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Mars Lacks Safety Shield for Humans

Forget all those optimistic, futuristic sci-fi tales of humans landing on Mars.  It isn’t safe, said Space.com.  NASA’s space radiation program doubts that a human body could survive prolonged exposure to space.  This is a problem for long stays on the moon, too.     “The magnetic field of Earth protects humanity from radiation in […]

Seeing Vision in a New Light

The eye is like a camera, right?  That picture is way too simplistic.  The eye-brain visual system does image processing and gleans information from photons in diverse and remarkable ways.  Here are some recent findings by scientists: Upward mobility:  A team of Harvard scientists found some retinal ganglion cells that sense upward motion.  Writing in […]

Psychology Without Darwin

Can psychology kick the Darwin habit?  For years it has been conventional to express all human actions in Darwinian terms.  We struggle with city life, for instance, because we evolved to hunt prey in the savannah – not the Georgia kind, but the African plains where we first climbed down from the trees to walk […]

Electronic Nose Can’t Outsniff Yours

Electronic nose makers are smelling your dust, said Science Daily.  “Despite 25 years of research, development of an ‘electronic nose’ even approaching the capabilities of the human sniffer remains a dream,” the article said.     Biological noses are great at discriminating between volatile compounds.  We can immediately sense things that are fruity, grassy, and […]

Humans as Lab Rats, or, Can an Evolved Brain Reason?

Evolutionary biologists and neurologists use their fellow humans as guinea pigs, performing experiments and drawing conclusions about their evolutionary past.  One question rarely asked is how reliable are conclusions drawn from the biologist’s brain that is presumably just as evolved as that of its lab subject.     Everyone does philosophy, but some do it […]

Why Blood Clots Are Stretchy

A team of biophysicists at University of Illinois ran a computation for six months to find out why blood clots are stretchy.  The primary protein in the clot, fibrinogen, can stretch two to three times its resting size.  By studying the force on every atom in the protein, Science Daily said, they produced a force […]

Paleofantasy: Brain Evolution Is Mere Storytelling

When it comes to explaining the brain, evolutionists are completely in the dark.  That was the surprising message in a presentation to the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science by Harvard evolutionist Richard Lewontin.  James Randerson blogged the presentation in the UK Guardian, beginning, “We know nothing about brain evolution.  […]

Fast Protein Fine-Tunes the Ear

Remember prestin?  It’s a motor protein in the inner ear, discovered in 2001 (03/27/2001), that acts so fast – within millionths of a second – its discoverers named it after the word “presto!” (02/21/2002).  Scientists have been studying its role as a volume adjuster (07/31/2007) that allows it to amplify sound 10,000-fold (09/19/2002) .  New […]

Getting a Hand on Facts and Meanings

What could be more simple than pressing a button with your finger?  That “seemingly trivial action is the result of a complex neuro-motor-mechanical process orchestrated with precision timing by the brain, nervous system and muscles of the hand.”  So says a press release from University of Southern California posted on EurekAlert.     Simple, everyday […]

Humans Excel at… Please Wait… Patience

Here’s another thing that distinguishes humans from animals: patience.  Current Biology usually has a “Quick Guide” feature on some aspect of biology.  In the latest issue, patience was the patient.  First of all, what is it? Humans and other animals often make decisions that trade off present and future benefits.  Should a monkey eat an […]

The Evolutionary Inference

Today’s Darwinian Just-So Story comes from a paper in PNAS.1  Three Italian scientists did experiments on the perception of two-day old human infants.  They found that the babies tended to pay more attention to biological motion than non-biological motion, and looked longer at right-side-up displays than upside-down ones.  Their conclusion: “These data support the hypothesis […]

Your Body Says: Resolve to Exercise

Even moderate exercise can prevent health risks, an article in Science Daily says.  Want to keep the waist trim?  Reduce the bad cholesterol and triglycerides, and increase your HDLs?  Want to lower your risk of diabetes, heart attack and stroke?  Then get out and walk.  You don’t have to become a jogger or gym addict.  […]

What Keeps Skin Strong? Velcro!

Skin would fall to pieces were it not for velcro-like molecules that bind its cells together.  These molecules, called cadherins, make skin strong but also supple.  Their secret was explained by Ashraf Al-Amoudi of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory, quoted in Live Science.  “The trick is that each cadherin binds twice: once to a molecule […]

Dealing with Light at the Extremes

“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 […]

The Brain Evolved!… Didn’t It?

Evolutionary neurologists are so absolutely sure the human brain is a product of evolution from lower primates over millions of years, they are able to talk openly and frankly about problems with the particulars.  But in reading some of their own reviews of current ideas, it is not clear which has been evolving: the brain […]
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