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Darwinists Get Sexy

The origin of sex titillates many evolutionary biologists.  On the one hand, animals and plants have such interesting ways of getting together.  But on the other hand, sex seems too costly to have originated by natural selection.  Some recent articles provide new evolutionary speculations on the origin of sex – but simultaneously undermine previous speculations. […]

Bacteria Too Complex To Be Primitive Eukaryote Ancestors

In the search for the most primitive life forms on earth, bacteria would certainly make the list.  They are tiny, one-celled, and have small genomes.  Why, then, did Patrick Forterre and Simonetta Gribaldo of the Pasteur Institute say in PNAS,1 “we should definitely stop thinking of bacteria in terms of simple ‘lower’ organisms”?  For the […]

Proteins Fold Who Knows How

One of the biggest mysteries remaining in cell biology is how proteins fold.  Proteins start out as chains of amino acids (polypeptides) as they exit the ribosome.  Most of them spontaneously fold into their “native” three-dimensional structures, where they will go to work as enzymes, structural materials or other key players in cell life.  About […]

Productive Science Imitates Nature

Examples continue to accumulate that some of the most interesting and fruitful science projects involve copying design principles found in nature.  This “biomimetics” approach not only pleases the consumers who can look forward to greener, cheaper, better products, but leads to deeper understandings of nature’s workings. Gecko adhesives:  PhysOrg published a story on the ongoing […]

Your Inner Locomotive Revealed

Visualize an old locomotive train roaring down the tracks.  One of the characteristic images that surely comes to mind is the oscillating motion of the coupling rods on the wheels.  The long rods that connected the wheels provided a way to convert heat energy from the steam into mechanical energy (example video on YouTube).  It […]

Tibetans Evolved Altitude Tolerance in 3,000 Years

Tibetans and other peoples who live at high altitudes possess a remarkable tolerance to the thin atmosphere.  Now, scientists at UC Berkeley have identified some 30 genes related to oxygen regulation that differ in Tibetans from Han Chinese.  Since those tribes are thought to have diverged 3,000 years ago, natural selection for these changes must […]

Heal the Blind with Stem Cells

Have you heard that some cases of corneal blindness can be cured by stem cells #– from the person’s own eyes?  New Scientist recounted some recent successes for victims blinded in one eye by burns or acid.  Stem cells taken from the limbus, a disk surrounding the iris, and transplanted onto the damaged cornea, were […]

Farm Algae for Energy

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 […]

Fish Feet: Can Evolution Add by Subtraction?

How did fish grow feet?  One would think that feet require adding a lot of new parts: bones, muscles, nerves, blood vessels, and additional supporting tissues.  Each of those would require genetic instructions and changes to embryonic development.  One evolutionist, however, feels that switching genes off paved the way to the invasion of land.  The […]

The RNA Code: Pseudogenes Functional, Help Prevent Cancer

A surprising function has been discovered for a “pseudogene” – an apparently mutated copy of a regular gene that till recently was thought to be genetic junk.  This pseudogene, reported in Nature today,1 not only has a function unrelated to the production of proteins, but a function that could save your life.  It is part […]

Flagellum Replaces Parts on the Fly

A new study appears to show that the bacterial flagellum, a molecular rotary motor that has become iconic of the intelligent design movement, can repair parts of its rotor while it is rotating.  The results of the study by Oxford University were published in PNAS,1 and were also the focus of a Commentary in PNAS […]

Not Lamarck Again

Remember Lamarck?  He was the pre-Darwin evolutionist whose theories we were all taught were overthrown by Darwin’s superior theory of natural selection.  Lamarck’s theory of “inheritance of acquired characteristics” was shown to be demonstrably false by the dramatic experiments of Weismann, right?  It was never really so clear-cut as that, as evolutionary historians know, but […]

Plants Have Memories

June 09, 2010 — Have you ever noticed how plants have an uncanny ability to know, without eyes or brains, when the time has come to bloom?  Even when spring comes early or late in some years, they sense the right time, and out come the flowers.  This is even more remarkable when you consider […]

Your Nerves and Heart Depend on Cellular Pulleys, Latches and Switches

Biologists continue to peer closer and closer at cellular machines that work just like man-made ones, only at scales so tiny, they control individual atoms.  Of particular interest have been the gates in the membranes of cells that allow certain atoms in but keep others out.  A recent paper in Cell by an Australian team […]

Venter’s Synthetic Plagiarism Deflated by NY Times

How significant was Craig Venter’s achievement of a so-called synthetic genome?  Somewhat significant, but it pales in significance to creating life from scratch.  It was only like “peering over a fortress that is the mighty cell,” wrote Natalie Angier for the New York Times Monday, May 31.     The article was accompanied with a […]
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