Is Darwinian Environmentalism an Oxymoron?

There’s something magnetic about letters to the editor.  We feel attracted to the responses of readers to what magazines print – especially when a mini-debate takes place and the author of an article replies.  In PNAS this week,1 two scientists aired a friendly squabble about the meaning of “biodiversity” and whether humans should defend it.  […]

Unique “Orphan Genes” Are Widespread; Have No Evolutionary Explanation

We often hear about the similarities between genomes, but what about the differences?  There’s a growing realization that groups of animals have genetic orphans – genes that are unique to that line (see 01/02/2003).  These genes have no evolutionary homology or kinship to genes from other lineages.  How did they arise?  And what do they […]

Proteins Can Tie Knots

Your job today is to invent a chain that can tie itself in a knot.  The chain can contain little magnets and electrical parts, but when you let go of the ends, a knot will spontaneously form.  This means that one end must form a loop and the other end must thread the loop.  Give […]

Desperately Fleeing God in Cosmology

Does the fine-tuning of the universe require belief in God?  Or will multiverse theory allow for a self-perpetuating, eternal, godless cosmos?  Tim Folger explored this topic in an interview with Andrei Linde, a cosmologist currently at Stanford, in Discovery Magazine.  The opening line sums up the controversy: “Our universe is perfectly tailored for life.  That […]

Cell Chaperone Is an Optimized Two-Stroke Machine

Proteins need a protected space to fold, and the cell provides it: the GroEL-GroES chaperone (see 05/05/2003, 06/07/2006, and 02/13/2007).  More details keep coming in about this “protein dressing room” as scientists continue to probe its secrets.  Two new papers in PNAS by a team at University of Maryland and College Park reveal that this […]

Poison Planet Was Life’s Training Ground

Navy Seals go through “Hell Week” in their training to become warriors.  The radical hardships they endure help prepare them for missions that will call on their deepest resources of courage and determination.  These men of the elite special forces also become experts in dealing with explosives.  Can molecules do the same, with a little […]

Polishing Darwin’s Icons

Finch beaks, peppered moths, transitional forms – the standard props for evolution have been scrutinized ad infinitum for decades.  Can anything new be said about them?  Find out in these recent articles. Peppered moths:  The peppered-moth story just about collapsed when investigators realized that the famous pictures that adorn textbooks were staged, because the moths […]

Young Lava Conflicts with Lunar Age

The Japanese found what the Americans and Russians didn’t: young lava on the far side of the moon.  “Volcanoes shook up the far side of the moon for far longer than scientists thought,” reported National Geographic News on photos from the Japanese Kaguya (Selene) spacecraft (11/15/2007).     Crater-count dating estimates the lava flows at […]

Lizard Hair and Other Fables

In some science reports, it’s hard to tell where the data stops and the speculation begins.  In any case, evolutionary theory usually arrives in time to take credit for whatever happened in the unobservable past (cf. 08/24/2007). Bad hair joke:  Live Science wants you to blame your bad hair days on lizards.  Why?  Because according […]

Scientists Marvel at Enzyme Efficiency

Many chemical reactions occur from simple collisions.  One atom may have spare electrons, another may need them.  Attracted by each other’s valences, the atoms collide and bonds form.  Not so with biological enzymes: these molecular machines owe their efficiency to their three-dimensional shapes.  Made up of hundreds of amino acids, enzymes have “active sites” where […]

Evolution in Person

For a blind watchmaker, Evolution is quite the seer.  Science articles often personify Evolution into a wizard and worker of miracles.  This is odd, considering that evolution is supposed to be an aimless, purposeless process of chance and necessity with no goals in mind. Evolution, the Learner:  Evolution learns from past environments, we are told […]

Defining Nature Produces a Dilemma

The evolution wars often revolve around the word “nature.”  Evolutionists insist that science must use natural instead of supernatural explanations.  It seems obvious that before arguing such issues, one must first define nature.  That is not easily done, wrote a scientist at the University of Bergen in a letter to Nature.1     Fern Wickson’s […]

Proving the Obvious

The well-known IgNobel Prizes are awarded each year for silly, useless research projects (see Improbable Research).  There seem to be a lot of contenders that may never win the prize, but get reported anyway.  One can only wonder why the reporters aren’t putting these on the funny pages: Well duh:  Science Daily reported that serial […]

Body’s Junk Is Useful Stuff

What’s the difference between junk and stuff?  The jokester replies that stuff is the junk you throw away, and junk is the stuff you keep.  When it comes to stuff in your body that scientists have called junk, you had better keep all of it, because your life may depend on it. Junk DNA:  The […]

Serving Up Life on the Rocks with a Twist

We’ve heard theories life arose in a primeval soup, around hot deep-sea vents, around volcanoes and other hot spots; why would anyone consider the origin of life in ice?  A scientist in Spain has suggested life may have started in ice.  The title to the Science Daily write-up finds this to be the ultimate divination: […]
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