October 23, 2010 | David F. Coppedge

Weekend Grab Bag

Here’s another unclassified assortment of news stories readers can follow and evaluate on their own (cf. 10/18/2010).  Take your Baloney Detector along and discern the Amazing from the Dumb.

  1. Fast Lane: Nick Lane explains how life became complex: cells invented mitochondria (Science Daily).  Gem from his paper in Nature:1If evolution works like a tinkerer, evolution with mitochondria works like a corps of engineers.”  For this he gets a royal prize (The Guardian, New Scientist).
  2. The Code Delusion: Steve Talbott tries to wean biology away from the metaphor of codes (The New Atlantis).
  3. Why, chromosome?  Nature News struggles with the apparent rapid evolution of the Y chromosome; or are they overlooking the possibility that humans did not evolve from chimps?
  4. Pick your poison:  Nature News does some head-scratching about convergent evolution of toxins in animals, but recommends we pick a platypus to find useful ingredients for drug design because that animal is an evolutionary newcomer.  Heart patients might like scorpions better, says PhysOrg.
  5. Dawkins talkin’:  Richard Dawkins is still worried about America becoming a theocracy, likes Obama, and is worried about Islam (Houston News Chronicle.
  6. But is it science?  Why is PhysOrg worried about the perception America is a Christian nation?
  7. Moon water:  Where did the moon get all that water?  Ask the BBC News and National Geographic, who reported on LCROSS crash test results.  Be amazed as Space.com tells us “Moon Crater Has More Water Than Parts of Earth.”
  8. Times Are a-Changing:  Check out the equatorial clouds photographed by Cassini at Titan, reported by PhysOrg and JPL.
  9. Oil remedy:  Forgotten about the Gulf oil spill already?  Maybe because microbes have cleaned up more than expected, reported Science Daily.
  10. Cool imagery:  New microscopic techniques are allowing scientists to culture cells in 3-D (Science Daily).
  11. Archaeolo-gee:  Soon you will be able to view the Dead Sea Scrolls online, reported National Geographic.
  12. Edge of space:  The most distant galaxy ever seen has been announced (BBC News), already bright at just 600,000 years after the big bang, 13 billion light-years away (redshift 8.55).
  13. Stuff Happens:  It’s official: evolutionary theory is equal to the Stuff Happens Law.  “100-million-year-old mistake provides snapshot of evolution,” PhysOrg claims.
  14. The Kipling sloth:  Science Daily tells us “How sloths got their long neck.”
  15. Jaws and Jawless:  “Jawless evolution explained,” announced The Scientist triumphantly.  But was it?
  16. Evolve or perish:  New Scientist brings together two leftist favorites: global warming and human evolution.  “Past climate change influenced human evolution,” the article claimed, but then Steve Jones was not sure that’s encouraging.  Arguing like a male chauvinist, he said “We’re not going to evolve our way out of trouble.  The answer lies in our skulls, not our testicles.”
  17. Left face:  David Horowitz described the beautiful world of academia and its open marketplace of ideas on TownHall.com.  And you thought we were serious.
  18. ALH 84001 won’t die:  Mars meteorite supporters are at it again.  PhysOrg is keeping the controversy about life in the Martian rock alive.

PhysOrg, wants us to “Get off Chuck’s back!” (that’s Chuck Darwin).  While wanting to clear up a few misconceptions about Darwin and evolution, she may have introduced a few of her own.  Trying to explain why humans are not descended from apes, but rather from a common ancestor, though “Brandt acknowledges that the last common ancestor of humans and apes must have been ape-like,” she blurted out, “Humans are humans and apes are apes; there’s no transmogrifying one into another.  That train left the station 7 million years ago when the last ancestor common to humans and chimps climbed down from the trees and took up knitting.”


1.  Nick Lane and William Martin, “The energetics of genome complexity,” Nature 467, pp. 929?934, 21 October 2010, doi:10.1038/nature09486.

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Categories: Amazing Facts, Dumb Ideas

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