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First Mercury Research Papers in from MESSENGER

Science published a suite of papers analyzing data from the first MESSENGER spacecraft flyby of Mercury.1  The flyby last January was the first since Mariner 10 visited in the 1970s.  Mariner 10 had left many questions that are now being revisited.  Among the dozen papers and articles, here are three that discuss the most significant […]

Feather Fossil Fallacy?

Imprints of melanocytes have been found in fossil feathers.  What does this mean?  The popular science news reports, like Science Daily, Live Science, PhysOrg and the BBC News seem convinced it can tell us something about how birds evolved from dinosaurs.  Understanding what was discovered requires sifting through claims that go far beyond the evidence. […]

It’s Networks All the Way Down

New ways of seeing biology are finding life is full of networks.  At both ends of the complexity scale – from humans to bacteria – complex interactions are the rule.  Two teams studying different phenomena had the same reaction – astonishment. Bottom-up complexity:  Who would have thought one of the simplest life forms has a […]

Leaky Fat Blobs Produced Life

“How life began remains an open question,” said David Deamer in Nature,1 then filled the opening with a speculation: maybe life started in leaky blobs of fat.     The imaginary first primitive cells would have had a problem.  Without transport proteins that control entrances and exits, any lucky ingredients that might have come together […]

Darwinist Reporter Calls Everyone a Hypocrite

In a surprising show of journalistic hubris, reporter Robin Nixon of Live Science accused every human being in the world of being a moral hypocrite.     “Why We’re All Moral Hypocrites” reported results of a study by Piercarlo Valdesolo at Northeastern University that indicated people tend to judge themselves more leniently than others.   […]

Amazing Cell Tricks: Contour Map Navigation

Watch a cell divide, and if things go well, it always divides in the middle.  How does a cell figure out where its middle is?  It follows its contour map.  PhysOrg titled its entry, “Dividing cells find their middle by following a protein ‘contour map’.”     Cell division, or cytokinesis, is a precisely-controlled operation […]

How to Tell an Evolutionary Story

Thanks to Science Daily, we now know that “Evolutionary Origin Of Mammalian Gene Regulation Is Over 150 Million Years Old.”  The proof is easy.  It is so easy, in fact, that no proof is necessary.  One can merely assume it is true.  Trust them; they are scientists, after all. Here is how the E word […]

Leaf Vein Patterns Are Not in Vain

The vein patterns in a leaf approach perfection.  If the requirement is to reach every cell with the shortest and most efficient paths, leaves do it just right.  A team of scientists at Cornell, “inspired by plant leaves,” tried to build a network in a polymer substrate that would maximize distribution of fluid with evaporation-driven […]

Saturn Rings: F is for Flamboyant

The Cassini spacecraft just started its extended mission on July 1.  Among its many achievements during the four-year prime mission (2004-2008) was the elucidation of complex processes occurring in Saturn’s rings.  One ring in particular, the thin outlying F-ring, attracted particular interest.  Voyager scientists from the early 1980s could hardly believe their eyes when separate […]

Can Psychology Figure Out Humans?

Psychology is often considered a soft science.  Anything they pronounce one year is likely to be modified or overturned the next.     A few years ago (and still in some quarters), self-esteem was all the rage (now fading, though; see 05/12/2003).  We should be assertive and confident, we were told, and make our feelings […]

Cosmology at the Outer Limits

Those who think cosmology could not get any weirder than it already is (01/15/2008) may want to take note of recent pronouncements by the gurus of universal physics.  Physics teachers in particular may feel an obligation to state Bob Berman’s disclaimer (10/06/2004) before class: viz, “Warning: The following contains contemporary cosmology.  Reading it can produce […]

Yellow Journalism Invades Science

James Kerian, a mechanical engineer, has a colorful term for science reporting these days: “yellow science.”  Writing for the Wall Street Journal June 25, he accused scientists of the same kind of sensationalism that disgraced journalism in the days of William Randolph Hearst.     The occasion for Kerian’s criticism was reporting about man-made global […]

Public Views on Darwin Not Evolving

A new Gallup Poll shows that American views on evolution have changed little for 26 years.  Since 1982, the Gallup organization has periodically polled a random sample of adults to see if they believe humans evolved millions of years ago (with or without God’s help) or were created by God in their present form within […]

Birds of Different Feathers Evolve Together

Are pigeons like parrots?  Are hummingbirds like hawks?  And are falcons unlike eagles?  Scientists are all a-flutter after results of a massive genetic comparison of birds has put some members in unlikely pigeonholes.  “The largest ever study of bird genetics has not only shaken up but completely redrawn the avian evolutionary tree,” said Science Daily.  […]

Not Another Tetrapod Missing Link

Fossils don’t contain light bulbs, but almost every time a new one is found, scientists claim it sheds light on evolution.  The BBC News kept that tradition going with this line, “Scientists say a fossil of a four-legged fish sheds new light on the process of evolution.”  What, exactly, was found?  Whatever Ventastega curonica was, […]
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