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Did Borax Evolve Into 20-Mule Teams?

You’re dating yourself if you remember the old TV western Death Valley Days, and its commercials about 20-Mule Team Borax.  (Mule teams actually did pull loads of borax from Death Valley to Mojave, quite a feat in those days, but that’s another story.)  In modern times, though, borax has made science news as a possible […]

How Do Plants Know When to Bloom?

Scientists like to use big words to impress the rest of us, so they have a term for how a plant decides when to bloom: vernalization.  But making up a word for a phenomenon is not the same as explaining it.     Everybody observes that plants seem to just “know” that spring is here, […]

Your Accelerated Eyes

When a beam of light hits your eye, a chain of events is set off that is really quite amazing.  Kendall J. Blumer (Washington University School of Medicine) describes a little of it in the Jan. 1 issue of Nature.1  You don’t have to understand the following description; just be glad you don’t have to […]

Line Between Neanderthals and Modern Humans Blurs

There seems to have been an intergradation between big-boned Neanderthals and modern humans, according to the BBC News.  “Newly identified remains from Vindija in Croatia, which date to between 42,000 and 28,000 years ago, are more delicate than ‘classic’ Neanderthals,” writes Paul Rincon.  Not only that, stone tools found nearby look like those of modern […]

How Darwinism Produces Job Security

One thing Darwinism has going for it: it provides endless opportunities to research stories that are nearly impossible to prove.     A case in point was provided in the Dec. 18 issue of Nature.1  John R. Hutchinson (Royal Veterinary College, UK), in a News and Views article on bird evolution, reviewed the new angle […]

Life Runs on Waterwheels

The cells of every living thing are filled with molecular machines, and one of the most fascinating is a rotary motor called ATP synthase (see April 2002 back issue, opening paragraph).  This is a true mechanical/electrical motor, found in every living thing from bacteria to elephants and palm trees.  It is really two motors in […]

Tired of Old Gaia?  Try This: New Gaia

James Lovelock gets the stage without flying fruit (yet) in the December 18 issue of Nature.1  His 1970-ish “living earth” view of evolution, the Gaia hypothesis, in which life and the earth co-evolve together as one big living system, gets a new screening as what might be called neo-Gaia in an unrefuted Concepts piece in […]

Photosynthesis Began a Billion Years Earlier Than Thought

According to the BBC News, some scientists have pushed back the evolution of photosynthesis a billion years earlier than previously believed, to 3.9 billion years ago.  This is based on uranium-thorium ratios of rocks in Greenland that led Danish researchers to conclude that they were deposited under oxidizing conditions.  Others are not sure the data […]

Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week: Antibody Evolution

The Dec. 11 issue of Nature1 has an article on antibodies and how scientists are learning to make designer editions of them.  Pete Moore and Julie Clayton write (emphasis added): Antibodies not only protect us from infection, they have been exploited for years in the laboratory � in diagnostic tests, to purify proteins and as […]

Mars Has Global Warming: Manufacturers At Fault?

Mars appears to be coming out of an ice age and into an era of global warming, reports Space.Com.  Whether the Kyoto treaty can be extended to the red planet remains to be seen.  Environmentalists are not sure if human influence is to blame; the closest thing to an SUV on Mars is the leftover […]

Intracellular Railroad Has Park-and-Ride System

Cells are like miniaturized cities, with elaborate transportation systems ferrying their cargo to and fro (see Feb. 25 headline).  Just like a city may have railroads, busses, cars and monorails, the cell has multiple kinds of transport motors: dyneins, kinesins, and myosins.  Scientists have learned that most of the roadways are like one-way monorails: actin […]

Dinosaur Family Tracks Discovered

A set of dinosaur tracks of different sizes pointing in the same direction has been found on the Isle of Skye, reports the BBC News.  It seems to indicate one adult and 10 juveniles, all of the same species, were moving together.  To Neil Clark, curator of the Glasgow Museum, these tracks tell a story […]

Cooking Up Human Evolution, Or a Crock?

51; What’s cooking in human evolution stories?  “Cooking is what made us human,” announced zoologist Richard Wrangham on New Scientist.  “Cooking food allowed our ancestors to evolve our big brains, the zoologist argues, and created the gender roles still observed by most people.”  The reporter apparently did not catch the embedded Lamarckism in that sentence.  […]

Elaborate Quality Control Governs the Cell’s Protein-Folding Factory

If it weren’t for quality control in our cells, we’d be dead.  That’s the gist of an amazing Insight article in the Dec. 18 issue of Nature.1  “Aberrant proteins are extremely harmful to cells,” the authors begin.  How harmful?  Here is a short list of diseases that can result from improperly folded proteins or failures […]

Evolution As Assumption

51; Reasoning requires premises: axioms or truths taken for granted.  Notice the premise of reasoning stated in a recent article on Science Daily: “Because all living organisms inherit their genomes from ancestral genomes, computational biologists at MIT reasoned that they could use modern-day genomes to reconstruct the evolution of ancient microbes.”  They used an evolutionary […]
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