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How Tall Can a Tree Grow?

130 meters (426 ft) seems to be the upper limit on the height of a tree, say researchers from Humboldt State, Northern Arizona University and Pepperdine University, in the April 22 issue of Nature.1  To find this out, they had to establish working stations at the tops of northern California redwoods, the tallest trees on […]

Does Ethics Emerge From Genes Alone?

Gene Robinson wants to get us “beyond nature and nurture” in discussions of behavior.  Robinson, of the Department of Entomology and Neuroscience at the University of Illinois in Urbana, wrote an essay in the April 16 issue of Science1 that suggests it is not “either-or” but “both-and” – both genetics and the environment affect the […]

How Birds Calibrate Their Navigating Maps

Three researchers tracked birds in the wild and concluded that “night-flying thrushes set their course using a magnetic compass, which they calibrate to the setting sun before takeoff each evening.”  The team of three captured thrushes in Illinois and attached small radio transmitters to them, then followed their flight for up to 1100 kilometers.  By […]

The Spin on a New Planet

Planetary scientists are “completely baffled” by a new “mysterious” planetoid named Sedna, discovered March 15.  About 70% the diameter of Pluto, it has no moon like Pluto does, but rotates very slowly – somewhere between 20 and 50 days – which would normally imply the presence of a satellite.  Most small bodies rotate in a […]

Is It Possible to Be Too Clean?

Mr. Clean may have a bad immune system.  A story in EurekAlert says kids without enough exposure to infectious agents are at greater risk of autoimmune diseases.  “The cleaner everyone is, the less stimulation their immune system gets,” says [Nora] Sarvetnick [of Scripps Research Institute]. “Their immune system tends to be incomplete.”  Stimulation increases the […]

Fish Gene Gives Darwinists Hope

It doesn’t take much to excite an evolutionary biologist.  A little bit of microevolution that might be a stepping stone to macroevolution is all it takes.  This story almost reads like a Good News – Bad News joke.  The good news is that one gene that regulates the spines on one kind of fish has […]

Slowing Down the Cambrian Explosion

“Although the cause of the Cambrian radiation is unknown,” states a story in Science Now, maybe it wasn’t as rapid as previously thought.  Bruce Lieberman (U. of Kansas) is toying with the idea that trilobites, those icons of the Cambrian era, radiated into various ecological niches 65 million years earlier than the ~520 million year […]

Fake Darwinism Created by Intelligent Design

Scientists have created enzymes with enhanced ability to select between left- and right-handed molecules, using an “evolutionary” process, claims Manfred Reetz in a Perspective article in PNAS:1 A fundamentally new approach to asymmetric catalysis in organic chemistry is described based on the in vitro evolution of enantioselective enzymes.  It comprises the appropriate combination of gene […]

Mars Rovers Continue to Surprise Scientists

The Mars Exploration Rovers are still going strong, with many sols ahead for RATting rocks and rolling the plains [RAT, v., to use the Rock Abrasion Tool; sol, n., a Martian day].  The navigators are happy to be back on Earth time, and are poised for more thrilling discoveries as they enter the extended mission […]

Quartz Hydration Dating Method Announced

A press release from University of California, Irvine announced that Jonathon Ericson of UCI’s department of Environmental Health has “created a new method for determining the approximate age of many artifacts between 50,000 to 100,000 years old – a period for which other dating methods are less effective.”     The method depends on measuring […]

Federal Judge Rules Evolution Must Be Taught As Fact, Not Theory

It sounds like open-mindedness is illegal in Georgia, on the face of it.  Federal judge Clarence Cooper is allowing a lawsuit against the Cobb County school district to go to trial.  Their crime has been to insert warning labels in biology textbooks that state, simply, This textbook contains material on evolution.  Evolution is a theory, […]

Sober Up About Alleged Alcohol Benefits

The Brits are not about to take an axe to the pubs, but Nature this week published two sober warnings about the dangers of alcohol abuse.  They warn that the oft-claimed benefits of drinking in moderation apply only to a few groups (primarily the elderly), and are drowned in the known health risks.  “We pay […]

Underground Rodents Have Better Eyes Than Darwin Predicted

European scientists looked into the eyes of African mole-rats, expecting to find retinas that had deteriorated due to disuse in the underground, lightless environment.  What they found were several surprises that “call for a revision of our current views on the visual system of subterranean mammals,” reports a Max Planck Society press release.     […]

Science Reporters Stretch the Truth on Limb Evolution Claim

Item: some fragments of bone were found from a road cut in Pennsylvania.  Conclusion: Darwinian evolution from slime to humans has been demonstrated again.  Sound far fetched?  Not if you are a science reporter for a typical news organization; this is common practice.     The bone this time is a humerus of a presumed […]

Sea Genes Multiply

A potential paradigm-shifting discovery has been made in the doldrums of the Sargasso Sea: there are many more genes in plankton than expected.  Craig Venter’s Celera team sampled the genetic content of microbes off the Bermuda coast, and in 1500 liters of surface seawater, found 1.5 million new genes.  Falkowski and de Vargas, writing about […]
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