Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Pontifical Academy of Sciences

"During its various decades of activity, the Academy has had a number of Nobel Prize winners amongst its members..."---Wikipedia

This is the emblem of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences which is headquartered in the Casina Pio IV in the Gardens of Vatican City.

The new President of the Academy is Werner Arber, a Nobel-winning Swiss microbiologist. He is the first Protestant to head the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. The Academy "is non-sectarian in its choice of members." According to the Academy's History link:

The Pontifical Academy of Sciences has its roots in the Academy of the Lynxes (Accademia dei Lincei) which was founded in Rome in 1603 as the first exclusively scientific academy in the world. The Accademia dei Lincei achieved international recognition, but did not survive the death of its founder, Federico Cesi.

In 1847 Pope Pius IX reestablished the Academy as the Pontifical Academy of the New Lynxes. Pope Pius XI renewed and reconstituted the Academy in 1936, and gave it its present name.

Since 1936 the Pontifical Academy of Sciences has grown increasingly international in character. While continuing to further the work of the separate sciences, it stresses the growing importance of interdisciplinary cooperation. Today the Academy's activities range from a traditional interest in pure research to a concern with the ethical and environmental responsibility of the scientific community...

The Pontifical Academy of Sciences is an independent entity within the Holy See.

In 2003, the Vatican issued a historical profile of the Academy. The Academy site lists its Academicians. Scientific documents are linked under Activities and Publications. The purpose of the Academy is to inform the Vatican on scientific issues so the Church can use this information in the development of its social doctrine. One recent publication is titled The Scientific Legacy of the 20th Century.

Some of the Academy's publications address the issue of climate change and global warming. The Academicians of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences do not accept the conspiracy theory that climate scientists are greedy liars who are trying to "trick" people. For the conspiracist perspective, see global warming denialists such as Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe, Texas Congressman Joe Barton, Virginia's Attorney General Cucccinelli, Lord Christopher Monckton, the Cato Institute, or the masters of the Kremlin. In early 2010, Russia's President Medvedev also called global warming a tricky campaign, but he seems to have backtracked from that postion since the summer forest fires of 201o.

The Russian physicist Roald Sagdeev is a member of the Pontifical Academy of sciences. He is one of the scientists who signed the open letter in defense of the climate research. I have posted a number of articles about Dr. Sagdeev.

Virginia's Attorney General Cuccinelli, who persecutes the climate scientist Dr. Michael Mann, cites a news article from the Kremlin's official press agency RIA Novosti in his attack on the EPA; but he doesn't consider the perspective of one of Russia's greatest scientists, Roald Sagdeev, the first Soviet scientist to be a member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

When Dr. Sagdeev lived in the former U.S.S.R., he bravely published a 1987 letter in Izvestia that distanced the Soviet Academy of Sciences from the KGB's campaign to spread the lie that the U.S. Army made AIDS to kill blacks.

Acording to The New York Times (11-7-87):

Soviet scientists have disavowed charges in the Soviet-sponsored press that the AIDS virus was artificially cultivated at a secret American military base.

The scientists, Roald Sagdeyev and Vitali Goldansky, publicly distanced the Soviet Academy of Sciences from the accusations about American responsibility for acquired immune deficiency syndrome. They said they had protested the appearance of Soviet articles that repeated those contentions.

The disavowal was contained in Izvestia, the Soviet government newspaper...

Dr. Sagdeev is one of my heroes because he spoke on behalf of less powerful Soviet scientists who probably were afraid to challenge the KGB propaganda about AIDS. Dr. Sagdeev defended reason and science instead of pseudo-scientific propaganda that served the regime's political agenda instead of scientific progress. Indeed, the Soviet regime's official ideology, Marxism-Leninism, was a pseudo-scientific ideology that masqueraded as science.

In 1992, KGB chief Yevgeni Primakov finally admitted that the KGB had spread this propaganda:

The Russian newspaper Izvestiya (3-19-92) reported on March 19, 1992:

[Primakov] mentioned the well known articles printed a few years ago in our central newspapers about AIDS supposedly originating from secret Pentagon laboratories. According to Yevgeni Primakov, the articles exposing US scientists' 'crafty' plots were fabricated in KGB offices.

The homepage of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences has some interesting recent scientific articles. Wikipedia has a good description of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and identifies the current Academicians by country. I would not be surprised if some Nobel-winning climate scientists, who are constantly hounded by the Denialist Party, are someday invited to become members of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences because they aren't just outstanding scientists, they are outstanding defenders of God's creation.

Wikipedia notes:

During its various decades of activity, the Academy has had a number of Nobel Prize winners amongst its members, many of whom were appointed Academicians before they received this prestigious international award.

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