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Animal Feats Inspire Imitation

Imagine carrying 850 times your own weight.  Step aside, Hercules, and meet the Hercules beetle: the strongest creature in the world.  Science Daily said that researchers in Belgium are not just impressed with its show of strength.  They are finding inspiration for “intelligent materials.”     The Hercules beetle has a shell that is able […]

Falling Rocks Leave Holes in Science

Hard data in astronomy is hard to come by, except when it comes by special delivery – as with meteorites.  If there is any class of phenomena that should be well understood, it should be space debris and the craters they form, because the processes involved can be watched in real time.  Meteorites adorn many […]

Humans as Lab Rats, or, Can an Evolved Brain Reason?

Evolutionary biologists and neurologists use their fellow humans as guinea pigs, performing experiments and drawing conclusions about their evolutionary past.  One question rarely asked is how reliable are conclusions drawn from the biologist’s brain that is presumably just as evolved as that of its lab subject.     Everyone does philosophy, but some do it […]

Were Hobbits Pygmies?

More miniature human skeletons have been discovered in Micronesia.  These ones, found at Palau and reported in PLoS One,1 are unquestionably modern human, but small in stature – less than four feet tall.  They are also recent.  Radiocarbon dates on the bones yielded dates between 1400 and 3000 years old.  The find was reported by […]

Saturn Moons Continue to Surprise Scientists

Just days before a long-awaited dive into the plume of Enceladus (see PhysOrg and JPL press release, flyby stats and news release), Cassini found another surprise in the Saturn system: a moon with rings.     A Jet Propulsion Lab press release on March 6 reported that the large moon Rhea may have rings – […]

Mr. Clean Is Sick

Do you get sick too easily?  Did you grow up with allergies?  One reason might be your home environment is too clean, says a story on PhysOrg.     The “hygiene hypothesis” asserts that our immune system over-reacts to lack of stimulation by turning on itself – producing autoimmune diseases and allergies.  It “blames increased […]

Revolt in the Darwin Camp

With minor skirmishes, the Neo-Darwinian Synthesis (natural selection acting on random genetic mutations) has held sway in evolutionary theory since the 1930s.  Now, discontent with the pre-eminence of natural selection is leading to a major skirmish between evolutionists to be fought at a conference this summer.  Susan Mazur calls this the “Woodstock of Evolution” in […]

How to Translate Darwinese

A unique culture has sprung up around evolutionary biology.  Since evolutionary theory encompasses far more than just change in living species (touching on, for instance, ultimate origins, the nature of humanity and the destiny of the universe), its supporters sometimes get a little carried away in their language.  The tendency in science reporting to embellish […]

Grand Canyon: How Do You Get a River Over a Mountain?

One would think that the Grand Canyon, one of earth’s most prominent geological features, studied by geologists for 140 years, would be well understood.  Wrong.  “The Colorado River’s integration off the Colorado Plateau remains a classic mystery in geology, despite its pivotal role in the cutting of Grand Canyon and the region’s landscape evolution.”  That’s […]

Darwin for the Birds

Here’s a flock of bird stories that have Charles Darwin on stage or in the wings, so to speak. Was Darwin wrong?  Yes!  Contra National Geographic (10/24/2004), the science news outlets are all saying today that Darwin was wrong – but only about the origin of chickens (see EurekAlert #1, EurekAlert #2 and Science Daily).  […]

The Root Route

Why don’t roots push a plant right out of the ground?  It’s a question only a scientist or an 8-year-old kid would ask.  The answer is more amazing than either would have realized.  Root hairs feel their way around obstacles and find the openings, in the dark, by means of a complex interplay of proteins […]

Wallace for Darwin Running Mate

Shouldn’t Darwin Day be named Darwin-Wallace Day?  After all, Alfred Russell Wallace is by most accounts the co-discoverer of natural selection.  Papers by Wallace and Darwin were read together at the Linnean Society meeting of 1858, over a year before Origin of Species was published.  Some groups are seeking to give Wallace his due in […]

Polls Produce Politically-Incorrect Results

Polls are like a box of chocolates; you never know what you are going to get.  In a survey conducted by the Channel One Network, a broadcast service for public schools, students were asked if they thought schools should teach only intelligent design, teach only evolution, or teach both.  A majority (52%) responded for teaching […]

Cool Bat Tricks

Bats put on a dazzling air show.  Science Daily revealed that the acrobatic mammals have magnetic instruments.  Somehow, they are able to use the magnetite in their cells as navigational aids.  Scientists from Leeds University and Princeton conducted experiments on large brown bats.  They were able to steer the bats off course by issuing magnetic […]

The Fruits of Two Worldviews

Of all the arenas of state-sponsored genocides of the 20th century, the Killing Fields of Cambodia were among the most disturbing.  There, in a massive social engineering project, a radical communist government systematically starved, tortured and murdered nearly two million people with the brutal efficiency of an assembly line operation.  The regime outlawed all religions.  […]
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