July 17, 2024

Vatican Astronomy: A Scientific Model for Peaceful Debate

Vatican Astronomy: A Scientific Model for Peaceful Debate

In a world full of wars and hatred, science can be a model for peaceful interaction, according to the Vatican’s chief astronomer.

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In a world full of wars and hatred, science can be a model for peaceful interaction, according to the Vatican’s chief astronomer. “Science shows how we can debate fruitfully with each other,” Guy Consolmagno, director of the Vatican Observatory, told the Catholic News Agency in Rome on Tuesday. As an example, the Jesuit cited the conference “Black Holes, Gravitational Waves and Space-Time Singularities,” which will be held from June 16 to 21 at the Vatican Observatory in Castel Gandolfo.

“40 people come together with 40 different points of view on gravitational waves and quantum theory,” the cosmologist said. “But we talk to each other and listen to each other because each of us knows: We don’t have all the answers.”

“People of every political party and every religious faith can tap into that humility to say, ‘Maybe I’m wrong, maybe I can learn something here.’ Because I don’t always have to be right,” the priest said. “In fact, you won’t learn anything.” Never if you don’t admit first: I don’t know everything.”

About 150 scientists are also participating online in the conference in honor of the Belgian priest and astronomer Georges Lemaitre (1894-1966), who is considered the founder of the Big Bang theory. Efforts are being made to include experts from all countries there, “because amazing science is being done all over the world,” Consolmagno said. The American said that experts from Russia were also invited, but due to the current situation there were almost no reactions.

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Consolmagno lives half the year in Castel Gandolfo and in Arizona, where the Vatican operates a space telescope. According to the researcher, who has been working at the Vatican Observatory for more than 30 years, his work still inspires him. “This is the dream of every astronomer, to be able to contemplate the universe,” the 71-year-old said.

As a Vatican scholar, you don’t have the pressure to worry about funding from governments and other sponsors. “We are able to do our research no matter where it takes us, and no matter how long it takes us to get there,” Consolmagno said. “It is the most wonderful institution I can imagine for the practice of pure science.”

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