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Merry SETI Holidays

How does the SETI Institute say happy holidays?  To find out, visit their year-end press release on Space.com.     SETI Institute CEO Tom Pierson loaded his cheery year-end greeting with all kinds of moral terms.  In his short, upbeat article you can find references to gratitude, well-wishing, beauty, the human spirit, inventiveness, inquisitiveness, exploration, […]

World’s Largest Dino Graveyard Found

China boasts the world’s largest known dinosaur graveyard, a report from China View claims.  Over 7,600 fossils have been found so far.  These include hadrosaurs, ceratopsians, ankylosaurs, and tyrannosaurids.  Though known since at least 1980, the area has yielded new fossil sections during mining operations.  “A 2m skull of a large ceratopsian was found here,” […]

Handy Motor Found in Virus

Your job today is to stuff a delicate chain into a barrel without breaking it and make it wrap neatly inside.  A tiny virus does this with helping hands, reported Purdue University.  A research team uncovered the mechanism of a “powerful molecular motor” that crams the viral DNA tightly into the capsid with the help […]

Language Evolved from Whistling

Meet Bonnie, the whistling orangutan.  According to National Geographic News, she is giving evolutionary anthropologists something to talk about: the evolution of human language.  NG reported on a new theory: Lead author Serge Wich of the Great Ape Trust of Iowa, said orangutans in Indonesia have been seen pretending to wash clothes.  “We know they […]

Plants Heal Humans and Vice Versa

Flowers in your hospital room do actually make you heal faster.  A study by Kansas State researchers reported by PhysOrg found that more patients recovered from abdominal surgery faster with flowers in the room.  It may be due to more than the psychological benefit of enjoying their colors, fragrances and the get-well wishes behind them: […]

History Debunks Scientism

Science is not an honest quest for truth, said a scientist.  In a letter to the editor of Nature,1 William Burns of the University of Queensland dished out some dirt he shoveled up in new online archives of scientific journals.  It wasn’t pretty.     Burns found 100 abstracts of articles written by Trofim Lysenko, […]

Cilium Likened to GPS

A story on Science Daily says that the primary cilium, a protrusion on most human cells that looks like an antenna, acts like a GPS system.  They “orient cells to move in the right direction and at the speed needed to heal wounds, much like a Global Positioning System helps ships navigate to their destinations.” […]

Comparing Geological and Biological Patterns

Beehives have hexagons.  So do lava flows.  Is there any difference in how they form?  Science Daily shows a picture of polygon-shaped tops of basalt columns at the Giant’s Causeway in Ireland.  Similar formations are found in the Grand Canyon, at Devil’s Postpile in California, and in many places around the world.     Researchers […]

This Day in History: Genesis from the Moon

Forty years ago this day, Christmas Eve, a riotous and troubled world stopped in its tracks and held its breath.  The crew of Apollo 8, which had blasted off 3 days earlier in the new behemoth rocket Saturn V, masterminded by rocket pioneer Wernher von Braun, had reached orbit around the moon, and was about […]

Science Intrudes Into Morality

The Pope recently declared that we need to save humanity from self-destructive behaviors, like homosexuality.  Can science intrude on questions of human behavior and morals?  New Scientist thought so; a blog entry today says the Pope “misuses science to attack homosexuality.”     One would think that moral behavior would lie outside the field for […]

Bat Evolution: The Play’s the Thing

According to the Darwinian script, each animal evolved its particular adaptations from an ancestor lacking those adaptations.  Take bats.  They must have evolved their wings and sonar from mouse-like ancestors that lived on the ground.  Is it enough to imagine these things, or should we expect science to provide evidence that is what really happened? […]

Dream On, Astrobiology

An astrobiologist at Open University (UK) has classified habitable worlds into four types, even though only one of them is known to have life.  Astrobiology Magazine reported the list by Jan Hendrik Bredeh?ft: earth-like, Mars-like, Venus-like and water-worlds.  After considering all the facts, Bredeh?ft says our best bet to find extraterrestrial ecosystems is to hunt […]

Water, Water Everywhere

A press release from the Max Planck Institute says that water has been detected at a distant quasar 11.1 billion light-years away – the farthest detection of water yet.  “The water vapour is thought to exist in clouds of dust and gas that feed the supermassive black hole at the centre of the distant quasar,” […]

Which Evolution Should Be Taught?

Two articles in Scientific American’s cover feature on evolution in preparation for Darwin Day (12/15/2008, 12/16/2008) quoted a favorite line by Dobzhansky, “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.”  Assuming a teacher or textbook writer wants to illustrate how true this proverb is, which evolutionary proposal should be presented?  Recent articles […]

Cassini Celebrates Season of Change

It’s approaching equinox on Saturn.  Cassini is now well into its first extended mission, aptly dubbed the Equinox Mission, till Sept. 2010.  The Cassini Team just exhibited its snazzy new website.  It’s not all bells and whistles.  The science is ringing the phones off the hook.  Even without the pictures the following announcements could stop […]
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