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Macroevolution Claims Investigated

Two scientific papers recently used the word “macroevolution” in their titles.  Did they actually point to cases of natural increase in information or function? Diatoms:  A paper in PNAS by Finkel et al.1 was called, “Climatically driven macroevolutionary patterns in the size of marine diatoms over the Cenozoic.”  All it discussed was the sizes of […]

Supermen Living in Nepal

There is a race of people at the base of Mt. Everest capable of feats that defy scientific explanation: the Sherpas.  They can carry up to twice their body weight under three hostile conditions that would wear out most of us in a minute: (1) high altitude, (2) long distance, and (3) steep inclines.  Somehow, […]

Obsessed With Sex: How Much Can Be Known About the Sexuality of Hominids?

Bruce Bower in Science News (June 11, 167:24, p. 379) reported on the controversy about the sex life of Lucy and her mate(s).  Owen Lovejoy and Philip L. Reno (Kent State U, Ohio) have “unabashedly” put forth a hypothesis that Mr. and Mrs. Australopithecus afarensis (let’s call him Desi) had long-term relationships and stable families […]

Did Fossils Inspire Thunderbird Legends?

Adrienne Major thinks that the Lakota got their legend of the Thunderbird from looking at fossil pterosaurs in the badlands.  Her speculation is explored in National Geographic News.  Major thinks other world legends have their origin in fossils that ancient people observed. This hypothesis is no less speculative than the one by creationists that Indians […]

Miller Time Party Drags On

Astrobiologists threw a party when a team of researchers decided there was more hydrogen in the early earth’s atmosphere than thought (see “In the beginning, hydrogen: was it Miller Time?, 04/22/2005).  While this was good news for those wishing for better conditions on the early earth for chemical evolution, a few are staying sober enough […]

Are Teens Like Roaches?

A press release from University of Manchester concluded that being a teenage mother might be a good thing.  The conclusion was based on observations of the mating behavior of cockroaches.  Dr. Patricia Moore, one of the researchers, wins Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week: “Although it’s hard to compare the experiences of the female cockroach […]

Reports Differ on Kansas Evolution Debates

How is the debate over evolution in Kansas going?  It depends on whom you ask.  MSNBC News focused on personal attacks between board members (see also the Lexington Herald-Leader).  The Discovery Institute, by contrast, focused on the content of the new proposed standards that allows a “common-sense” approach for teaching all the science about evolution, […]

Are Natural Poisons Health Cures in Disguise?

Three recent stories are suggesting that natural toxins may be too much of a good thing: Snail Trail:  John Roach in National Geographic News wrote about new painkillers and drugs being developed from toxic snail venoms.  Cone snails create an array of hundreds of unique chemical compounds (see 10/22/2003 entry). Fungus Among Them:  A fungus […]

Virginia Teacher Chastened for Making Optional Creation Material Available

A highly-respected and well-liked high school biology teacher in Bristol, Virginia almost lost his job recently.  His crime?  Making an optional notebook of supplementary material called “Creation Battles Evolution” available to his students.  The notebook, printed at his own expense, included evidence for creation and against evolution, from “sources ranging from the Internet to scholarly […]

Cell Wonders Accelerate

Scientific papers on cell biology continue to uncover amazing things as techniques improve to peer into the workings of these units of life.  Here are our Top Ten from the last few weeks: Immunity Tunes:  A press release from Johns Hopkins talked about how, unlike other cells, immune cells undergo a “dizzying loop of activity” […]

NAS Enters the Evolution Web Wars

MSNBC News reports that “Scientists take evolution fight online: National Academies sets up Web site to defend theory.”  (See also Wired News.)  The Evolution Resources website of the National Academy of Sciences, nationalacademies.org/evolution, contains online books and articles, but the most recent entry is an address by outgoing NAS president Bruce Alberts (see 03/24/2005 entry) […]

Enzymes Chew Like Pac-Man

Evidence is growing that many enzymes have moving parts.  They act like scissors, clamps and little pac-mans.  When precisely-folded chains of amino acids emerge from the ribosome, they fold into unique shapes with the aid of chaperones.  But those shapes are not static globs.  They move, say Dmitry A. Kondrashov and George N. Phillips, Jr. […]

Is It Justifiable to Speculate About the Evolution of Murder?

Sharon Begley, writing in the Wall Street Journal May 20, was pretty angry that an evolutionary psychologist tried to give an evolutionary explanation for why men murder women.  She called the theory by Dr. David Buss (U. of Texas, Austin) a just-so story and bad science.  In his book, “The Murderer Next Door: Why the […]

Ice Volcano Seen on Titan

Planetary scientists are reporting the possible discovery of an ice volcano on Saturn’s large moon Titan.  A large circular feature, 18 miles across, appears to have a caldera at the top, is surrounded by stress fractures, and appears warmer than the surroundings (warmer, relatively speaking: the mean surface temperature is -290° F).  The infrared pictures […]

Scientists Confess Their Sins

One-third of scientists engaged in unethical behavior over the last three years, according to a report in Nature.1,2  These include falsification, fabrication and plagiarism as well as a host of questionable research practices.  It’s not so much a problem of high-profile cases of fraud as much as everyday, mundane, “corrosive” ethical lapses that are endangering […]
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