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Malthusian Maniac Killed Before Killing Hostages

James J. Lee took hostages today at the Discovery Channel headquarters in Maryland, but was killed by police before he harmed anyone (see New York Times).  Lee, who authored a website called SaveThePlanetProtest.com, left a manifesto with a list of demands, calling humans “filth” and demanding the Discovery Channel inform viewers that humans were ruining […]

Clever Animals Amaze and Inspire

The living world is an endless source of wonder and inspiration.  There’s an octopus that does a convincing imitation of a flatfish (Science Daily, Live Science), and a red crab species that emerges from its lethargic life around Christmas and migrates miles to the sea by the millions (PhysOrg).  There’s a tiny frog that can […]

Exoplanet Hunters Fail Predictions

Before the first extrasolar planets were discovered, astronomers had high confidence that other solar systems would resemble ours.  We have rocky planets close to the sun, and gas giants farther out.  Planetary scientists were pretty sure the pattern would hold up around other stars.  Now that we have hundreds of examples to compare, the reality […]

Atheist Doctors Might Kill You

Your doctor’s religious beliefs – or lack of them – might have a lot to do with how soon you exit this world when elderly or infirm.  Science Daily reported, “Atheist or agnostic doctors are almost twice as willing to take decisions that they think will hasten the end of a very sick patient’s life […]

Intelligent Design as Entertainment

It’s been around a few months now, but OK Go’s music video of their song “This Too Shall Pass” featured an elaborate Rube Goldberg set.  What many viewers may not know about the backstory of the production is that several JPL rocket scientists helped design and operate the contraptions that filled a good-size warehouse.   […]

Who Invited the Scientist in Here?

If you envision science in terms of white-coated lab chemists holding flasks, field biologists gathering bird eggs, astronomers peering through a telescope or geologists chipping rocks with hand picks, think again.  Today’s science sweeps everything into its domain, including the human mind, intellect, emotions, will, creativity, and our most sincere beliefs and actions.  When not […]

Dinosaur Graveyards and Arctic Tortoises: Who’s Got the Context?

Science articles often go beyond the data.  A jumble of bones found on an island is boring; people want a story of what they were, and how they got that way.  Many scientists and reporters are only happy to fulfill that curiosity.  But are the stories they tell, usually presented as fact, the only way […]

Moon May Be Active Today

The old story of our moon was that it was geologically dead.  Except for the occasional meteor impact, not much happens there; the interior had cooled down long ago, leaving it an inert, battered sphere.  That was before the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter showed scientists evidence that it has continued to shrink and form new surface […]

Universe Is Doomed

Astronomers have decided the universe will expand forever, growing colder and darker, till it ends in a heat death.  According to the BBC News, a study of gravitational lensing by a huge galactic cluster named Abell 1689 determined that dark energy will push galaxies apart till they burn out.  One researcher remarked that the study […]

Inserting Evolution into Data

Evolution takes credit for a lot of things other scientists might think say nothing about evolution.  Are the statements in these articles about evolution warranted by the observations? Do the RNA:  Scientists at Yale University found an RNA complex that helps proteins to infect cells.  That’s interesting as far as it goes, but Science Daily […]

Taking the Sci-Fi Out of SETI

SETI might well stand for “Sci-Fi of Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence” with its ROI (return on investment) of zero in 50 years of searching (12/31/2009).  In his latest piece for Space.com Seth Shostak did the best he could to distinguish SETI as science, not science fiction, though plenty of the latter will be evident at a conference […]

Conjuring Up Evolutionary Implications from Current Data

What does observable reality imply about unobservable reality?  Some scientists say, a lot.  But is unobservable reality really real?  Or is it an oxymoron?  A couple of recent articles in the science media show scientists observing things in the present, then saying they have “huge implications” for things no scientist ever observed.     In […]

Ancient Earth Smackdown at Santa Fe Tells Global Story

Biblical creationists believe in a global flood, but did you know secular geologists have a global catastrophe, too?  Both groups converge on evidence at a certain layer of rock.  To get there, we begin at a “a compelling story about the distant past” that emerges from a look at rocks near Santa Fe, New Mexico. […]

Specialized Molecules Make Cells Work

Reports continue to show that vital cell processes depend on finely-tuned proteins and RNA molecules.  Most of the papers that discuss these specialized molecules fail to mention how they might have evolved, as shown in three papers in the recent issue of Science. Walker with muscle:  A paper by Kaya and Higuchi from the University […]

Down with Human Evolution Just-So Stories

Stories of human ancestors around campfires evolving larger brains by eating meat or caring for animals often sound themselves life campfire stories.  For example, Jeremy Hsu in Live Science speculated that “Caring for Animals May Have Shaped Human Evolution.”  A cute girl with a puppy adorns the article.  “Our love of all things furry has […]
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