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Origin of Life: Speculation vs. Evidence

The European Astrobiology Magazine reviewed a book1 that tries to give “detailed scrutiny” the problem of “the transition from small, simple molecules to large, complex cells.”  The initial reaction by reviewer Toby Murcott points out glaring problems in origin of life research: uncertainty, lack of consensus, and lack of evidence: What hits you immediately about […]

The Simpsons Producer Treats Evolution as Fact

The TV cartoon The Simpsons was praised for its “greatness” in, of all places, the premiere scientific journal Nature.1  Michael Hopkin interviewed “Executive producer Al Jean, the show’s head writer and a Harvard mathematics graduate.”  One of the questions was, “One episode in which the show does take sides is the one in which Lisa […]

Stars Found Almost as Old as Universe

A new record was set by a Caltech team using the Keck telescopes on Hawaii: they detected a galaxy nearly as old as the universe.  The consensus age for the universe is 13.6 billion years.  The light from this galaxy, they claim, is over 13 billion years old – “a mere 500 million years after […]

Dinosaur Sex and Other Tales

How much do we really know about dinosaurs?  How much can be inferred from their bones?  Two recent stories illustrate conflicting themes: much of what we thought we knew was wrong, but that doesn’t stop evolutionary paleontologists from speaking with confidence. Walking with dino ancestors:  Paleontologists used to think that the alleged precursors of dinosaurs […]

Cosmologists in Search of Dark Ghosts

Dark matter and dark energy: do they exist?  Cosmologists and physicists are spending large amounts of money building huge and expensive detectors to find them, but so far have found nothing.  This raises profound questions about the limits of science, the interaction of observation with theory, the presuppositions behind scientific models, and the sociology of […]

Human Variability May Swamp Ancestral Hominid Claims

Here are some things to think about when paleoanthropologists draw inferences from fossils alleged to be human ancestors.  A seven-foot-nine-inch man in Mongolia just married a lady more than two feet shorter (see picture at National Geographic).  And a man with just a narrow rim of brain material inside his skull had no symptoms except […]

We Live in a Rare Solar System

Surveys of extrasolar planets are making our solar system look unusual.  Most stars that host a family of planets have the gas giants close in, an article on Space.com states.  The “hot Jupiters” seen around many stars would most likely eject any rocky planets from the habitable zone.  “Of the nearly 250 planets discovered so […]

Keep the Stem Cell News Straight

Stem cell technology continues to make news, but the phrase “stem cells” alone can mask serious ethical issues.  Adult stem cells (AS) and embryonic stem cells (ES) are both being investigated for their ability to transform into any cell type in the body.  Both are advertised as promising dramatic cures for debilitating diseases, with their […]

It’s Not a Bird, It’s a Plane

Look to the birds of the air, and they will teach you aeronautics.  That’s what designers of the Robo-Swift did.  PhysOrg reported about a new plane that imitates a swift thing on the wing: RoboSwift is a micro airplane fitted with shape shifting wings, inspired by the common swift, one of nature’s most efficient flyers.  […]

Mosquitos Are Water-Walking Champions

We hate ’em, but in one sense we should admire them: mosquitos are the water-walking champions of the animal kingdom.  They even beat out water striders, reported Live Science and EurekAlert based on research from Physical Review E.  Science Daily wrote of “miraculous mosquito legs” and had a picture of the intricate fan-shaped superhydrophobic structures […]

Iapetus, Charon Look Young for Their Age

Hard bodies in the solar system are supposed to be billions of years old.  Why, then, do so many look smooth and young-looking?  Two examples made news today: Charon So Smooth:  Pluto has a moon named Charon (KAR-on) that apparently leaks beauty cream out of its interior.  Live Science and Space.com report about a study […]

News Reporters Knuckling Under to Darwinian Storytelling

The science news media are virtually going ape over a claim about how chimpanzees might have evolved into upright-walking humans: what is going on?  It began with a paper in PNAS.1  Sockol, Raichlen and Pontzer measured the gaits of chimpanzees and humans and concluded that it is more efficient to walk upright than to propel […]

Cool Cell Tricks

Some cell parts act like acrobats, some like rescue workers, and some like I.T. professionals.  Here are some recent stories about the tricks that living cells perform each day. Precision formation flying:  The Scientist expressed amazement at the precision of key factors in development of the body plan in fruit flies.  The levels of expression […]

Roadrunner and Largest Flying Bird Described from Fossils

A bird with a 23-foot wingspan was described in the BBC News.  At an estimated 155 pounds, this bird probably had to jump from a height to get airborne and likely rode on thermals.  The article says the bird rivalled in size some light airplanes.  A diagram shows the Argentinean giant with wings upwardly stretched […]

But Is It Evolution?

Every week the news media cheerfully present the latest finding that is claimed to be evidence for evolution.  The following recent examples, though, might leave a perceptive reader wondering, “What’s Darwin got to do with it?” Slow? No!:  If you thought evolution was a gradual process too slow to watch, get a load of this: […]
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