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Does Microevolution Add Up?

Do numerous small changes add up to big ones, like Darwin thought?  In the Jan. 15 issue of Nature,1 New Zealand kiwi David Penny (Allan Wilson Center for Molecular Ecology and Evolution, Massey University) is hopeful that the new chimp genome will prove it so: The fundamental issue here is Darwin’s bold claim that “numerous, […]

Fossil Worm: Does It Help Solve Cambrian Explosion Puzzle?

A soft embryo of a Cambrian worm, exquisitely preserved, makes Graham Budd (U. of Uppsala, Sweden) ask some hard questions about it and other recently-discovered embryo fossils in the Jan. 15 issue of Nature:1 These fossils raise several questions, to say the least.  First, how could they possibly be preserved?  Second, why are they concentrated […]

Centromere Shows More Gems in “Junk DNA”

A biochemist at University of Wisconsin-Madison and a colleague sequenced a hard-to-sequence part of the rice genome, the centromere, and found four genes in it.  Previously, it was thought to be a vast wasteland of repetitive, non-coding DNA.  The scientist, Jiming Jiang, thinks his work provides a “window to evolution” of the centromere, according to […]

Your Bacteria Ancestors

Dr. Peter Antonelli thinks he has mathematically proven that all multicellular organisms, including plants and animals and human beings, came from two ancient bacteria that met and formed a stable, consistent relationship.  His boast is explained on a University of Alberta press release.  He thinks most biologists don’t comprehend his mathematical models yet, but EurekAlert […]

How Enzymes Work – But Don’t Ask Where They Came From: Just Believe

Enzymes are protein machines in the cell that speed up reactions that normally would proceed very slowly or not at all.  Four biochemists publishing in the Jan. 9 issue of Science1 describe the exquisite power of these biological catalysts: “Enzyme catalysis, which can produce rate accelerations as large as a factor of 1019, involves molecular […]

Did Borax Evolve Into 20-Mule Teams?

You’re dating yourself if you remember the old TV western Death Valley Days, and its commercials about 20-Mule Team Borax.  (Mule teams actually did pull loads of borax from Death Valley to Mojave, quite a feat in those days, but that’s another story.)  In modern times, though, borax has made science news as a possible […]

“Accepted Science” or Censorship by National Park Service?

What’s a national park bookstore vendor to do?  A beautiful new book of photographs and quotations on Grand Canyon, entitled Grand Canyon: A Different View by veteran river rafting captain Tom Vail, went on sale in the national park bookstore.  One would think it would not stand out too much along with hundreds of other […]

Book

The Discovery Institute in Seattle has published a new book, Darwinism, Design and Public Education, by John Angus Campbell and Stephen C. Meyer, encouraging schools to teach both sides of the controversy over Darwinism vs Intelligent Design. The Darwin Party’s spin doctoring that students should be protected from the controversy over Darwinism is unpopular and […]

How Do Plants Know When to Bloom?

Scientists like to use big words to impress the rest of us, so they have a term for how a plant decides when to bloom: vernalization.  But making up a word for a phenomenon is not the same as explaining it.     Everybody observes that plants seem to just “know” that spring is here, […]

New Autobiography of Darwin Published

“The Darwin industry as busy as ever with the recent completion of a major biography and renewed scrutiny of his substantial correspondence,” writes Nigel Williams in the Jan. 6 issue of Current Biology.  “But a new edition of his autobiography compiled by his son is a welcome addition.”  The work seems to talk about his […]

How Long Can DNA Survive?

An international team of scientists takes issue with recent claims that ancient DNA has been found in ice, amber, salt or rock many millions of years old (see 05/23/2002 entry, for instance).  They think such cases are due to contamination and have not been independently replicated.  They gathered samples in Siberian and Antarctic permafrost under […]

Discussions Increase About Science and Religion

Cary McMullen, writing for the Lakeland Ledger (Florida), has listed some recent developments indicating that more and more scientists and theologians are becoming interested in the relationship between science and religion.  His list spans a spectrum from atheistic opinions of Stephen Weinberg to neo-orthodox views of Fuller Seminary, with a variety of voices and views […]

Mars Rover Lands

From the scene of news at Jet Propulsion Laboratory At 8:35 p.m. Pacific Time Saturday, January 3, signal was lost as a large set of air bags bounced on the surface of Mars.  After several nail-biting minutes, signal was reacquired by two Earth stations, indicating that the Mars Exploration Rover “Spirit” had survived the heat […]

Stardust Mission Successfully Flies Through Comet Cloud

In the first of what is hoped will be a series of spectacular space missions in 2004, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory flew the Stardust spacecraft today on a wild ride right into the dusty coma of comet Wild-2 (pronounced Vilt-2).  Though the dust storm would have killed an astronaut at that range, the craft emerged […]

Instant Galaxies?

The Hubble Space Telescope, with its Advanced Camera for Surveys, has taken a peek at the most distant galaxy clusters ever seen.  The astronomers found “embryonic” galaxies in a “proto-cluster” of galaxies, named TN J1338-1942, that they estimate formed a mere 1.5 billion years after the Big Bang.  This find has been reported in the […]
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