May 3, 2024 | David F. Coppedge

Archive: Neptune, Molecular Motors, Romance

These entries from May 2002, lost during a website upgrade, are reposted here for edification, amusement, or both.

Note: some links may no longer work.


Neptune’s Ring Arcs Still Mysterious   05/02/2002
Carolyn Porco and Fathi Namouni at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, in a letter to Nature in the May 2 issue, have re-assessed the delicate balance of forces that keeps parts of Neptune’s ring clumped into sausage-like arcs. Normally, any clumps would quickly spread and be erased within a year, but somehow these structures persist. First detected from earth in 1986, they are as mysterious as when Voyager 2 imaged them in 1989. Tidal resonance with Galatea, one of the inner moons, is involved somehow. Earlier theories invoked corotational inclination resonance (CIR), but this cannot explain the main arc. Porco proposes a corotational eccentricity resonance (CER), that works if the ring arcs have sufficient mass and Galatea has a certain eccentricity. Galatea’s orbit, however, should have been circularized (no eccentricity) within 108 years, one fiftieth the assumed age of the solar system. Perhaps the arcs’ mass causes a residual eccentricity in Galatea’s orbit. The authors point out several variables that don’t fit neatly into any model, and say perhaps CIR and CER are both needed in concert to explain all the features. Some values need to be further constrained before their latest model can be evaluated.

This was an odd and unexpected discovery. Ring particles are subject to continuous disruption and bombardment by micrometeorites, subatomic particles, collisions, gas drag and gravitational perturbations by nearby moons. That rings exist at all around the four gas giants is puzzling, if the solar system is 4.5 billion years old, but that some of Neptune’s should be confined to clumps and arcs was startling and totally unexpected. Planetary scientists may someday figure out how to keep them going for long time periods, but for 4.5 billion years? It would seem very difficult to explain how something so tenuous could be that persistent, because the moons like Galatea are themselves undergoing orbital changes. That’s why most planetary scientists feel that rings formed recently, and we are just lucky to have evolved at the same time too see them. Another possibility never considered is that maybe the solar system is not that old. When Cassini gets to Saturn in 2004, we can probably expect more mysteries of the rings to be unveiled.


Did Darwin Invent Molecular Motors?   05/01/2002
George Oster, a Berkeley biologist, in a commentary in the May 2 Nature gives Darwin the credit for explaining molecular motors like ATP synthase. After explaining how molecular motors harness random brownian motion to ratchet themselves into directed processes, he concludes:

One of the most remarkable motor enzymes is F1Fo ATPase, possibly life’s most abundant protein, which catalyses the production of ATP.  (Every day, we produce – and consume – about half our body weight in ATP!) This enzyme consists of two rotary motors attached to a common shaft. The F1 motor generates a power stroke using ATP as its fuel; the Fo motor is almost a pure brownian ratchet that uses the binding and release of protons flowing through it to rectify its rotational diffusion. More than any other, this protein has illuminated our knowledge of the miniature motors that form the true basis of Brown’s ‘molecules of life’. In a broader sense, the idea of generating order by ‘selecting’ from random variations is hardly new – it is the fundamental idea of Darwin’s theory of natural selection. In the context of motor proteins, the ‘order’ created is a directional force, and the agents of selection are intermolecular attractions. Hence the idea of a brownian ratchet keeps popping up in new contexts, providing a fertile stimulus to our thinking in disparate fields. Indeed, as the philosopher Daniel Dennett has said – and I agree – Darwin may have had the best idea that anyone ever had.  Think about it.

We thought about it, and decided a clearer case of intellectual blindness could hardly be found. This scientist has just attributed exquisite molecular machines, the most efficient true motors in the universe, to chance! He blindly believes that undirected natural processes, in spite of the law of entropy, will self-organize into miniature factories of interrelated parts. Read up on ATP synthase and ask yourself if this kind of complexity would ever arise without intelligent design, let alone thousands of machines all working together in the simplest living cell and coordinated by the most elaborately detailed assemblage of information in universe, the DNA code. Oster calls these “Darwin’s motors”, for crying out loud. We have here the equivalent of idolaters bowing down to sticks and stones that neither see nor hear, while refusing to acknowledge their Maker. There is no excuse.
Read our suggestion, contrary to Oster’s, for the best idea anyone ever had. Think about it.


