Humans Are Devolving
June 21, 2011
“We are all mutants,” proclaimed a headline on Science Daily. “First Direct Whole-Genome Measure of Human Mutation Predicts 60 New Mutations in Each of Us.” The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute press release reported 60 new mutations per individual, received from parents – a “striking value” the article characterized the “unexpected findings”.
Stem Cell News
June 20, 2011
Stem cells continue to be hot subjects for research. They are divided into two basic “political” parties: embryonic stem cells (ES), which raise ethical issues about tampering with human life, and adult stem cells (AS), found throughout the body, which have no ethical issues and show the most progress for therapy. The latter include the induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS), coaxed from adult cells to recover the ability to differentiate into multiple tissue types. Even though AS is leading, some scientists are still demanding federal funding for ES.
Inner Ear Hair Cells Overcome Friction
June 19, 2011
The cochlea, that spiral-shaped structure in the inner ear, is filled with fluid. In this fluid, tiny hair cells called stereocilia are positioned in bundles along the length of the structure. These bundles sense vibrations transmitted into the fluid from the bony levers of the inner ear. The vibrations picked up by the hair cell bundles, each tuned to its own frequency, mechanically transduce the sound impulses by opening ion channels that set up electrical impulses in the auditory nerve, that travel to the brain. But motion in fluid creates friction known as viscous drag. How do the hair cell bundles overcome it? Scientists have figured out that the hair cells in the bundles are not only finely tuned to reduce viscous drag, but actually to employ it for even higher sensitivity to sound.
Mercury Orbital Science Begins
June 18, 2011
Now that the MESSENGER spacecraft has settled into its orbit, systematic detailed observations are coming in. The Carnegie Institution has posted preliminary findings from the orbital science tour, rejoicing that “Tens of thousands of images reveal major features on the planet in high resolution for the first time,” and confessing that the data are confirming some predictions and revealing surprises.
Cosmology Could Be Way Off
June 17, 2011
The “lumpiness problem” in cosmology refuses to go away. This old conundrum about why the universe is lumpy with stars and galaxies has been around for decades. The big bang predicts no such lumps. Since the late 1990s, tiny differences in temperature measured in the cosmic background radiation held hope of being the seeds of lump formation, provided theories added copious fudge factors like dark matter, dark energy and inflation. A new survey finds more clumps than expected, casting doubt on whether the fudge factors are wrong, the hot big bang is wrong, or relativity is wrong. Words can hardly express the gravity of the situation when gravity itself – an icon of scientific verity – is called into question.
Evolution Against Intuition
June 7, 2011
As a general theory of life, evolution promises to explain everything. Not all observations fit neatly into that assumption. How do evolutionists respond when surprising or counter-intuitive observations require integration into the theory? Sometimes the only answer is that they evolved because they evolved. These 10 examples (with encore) can provide case studies for the discerning.
Cosmic Insanity Is Back in Vogue
June 7, 2011
There is perhaps no theory in science more weird than the “Many-Worlds” interpretation of quantum mechanics (see 07/27/2004 and 07/07/2007). One would think that Hugh Everett’s conjecture that each event splits the universe into two parallel universes with opposite outcomes would have had its 15 minutes of fame only to be laughed off the stage, […]
Genetic Entropy Confirmed
June 5, 2011
In Darwinian evolution, variations must add new information to produce innovations. Neo-Darwinism ascribes those variations to genetic mutations. In 2005, geneticist John Sanford (Cornell) argued that the accumulation of mutations always decreases fitness in a process he called “genetic entropy.” The downhill trend is amplified by a number of factors, including selection interference and epistasis (interactions between mutations). Now, genetic entropy from epistasis has received support by two new papers in Science.
Biological Information Symposium a Success
June 4, 2011
Friday morning June 4, participants were on their way homes across America and in Europe from a successful conference entitled Biological Information: New Perspectives. They had come to hear leading lights in the Intelligent Design movement deliver 27 scientific presentations on a variety of subtopics under the umbrella theme of information in biology. From all appearances, everyone had a great time of fellowship, encouragement and intellectual stimulation. No protesters or critics detracted from the event—partly because it was not widely advertised, in order to protect the identity of those wanting to take part without jeopardizing their careers.
National Geographic Rates Noah’s Flood
June 3, 2011
Pictures of the record floods in the eastern United States this year have been shocking and alarming (examples on Fox News). They raise questions about the potential for flooding on this planet: how big can they get? National Geographic News decided to look at some of the biggest floods in history and included the granddaddy […]
Appreciate Your Gifts
May 29, 2011
We like to showcase stories of amazing animals, but humans are special, too. What animal can boast some of the qualities that science has recently reported?
A Little Knowledge Without Ethics
May 28, 2011
A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. When is knowledge enough? And can a lot of knowledge be a dangerous thing, too? Whether little or much, knowledge without ethics empowers evil.
How They Do It: Amazing Organisms
May 27, 2011
The plants and animals around us seem so ordinary, but they all are so extraordinary, the extraordinary becomes ordinary simply because of their numbers. But if you expanded the sample space to include the entire solar system, what we have in earth’s biosphere should astonish everyone. Here are nine notable fellow creatures.
Mars as Anomalous Runt
May 26, 2011
The Mars rover Spirit is now dead in its tracks, but the planet under it continues to rumble, in theoretical overhauls and anomalies. Mars has been much on the mind of news reporters this week after a new paper speculated that the red planet grew up fast and then stopped as a runt.