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What’s in a Name?  Sima Fossils Confuse Human Evolution Story

“A hush fell over the room….”  Ian Tattersall had just astonished paleoanthropologists gathered for a meeting on human origins in Gibraltar.  The group was puzzling over a treasure trove of hominin bones found in the mid-1990s at Sima de los Huesos in Spain.  What should they be called?     The co-discoverer, Juan Luis Arsuaga, […]

DNA Organization Is Fractal

How would you pack spaghetti in a basketball (07/28/2004) such that you could get to any strand quickly?  You might try the “fractal globule” method.  You form little knots, or globules, on each strand.  These become like beads on a string.  Now you fold the beads into globules, and then fold those into higher-level globules.  […]

Fossil Said to Enlighten Evolution of the Ear

Did mammal ear bones evolve?  If so, it was not a straightforward Darwinian progression.  Authors of a paper in Science who announced a new Cretaceous mammal fossil from China had to invoke convoluted explanations to keep the evolution story intact. Science Daily shows an artist’s conception of Maotherium, a chipmunk-sized mammal said to have lived […]

How to Name a Protoplanet

Pallas has long been classified as an asteroid, but all of a sudden in the news media, everyone is calling it a protoplanet.  How did it get promoted?     The picture being painted of asteroid 2 Pallas is that of a planetary building block that failed in its attempt to grow into another real […]

Conservationists Moan Lack of Hikers

When hiking and backpacking were popular in the 1970s, the number of environmentalists and conservationists rose accordingly.  Since then, many content themselves to watch TV and remain city-bound.  The internet exacerbated the problem.  Science Daily said, “a recent fall-off in strenuous outdoor endeavors portends a coming decline in the ranks of conservation backers.”     […]

Darwinists Celebrate Raunchy Pagan Festival

The “Burning Man Festival” is an annual event in a remote Nevada desert that draws the weird and wild into an orgy of self-expression.  About 50,000 free thinkers arrive with body paint and outlandish costumes or minimal clothing – often none at all.  Sexual activity, drug use and alcohol consumption is open and uninhibited.  The […]

Chemistry Nobel Celebrates Cell Complexity

A discovery rivalling the elucidation of the genetic code is the structure of the ribosome – the “molecular machine” that translates the DNA code into proteins.  Untangling the complexity of this multi-part system won three scientists the Nobel Prize for Chemistry (see BBC News).  The winners are Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, Thomas Steitz and Ada Yonath.   […]

How to Copy a Butterfly Wing

Here’s what you have to do to copy a butterfly wing without destroying it: create compounds using Germanium, Selenium and Stibium.  Combine thermal evaporation and substrate rotation in a low pressure chamber.  Immerse in an aqueous orthophosphoric acid solution to dissolve the chitin.  If you are lucky, you can copy the delicate nanostructure of a […]

Cosmology: Truth or Style?

If you follow cosmology, you’re familiar with WMAP, Type-1a supernovae, gravitational lensing, inflation and a host of technical terms.  They seem authoritative because they rely on respectable laws like gravity and general relativity.  In an article in Nature today, however, Richard Massey pictured the whole enterprise as a matter of fashion, not fact.     […]

Giant Backward Ring Found Around Saturn

Saturn has a newly-discovered ring to add to its decor – the largest of all.  It’s so big, it makes Saturn look like a speck in the middle of it.  The ring, located at the orbit of the small outer moon Phoebe, is inclined 27 degrees and revolves backwards around Saturn.  This was announced today […]

Dino Clawprints in the Sandstones of Time

Some of the largest dinosaur tracks ever found have been uncovered in France.  The BBC News has a picture of tracks nearly 5 feet across made by sauropods that weighed 30 tonnes.  Tracks of ornithischian dinosaurs in South Africa are being analyzed for clues to dinosaur behavior, reported Science Daily.  The team believes that tracks […]

Philosophy Puts Brakes on Simplistic Science

Three stories touching on philosophy of science were reported recently.  They show that simplistic ideas, and even terms deployed, can be misleading.  That’s why philosophers still have a role in curbing the pretensions of scientists, and clarifying scientific issues and terms lest policy-makers and the public get wrong ideas. Are all invasive species bad?:  We […]

Step Aside Lucy; It’s Ardi Time

A new fossil human ancestor has taken center stage.  Those who love Lucy, the australopithecine made famous by Donald Johanson (and numerous TV specials), are in for a surprise.  Lucy is a has been.  Her replacement is not Desi Arnaz, but is designated Ardi, short for Ardipithecus ramidus – the new leading lady in the […]

Anchiornis: Foot Feathers Confuse Bird Evolution Story

The paper on Anchiornis huxleyii was published in Nature,1 along with a News article about it in the same issue by Lawrence Witmer.2  In addition, popular reports were printed by the BBC News, Live Science and Science Daily.     The popular reports are focusing on Xing Xu’s claim that this fossil removes the last […]

Darwinists Party Hardy, But Crash ID Events

As the 150th anniversary of the publication of Origin of Species approaches in November, institutions are promoting Darwin in some bizarre ways.  When other events are held critical of Darwin’s ideas, though, the sponsors know to expect trouble and media distortion.     Last night, the new film Darwin’s Dilemma (review) was shown in the […]
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