Today begins a weeklong journey for 20 participants and their team of presenters. The first day of ACME is never really a full day – ergo the .5 designation. Participants arrive from all across the county and internationally. In my brief discussions with this year’s participants, I met people from Canada, Tennessee, New Mexico, Boston, and Iowa. I can’t wait to meet the rest of our participants tomorrow!
The first official event of day .5 was Mass with Bishop Edward Weisenburger of Tucson, Arizona. His brief, but clear message was a simple reaffirmation of what the Church teaches about the supposed conflict between faith and science: There isn’t a conflict. Citing paragraph 159 of the Catechism of the Church, he simply reaffirmed that any conflict between faith and science is merely apparent: Truth cannot contract truth.
After Mass, we shared our first meal together with the hopes of doing some star observation after. The skies turned partially cloudy, so we decided to watch a documentary on the scientific team that produced the first image of the shadow of a Black Hole titled: The Edge of All We Know. Our hope was that the skies would clear so we could do some observation – And they did! As I type, the group is doing some basic observations. I asked if they would excuse me so I could write this post and prep for my presentation tomorrow.
Of the many things that were memorable about The Edge of All We Know was how it beautifully presented the human side of science. Amid fascinating discussions about the science of black holes, data collection, equations, and algorithms, there were beautiful human stories interwoven. Whether it be coming of age of a graduate assistant, the unique friendships that are forged when doing science or the tender reflections on the death of Stephen Hawking, the message was clear: Science isn’t some type of distant “something” we tap into, but something humans do in community that deeply impacts those who participate.
Of the many ironies I experienced watching this documentary, the juxtaposition of the Information Paradox and Stephen Hawking’s death stood out. The documentary explained that the Information Paradox states that black holes destroy information as they evaporate. The team was intuitively unsettled by this and were working to find a way to argue that information is not destroyed in a black hole but maintained. This was cast against occasional references to how the team wished to share this discovery with Dr. Hawking, but they couldn’t – He’s gone. From my life as a Priest, this delicious irony begged a theological question – Is Stephen gone – is his “information” non-existent – or does he continue?
Now, I’m sure there is a greater dissimilarity than similarity when comparing the Information Paradox with life after death, but I found it interesting that science is warming up to the question – Is there something beyond what we can measure?
Well, time for some prayer and then to bed. I’ll check in with all of you tomorrow! Below is the documentary we watched for those interested.
The view of the desert from my room at the Redemptorist Renewal Center.