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Nature Plagiarizes Behe’s Mousetrap

The prevention of genomic instability – and cancer – can be attributed to a “complex mousetrap” mechanism, said Robert M. Brosh, Jr (Laboratory of Molecular Gerontology, NIH) in Nature.1  This not-so-subtle reference to Michael Behe’s irreducibly complex system described in Darwin’s Black Box even has a mousetrap illustration with the following caption: The BLM protein […]

Far-Out Science

The following list of bizarre stories coming from science news outlets is jarring on two fronts: it shows how little scientists understand, and calls into question what counts as science these days.  Some stories illustrate one or the other; some both. Roar of the aurora aura:  Both Saturn and Mars turned up auroras that are […]

Unique “Orphan Genes” Are Widespread; Have No Evolutionary Explanation

We often hear about the similarities between genomes, but what about the differences?  There’s a growing realization that groups of animals have genetic orphans – genes that are unique to that line (see 01/02/2003).  These genes have no evolutionary homology or kinship to genes from other lineages.  How did they arise?  And what do they […]

Proteins Can Tie Knots

Your job today is to invent a chain that can tie itself in a knot.  The chain can contain little magnets and electrical parts, but when you let go of the ends, a knot will spontaneously form.  This means that one end must form a loop and the other end must thread the loop.  Give […]

Cell Chaperone Is an Optimized Two-Stroke Machine

Proteins need a protected space to fold, and the cell provides it: the GroEL-GroES chaperone (see 05/05/2003, 06/07/2006, and 02/13/2007).  More details keep coming in about this “protein dressing room” as scientists continue to probe its secrets.  Two new papers in PNAS by a team at University of Maryland and College Park reveal that this […]

Scientists Marvel at Enzyme Efficiency

Many chemical reactions occur from simple collisions.  One atom may have spare electrons, another may need them.  Attracted by each other’s valences, the atoms collide and bonds form.  Not so with biological enzymes: these molecular machines owe their efficiency to their three-dimensional shapes.  Made up of hundreds of amino acids, enzymes have “active sites” where […]

Biological Complexity Continues to Astound

There’s more going on in your thinking apparatus than you think.  New scientific discoveries continue to unfold new layers of complexity and control.  Here are a few examples: Meta-code:  Your body has codes directing codes.  Geneticists were initially dismayed to find only 20,000 to 30,000 genes in the human genome.  “We were expecting that something […]

Paley’s Watch Found in Bacteria

A clock with cogs, gears and ratchets that keeps accurate time – what more could William Paley wish for?  The 18th century natural theologian used the illustration of stumbling upon a watch in a heath as an example of reasoning from design to a Designer – as from watch to watchmaker.  Skeptics like David Hume […]

How Cells Thread a Needle

Your challenge today is to invent a machine that can push a wet noodle through a straw.  It can’t pull it.  First it has to grab the end, then push it through without breaking it.  Oh, and there’s a catch; the straw has a plug at the far end and a constriction inside.  Give up?  […]

Selling Stem Cells to Voters

If you thought embryonic stem cell research became moot after researchers found they could induce skin cells to become pluripotent, these news stories show the push is still on to open up more funds for embryonic stem cells.  A ballot measure in Michigan is a bellwether for how scientists still feel about these tantalizing objects […]

Plants Have Thermostats

Plants, being stuck in the ground, have few options when it gets hot.  They may not be able to move into the shade like animals, but they know how to cope.  They have a built-in thermostat that acts like a fire prevention department.  Science Daily tells the story.     Researchers at Michigan State identified […]

Deep Life Is Right at Home in Total Darkness

It seems every year scientists find organisms thriving in environments thought too inhospitable for life.  A new word was coined for these organisms: extremophiles – lovers of the extreme.  Two recent discoveries push the envelope of extreme environments almost to the deep limit. Pressurized fish:  The bottoms of the deep ocean trenches of the Pacific […]

It’s Fun Seeing Evolution Falsified

“Mysterious Snippets Of DNA Withstand Eons Of Evolution” is the strange title of an article on Science Daily.  Gill Bejerano and Cory McLean from Stanford are wondering why large non-coding sections of DNA are very similar, or “ultraconserved,” from mice to man (see 08/18/2007).  Evolutionary theory would expect that non-functional genetic material would mutate more […]

How the Evolution Story Became Like Jellyfish

“How the [blank] got its [blank]” is the template for story titles imitating Rudyard Kipling’s Just-So Stories: i.e., How the Camel Got His Hump and How the Leopard Got His Spots.  Kipling wrote these as silly stories to entertain children, not to be taken seriously by scientists.  Knowing that creationists often criticize Darwinian explanations as […]

Leaves Don’t Fall; They’re Pushed

Rocks may fall (thus the need for warning signs on highways), but leaves are pushed off of trees by a genetic program.  The process, called abscission, has been mysterious for a long time.  A team from the University of Missouri has mapped out, for the first time, the abscission pathway in one plant.  Being this […]
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