VIEW HEADLINES ONLY

Fire Technology Began Much Earlier Than Believed

A team publishing in Science1 claims they found evidence that humans were using fire treatment of stone tools much, much, much earlier than prior dates for cognitive abilities.  But they can’t seem to settle on just how early.  The dates vary by more than 100%.  One date, 72,000 years before the present, is about 50,000 […]

Comet-Ocean Theory Gets Another Splash

National Geographic News gave some halfway-enthusiastic press to another recurrence of a theory that circulates from time to time – that earth got its ocean water from comets.  They gave air time to work by Uffe Jorgensen and a team from the Niels Bohr Institute in Denmark that concludes “comets were the culprits” in the […]

Evolution of the Knuckle Head

An evolutionary anthropologist looked at the knuckles of chimpanzees.  Then she looked at the knuckles of gorillas.  Then she looked at her own knuckles.  Conclusion: humans evolved from tree climbers, not knuckle walkers.  Her theory can be read in Live Science, based on a paper in PNAS.1     Tracy Kivell and Daniel Schmitt from […]

Protein Function: It’s All in the Fold

Most chemical reactions involve atoms or molecules bumping into one another and exchanging electrons.  Proteins, by contrast, derive their immense functional repertoire from their shapes.  Several recent studies explore the amazing potential for strength, motility and catalysis that derives from the way proteins fold. Clots:  A picture of fibrin graces an article in Science Daily.  […]

Crow Fulfills Aesop Story

The fabled intelligence of the crow has been tested, and the crows passed.  Bird and Emery tested an old Aesop fable and were amazed: In Aesop’s fable The Crow and the Pitcher, a thirsty crow uses stones to raise the level of water in a pitcher and quench its thirst.  A number of corvids have […]

Don’t Just Sit There; Do Something

Inactive people have the most health problems.  That’s why the American Psychological Association is warning that sedentary lives can be deadly, according to Science Daily.  A speaker at an APA convention called physical inactivity “the biggest public health problem of the 21st century.”     Some 25-35% of adult Americans – 40 to 50 million […]

Did Evolution Create Genetic Proofreading?

Protein manufacture in the cell is such a critical operation, there are numerous error-checking mechanisms the cell uses to get it right.  One of the most amazing is the careful association of DNA codons with amino acids, and the “proofreading” or “spell checking” that ensures fidelity.  How could spell checking evolve?     Science Daily […]

Paper View:  A Geology Paradigm Suffers a Paradox

A pair of geologists found a paradox in a paradigm.  That paradigm is the belief that ancient ocean levels rose and fell in cycles as ice sheets retreated and advanced, and the cause of the cycles was periodic changes in earth’s orbit.  They modeled this process and couldn’t get it to work.  They couldn’t get […]

Mars Looks More Hostile to Life

The methane Mars produces gets destroyed rapidly.  This is leading some planetary scientists to get depressed about the possibility of finding life there.     The BBC News, Space.com and New Scientist all reported on the paper in Nature,1 saying this represents bad news for life.  In models by Franck Lefevre and Francois Forget, patterns […]

Pterosaur Fuzz May Have Boosted Flying Finesse

Fibers on a well-preserved pterosaur from Mongolia are unlike anything seen before.  Scientists wonder if it gave the animals better control in the air.  National Geographic News said the hairlike fibers cover the whole body and part of the wings of Jeholopterus ninchengensis.  Normally, such fine details are not preserved in fossils.  “It must have […]

Spleen Scores, Darwin Loses

Hold onto your spleen if you can.  The lowly organ, “known as much for its metaphoric as its physiological value, plays a more important role in the body’s defense system than anyone suspected.”  Natalie Angier reported in the New York Times that Harvard researchers found that the spleen acts like a fort for disease-fighting monocytes, […]

Cosmologist Has a Sobering Thought: We Are Forever in the Dark About Dark Energy

An evangelist for the standard model of cosmology is having a moment of penitence.  He is admitting to himself, and to the world, that “we will remain resolutely in the dark about dark energy.”     In a piece in New Scientist, Pedro Ferreira [Oxford] has revealed the vicious circle of assumptions that undermine confidence […]

Dino Protein Confirmed

An independent study of bone marrow contents from a T. rex that was reported in 2007 to contain fragments of protein has confirmed the claim, reported Science Daily.  Seven peptides from collagen, and apparently traces from hemoglobin, were detected.  The findings are scheduled to be published in the Sept. 4 issue of Journal of Proteome […]

Fertile Crescent Disappearing

The birthplace of civilization and empire, the Fertile Crescent, is drying up.  New Scientist posted a worrisome story that modern Iraq is in dire straits as dams upstream in Turkey are threatening to reduce the Tigris and Euphrates rivers to a quarter of their natural levels.  This is happening in a land already parched by […]

Does Evolution Need a Helping Hand?

New Scientist didn’t think about that question, because reporter Ewen Galloway he said, “If humans want to persuade microbes to produce vast quantities of fuels or pharmaceuticals, we may need to give evolution a helping hand.”     His article was about researchers at Harvard Medical School using computers to do “rapid evolution.”  How this […]
All Posts by Date