October 15, 2019
While walking our dog, Maggie, near the Popo Agie River on a frigid day last winter, I noticed a tiny, slate-grey bird standing on the ice next to open water. As I watched, the bird, an American dipper, dove into the water and disappeared. A little while later, it popped out of the river and back to its spot on the ice. I was transfixed with wonder.
Maggie and I have also seen kingfishers, American kestrels, lots of mule deer, various kinds of snakes, ruffed grouse, and, to my shock, a badger in our backyard. Add to the animals, all the plants and flowers, the geology, the weather, the night sky and we can’t help say with Psalm 104, “O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.”
Wyoming Catholic College students study God’s Creation as part of our math and science curriculum under the watchful eye of Dr. Sam Shepherd. Dr. Shepherd and his family moved from Ireland this summer to join our faculty. He is our guest this week on The After Dinner Scholar.
September 24, 2019
“Everybody knows,” said the US senator at a Senate hearing I attended, “that before Columbus everybody was sure that the world was flat.”
Regardless of what the senator believes, you’d have to go back a long, long, long time before Columbus to find people who believed the world was flat. In fact, back in about 240 BC not only was it well known that the earth was a ball, but they had managed to calculate its circumference.
And by AD 150, Claudius Ptolemy created his geocentric model of the universe, a model that held sway for 1,500 years until Nicolaus Copernicus and others placed the sun rather than the earth at the center of things.
In that 1,200 years Ptolemy’s treatise, Almagest, was copied over and over. In addition, scholars wrote numerous commentaries on the work.
All of which fascinates Wyoming Catholic College’s Dr. Henry Zepeda who has a particular interested in the way medieval scholars understood the mathematical sciences that they inherited from the Greeks and Arabs. He has spent much of his adult life reading medieval manuscripts in libraries across the United States and Europe and spent this past summer in Kansas City immersed in medieval manuscripts.
March 26, 2019
A recent news article announced the discovery of 300,000 new galaxies bringing the number to somewhere around 100 billion some 12 to 18 billion light years away. Such numbers boggle the mind as does the notion that we can actually calculate such distances. Yet starting back in about 240 BC in Alexandria, Egypt Eratosthenes managed to calculate with amazing accuracy the circumference of the earth. Once that was done, it was only a matter of time before people calculated the distance to the Moon, to the Sun, and finally to the stars.
How did they do it? Dr. Scott Olsson has been discussing these matters with our Wyoming Catholic College sophomores. Dr. Olsson is our guest on this edition of The After Dinner Scholar.
November 6, 2018
“This cup of tea,” the lady claimed, “was made wrong. You put the tea in first and then the milk rather than putting the milk in before the tea. I could taste the difference immediately.”
Could she really and, if so, how would we know? How do we use experimentation to test her claim that she tastes the difference between a cup where milk was added to tea and one where tea was added to milk? The story is all about the scientific method.
While the answer may seem straightforward enough, it turns out that any scientific experiment is fraught with complications and difficulties. Dr. Scott Olsson’s students have been struggling with some of those complications and difficulties in this the first semester of their junior year. This week on the After Dinner Scholar, Dr. Olsson gives us a glimpse in the questions.
March 20, 2018
Faith and science, we've been told, are at war so choose your side. Will you be a modern man or woman or will you hang onto outdated and disproved dogmas?
And too often Christian young people believe in the war and choose to side with science.
But the faith versus science dichotomy, however, is as false as it is overblown and pernicious.
Wyoming Catholic College Associate Professor of Philosophy Dr. Michael Bolin works through the arguments each year with our students as they consider the question of evolution. Dr. Bolin is our guest this week on The After Dinner Scholar.