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Plants Are World Travelers

We think of plants as stationary life forms anchored to the soil, but National Geographic News reminds us that they have remarkable ways of getting around via seed dispersal mechanisms.  Some fly through the air with parachutes or helicopters, some float in the water, and some rely on animals.  It appears that some exotic species […]

Dark Energy Is Embarrassing

Robert Scherrer is trying to come up with a theory that combines dark matter and dark energy, reports Space.Com.  “It is somewhat embarrassing to have two different unknown sources for the dominant forms of matter and energy in the universe.  On the other hand, that may just be the way things are.  We don’t get […]

Dinos Found in Spain, Croatia

Dinosaur fossils continue to be discovered around the world.  The BBC news hints that surprises may be forthcoming from a new cache in Spain that has yielded stegosaurs, crocodilians and carnivorous dinosaurs, and a pelvic bone possibly from Diplodocus.  On a resort island of Croatia, trackways of titanosaurs have been discovered, reports EurekAlert.  The BBC […]

Computer Model Claims Lucy Walked Upright

A computer robot model of the gait of Australopithecus afarensis (aka, Lucy), reported in the BBC News, suggests that she walked upright.  This is partly on the skeletal structure of the foot and the distance between the Laetoli footprints preserved in fossil ash, where are claimed to date from the same time period Lucy lived.  […]

Depressed Kerry Supporters Find New Cause: Fight Creationism

A grass-roots group of Virginia liberal Democrats has found a new cause to lift them out of their depression after John Kerry’s defeat last fall, according to a Washington Post article reprinted by MSNBC News: “Keep Virginia evolving.”  Their chosen mission is to defend evolution from intrusions by the intelligent design movement and conservative Republicans […]

Harnessing Cellular Machines for Humans

The cell is loaded with molecular machines, so why reinvent the wheel?  or the whole truck?  Martin G. L. van den Heuvel and Cees Dekker wrote in Science that engineers ought to put the existing technology to work.1  The biological cell is equipped with a variety of molecular machines that perform complex mechanical tasks such […]

Only Atheists Need Apply

51; He’s a Christian, yes, but he is also a leading American scientist and a harsh critic of intelligent design.  He supports research on embryonic stem cells and upholds Darwin’s theory of evolution completely.  That’s not enough to get Francis Collins off the hook with the scientific establishment.  Both Nature and Science expressed “serious misgivings” […]

“Genomic Junk” Is Cell’s Air-Traffic Control

51; Linc-RNAs (large intervening non-coding RNAs) have been promoted from junk molecules to air traffic controllers.  A mystery about these transcripts of DNA that are not translated into proteins is being explained.     Science Daily reported on work at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and the Broad Institute that found these RNA molecules […]

A “Completely Different Slant” on Solar System Formation

51; “Did great balls of fire form the planets?” New Scientist asks.  A new theory “challenges the notion that the solar system started out as a placid sea of dust motes which simply clumped together to form planets.” If accepted, it “puts a completely different slant on what happened in the early solar system in […]

Mutating Evolution Into Design

51; The word evolve gets used in funny ways.  As Paul Nelson has noted, it often becomes a Designer substitute.  Look how an article in New Scientist employed it: Could a 3D printer help to create in minutes what nature took millions of years to evolve – the perfect insect wing? Tiny robotic insects would […]

Adult Stem Cells Lead Health Progress

51; Adult stem cells (AS) and induced pluripotent stem cells from adult tissues (iPS) continue to rack up tallies over embryonic stem cells (ESA).  Do we really need the embryonic variety?  Some continue to say yes, even though the practice of harvesting human embryos creates serious ethical questions for many. Controlling fate:  If you’d rather […]

Something from Nothing Dept.: Can a Divide-and-Conquer Strategy Climb Mt. Improbable?

Darwinian evolution from the most primitive organisms to the most advanced must have produced huge increases in functional information (see 06/12/2003 entry).  Yet finding specific genetic mechanisms for just how DNA succeeded in “climbing Mt. Improbable,” as Richard Dawkins termed it in his book of the same name, has been daunting.  In a recent paper […]

Amazing Animals on Parade

You have to admire animals.  They have tricks humans still need to learn, and possess technologies that engineers are striving to imitate. Spiders:  Don’t let the black widow scare you; it’s only a picture on Science Daily.  Scientists are amazed at how these animals produce one of the best dragline silks in spiderdom.  It is […]

Hiding Comets Out of Bounds

51; There’s a new theory floating around about where most of the comets came from: other stars.  For many years, astronomers hid them in an unobservable region called the Oort cloud that was assumed to be partly a remnant of the sun’s primordial disk, and material that was ejected outward.  Now, according to the BBC […]

Fishing for Darwinian Stories

51; Stickleback fish can learn from each other where the best food sources are.  This proves you brain’s remarkable learning abilities have their roots in fish heads, according to science news sources this week.  Science Daily said the findings by UK scientists “show that the cognitive mechanisms underlying cumulative cultural evolution may be more prevalent […]
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