Here, for example, from Science Question of the Week from the Goddard Space Flight Center, on the position of the North Star, ever the friend of mariners:
Polaris or the North Star is nearly directly above the North Pole (it’s actually about 1 degree away from the celestial pole). You might think that with all of the stars in the sky, it shouldn’t be that unusual for a given star to rest above the pole, but really, it’s an extremely unlikely occurrence. It’s even more unlikely that our pole star would be relatively bright – second order magnitude. If you divided the night sky into squares that are one degree latitude by one degree longitude in size, there would be 41,253 square degrees in our night sky. There are approximately 2,000 stars that we can see on the clearest night, and perhaps 6,000 different stars are visible to us throughout the year, but only 50 of these are as bright or brighter than Polaris. The chances of a star like Polaris occupying a place over the pole are about slim indeed – about 1 in 1,000. Nevertheless, Polaris defies the odds and has become our guiding light.
Anybody know the odds on that?
Ã‚Â We are also told that Polaris will shove off in a couple of centuries, and not come back for a long time:
Polaris and the Sun are now about as close to each other as they’ll ever get. Alas,all good things must come to an end, and in a few centuries, Polaris will drift away from it’s current heralded post to a location carrying much less esteem, somewhere to the south of where it is now. If it’s any consolation, Polaris will return to the pole again but not for another 20,000 thousand years.
You read it here first: In the meantime, we will have to make do with the Global Positioning Satellite.
Here’s some more stuff I blogged recently:
Why do media people treat statements from scientists as gospel?
Scientists have converted the sequences in Huntington’s disease to music. Scary.
When science disowns religion, it discovers politics, according to thinker.
Did Albert Einstein accept intelligent design?
Researchers discover free will in fruit flies. (I think they have simply discovered that the flies are not mere machines, as they had thought.)
Just for fun, my 17 favourite oxymorons
Kids from religious homes behave better.
More huffing and puffing on behalf of the flatly ridiculous anti-God crusade
In the 21st century world, ideology is dead but spirituality lives.
Cardinal Schoenborn, the Pope’s anti-Darwinist point man says some pointed things on faith and science
Quantum Theory and Faith: A physicist’s thoughts
New Book! The Physics of Christianity by Frank Tipler
Lighter moment: Doubtful student receives letter from God.