Clue or Clueless on Plant Evolution
August 1, 2011
An article on The Scientist promised to provide “clues to plant evolution,” but the data seemed like clues to something else – namely, design. The article was about how plant proteins interact with one another – the “interactome” (another word to add to genome and proteome). Did the work actually fulfill evolutionary predictions? Even if they claim it did, did it really?
Unique Mammal Senses
July 30, 2011
The ability to sense the environment is vital to all living things, and is a key characteristic that separates life from non-life. The senses are not limited to the five we learn as children – sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell. In the animal kingdom there are more. Some of them repurpose existing organs; some detect other information from the world not detectable with the normal sense organs. In mammals, two very different animals – bats and dolphins – have expanded our understanding of sensation.
Fossil Finds Feed Facile Fables
July 20, 2011
Remarkable fossils continue to come to science’s attention, yielding clues about past ecological conditions. Once in awhile, whole fossil specimens – even graveyards of many organisms – are uncovered, but most fossils are mere fragments. Placing fossils into interpretive stories requires knowledge of other fossils and comparisons with living species. Even then, the history of life is not directly observable. Fossils, being silent, can only show their current state; the lack of access to the past, combined with ignorance of all the clues, leaves room for alternative interpretations. Evolutionists, in their desire to fit fossils into a preconceived story, sometimes go far beyond what the actual fossil evidence is capable of saying – and some of their explanations border on the miraculous.
Plant Patterns Prolong Perplexity
July 11, 2011
Plants perform a wonder that has attracted the admiration of scholars from ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome to modern times: the ability to reproduce mathematically perfect patterns. This ability, called phyllotaxis, can be described mathematically with the Fibonacci Series and the Golden Angle. The beautiful spirals in sunflowers, artichokes, cacti, dandelion heads and other plants continue to fascinate children and adults today, but those are not the only examples. Leaves on a stem can emerge in phyllotactic patterns like a spiral staircase, and depending on the environment, plants can switch patterns at different stages in development. Scientists have learned a lot about the players in the phyllotaxis game, but still do not understand the script. The details of how genes and proteins produce the patterns remain elusive.
A Tale of Two Pollens
June 29, 2011
Ambiguity is a bad word in science. Scientists want to be objective. To scientific realists, scientific truth is “out there” in the world, waiting to be discovered. The 20th century tempered scientific realism somewhat from its extreme form (scientism, the belief that science is the only reliable guide to truth). Knowledgeable scientists are more or less aware of the role of paradigms, social pressure and webs of belief that can affect interpretations of scientific data. But there is still a widespread perception that science “finds” truth in the world. Whether that happens can be pondered while exploring two recent stories about fossil pollen that arrived at opposite conclusions: one (by evolutionists) that supports old-earth geology (and “climate change” politics), and one (by creationists) that undermines it, finding fundamental biases among evolutionists who refuse to accept the implications of the data.
If This Is Evolution, What Is Trivia?
June 24, 2011
Some science news articles appear confident about evolution, but offer little evidence except trivial change . Sometimes, they even offer evidence that contradicts their expectations. If this is evolution, what is trivia?
How They Do It: Amazing Organisms
May 27, 2011
The plants and animals around us seem so ordinary, but they all are so extraordinary, the extraordinary becomes ordinary simply because of their numbers. But if you expanded the sample space to include the entire solar system, what we have in earth’s biosphere should astonish everyone. Here are nine notable fellow creatures.
Natures Designs Excite Inventors
August 1, 2010
The imitation of nature – biomimetics – is one of the hottest areas in science these days. Recent reports tell about research teams racing to move natural designs to market, and there’s no end in sight. Pack it green: Got parcels? Don’t use styrofoam peanuts and bubble wraps; that’s so 2009. Why manufacture plastic and […]
Farm Algae for Energy
June 29, 2010
June 29, 2010 — Why manufacture fuels when microbes can do it faster, better and cheaper? Researchers at the University of Cambridge are wiring electrodes to algae to produce “green energy” – solar-powered fuel that is carbon-neutral, “cheaper to produce, self-repairing, self-replicating, biodegradable and much more sustainable – real green energy.” The team […]
Dealing with Light at the Extremes
November 28, 2007
“Light is the most important variable in our environment,” wrote Edith Widder, a marine biologist. The inhabitants of two different ecosystems have to deal with either too little or too much. Let your light so shine: A thousand meters below the sea surface, all sunlight is extinguished. Yet for thousands of meters more, creatures live […]
Bacteria and Plants Know Network Tech
October 1, 2007
An article on Science Daily says, “plants have their own chat systems that they can use to warn each other.” Many herbal plants such as strawberry, clover, reed and ground elder naturally form networks. Individual plants remain connected with each other for a certain period of time by means of runners. These connections enable the […]
Is a 100-Year Misunderstanding about Plants Solved?
March 15, 2007
Part of “one of the biggest misunderstandings in botanical history,” a plant has moved from an upper part of the family tree down to the bottom. Trithuria submersa, an underwater flowering plant from India and Australia that was thought to be a monocot is really not a cot at all, says Science Daily reporting on […]
Cell Quality Control Runs a Tight Ship
January 31, 2007
Without the surveillance and rapid response of quality control, cells would collapse and die. Here are some recently-published examples of nanoheroes in action. Plant checkpoints: Picture a child watching the wonder of a seedling breaking through the soil into the light for the first time. Within hours, the ghostly-white stem turns green, and a day […]
Its Official: Mangroves Would Have Prevented Most Tsunami Damage
October 28, 2005
EurekAlert summarized a paper in Science1 that confirmed an earlier claim (02/10/2005) that intact mangrove forests along the Asian coastlines would have prevented the bulk of damage and death from last year’s mega-tsunami. A large, diverse research team from seven nations estimated that more than 90% of the damage could have been prevented by the […]
Reader Project: Calculate the Speed of Plant Package Delivery
September 9, 2005
Get out your pencil and hand calculator. A team of Swedish and French scientists measured the velocity of a message traveling on the intraplant internet (see 08/12/2005, 11/09/2004, 10/04/2004 and 07/13/2001 entries). Publishing in Science,1 they believe they have witnessed a signaling molecule, in the form of a messenger-RNA (mRNA; see yesterday’s entry) moving through […]