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How the Girl Evolved Fear of Spiders

Today’s Evolutionary Just-So Story is brought to you by New Scientist: “Girls Are Primed to Fear Spiders.”  Once upon a time, while cavemen were out hunting and gathering, the women back home had to learn to avoid dangerous animals.  David Rakison of Carnegie Mellon University put this all into evolutionary terms for the rest of […]

Return of the Peppered Mice

Slight changes in the coat color of deer mice is the latest triumph of evolutionary theory, if we are to believe the BBC News and New Scientist.   The BBC announced, without apologies to Jonathan Wells, that “A tiny pale deer mouse living on a sand dune in Nebraska looks set to become an icon of […]

What’s Up With the Planets?

Here are planets and moons making news in our celestial neighborhood, the solar system.  Maybe we’ll drop in on another neighborhood while we’re looking around. Venus resurfacing:  Planetary geologists can’t get away from the evidence that Venus underwent a planet-wide volcanic resurfacing epoch.  Crater counts and lava flow surveys leave little room for doubt that, […]

Feather Technology Resurrected in Printer After 40 Million Years

A fossil bird feather from Germany still shows that melanosomes – the cell organelles that produce iridescent colors in feathers – are still visible after an alleged 40 million years.  The structures were long thought to be remnants of bacteria that fed on the organic matter, but now are seen to consist of original feather […]

Plants Use Hourglass Mechanism

Plants need to know when to flower and produce seed.  They can read the sunshine, but what about plants living in shade or cloudy conditions?  It turns out they have two mechanisms for telling time: a light meter and an hourglass.  If the light meter doesn’t switch on, the hourglass lets the plant know it […]

Cosmic Accounting Is Wildly Inaccurate

Counting faint celestial objects is admittedly hard, but the task should be within the capabilities of expert astronomers.  It is, after all, as simple as counting.  So much theoretical work relies on accurate counts of what’s out there, they need to get at least in the ballpark.  Recent indications hint that their counts have been […]

Does Evolution Produce Winners?

Referees at UCLA are calling the shots in an unusual sport: the evolution game.  Mammals, birds and fish swept the medals.  The losers?  crocodiles, alligators, and a “living fossil” reptile called the tuatara.  According to the judges, the more the biodiversity, the more a group wins points; the more their species go extinct or remain […]

DNA Translator More Complicated Than Thought

One of the most remarkable molecular machines in your body, the ribosome, is coming to light, nanometer by nanometer, as scientists find new ways to peer into the inner workings of the “black box.”     Science Daily reported on work at Berkeley that has given the clearest imagery yet.  “Ribosomes, which number in the […]

Are We at the Center of the Universe?

An alternative cosmology that doesn’t require dark energy may have the effect of putting the Milky Way near the center of the universe.  That’s not the only interpretation, but it is being considered.     Space.com reported on work by mathematicians at UC Davis who solved Einstein’s field equations without dark energy.  If the big […]

Appendix to The Origin: “Darwin Was Wrong”

The appendix, that lowly dollop of tissue relegated to vestigial organ status by the Darwinians, is alive and well with new respect.  Science Daily announced results of the “first-ever study of the appendix through the ages.”  Conclusion: “Charles Darwin was wrong: The appendix is a whole lot more than an evolutionary remnant.  Not only does […]

Planet-Makers Ask Miracles to Evade Death Spiral

Remember the old artwork of planets gently forming out of dust orbiting a young star?  That’s all gone.  Reality has set it.  Clumps of material a meter across need help – almost miraculous help – to avoid getting sucked into the star in a giant death spiral.  If you don’t believe it, ask John Chambers […]

Evolution 2.0: What’s in the Upgrade?

Consider Evolution 1.0.  That was the old biological, Darwinian stuff.  Now, there’s Evolution 2.0 – the evolution of technology.  W. Brian Arthur explained the upgrade package for New Scientist: “On the origin of technologies.”     Arthur is not the first to try to define a law of nature for the origin of technology.  He […]

Faint Young Sun Paradox Resolved

For decades, astronomers and geologists have worried about a paradox.  Stellar evolution theory claims sunlight on the early earth would have been 20-30% dimmer than it is today, but geology shows the oceans were liquid in the earliest (Archean) rocks.  For that matter, so does the book of Genesis, but that record is not usually […]

Is It OK When Astronomers Sell Stars?

Most people have heard the ads for companies that sell you a certificate for a star they will name after you.  Professional astronomers have usually been quick to discourage people from falling for the schemes that have no professional or international authority for naming stars (for instance, see this article on Wired.com).  But now, according […]

Twitter the ET Bandwidth Wagon

If you have nothing better to do, send a message to an alien.  Leonard David reported on Space.com that a website in Australia is collecting messages to beam up to a planet named Gliese 581d that is 20.3 light-years away.  Even a Senator who is Australia’s Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research got involved.  […]
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