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School Evolution Bills Listed

In response to claims in the media that many states are passing bills to mandate the teaching of intelligent design along with evolution, Seth Cooper on the Evolution News blog has listed 10 states where evolution bills are being debated and three more where discussions are taking place in the legislature.  Contrary to media reports, […]

“Junk” Cells Maintain the Brain

The most abundant immune cells in your brain are not the neurons, but microglia – spindly cells that were thought to be static and immobile, the smallest of the glia cells that were once considered mere scaffolding to support the more important gray matter (see 11/20/2001 and 01/29/2001 entries).  When two scientists recently applied the […]

Sharks and Beavers Inspire Humans

Animals never cease to amaze us with their clever solutions to problems that plague human technology.  EurekAlert told of work being done by the Society for Experimental Biology to emulate shark skin as a self-cleaning surface for boats; National Geographic News has pictures of the new product, and a comparison with shark skin.  The navy […]

Tulsa Zoo Tolerates Religion &#150 Except the Bible Kind

It’s OK to praise the Hindu god Ganesha and preach pantheism at the Tulsa zoo, but not to mention Genesis.  The zoo board reversed itself after first agreeing to permit an exhibit of the biblical creation account, reported Agape Press.  Christian supporters argued that the zoo “already features religious symbols in other displays, including a […]

Does the Brain Produce the Mind – and Ethics?

Two contrasting views on the mind/body problem appeared in science journals recently.  In Nature this week,1 Paul Bloom (Yale) reviewed The Ethical Brain (Dana Press, 2005) by Michael S. Gazzaniga, a member of the President’s Council on Bioethics.  Bloom felt the need to clarify the difference between theological and evolutionary views on the source of […]

Another Dead Sea Scroll Fragment Discovered

“A secretive encounter with a Bedouin in a desert valley” has produced a fragment of the Bible transcribed nearly two millennia ago, reported MSNBC News.  The fragment, a portion of Leviticus on parchment, was found near the Dead Sea, and “has given rise to hope that the Judean Desert may yield more treasures.”  The artifact […]

More Evidence the Molecular Clock is Broken

“We live in interesting times,” grinned David Penny in Nature,1 reporting on how estimates of evolutionary past based on comparative genomics (the molecular clock) is producing confusing results.  Apparently, evolutionary geneticists are going to have to make use of the theory of relativity – i.e., that how fast the clock ticks depends on the viewpoint […]

Planet Orbiting Triple Star Tightens Noose on Planet Formation Theories

The discovery of a planet orbiting a triple star system (see JPL Press Release), described by Maciej Konacki in Nature,1 has delivered a severe challenge to theorists.  In short, the environment is “particularly prohibitive” for planet formation.  This Jupiter-size planet should not be there.     Planet-formation theories have taken a triple whammy lately.  The […]

The Death of the Concept of “Junk DNA”

“God don’t make no junk” has been a slogan for the self-esteem movement, and now no less than Science Now is providing support at the genetic level.  “Don’t call it junk” the article announces, indicating that stretches of non-coding DNA are apparently not useless regions of material as previously believed, but vital to the regulation […]

Cassini Skimmed Over Enceladus at Close Range

The Cassini spacecraft made its closest-yet flyby of Enceladus July 14, skimming just 109 miles above the surface.  This was the closest approach to any object thus far in the four-year mission.  It was nearly three times closer than the earlier record, the March 9 Enceladus flyby (see encounter map).     Enceladus has long […]

Mountain-Building Time Cut by Two Thirds

How long does it take to build mountains?  The conventional wisdom is that mountain building (orogeny) is a slow, gradual process that takes many millions of years.  A story on Live Science doesn’t deny some millions, but reduces the estimated age of a range in Norway from 40 million to 13 million, and claims the […]

Astrobiologists Search for Lefty Life in Chile

The title isn’t meant to imply Chile is dead or devoid of left-handers.  Instead, it announces that astrobiologists are practicing life detection strategies in the high deserts of that South American country, according to Astrobiology Magazine.  Chile’s Atacama desert is one of the driest places on earth, with almost no signs of life.  NASA scientists […]

How Identical Are Identical Twins?

Identical twins look identical, and the assumption is that their genes are, too.  Not necessarily, found a team of European scientists publishing in PNAS.1  Their studies of genes from identical twins found that even when indistinguishable at birth, divergence over time in the expression of genes became evidence due to epigenetic (above-gene) factors: MZ [monozygotic] […]

AAAS President Rails Against ID

Alan Leshner, CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and executive publisher of Science, wrote an editorial asking “Why are scientists so upset about the growing movement to bring ‘intelligent design’ (ID) into science classrooms and public education venues such as science museums, zoos, and theme parks?”  He took the occasion of […]

Scientists Own Up to the Need for Ethics

The image of a scientist free to follow his quest wherever it goes is changing.  In an age of international terrorism, governments are becoming more wary of the potential downsides of scientific investigations, and scientific organizations are beginning to fall in line, reluctantly but understandingly.  “Biologists may soon have little option but to sign up […]
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