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Conjuring Up Evolutionary Implications from Current Data

What does observable reality imply about unobservable reality?  Some scientists say, a lot.  But is unobservable reality really real?  Or is it an oxymoron?  A couple of recent articles in the science media show scientists observing things in the present, then saying they have “huge implications” for things no scientist ever observed.     In […]

Specialized Molecules Make Cells Work

Reports continue to show that vital cell processes depend on finely-tuned proteins and RNA molecules.  Most of the papers that discuss these specialized molecules fail to mention how they might have evolved, as shown in three papers in the recent issue of Science. Walker with muscle:  A paper by Kaya and Higuchi from the University […]

Stem Cell News: Adults Still Lead

Stem cells are still hot.  Most of the significant findings are coming from adult stem cells (AS) or induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS) rather than embryonic stem cells (ES).  For example, a PhysOrg article described progress at the University of Michigan in predicting what cell types stem cells will become.  Nothing was said in the […]

Explosion of the Blob

Some scientists are looking into the folds of a sponge for clues about the Cambrian Explosion – the sudden emergence of all the major body plans in the geological blink of an eye.  What they are finding is more complexity than a first glance at the simple creatures would expect.     A draft genome […]

Fine-Tuning Found in Life’s Rotary Engine

The universal energy currency in living things is ATP.  To produce the vast quantities of this molecule required by life 24 x 7, cells employ banks of rotary engines called ATP Synthase, which we have reported on previously in these pages many times.  ATP synthase has become somewhat of a mascot of intelligent design, because […]

Cell Regulation Doesn’t Just Happen

Scientists are finding that it’s not just having the right parts that makes a body go; it’s having those parts controlled by the right regulators.  Recent stories make the case with their headlines: “‘Guardian of the Genome’: Protein Helps Prevent Damaged DNA in Yeast,” announced Science Daily.  “Scientists find gas pedal – and brake – […]

Electricity Forms Your Heart

Did you know your heart is an electrical appliance?  That’s right.  Currents of electrical ions are vital to its function as a contractile organ.  Now, researchers at the University of California have found another thing electricity does for your heart: it guides the developing heart into the proper shape.  This is a key study showing […]

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 […]
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