In the previous post we looked at Rowan Williams’ contributions to the Science Faith discussion as Archbishop of Canterbury.  In this post we draw attention to the contributions of another major faith leader in the UK, that of Dr. Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth.  He also happens to be stepping down from his role this year and so it seems appropriate to draw attention to some of his interactions on these issues.

Here is a nice little video of Sacks interviewing three prominent non-believing scientists (including Richard Dawkins) to see if they would agree that Science and Faith can have some kind of partnership.

He has recently published a book on the subject  (paperback came out in 2012): The Great Partnership: God, Science and the Search for Meaning.  This looks like an interesting and worthwhile read that I hope to get around to at some point.


In relation to the book here are also a link to an audio of a lecture given at Princeton, a recording of a conversation with Norman Swan, and a video recording of a conversation with Mathematician Marcus du Sautoy.

Rowan_WilliamsPhoto credit: Marcin Mazur

As Dr. Rowan Williams steps down as Archbishop of Canterbury it worth drawing attention to his reflections and contributions to Science and Faith interactions/issues during his time as Archbishop.  The Archbishop of Canterbury website is very good and contains a database of all Rowan Williams’ sermons, talks, interviews, publications etc during his time in the job.  There really is a wealth of useful material here.  Helpfully the contributions have been tagged according to category and so we can pull up all those that relate to Science, see link below:

Rowan Williams’ dialogue with Richard Dawkins can be found here, but for me the highlight is this excellent lecture and the question and answer session that followed.  Much to ponder, here are some quotes:

“Scientific research seeks to identify the causes of particular phenomena and clusters of phenomena, including of course that remarkable cluster of phenomena which is the observable universe as we now know it. Faith states, not as a matter of explanation but as matter of trust, that any form of energy whatsoever, at any stage of the history of the universe, depends upon the free initiative of God.

“religious faith can and ought to support and encourage science: science as a practice, with an impressive morality and spirituality, a commendation of attention and humility, the setting aside of self very frequently in the context of addressing the most painful vulnerabilities of the human world; a practice that trains selfless, even contemplative approaches to the world.”

Note that materials related to Rowan Williams are now stored on an archive site as Justin Webly takes over as Archbishop.

Dr. Rowan Williams (104th Archbishop of Canterbury)

Justin Welby (soon to be (current!) Archbishop of Canterbury)

A large ice island has broken off the Petermann Glacier in northern Greenland.

NASA satellite image (MODIS).

This iceberg is about twice the size of Manhattan but approximately half the size of the previous recent break-off in 2010 (blog post here).  Unlike the 2010 event the current ice has broke off further up glacier and marks a retreat of the calving front of the glacier.  The crack and rift that led to this break off has been known and observed for some time and so this event was expected in this regards.  However, the question is still being asked as to how unusual these large calving events are and whether they were caused by climate change.  Certainly we can say that these changes have not been seen for at least a 150 years (see previous post and this discussion article).  However, we can’t say for certain that these two massive calving event are a direct result of climate change.  An interesting discussion on these questions is provided in this BBC article.

The Guardian has a little interactive page where you can watch the iceberg break off in context (click here).

Glaciologist Tim Creyts provides an insightful radio interview here.

The sinking bubbles in Guinness and stouts in general have intrigued drinkers and scientists alike.  Research into this phenomena has been highlighted before on this blog (post linked here).  The latest research published in arxiv (academic paper linked here) demonstrates the importance of the shape of the glass in generating the fluid circulation necessary for the creation of the sinking bubbles.  Numerical simulations and experimentation show that the standard pint glass which has a narrower base cause the falling bubble effect whereas a glass that has a larger base does not i.e. results in rising bubbles.  Essentially the small (nitrogen, as opposed to carbon dioxide used in most beers) bubbles are being carried along by the local fluid motion in the glass and the shape of the glass influences the circulation of the beer as it is poured determining a sinking or rising bubble effect.  More explanation is provided in a BBC news article here.

What are climate models?  The UK Met. Office explains:

Here is our wonderful planet (or the northern hemisphere part at least!). Images taken from the Russian Elcctro-L satellite every 30 minutes are stitched together to make this video.

The geostationary weather satellite takes the highest resolution images of our planet, they are single shot photos. The images consist of visible and near-infrared wavelengths (e.g. vegetation is red not as the human eye sees it).

More details are provided here.

Here is another beautiful movie showing ocean fluid patterns (previous post here).  This time we have a numerical simulation of the discharge of fresh water from the Amazon River entering the saltwater of the Atlantic Ocean.  The ocean model (Mercator Ocean) simulates sea surface temperatures over a 3 year period.

HT FYFluidDynamics

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