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Dark Matter: Where Is It?

If physicists and astronomers are going to continue to tell us that 95% of the mass in the universe is hidden in some unobservable dark matter, they had better find it soon.  Two articles on PhysOrg (#1, #2) reported on continuing efforts to find the elusive stuff – if it exists at all.  The first […]

Oil Can Come from Rock

Methane and other hydrocarbons can be produced in the mantle, reported Science Daily.  This disputes earlier beliefs that oil and gas are products of organisms that lived and died.  Carnegie Institute scientists have produced ethane, propane, butane, molecular hydrogen, and graphite in high-pressure equipment simulating conditions 40 to 95 miles deep in the crust and […]

Sexual Selection Discounted in Toucan Bill

Darwin thought that the large bill of the toucan might be an ornament produced by his theory of sexual selection.  A new study says, rather, that the bill serves as a heat radiator the bird uses to control body temperature.  National Geographic News summarized a paper in Science that explained the process.1  The authors studied […]

Epigenetics Rising in Consciousness of Geneticists, Embryologists

The old story of genetics was that all the information is in genes, and when sperm and egg unite, it’s only the combination of genes from parents that affect the offspring.  That view has been under challenge for years now as geneticists and embryologists find more and more evidence for additional heritable factors that affect […]

Weekend Roundup

Here’s a quick collection of recent news articles bearing on questions of origins, morals, fossils, outer space, science, health and Darwin. Mars risks:  The dust on Mars may be toxic to humans.  New Scientist reported that evidence from the rovers shows the electrically-charged dust clinging to everything.  “If the dust is toxic and you bring […]

Selfish Gene Mutates, Dies a Metaphorical Death

Richard Dawkins proposed in his book The Selfish Gene that a gene, being the target of natural selection and unit of replication, is the entity most likely to get passed on to posterity; as such, it is “selfish” in that the rest of the organism is really only incidental to its immortality.  Dawkins expanded this […]

Nanotech Blurs Line With Biophysics

Machines on the molecular scale – in the literature these days, one needs to dig to find whether a news article is talking about man-made machinery or the living cell.  Both employ laws of physics to do work.  Notice how seamless the connection is in the following examples. Kinesin tightrope walk:  Scientists at Northwestern University […]

Biological Big Bang: Another Explosion at the Dawn of Life

Eugene Koonin and two friends from the NIH went tree-hunting.  They examined almost 7,000 genomes of prokaryotes.  They found trees all right – a whole forest of them.  They even found 102 NUTs (nearly universal trees) in the forest.  Unfortunately, it’s not what they wanted to find: a single universal tree of life that Darwin’s […]

More Going On in the Brain Than We Realize

The news story about a girl who can see in both eyes with half a brain has stunned neurophysiologists (see New Scientist and Live Science).  Somehow, the remaining parts of her brain underwent a massive reorganization of the circuits involved in vision.  “It was quite a surprise to see that something like this is possible,” […]

Systems Biology Oddly Silent About Darwin

Two papers on the rise of “systems biology” appeared in Nature last week.  Both are astounded by the complexity of the cell, but neither had anything to say about evolution, Darwin, or phylogeny – mildly surprising when the proponents of evolution keep saying that “nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.” […]

Evolution’s Guiding Hand Is Far From Obvious

A recent example of applying evolutionism to everything was seen on Science Daily and PhysOrg last week.  Some psychologists are telling us that evolution taught us to take turns.  “It’s not just good manners to wait your turn — it’s actually down to evolution, according to new research by University of Leicester psychologists.”     […]

Aliens Are Not Bodybuilders

Seth Shostak of the SETI Institute is willing to bet “dollars to Devil Dogs that any extraterrestrials we detect won’t be muscular guys with deep voices and corrugated foreheads, or even big-eyed, hairless grays.”  It all has to do with the way evolution works.     In the weekly SETI column for Space.com, Shostak opined […]

Dragonflies Are Marathon Champs

Step aside, monarch butterflies: some of your fellow insects beat your distance flying wings down.  The BBC News reported on findings by a biologist in the Maldives about dragonflies that migrate 14,000 to 18,000 km from southern India to East Africa and back – including 800 km over open sea.  How these insects can navigate […]

Stretching Out the Cambrian Explosion

“Dawn of the animals: Solving Darwin’s dilemma” is the confident-sounding title of an article about the Cambrian explosion in New Scientist.  Their solution, however, did not include finding transitional forms.  It revolved around “setting the stage” environmentally for the sudden appearance of complex animals.     Reporters Douglas Fox and Michael Le Page began by […]

The Early Man Gets the Big Brain

“Why are human brains so big?” asked Live Science.  Why are our brains larger relative to body size than almost all other animals?  Rachael Rettner reported on various answers.  To her credit, she pointed out the fallacies of trying to test hypotheses when there is insufficient evidence.     Rettner evaluated three hypotheses about why […]
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