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Darwin’s Linux: Did Evolution Produce a Computer?

How is a cell like a computer?  Some Yale scientists asked that question, and embarked on a project to compare the genome of a lowly bacterium to a computer’s operating system.1.  Their work was published in PNAS.2  As with most analogies, some things were found to be similar, and some different – but in the […]

Archer Fish Sees Clearly Up and Down

The archer fish, which lives in mangrove swamps and rivers, is able to spit insects off leaves above the water with remarkable accuracy (09/30/2002, 09/07/2004, 10/10/2006).  Scientists have been fascinated by this ability because in order for the fish to calculate the trajectory of its missiles, it needs to take into account both chromatic aberration […]

Are There Limits to Scientific Speculation?  A Royal Case

Question: When does science become like a priesthood?  Answer: When its practitioners engage in speculation on big questions impossible to verify with empirical observations.  Is this what the chief astronomer in Britain is doing?     Sir Martin Rees certainly would not have thought of himself as a priest as he wrote an article for […]

Blood Clotting Fibers May Lead to Better Networks

We all know that blood clotting has kept us alive many times.  We would never have survived childhood scrapes and cuts had it not been for a cascade of responses in blood that builds a network of fibers quickly upon which a scab of tissue stops the flow of blood and begins repairs.  That first […]

Maxwell’s Demon Helps Run Your Muscles

James Clerk Maxwell once speculated that the second law of thermodynamics could be violated if an agent or “demon” could sort the hot and cold molecules at a barrier, thus overcoming the tendency toward thermal equilibrium.  Something like this has been found at work in the molecular machines in our muscles.  The actin-myosin motor is […]

Genetic Subcode Discovered

Computer programmers know all about subroutines.  One master program can easily call other programs, which can return results back to the master program.  That’s very 1960s.  Today’s modular software responds dynamically from disparate sources and responds to feedback from embedded triggers.  They can call routines written in other codes or languages.  We’re beginning to find […]

Psychologists Portray I.D. as a Form of Evolution

No need to draw a line between design and evolution, say two psychologists at the University of Iowa.  Intelligent design is really a lot like evolution.  They think we need to “better appreciate the actual forces that unite the processes of change across both evolutionary and developmental timescales.”     This strange theory was announced […]

SETI and other Pointless Gimmicks

Astrobiologist Paul Davies sure knows how to ask interesting questions, and ruffle feathers in the process.  His new book about SETI, The Eerie Silence, reviewed by Leslie Mullen in Astrobiology Magazine, defaced some long-standing notions.  But are his suggestions any improvement?     Davies thinks the Voyager record was a “pointless gimmick.”  He thinks that […]

Blind Fish Lead the Blind

Imagine miniature subs that can negotiate tight spaces or murky waters in the dark.  Meet Snookie: a device created by researchers at the University of Technology Munich, who took their inspiration from blind cave fish.     The report on Live Science says that the blind Mexican cave fish Astyanax mexicanus is born with eyes […]

Human Genome “Infinitely More Complex” Than Expected

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 […]

Biomimetics: Science for Now

Do you want science that makes a difference in our lives?  Look at real plants and animals with real solutions to practical problems.  That’s where researchers are making amazing discoveries with practical spinoffs. Shellfish materials:  Strong, lightweight structures are coming, thanks to the imitation of oysters and shellfish.  PhysOrg reported that researchers at the University […]

Archaeologist Employs Design Detection with Little Evidence

There are hundreds of large stone spheres in Costa Rica, some up to 8 feet in diameter weighing 16 tons.  There are no written records or tribal traditions about them.  John Hoopes, an anthropologist at the University of Kansas, has been studying these spheres for a long time.  According to PhysOrg, he’s had to dispel […]

Everything You Know About Evolution Is Wrong (Again)

There’s a genre of science news stories characterized by pointing out things Darwin got wrong.  It’s not creationists that do this – these are secular reporters and evolutionary biologists.  They seem to try to one-up Darwin by proposing new theories that do evolution better.  They usually don’t go far enough to jettison Darwin completely, but […]

“Synthetic Evolution” – Is it Really Intelligent Design?

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 […]

Fruit Flies: From Darwin to Design

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 […]
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