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Human Evolution: Clear as Mud

Evolutionists speak of our descent from apes with an air of confidence and certainty, but connecting the dots requires a bit of artistic license.  Here are some examples of how any data, no matter how puzzling, can be made to fit the Darwinian picture. Stretchy Clocks:  A famous painting by Salvador Dali portrayed clocks draped […]

Soil Provides Library of Antibiotic Resistance

The “evolution of antibiotic resistance” is a staple in the creation-evolution debates, providing evolutionists with a living illustration of evolution taking place right before our eyes.  What if all the information for antibiotic resistance, however, already exists in a library from which bacteria can find it?  That seems to be the implication of a study […]

Peer Review: Can You Trust a Scientific Journal Paper?

Science magazine has egg on its face – deviled, poached, and scrambled – everything but sunny side up.  Last May, it printed one of the biggest breakthrough stories of the year in stem cell research: Korean scientist Woo Suk Hwang, a professor at the Seoul National University and President of the World Stem Cell Hub, […]

Health Depends on Robust Cell Machinery

When we think of health, we typically visualize the big things: firm muscles, energy, lack of a protruding stomach and the like.  Cell biology, though, is showing us how our health depends on the proper functioning of countless myriads of molecular machines.  Here are some recent samples from the science journals: Heroic Underdogs in the […]

Minimal Cell More Complex Than Expected

Craig Venter’s lab has been working on an interesting project in theoretical biology: what is the minimum set of genes needed for life?  They have taken one of the simplest organisms, Mycoplasma genitalium, and knocked out genes to see which ones are essential and which are nonessential for viability.  (This is part of the “top […]

How Blind Cave Fish Lose Color

A study on cave fish revealed that several populations can have mutations to the same gene.  A gene that produces melanin, named Oca2, was found to be mutated in two separate populations of cave fish, resulting in albinism.  This same gene can produce albinism in humans. The replicated experiment is a powerful tool for experimental […]

Don’t PNA in our OOL

Theories for the origin of life (OOL) are in a crisis, unable to imagine how something as complex as a replicating cell could come into existence. Could PNA do it?

One-Celled Organism’s Spring Generates Enormous Forces

The pioneering Dutch microscopist Antony van Leeuwenhoek marveled at the miniature “animalcules” he witnessed darting through the water and spinning like a top.  One such marvelous protozoan was Vorticella.  The way it rapidly contracted and expanded on its little stalk must have reminded Leeuwenhoek of a spring.  It turns out, it is a spring – […]

Micro-RNAs are Cell’s Optimizers

“Unnoticed next to the main ingredients, microRNAs were considered to be ‘junk’ DNA, leftovers from millions of years of evolution.”  That line comes from an article on EurekAlert telling about how dramatically that picture has changed.  RNA molecules are now seen to be indispensable, with many roles in the cell.  This article talked about how […]

Cell Ribosome Assembly Is Like Throwing Car Parts Together

Ribosomes are the protein-assembly machines in the living cell (11/24/2005, 07/26/2005, 01/19/2005).  A bacterium can have thousands of them.  They are composed of two large RNA complexes; the smaller one has 20 unique proteins that fit snugly in various parts of the apparatus, and the larger complex has even more.  How do the parts all […]

Genes Attack the Trees

Evolutionary tree-building (11/14/2005) is a tangled business.  Now that scientists can compare genomes of diverse animals, they can compare the resulting molecular evolutionary trees with traditional ones – those produced by inferring relationships based on outward (morphological) characteristics of living or fossil organisms.  What happens when the trees don’t match?     Two recent studies, […]

Nature Cover Exploits Intelligent Design While Inside Attacks It

The 11/24 issue of Nature included two very caustic letters attacking intelligent design, yet its cover story highlighted the promising new field of Synthetic Biology.  In one of the leading papers,1 David Sprinzak and Michael B. Elowiz of Caltech (see 06/25/2005 entry) described the synthetic approach in terms reminiscent of William Paley’s old Divine Watchmaker: […]

Does Gene Expression Evolve?

“Mutation is the ultimate source of biological diversity because it generates the variation that fuels evolution,” wrote four scientists in Nature November 10.1  Conventionally, theorists have focused on gene mutations for that fuel; what about mutations to gene expression?  That’s what they set out to discover.     One would think that positive natural selection […]

March of the Little Penguins Down Darwin Lane?

Penguins are on people’s minds since the movie, but there are other species of the handsome-yet-funny waddlers besides the reigning emperors.  The news media are saying one species demonstrates evolution – another word on the public mind these days.  MSNBC News talked about “Penguin evolution,” and Science Now proclaimed “Evolution on Ice.”  Actually, it’s only […]

Genome Complexity No Measure of Evolution

Do genes show an increasing pattern of complexity from lower to higher organisms?  Not necessarily, reported Elizabeth Pennisi in Science Now.  Cnidarians, including sea anemones and corals, for example, show almost as much complexity in their genomes as humans, whereas fruit flies and worms, seemingly more complex than cnidarians (06/25/2005, 2nd par.) appear to have […]
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