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Horse Evolution Is Back on the Charts

The old horse-evolution charts from the 1880s have been revised substantially since 1920 when paleontologists began to realize the story was not so simple.  (Thomas Huxley had used the series of O. C. Marsh as a focal point of his 1876 lecture tour in the United States.)  These charts portrayed small horses with three toes […]

Agnosticism Loses: Arkansas Science Must Be Atheistic

Updated 05/08/2005:  “What I’m trying to do here is not to deal directly with the existence or non-existence of God, but restore to science the agnostic viewpoint that there could be or could not be rather than the dogmatism that actually currently exists… that absolutely precludes the existence of God.”  These were the words of […]

Home to E.T.: You Have Mail

According to MSNBC News, 138,179 people responded to an offer to beam a message into space.  “Yet another outfit, TalktoAliens.com,” the report continues, “is offering to broadcast your 900-prefix telephone call into space for $3.99 a minute.” Let’s hope E.T. has his spam filter on.  Hey, Nigeria!  Hey, Star Registry!  Look at all these suckers […]

Baloney Detecting Exercise for Students

Jeff Barbour’s brief history of everything was published on Universe Today.  His essay, entitled “Where does intelligent life come from?” paints a short but sweeping panorama from the Big Bang to humans.  Its style is somewhat like watered-down Carl Sagan or gilded Neil deGrasse Tyson (see 09/29/2004 entry).  Here’s a sample about the origin of […]

Religion and Charity Evolved, Claim Darwinists

“Charity begins at Homo sapiens,” quips Mark Buchanan in New Scientist, noting that only human beings exhibit “true altruism” (i.e., helping genetic strangers, such as those suffering from the Asian tsunamis) when such behavior cannot help the individual pass on his or her genes.  He evaluates the various theories that evolutionary psychologists have come up […]

Mars Makeover Underway

Amazing claims about Mars are coming in almost too fast to fathom, reports Space.Com, especially from the European Space Agency’s Mars Express orbiter.  These include evidence for recently active volcanos, frozen ice beds, methane and vestiges of glaciers and waterfalls.  Activity is “only yesterday” in the standard geological timescale.  One said, “it could start up […]

Will Darwinian Law Protect the Unfit?

For the soccer moms, sports fans and teen girls with cell phones glued to their ears who think Darwinism is just an egghead scientific thing, a press release from Vanderbilt University connects evolutionary ideas to legal policies that could affect individual finances, private property rights, political correctness, social conventions, use of resources and public safety. […]

The Future of Biology: Reverse Engineering

Just as an engineer can model the feedback controls required in an autopilot system for an aircraft, the biologist can construct models of cellular networks to try to understand how they work.  “The hallmark of a good feedback control design is a resulting closed loop system that is stable and robust to modeling errors and […]

Oldest Fossils Aren’t

A new analysis of the world’s oldest claimed fossil rock, a banded deposit off the coast of Greenland said to be 3.8 billion years old, probably contains no signature of life, reports Stephen Moorbath (Oxford) in Nature.1  He has visited the Akilia site twice where rocks were purported to contain graphite of biological origin.  He […]

Bacterial Engineering On Par With Higher Life

Bacteria aren’t the simple life-forms microbiologists used to envision, writes Zemer Gitai in Cell.1 Recent advances have demonstrated that bacterial cells have an exquisitely organized and dynamic subcellular architecture.  Like their eukaryotic counterparts, bacteria employ a full complement of cytoskeletal proteins, localize proteins and DNA to specific subcellular addresses at specific times, and use intercellular […]

Martians Might Be Troglodytes

According to an article on Space.Com, Spirit and Opportunity aren’t going to find critters on the surface.  Since the surface is harsh because of radiation, a safer environment might be found in caves.  The discovery of soluble rock and methane is leading some to imagine that extensive caves might exist on Mars, and maybe that […]

Are Stone Age Hunter-Gatherers Evolving or Devolving?

Anthropologists typically view stone age tribes as stuck in an eddy from primitive beginnings, never advancing into civilization.  Yet some tribes of hunter-gatherers in Thailand and Laos appear to have been farmers in their past, reports Science Now with apparent surprise: Traditionally, anthropologists thought that modern hunter-gatherer tribes like the Mlabri descended through the ages […]

Titan: Case of the Missing Methane (and Ethane)

In Astrobiology Magazine this week, an article explained why the lack of methane and ethane oceans on Titan is so mysterious.  Jonathan Lunine, a chemist and astrobiologist who has been studying Titan for over two decades, explained why these hydrocarbons ought to be there.  Methane (CH4) is split by ultraviolet light from the sun.  The […]

Plants Produce Jigsaw Puzzles

The cells on a leaf interlock one another, like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.  In a manner similar to jigsaw puzzles, which can be lifted by the hand even though composed of individually-weak pieces, this gives the leaf structural strength.  How does this come about?  In the current issue of Cell,1 Jeffrey Settleman (Harvard) explains […]

Mad Science: Stanford to Create Rat with Human Brain

Those who thought stem cell research was about helping people afflicted with disease may become alarmed over Stanford’s latest experiment, reported by the UK News Telegraph: the creation of a lab rat with all human brain cells.  The article quotes Wesley Smith of Centre for Bioethics and Culture warning, “biotechnology is becoming dangerously close to […]
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