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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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Darwin’s New Terror: Islamic Creationism

The Darwinists must be feel like victims of a pincer strategy.  After years of hassling with American creationists and the Intelligent Design movement in the west, here come the Muslims on the east.  A couple of recent reports express the uneasiness evolutionists feel over the rise of anti-Darwin sentiments in Turkey and other parts of […]

Nature Plagiarizes Behe’s Mousetrap

The prevention of genomic instability – and cancer – can be attributed to a “complex mousetrap” mechanism, said Robert M. Brosh, Jr (Laboratory of Molecular Gerontology, NIH) in Nature.1  This not-so-subtle reference to Michael Behe’s irreducibly complex system described in Darwin’s Black Box even has a mousetrap illustration with the following caption: The BLM protein […]

Thanks to Clam Design, Stronger Materials Are Coming

Scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Labs have produced a lightweight composite material 300 times stronger than its constituents.  How?  By taking inspiration from clams.     The team, writing in Science,1 described nacre, the shiny mother-of-pearl found inside clam shells.  Because of the way it sandwiches crystalline aragonite with layers of protein (07/26/2004), nacre resists […]

Cosmologists Taste the Forbidden Fruit

Everyone agrees: our universe appears fine-tuned for human existence.  You have two choices: it was designed by God, or there is a multiverse (other universes we cannot detect).  Amanda Gefter is unhappy with that choice.  In New Scientist, she asked, why can’t we have more options?     Calling the God-vs-multiverse choice a false dichotomy, […]

Another Attempt to Explain Life’s Handedness

Life uses only single-handed (homochiral) molecules for proteins and DNA.  How that came about when mixtures of life’s building blocks contain equal amounts of both hands is a puzzle that confounds origin-of-life research.  Science Daily reported on new studies at the Argonne National Laboratory that show that molecules in space on a magnetic substrate exposed […]

Go to the Ant, Thou Farmer

We humans boast too much.  Agribusiness?  Ants have it down to a science.  “One of the most important developments in human civilisation was the practice of sustainable agriculture,” stated Science Daily.  “But we were not the first – ants have been doing it for over 50 million years.  Just as farming helped humans become a […]

Knowledge of Light Is Power

Now that engineers are becoming adept at manipulating materials at the scale of billionths of a meter, they are taking first steps toward using a power source familiar to plants: light.  Science Daily described the first humble attempts to get light photons to drive nano-sized machines.     The article did not mention whether photosynthesis […]

Raise Money by Accomplishing Nothing

Frank Drake is being honored on Space.com by the SETI Institute as the “Father of SETI,”  His reputation is providing an opportunity for a fund raiser.  For a lot of money, you can spend time with a celebrity whose accomplishments are questionable. It’s not often you get the opportunity to hang out with a legend!  […]

Nature Can’t Wait for Darwin Day

Darwin Day (Feb. 12, 2009) is months away, but Nature devoted a special issue to it this week.  The cover story, Darwin 200, includes 15 articles and features, some of which are available to the public.  Features include a list of celebrations and exhibitions around the world, including a re-enactment of Darwin’s voyage on a […]

Proteins Can Tie Knots

Your job today is to invent a chain that can tie itself in a knot.  The chain can contain little magnets and electrical parts, but when you let go of the ends, a knot will spontaneously form.  This means that one end must form a loop and the other end must thread the loop.  Give […]

Desperately Fleeing God in Cosmology

Does the fine-tuning of the universe require belief in God?  Or will multiverse theory allow for a self-perpetuating, eternal, godless cosmos?  Tim Folger explored this topic in an interview with Andrei Linde, a cosmologist currently at Stanford, in Discovery Magazine.  The opening line sums up the controversy: “Our universe is perfectly tailored for life.  That […]

Cell Chaperone Is an Optimized Two-Stroke Machine

Proteins need a protected space to fold, and the cell provides it: the GroEL-GroES chaperone (see 05/05/2003, 06/07/2006, and 02/13/2007).  More details keep coming in about this “protein dressing room” as scientists continue to probe its secrets.  Two new papers in PNAS by a team at University of Maryland and College Park reveal that this […]
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