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Michael Banks: December 2010 Archives

By James Dacey

If you are a regular follower of this blog, you may remember that a few weeks ago I went to see the Pope’s astronomer, Brother Guy Consolmagno, who was giving a talk at the British Science Festival in Birmingham.

Here is a video of that talk in full in which Brother Guy discusses many things including science, religion and the Catholic church’s view on extraterrestrial life. On serious topics such as how he squares his belief with his rational scientific thought, Consolmagno was a lot more candid than I had expected. For instance, if you skip to just over 7 minutes in you can hear how his decision to become a Jesuit just before his 40th birthday was based on a botched calculation regarding his age.

The loudest laugh of the night came when Consolmagno dismisses the idea that Catholics read the Bible as if it were a literal truth, as if it were a science book. “That’s not a Catholic idea… that’s a protestant idea,” he says with a mischievous grin on his face. (See 11 min 30 sec in.)

Video credit: David Evetts from the Birmingham Astronomical Society

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“Glass” (Courtesy: Neville Greaves/Aberystwyth University)

By Michael Banks

Make sure you do not miss a new exhibition at the Didcot Cornerstone Arts Centre in Oxfordshire, which starts today and runs until 9 January.

ISIS: Super Microscope features pictures of the ISIS neutron source taken by photographer Stephen Kill as well as images from some of the science performed at the facility.

The exhibition is aimed at raising the public’s awareness of the neutron source, which is at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire and operated by the UK’s Science and Technology Facilities Council.

Completed in 1984, ISIS remains Europe’s only source of pulsed neutron beams. In 2008 the facility completed the construction of a second target station, which will see the number of instruments double to over 40.

Every year hundreds of researchers come to ISIS from around the world to study a range of materials from magnetic materials to biological samples.

One of the images on display is called “Glass” (shown above), which shows the atomic structure of glass as inferred from data collected in neutron experiments.

The image below, which has the appearance of a petal, is taken from raw data collected by a neutron camera at ISIS.

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The “flower” (Courtesy: Steve King/ISIS)

Flower
ISIS researcher Stephen King explains how the image was made using neutrons