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Life, an Elegantly Simple Mistake

The ribosome is a complex molecular machine made up of multiple protein and RNA parts.  Last year, winners of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry (see 10/10/2009) were praised for elucidating the structure and activity of ribosomes.  News stories described “the whole complicated process of transcription initiation, an operation that is of crucial importance in all […]

Evolution as “Scientific Literacy” Dropped by NSB; Sets Off Firestorm

Can you be called scientifically literate if you deny that humans evolved from lower animals?  What if you deny the universe began with an explosion?  American students have typically scored low on those questions, leading to charges that they are scientifically illiterate compared to other countries in Europe and Asia.  But now, the National Science […]

You Live in a Wormhole in a Black Hole

Is it publish or perish time?  A physicist at Indiana University thinks that “our universe could have itself formed from inside a black hole existing inside another universe.”  Let Nikodem Paplowski explain his idea: But he also notes that since observers can only see the outside of the black hole, the interior cannot be observed […]

Blind Fish Lead the Blind

Imagine miniature subs that can negotiate tight spaces or murky waters in the dark.  Meet Snookie: a device created by researchers at the University of Technology Munich, who took their inspiration from blind cave fish.     The report on Live Science says that the blind Mexican cave fish Astyanax mexicanus is born with eyes […]

Another Fossil “Human Ancestor” Claimed

Meet Australopithecus sediba – or is it Homo something?  Scientists are arguing over how to classify new fossils found in a cave at Malapa, South Africa.  Announced today in Science,1 the fossils, alleged to be just under 2 million years old, are producing a strange mixture of hopeful headlines and cautionary counsels from experts.   […]

Leapin’ Lizards: Giant Lizard Discovered

A large species of lizard unknown to science has been discovered alive and well in the Philippines.  The BBC News has a picture of the monster, a class of monitor lizard, that measures 2 meters from snout to tail.  That makes it about 2/3 the size of its famous cousin from Java, the Komodo Dragon.  […]

Smelling Evolution in Bird Genes

The zebra finch genome has been sequenced; it revealed some surprises.  In the chicken, only 70 of the 500 genes encoding smell receptors produce active proteins.  In the zebra finch, 200 do.  What does this mean?  According to a press release from Weizmann Wonder Wander at the Weizmann Institute in Rehovot, Israel, it means Darwin […]

Early City Uncovered in Syria

A complex, stratified society with industry appears to have burst on the scene 4000 to 6000 years ago in northern Syria.  Science Daily reported, “The mound of Tell Zeidan in the Euphrates River Valley near Raqqa, Syria, which had not been built upon or excavated for 6,000 years, is revealing a society rich in trade, […]

Human Genome “Infinitely More Complex” Than Expected

Ten years after the Human Genome Project was completed, now we know: biology is “orders of magnitude” more complicated than scientists expected.  So wrote Erika Check Hayden in Nature News March 31 and in the April 1 issue of Nature.1     An air of daunting complexity haunts the article.  The Human Genome Project was […]

The Earth Should Have Frozen

According to stellar evolution theory, the earth should have frozen solid four billion years ago, because the young sun could not have put out the heat it does in its middle age.  Called the “faint young sun paradox,” this problem has puzzled scientists for decades.  A new study has failed to solved the puzzle.   […]

Snakes Alive!  An Evolutionary Tale

Blind snakes that look like worms: they rule the world.  They’re everywhere.  Where did they come from?  “Blindsnakes are not very pretty, are rarely noticed, and are often mistaken for earthworms,” admits Blair Hedges, professor of biology at Penn State University.  “Nonetheless, they tell a very interesting evolutionary story.”  So reported Science Daily.  National Geographic […]

Is the Internet Age Redefining Science?

To a middle school student, science is a clear category; it’s a subject you take, along with history, language, or P.E.  You have a science teacher; you read a science textbook.  You learn about the scientific method.  In the real world, though, categories are not always so clearly delineated.  In fact, the leading science journal, […]

Tree of Life – or of Evil Knowledge?

Evolutionary trees are now widely available in a web database.  Scientists can upload and download huge amounts of information on evolutionary relationships of plants, animals and protists.  But is this a case of scientific progress, or of mass deception?     You can go to TreeBase.org and find a treasure trove of phylogenetic information.  The […]

Stem Cells Promise Regeneration

Imagine being able to grow a new limb or jaw.  Adult stem cells may one day make possible something almost unimaginable in hospitals today: the regeneration of new limbs or organs.  There’s growing evidence, too, that mammals once had a regenerative potential that has been lost.     Hydras do it.  Salamanders do it.  Why […]

Elephants Equipped with 4WD

An elephant is built like a four-wheel drive vehicle, say scientists from the Royal Veterinary College in London.  Unlike other mammals, which divide acceleration and braking between the front and rear legs, “power is applied independently to each limb,” reported PhysOrg from a paper in PNAS.1 “Elephant limbs operate analogously to four-wheel-drive vehicles,” the authors […]
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