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Salting News with the L Word Life

Small amounts of sodium were detected in ice particles erupting from Saturn’s moon Enceladus.  Deduction: this might lower the melting point of underground ice, forming subsurface pockets of liquid water – perhaps an ocean.  Conclusion: Life!  It doesn’t matter that Enceladus has no other factors conducive to life than water, or that salt is generally […]

We Know Less Than We Think

Strange reports come from science news outlets on occasion that call into question facts we thought we understood.  These raise a question: do we really know what we think we know? Cutting dinosaurs down to size:  Dinosaurs may have been half as heavy as thought, said Science Daily.  Some paleontologists are claiming that widely-used methods […]

This Place Really Has Atmosphere

Of all the bodies in the solar system, only eight have a substantial atmosphere.  If you add in those with tenuous atmospheres, you can add in Triton and Mercury, and maybe a few others, till it becomes pedantic to call it an atmosphere if there are only a few short-lived molecules hovering over a moon.  […]

Key Step in Origin of Life Declared

The popular “RNA World” scenario for the origin of life has long suffered from a big hurdle: the implausibility of getting the key components of RNA building blocks, called nucleotides, from joining together.  Each nucleotide requires a ribose sugar, a pyrimidine base, and a phosphate group.  Now, a team publishing in Nature tried a new […]

Mooning the Public: Life Sells

Advertisers have known for a long time that sex sells.  That’s why ads often include a scantily-clad woman standing next to the pickup truck for sale.  It seems that in planetary science, life sells.  An icy moon can be a pretty dull thing, but announce that there might be life there, and eye appeal jumps.  […]

A Darwinist Religious Experience Described

As millions of Jews celebrate Passover, and as millions of Christians gather to celebrate Easter, a Darwinist reporter was experiencing “existential vertigo” – a sweeping sense of dizziness as her imagination zoomed in and out of the implications of her faith.  It may be the closest thing that a secular materialist can call a religious […]

Did Nature Dictate Biological Codes?

Pangloss was a character in Voltaire’s Candide made to caricature philosophers who give simplistic, optimistic answers to difficult questions.  Dr. Pangloss was fond of saying, a la Leibniz, that we live in the best of all possible worlds.  One evolutionist described a theory by two other evolutionists as possibly a “Panglossian argument” about the origin […]

Big Texas Win on “Critical Thinking”

Students in Texas schools will now have more opportunities to hear the flaws in Darwinism as well as evidences for it.  After months of acrimonious debate, the Texas State Board of Education adopted science standards that require students learn to “analyze, evaluate and critique scientific explanations” including theories of evolution and the origin of life. […]

Crystal Mysticism Invades Astrobiology

Mystical ideas about the life-giving power of crystals usually go with New Age movies and storefronts.  Science is above all that, right?  Then what is a reader supposed to think of this opening line by Leslie Mullen on Space.com? One of the greatest mysteries about the origin of life is how the necessary ingredients consistently […]

From Dust to St. Patrick in 5 Billion Years Flat

Biblical creationists and evolutionists have one belief in common: we came originally from dust.  How that dust became organized is the difference.  Both views teach that our bodies are comprised of the same atoms found in dust, but creationists say an intelligent designer purposefully molded the dust into a fully-formed man and woman, whereas evolutionists […]

Are You Cereous?  Life Came from an Asteroid?

Ceres is an icy asteroid way out in space that has a lot of ice.  The DAWN spacecraft is heading there.  When it arrives in 2015, maybe it will find out if a substantial part of the water is in liquid state under an ice crust.  Say the word water, and some think… life.   […]

Using Engineering to Prove Evolution

David Deamer smiling at a tide pool: is there an evolutionary connection?  The picture accompanies an article on Science Daily about Deamer’s latest thinking on the origin of life.  He’s going to share his ideas at a symposium in Oakland, California, organized by Eugenie Scott of the NCSE. According to Deamer, life began with complex […]

Panspermia Discounted: Life Had to Start Here

Some prominent biologists have pointed to a back door on the stage of life’s origin.  They have argued that even if the probability for the first cell was unlikely on Earth, life could have been brought here from space.  Francis Crick promoted this view; so did Fred Hoyle.  Most recently, even the ardent atheist Darwin […]

What Mean These Observations?

Science news outlets report many interesting findings every week.  It’s not always clear, though, whether the conclusions drawn from them are warranted by the data.  Here are some recent cases: Jaws of steel:  A skull labeled Australopithecus robustus was studied for the force its jaws could generate.  Interpretation: “Early humans had jaws of steel.”  With […]

Minerals Can Fool Astrobiologists

Look at this picture on National Geographic News.  Looks alive, doesn’t it?  It’s only a mineral.  The article contains a gallery of five micrographs of minerals that form curvy crystals.  They’re called biomorphs (a word simply meaning life-like shapes).     “Until now scientists had thought rounded crystals, such as those found in seashells and […]
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