Feb 26 2009

News item — Ramadan In Space


Fourteenth century Islamic astrolabe, Whipple Museum

This video item from ABC (Australia), complete with transcript, features Dr. Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor, the first Muslim astronaut to travel into space during Ramadan. This led to the need for Muslim scholars to carefully determine the rules that would apply to prayer in outer space, not to mention the ubiquitous question “Which way is Mecca?”

I was especially interested in the reference to Islam’s “golden age” (circa 8th-16th centuries CE) during which Muslim scientists made various vital contributions to the world in the areas of mathematics and astronomy. This, of course, includes the invention of such devices as the astrolabe, pictured above.

For more information on Dr. Shukor, Wired published an earlier story about his career as an astronaut.

Feb 24 2009

SEAC conference announced

Because tempus fugit, here’s some information for those who want to make plans to attend the upcoming 17th annual conference of the European Society for Astronomy in Culture (SEAC).

An IYA-related conference, the meeting will be held between October 25th and 31st, 2009 at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Alexandria, Egypt.

You can find a list of scheduled speakers here, and the registration section and other important items are listed in the menu to the left. For more information about the SEAC, please visit their homepage.

Feb 20 2009

Fantastic Fridays: The Faith of Scientists

Category: Fantastic Fridays,Science and Religionalobel @ 3:50 pm


I’ve always been fascinated about the roles that faith plays — or, as the case may be, does not play — in the lives of great scientists. And now there’s a book out that delves into this very topic. Entitled The Faith of Scientists: In Their Own Words (Ed. Nancy K. Frankenberry), this recent work spans the stated beliefs of luminaries past and present, including Galileo Galilei, J. Kepler, Isaac Newton, Carl Sagan, and Stephen Hawking. You can find more information on the Princeton University Press web site.

Sharing the same title, this series of videos on the interplay between science and religion is definitely worth looking at. In truth, the title should read ‘The Faith of Scientists and Other Thinkers’, but ah, I quibble.