Evolution Takes the Romance Out of Relationships   05/01/2002
A press release about a paper in the upcoming May 7 issue of the Biological Proceedings of the Royal Society begins:

“A candlelit dinner, fresh flowers, an unexpected gift – all the elements of a fine romance? Or are they part of an evolutionary strategy developed by men to keep track of their women, and keep them away from other men, during fertile periods?

It proceeds to explain that women prefer affairs during ovulation and men are stimulated to protect their partners at that time, all because of intersexual selection:

Females may sometimes benefit reproductively from having males other than their partner sire offspring – for example to increase genetic quality or diversity in offspring. This would certainly be the case for ancestral women. Similar notions predict the men’s’ counter strategy: greater vigilance – a need to know their partner’s whereabouts and activities. Male partners will enhance their reproductive interests by reducing the probability of investment in offspring not their own.” But this begs the question of what cues men use to detect the potential period of risk? “There may be subtle clues in your partner’s scent or visual signs,” says Prof. Gangestad. “Or it may be a response to the partner’s behaviour, such as an increased interest in other men.”

The original paper is entitled, “Changes in women’s sexual interests and their partners’ mate-retention tactics across the menstrual cycle: evidence for shifting conflicts of interest” by Gangestad, Thornhill and Garver.

Conflicts of interest by whom? Your selfish genes, of course. “Begs the question” is an understatement; the whole premise of this paper assumes evolution to demonstrate evolution. How does this junk science get published? Reductionist evolutionary science has made humans the pawns of selfish genes that are playing games with us. The Darwinists have dehumanized people and made them nothing but gene propagators. Art, music, architecture, scholarship, literature, philosophy, religion, compassion, relationships are all incidental artifacts of this unending struggle to cheat others to get our own genes propagated endlessly. But why? Why would genes want to do this anyway? Do you care? Does it matter to you as an individual, in the long run, if you have shuffled your cards and handed them off to someone else, but lost your own soul?

Evolutionary thinking is a pervasive acid that cheapens life and makes a mockery of our humanness. It wipes away any basis for morals and unselfishness. Yet it is devoid of rigorous scientific evidence, relying instead on storytelling and circular reasoning. Look at what the researcher said: it may be this, or it may be that, or it may be something else. Is this the bill of goods we have been sold, when we bartered away faith and morals for a “scientific” view of the world?

Christianity exalts romance and sex as gifts of God that are rewards of faithfulness, honesty, self-control, care, and love. Evolution trashes all these ideals and puts sex into the gutter of selfishness. This is nothing new; it’s as old as Greece and Rome and all civilization, but evolution tries to sanctify selfish lust with a shoddy veneer of scientific respectability. But any college student will understand the lesson of this paper: If propagating your genes is the highest virtue in the universe, then why not go and “do it” with anyone and everyone you can, as often as possible?

Robert Boyle, a founder of the Royal Society, who never married and devoted his life to scientific inquiry for the glory of God, would be appalled at what his institution has become. This is licentiousness masquerading as science. Boyle demanded rigorous scientific proof for his claims.  He believed science would elevate mankind and draw us nearer to worship of the Creator. Today, we have a science that rationalizes lust, adultery, rape, homosexuality and every perversion in the name of Darwinian sexual selection. The next in the pipeline (just watch) is pedophilia. It’s time for us recognize reductionist science as disguised hedonism and nihilism. Paul warned, “If the dead are not raised [naturalism], let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die. Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company [Darwinism] corrupts good morals.’” (I Cor. 15:32-33)

Recommended reading: That Hideous Strength and The Abolition of Man by C.S. Lewis.

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