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Was Darwin Wrong?

One would think National Geographic wants to know, judging from the cover of the November 2004 issue: “Was Darwin Wrong?”  A reader might think the magazine editors, in light of the controversy about evolution sweeping the country, thought it would be timely to engage in a scientific debate about Darwin’s 19th-century theory.  The reader might […]

Scientific Supporters of ES Stem Cell Research Fear Future Abuses

“How would you know if a human brain was trapped in a mouse’s body?”  This frightful and intriguing question opened an article in Nature this week.1  More on that in a minute.     Last week, in the Oct. 14 issue,2 a Nature editorial on California’s Stem Cell Proposition 71 stated that “the proposal is […]

Neo-Darwinism Falsified in the Lab

Will the Spaniards be noted in history books as the ones who falsified neo-Darwinism?  Not likely; no one experiment would bring down a biological paradigm with such international and historical momentum behind it.  Nevertheless, looking at the results and conclusions of experiments by three evolutionary biologists at the Institut Cavanilles de Biodiversitat i Biologia Evolutiva, […]

Planet-Building a Mess, or Theories a Mess?

A news release from the Spitzer Space Telescope operated by JPL says, “Astronomers Discover Planet Building is Big Mess.”  Data from the orbiting infrared observatory indicates that dust disks around stars appear to be dominated by collisions of large bodies.  Surprisingly, the dust disks do not correlate with the stars’ ages.  A study of 266 […]

Darwinian Dogma Doubted: Cave Fish Go Blind on Purpose

Contrary to previous belief, blind cave fish have the genes to build eyes but turn them off during development, reports Science Now.  When a body part is no longer needed, scientists usually assume that mutations accumulate in the genes controlling the structure, eventually preventing it from working or being made.  “That was the dogma,” says […]

National Geographic Faces Fact that Darwinism Is Minority View

The cover of the November issue of National Geographic is asking the question, “Was Darwin Wrong?  The work of the 19th-century English naturalist shocked society and revolutionized science.  How well has it withstood the test of time?”  The lead article by David Quammen notes that for decades, though evolution is supported by “overwhelming evidence,” 45% […]

If Mars Had Water, It Wasn’t for Long

The Mars Exploration Rovers found evidence for the minerals jarosite and gypsum.  Jarosite has been found on earth in connection with lava and acidic, sulfur-rich fluids, but usually only persists in an arid environment, says a press release from Virginia Tech based on a paper in Nature last week.1  Consequently, jarosite might be an indicator […]

Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week

This week’s entry has a little jargon in it, but if you remember what we’ve said about the tRNA synthetase family of proteins (see 05/26/2004, 07/21/2003 and 06/09/2003 headlines), you’ll get it.  Paul Schimmel and Karla Ewalt comment in Cell1 on new discoveries by Sampath et al.2 that two of these synthetases fuse together to […]

Ghost of Hitler Still Haunts Western Medicine

“During the 1930s, the German medical establishment was admired as a world leader in innovative public health and medical research.  The question we want to examine is: ‘How could science be co-opted in such a way that doctors as healers evolved into killers and medical research became torture?’”  The question was posed by Dr. Alan […]

Grand Canyon Creation Book Stays on Shelves

The ruckus over a creation-oriented geology book on Grand Canyon at the Visitor Center (see 01/18/2004 headline) is back in the news.  The Environmental Media Services reports that plans for a review have been shelved by the park: Despite telling members of Congress and the public that the legality and appropriateness of the National Park […]

How a Darwinist Explains “Living Fossils”

Darwinism is a flexible concept that must embrace a wide variety of observations, from apparently fast-evolving plants (see 10/12/2004 item on maize) to organisms that seem to remain unevolved for eons.2  Darwin himself saw this flexibility as a strength for his unifying concept of common descent; others criticized it as rationalization (i.e., a concept that […]

News Nuggets

Here’s a collection of news items that deserve quick notice: Mars Rumbles:  Mars still has minor earthquakes, says Space.com, That’s without plate tectonics, “But scientists don’t know exactly how Mars is constructed.”  The Mars Exploration Rovers, meanwhile, awaking from a winter’s nap, are still gathering science data long past their expected lifetime.  Evidence for past […]

Another Thing to Worry About: Synthetic Biology

Philip Ball is no alarmist, but as consultant editor of Nature,1 he had sobering words last week about things that could go wrong in the new field of synthetic biology, where scientists are tinkering with cells to create artificial life forms: The expanding toolbox of ways to re-engineer microbes – and even construct new ones […]

Your Brain Hums While Idling

Your brain is 100% occupied when watching and concentrating on things, and still processing at 80% in the dark when idle, say researchers at University of Rochester.  Opening your eyes only adds 20% more brain activity to the 80% while in neutral.  The amount of neural processing going on in idle mode surprised the researchers.  […]

Great Telescopes Converge on Kepler’s Supernova

The last supernova in our galaxy seen from earth was described October 9, 1604, by Johannes Kepler, a few years before the invention of the telescope.  Now, on the 400th anniversary of that observation, three of NASA’s “Great Observatory” orbiting telescopes – the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, the infrared Spitzer Space Telescope and the Hubble Space […]
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