2006/09/19/angry-astronomy-and-centauri-dreaming/)

2006-Sep-20, 03:37 AM
I glanced briefly at this website and am intrigued. I am trying with all my objective might to wade through the shallow waters of "angry astronomer's" crusade against "anti-science" movements. I am not succeeding tonight. I am quite weary of comments like this one that appeared on his site:

"Ultimately, I was very pleased with Dr. Miller's presentation. One of his main points that I agree very strongly with, is that science cannot support or refute supernatural causes like God. Therefore, any conclusions drawn from science on these subjects, whether it be from Intelligent Design "theorists" or from atheists like Dawkins and Dennet, are philosophical as opposed to scientific in nature and should be treated as such."

The idea that someone claiming to be an astronomer can somehow create a dichotomy between philosophy and science is unfortunate. Without philosophy, science would not exist. Science is an offshoot of a form of philosophical discourse. Oh Aristotle, where art thou in these troubled times? A comment such as the above illustrates my point. The angry astronomer seems more interested in being angry than taking the time to investigate the sources of his arguments....even if it means quoting from so-called "athorities" on the subject.

I say all this because I find it difficult to move on to any of the more substantive portions of his site that Frasier alluded to. I am suspicious of anyone's "science" that is so steeped in reactionary discourse. The fact that the angry astronomer was so intent on quoting some authority-figure on the misguided conclusion that science and philosophy must be seperated illustrates my point.

For the purposes of this discussion, I don't care whether or not angry astronomer, or any of his cronies, believe in some sort of intelligent designer or not. I am interested in the ASTRONOMICAL information/ideas/etc. Any relevant ideas, thoughts, etc. regarding astronomical issues are therefore opaque at best....when presented through the lens of crusader-like invective. The above example is tame when one looks at some of his other links (for example, "Stupid Evil *******"). Angry Astonomer needs to decide whether he wants to be an astronomer...or whether he wants to be angry. I'll check back with him later when he decides.

2006-Sep-20, 11:46 PM
[From Centauri Dreams:]The idea of interstellar flight forces long-term speculation. Barring unexpected breakthroughs, we are looking at mission times that, at best, are counted in the decades if not centuries. One of the purposes of Centauri Dreams is to encourage the kind of long-term thinking that plans and executes such missions. That such thinking — focused well beyond individual human lifetimes — is a worthy goal in and of itself should also be obvious...I like the idea of long term thinking. It'll be required to design and implement a system like http://home.comcast.net/~mbmcneill7/ which, at first glance, looks like it will transport pasengers to the Alpha Centauri system in trip durations of 2 or 3 decades. It will take 2 or 3 centuries to design and implement the system; however, so the long term thinking must be applied to the design and implementation phases of the program.

If any of you know of interstellar transportation systems with equal or better performance characteristics, more rationally thought out, more thoroughly infrastructure supported, or with more realistically optimistic energy and propellant acquisition plans, please provide the references. Do you have any ideas on how to generate interest by the movers and shakers to undertake projects that will take longer to complete than the duration of their egos? Can they be encouraged to take the messianic view (neo-anthropic principle as it were) that is required to prolong the existence of humankind as well as put us on our way to becoming a Michio Kaku class II civilization?