Croesus And Cassandra

Apollo, an Olympian, was god of the Sun. He was also in charge of other matters, one of which was prophecy. That was one of his specialties. Now the Olympian gods could all see into the future a little, but Apollo was the only one who systematically offered this gift to humans. He established oracles, the most famous of which was at Delphi, where he sanctified the priestess. She was called the Pythia, after the python that was one of her incarnations. Kings and aristocrats and occasionally...

Four Cosmic Questions

When on high the heaven had not been named, Firm ground below had not been called by name . . . No reed hut had been matted, no marsh land had appeared, When no god whatever had been brought into being, Uncalled by name, their destinations undetermined Then it was that the gods were formed EnumaElish, the Babylonian creation myth (late third millennium B.C.)* Every culture has its creation myth an attempt to understand where the Universe came from, and all within it. Almost always these myths...

So Many Suns So Many Worlds

What a wonderful and amazing scheme have we here of the magnificent vastness of the Universe So many Suns, so New Conjectures Concerning the Planetary Worlds, Their Inhabitants and Productions (ca. 1670) In December 1995, an entry probe, detached from the Galileo Jupiter orbiter, entered the turbulent, roiling atmosphere of Jupiter and sank to a fiery death. Along the way it radioed back information on what it found. Four previous spacecraft had examined Jupiter as they raced by. The planet has...

Religion And Science An Alliance

The first day or so, we all pointed to our countries. The third or fourth day, we were pointing to our continents. By the fifth day, we were aware of only one Earth. PRINCE SULTAN BIN SALMON AL-SAUD, Saudi Arabian astronaut Intelligence and tool-making were our strengths from the beginning. We used these talents to compensate for the paucity of the natural gifts speed, flight, venom, burrowing, and the rest freely distributed to other animals, so it seemed, and cruelly denied to us. From the...

In The Valley Of The Shadow

Is this, then, true or mere vain fantasy Six times now have I looked Death in the face. And six times Death has averted his gaze and let me pass. Eventually, of course, Death will claim me as he does each of us. It's only a question of when. And how. I've learned much from our confrontations especially about the beauty and sweet poignancy of life, about the precipusness of friends and family, and about the transforming power of love. In fact, almost dying is such a positive, character-building...

The Twentieth Century

To realize in its completeness the universal beauty and perfection of the works of God, we must recognize a certain perpetual and very free progress of the whole universe . . . Tjhere always remain in the abyss of things slumbering parts which have yet to be awakened On the Ultimate Origination ofThings (1697) Society never advances. It recedes as fast on one side as it gains on the other. It undergoes continual changes it is barbarous, it is civilized, it is christianized, it is rich, it is...

The Power And Beauty Of Quantification

There are some . . . who think that the number of grains of sand is infinite. . . . There are some who, without regarding it as infinite, yet think no number has been named which is great enough. . . . But I will try to show you numbers that exceed not only the number of the mass of sand equal to the Earth filled up but also that of a mass I never said it. Honest. Oh, I said there are maybe 100 billion galaxies and 10 billion trillion stars. It's hard to talk about the Cosmos without using big...