SophiaEuropa II

Today was the last day of the conference, with plenty of good talks, although many of us were tired after last night.

Yesterday evening, we were treated to some traditional Irish music courtesy of Dr Collete O’ Mahony, one of the conference participants and director of the WIT Traditional Music Group. The group played some great music and we even had a full ceilidh, with fear-an-ti showing the visitors the steps (ok not just the visitors!). So much more fun than the usual ‘live entertainment’ of some bloke with a mike playing rock music far too loud. Only the Irish could have a ceilidh at a theology conference…

Today’s talks were very interesting, with one on sin, guilt and forgiveness by Fergus Hogan of WIT. Not your average technical science talk then..

The conference finished with a plenary talk by Professor Eamonn Conway, a well-known theologian from Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick. This was a serious full-on talk on the role of theology in modern society. From a scientist’s perspective, it’s very interesting to see the difference between these guys, the thinking theologians, and the fundamentalist types, a very different species. I took about 3 pages of notes, but I think the presentation will be on the conference webpage in a few days.

Eamonn in action: I didn’t know theologians used graphs (or blackboards)

One good quote we got from Eamonn arose from a comment of mine to Fergus – I had pointed out that guilt doesn’t need God as a reference point, to which Eamonn responded “something isn’t wrong because the Church says so…the Church says so because it’s wrong”

I was also pleased Eamonn referred to Jim Mackey quite a few times – Mackey is a very good philosopher and his recent book The Critique of Theological Reason has been under attack from some theologians recently…

After lunch, I was sorry to see the conference come to an end. I wouldn’t mind going to a few more of these in the future, not at all what I expected…

Update:12th May

Rysiek has a whole bunch of photos of the conference – you can see the whole lot here, they’re very very good. We’re still waiting for the podcast..

Well done Rysiek!


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8 responses to “SophiaEuropa II

  1. told you i would come here..
    this is a ping back
    professor R:
    Have I been here before? the fields seems to remember me…Cormac

    That’s the funniest line of the day on so many levels..
    I tried that once in class and almost got flunked.. Yet you pulled it off without a hitch..

    Hey bro..I mean.. prof.
    it is my mission in life to prove that black holes don’t exist..that matter only compresses to smaller balls of matter.. smaller and smaller till they are of the smallest balls of matter we can imagine. I know it’s a crazy idea…but wait..not as crazy as you guys holes..give me a break! I feel i can prove my ideas better than you…so are you up to it?
    I’ll supply my math and go against you and the world if you like..the hoopster looks forward to talking to you soon.
    ( i’m just messing with you.. I haven’t figured out all the math yet.. I’m a jock that barely passed college…)

  2. cormac

    I’ve seen that fields comment somewhere before…

    re BHs, I don’t think that’s a particularly crazy idea at all. Just what happens in the limit of the infintesimally small is the whole problem of singularity – exactly the same problem occurs in the Big Bang model.
    The age-old question really is, is it just a failure of our mathematics as we use it to model nature, or does nature herself do something similar?

  3. That’s for the response professor cormac.
    It surprises me somewhat that you don’t think i have a crazy idea about small balls of matter. ( afterall if a sun can go down to the size of a 20km neutron ball..why not smaller?)
    Although I’m betting your thinking ‘ don’t give up your day job’
    So i have another question..It seems you folks have mapped out microwave radiation of the big bang..why can’t you reverse the effects of the explosion ( or expansion ) and locate the center of where the big bang happened? You know like when they reverse the film of a big explosion back to the start? Wouldn’t that be the center of the universe?
    Is that a dumb question?

  4. cormac

    No, it certainly is not. However, it’s very difficult indeed to model the process. Don’t forget that as the volume of the matter shrinks, some very peculiar things will start to happen to space-time due to the intense gravitational field. Specifically, both space and time will become distorted out of all recognition (time may become infinite, for an observer that falls into a BH, for example!).

    Hawking makes this point very well in A Brief History of Time, when he first introduces the idea that a black hole may be a Big Bang with the time arrow reversed. So far, we’re still in the dark about each singularity….

  5. hey are very explain things in a down to earth fashion.. I hope you don’t mind if i direct some of my ballers to your site for some Q&A. Sometime, and we’ll never admit this..we have questions about the universe and God.. Not everybody hangs at stripper clubs at 3am and shoots up the place..( Tinsley is the exception, but you didn’t hear it from the hoopster )
    I still have alot of questions…like when you and others say..
    time may become infinite, for an observer that falls into a BH, for example!).
    How is that possible? Time continues and all matter falls into a black hole..we see that so how can time stop? we see it evolving even if the numbers say time stops..time continues and we’ll observe matter being destroyed by gravity..sorry about the dumb don’t have to answer if this is below you…Let me know what city you are in..I’ll get you some good tickets sometime..wait your college takes good care of you..not.
    thats prof..kind regards
    the hoopster

  6. i meant thanks prof..
    typo’s are my life

  7. cormac

    Hey hoopster – time only stops for the hapless guy falling in the hole. It doesn’t stop for us, the observers. (We just see him disappear into a hole!). This is the hardest thing about relativity – different observers see different things!

  8. thanks. super blog