God in his Heavens

by Kieran Healy on January 31, 2006

I learned yesterday via a local newspaper report of the existence of the “Vatican Observatory”:http://clavius.as.arizona.edu/vo/R1024/VO.html which, surprising as it may seem, is exactly what it sounds like: the astrophysics research division of the Catholic Church. While its “headquarters”:http://clavius.as.arizona.edu/vo/R1024/Headq.html are at Castel Gandolfo (the Pope’s Summer home) in Italy, it’s based here in Arizona at the “Mount Graham Observatory”:http://mgpc3.as.arizona.edu/. There, a bunch of Jesuits operate the “VATT”:http://clavius.as.arizona.edu/vo/R1024/vatt-observer.html, the Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope. I think that’s just fantastic — like something out of Phillip Pullman. Is it too much to hope for the Vatican Superconducting Supercollider, which would once and for all resolve the question of how many angels would be killed if a stream of particles were smashed into the head of a pin?