Brother Guy Consolmagno discusses God's Mechanics.
With wry humor, Brother Guy Consolmagno shows how he not only believes in God but gives religion an honored place alongside science in his life. His book God's Mechanics: How Scientists and Engineers Make Sense of Religion offers an engaging look at how - and why - scientists and those with technological leanings can hold profound, "unprovable" religious beliefs while working in highly empirical fields.
Vatican astronomer Guy Consolmagno is a Jesuit brother with advanced degrees from MIT and the University of Arizona. A highly respected planetary scientist whose research focuses on meteorites, asteroids, and dwarf planets, Consolmagno is the author or co-author of numerous books and publications, including Brother Astronomer and Turn Left at Orion. He even has an asteroid named in his honor (4597 Consolmagno, known to its friends as "Little Guy").
He has served as chair of the Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society and is a past president of Commission 16 (Planets and Moons) of the International Astronomical Union- Grace Cathedral
Brother Guy Consolmagno
Guy Consolmagno, born September 19, 1952, in Detroit, Michigan, USA, obtained his bachelor of science in 1974 and master of science in 1975 in Earth and Planetary Sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and his Ph.D. in Planetary Science from the University of Arizona in 1978. From 1978-80 he was a postdoctoral fellow and lecturer at the Harvard College Observatory, and from 1980-1983 continued as postdoc and lecturer at MIT.
In 1983 he left MIT to join the US Peace Corps, where he served for two years in Kenya teaching physics and astronomy. Upon his return to the US in 1985 he became an assistant professor of physics at Lafayette College, in Easton, Pennsylvania, where he taught until his entry into the Jesuit order in 1989. He took vows as a Jesuit brother in 1991, and studied philosophy and theology at Loyola University, Chicago, and physics at the University of Chicago, before his assignment to the Vatican Observatory in 1993.
In spring 2000 he held the MacLean Chair for Visiting Jesuit Scholars at St. Joseph's University, Philadelphia, and in 2006-2007 held the Loyola Chair at Fordham University, New York. He has also been a visiting scientist at the Goddard Space Flight Center and a visiting professor at Loyola College, Baltimore, and Loyola University, Chicago.
Consolmagno has served on the governing boards of the Meteoritical Society; the International Astronomical Union's (IAU) Division III, Planetary Systems Science (secretary, 2000 - present) and Commission 16, Moons and Planets (president, 2003-2006); and the American Astronomical Society Division for Planetary Sciences (chair, 2006-2007).
He has coauthored five astronomy books: Turn Left at Orion (with Dan M. Davis; Cambridge University Press, 1989); Worlds Apart (with Martha W. Schaefer; Prentice Hall, 1993); The Way to the Dwelling of Light (U of Notre Dame Press, 1998); Brother Astronomer (McGraw Hill, 2000); and God's Mechanics (Jossey-Bass, 2007).
Dr. Consolmagno is curator of the Vatican meteorite collection in Castel Gandolfo, one of the largest in the world. His research explores the connections between meteorites and asteroids, and the origin and evolution of small bodies in the solar system. In 1996, he spent six weeks collecting meteorites with an NSF-sponsored team on the blue ice of Antarctica, and in 2000 he was honored by the IAU for his contributions to the study of meteorites and asteroids with the naming of asteroid 4597 Consolmagno.
Research: Dr. Consolmagno studies the nature and evolution of small bodies in the solar system. His work in the 1970s on the moons of the outer solar system predicted many of the features later discovered by the Voyager and Galileo spacecraft, including the first published suggestion of Europan sub-crustal oceans with the possibility of life. Models for the geochemical evolution of lunar basalts and basaltic meteorites eventually led to the identification, on geochemical grounds, of asteroid Vesta as the parent body of the eucrite, diogenite, and howardite meteorites.�His doctoral thesis in 1978 on the role of electromagnetic forces in chemical fractionations of the early solar system pioneered the field of gravito-electrodynamics, the behavior of dust subjected to both gravitational and electromagnetic forces, and he was the first person to apply this concept to describe the dynamics of Jupiter's dust ring.
Geophysical research in the late 1980s to mid-1990s included mapping tectonic features on the surfaces of outer planet icy satellites to correlate the orientation of these features with possible internal stresses, and applying electromagnetic theory to the problem of detecting an ocean brine under the ice crust of Europa. He was also part of the world-wide campaigns to observe the impact of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 into Jupiter in 1994 and mutual events during the 1995 Saturn ring plane crossing.
Present research is centered on understanding the origin of moons, meteorites, asteroids, dwarf planets, and Trans-Neptunian Objects (TNOs). One continuing project is measuring the density, porosity, and magnetic properties of meteorites, with applications to understanding the lithification of meteorites and the structure of their asteroidal parent bodies. Details of his technique can be found at this PSR page. He is also involved in telescope observations measuring the spectra of small bodies in the outer solar system.
Rev. Alan Jones
Alan Jones, Ph.D., has been dean of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco since 1985.
Jones was formerly the director of the Center for Christian Spirituality and Stephen F. Bayne Professor of Ascetical Theology at General Theological Seminary in New York City. Born and educated in England, Jones was also on the staff of Trinity Institute of Wall Street's Trinity Church. He became a citizen of the United States in 1975.
Jones is the author of several books, most notably, Soul Making, The Desert Way of Spirituality, Passion for Pilgrimage and most recently, The Soul's Journey: Exploring the Three Passages of the Spiritual Life with Dante as a Guide. He is widely known as a gifted preacher and travels throughout the world preaching, lecturing, and leading retreats.