Human Genome Infinitely More Complex Than Expected
April 5, 2010
Ten years after the Human Genome Project was completed, now we know: biology is “orders of magnitude” more complicated than scientists expected. So wrote Erika Check Hayden in Nature News March 31 and in the April 1 issue of Nature.1 An air of daunting complexity haunts the article. The Human Genome Project was […]
Synthetic Evolution Is it Really Intelligent Design?
March 18, 2010
Some Cambridge scientists engineered a four-character genetic code and made some proteins with it. They guided the process at every step, but claim that they “evolved” this code. Is that a fair use of language? This strange admixture of concepts is found in today’s issue of Nature.1 The confusion began right in the title: “Encoding […]
Robotic Pothole Crew Keeps Your Genetic Highways in Good Repair
March 14, 2010
What a thought – a repair crew of molecular machines roaming the strands of your DNA, fixing errors 24 x 7. It happens. New techniques are showing the machines jumping from strand to strand like fleas, stopping at suspicious points, and fixing errors, reported Science Daily. Dr. Bennett Van Houten (U of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute) […]
Fruit Flies: From Darwin to Design
March 13, 2010
The fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster is an icon of evolution. Since the 1930s these poor little bugs have been mutated endlessly and watched for signs of Darwinian change. So far, though, only useless mutants, unable to survive in the wild, have been produced. Recently, scientists seem more enamored with their design. Two recent articles had […]
What Good Is Natural Selection without Progress?
March 8, 2010
Three papers recently claim to have seen natural selection. None of them, however, identified a functional advantage that would have tied changes to novel benefits that could improve a species. Yeast: “New Type of Genetic Variation Could Strengthen Natural Selection,” trumpeted a headline in Science Daily. It was about a study of two varieties of […]
Hopeful Monsters and Other Tales: Evolutionists Challenge Darwin
February 24, 2010
Two recent articles show that Darwin is not invincible. On one side he is being attacked by hopeful monsters. On the other, he is being attacked by an atheist truth-seeker. Neither of these attacks are coming from creationists. Return of the hopeful monster: Tanguy Chouard raised eyebrows in Nature News with a headline that sounds […]
Evolutionary Inferences: Are They Incontrovertible?
February 23, 2010
No matter what is found in plants or animals, it finds its way into an evolutionary explanation eventually. Are these explanations driven by the data, or forced into a belief system? Are other explanations possible? Some recent reports might inform these questions. Your inner plant: Get in touch with your inner plant with a report […]
Is Your Bod Flawed by God?
February 14, 2010
Are your body’s imperfections reasons for you to reject intelligent design and embrace evolution? Professor John Avise (UC Irvine) thinks so. His new book Inside the Human Genome was given good press by PhysOrg: “Distinguished Professor of ecology & evolutionary biology at UC Irvine, Avise also makes the case that overwhelming scientific evidence of genomic […]
For His Birthday, Darwin Gets a Scrambled Arthropod Tree
February 12, 2010
If Darwin lost his tree last year (01/22/2009), it would seem any corrections or rearrangements would be academic. Nevertheless, eight evolutionary biologists at Duke University tried rearranging one of the biggest branches on Darwin’s tree of common ancestry – the highly diverse group known as arthropods (animals with jointed appendages). Arthropods comprise the largest number […]
More Surprises for Darwin
February 11, 2010
It’s not uncommon for theories to have to deal with anomalies, but Darwinism sure seems to get more than its share. Here are some recent examples. Fossils lie: Fossils preserve unmistakable clues about past life, right? Not so fast. Nature reported that “Non-random decay of chordate characters causes bias in fossil interpretation.”1 The way early […]
Building a Cell: Staggering Complexity
February 2, 2010
“The living cell is a self-organizing, self-replicating, environmentally responsive machine of staggering complexity.” Thus began a special section on “Building a Cell” in Nature last week.1 The section with five papers explores what is known about gene regulation, cell organization and signalling. It’s an opportunity, as well, to see what scientists think about what they […]
Woese Slays Darwin
January 28, 2010
The king is dead! Long live the king! Such were the oxymoronic cries of olden times when royal succession took place. Has Charles Darwin been dethroned? One would think so, after reading Mark Buchanan’s article, “Horizontal and vertical: the evolution of evolution” in New Scientist. Buchanan sets the stage: Just suppose that Darwin’s ideas were […]
Convergence: Explanation or Rescue Device?
January 26, 2010
The news media are telling us that bats and dolphins both hit on the same genetic pathway to evolve echolocation – even though they are on vastly different evolutionary lineages and use echolocation differently (one in air, one in water). Since it is inconceivable that a putative shrew-like common ancestor of these very different animals […]
Molecular Machines Use Moving Parts
January 19, 2010
Research papers into the processes of molecular machines continue to reveal moving parts: “fingers” that open and close, ratchets that lock into place, and feet that move along tracks. Here are a few samples from the voluminous literature that continues to pour from biophysics labs. DNA Polymerase I: Scientific papers tend to be reserved in […]
What Value Do Evolutionary Explanations Provide?
January 13, 2010
We want value for our science dollars. We know artists are into self-expression, but scientists need to offer more than just artistic prose: they are supposed to be in the knowledge generation business. So we expect to gain one of two things from their scientific explanations. One, we would like to gain practical knowledge that […]