Tilt-A-World: Another Constraint on Habitability
January 12, 2012
Did you ever ride a Tilt-A-Whirl, one of those cheap carnival rides that makes you dizzy and sick? Our planet would be like that if its inclination were out of control. Without tilt stability, a new study reveals, we wouldn't be sick, we'd be dead, or never alive in the first place. It's not enough to be in the Habitable Zone. Would-be inhabited planets need to avoid a new problem, called “tilt erosion.”
Cosmologists Forced to “In the Beginning”
January 11, 2012
The late astronomer Robert Jastrow detailed in his 1978 book God and the Astronomers how cosmologists were repulsed by the idea the universe had a beginning. He found it quizzical that they would have such an emotional reaction. They all realized that a beginning out of nothing was implausible without a Creator. Since then, various models allowing for an eternal universe brought secular cosmologists relief from their emotional pains. It now appears that relief was premature.
Darwinian Explanations: Show or Snow?
January 10, 2012
We all know the proverbial “snow job.” That’s putting on an entertaining song and dance without doing the assignment. A college sophomore (wise fool) writes a 15-page term paper full of jargon that, on closer inspection, didn’t follow directions or didn’t answer the question – it reveals ignorance of the subject. A job applicant makes an impression with humor or appearance without demonstrating ability to do the work. A junior makes up a fanciful story to cover up why he didn’t mow the lawn. Scientists are supposed to explain things based on observation and testable hypotheses. If Darwinians really believe that an unguided, impersonal, purposeless mechanism led to the diversity of life on Earth, they need to show the evidence. Here are a few recent examples of evolutionary explanations. Check whether they “show” evolution, or distract attention with a “snow” job.
What Do Scientists Know About Prehistory?
January 9, 2012
Evolutionary biologists and geologists speak of events happening millions or billions of years ago as concrete facts. They are not observational facts, though; they are inferences from indirect evidence. Indirect evidence can often lead to different conclusions; in fact, some philosophers like Duhem and Quine argue for “under-determination of theory by data,” meaning that data can never converge to support just one theory. Some can demonstrate logically that there are an infinite number of theories that can explain a set of data. Evolutionary scientists counter that there are only one or a few that are reasonable (implying that theirs is among the limited set of reasonable ones). Recent discoveries that threaten to overturn past reasonable theories, though, cast doubt on their confidence.
January 7, 2012
Scientists sometimes just prove the obvious, like that men and women are different. If we can talk body without talking bawdy, there are some new discoveries about body works that should put a spring in your step today about how your body works.
Hear Ye: Another Darwinian Prediction Falsified by Fossils
January 3, 2012
In a classic test of evolutionary “post-diction” (predicting what should be found in the fossil record), scientists made a bold prediction of what insect ears would look like before the evolution of bats. Believing that the presence of bats, a new predator with sonar, would spur the evolution of insect ears, the scientists predicted that earlier insects would have less-developed ears, or none at all. Then they found exceptionally-preserved insect fossils from the Green River formation in Wyoming, and compared the fossil evidence with their prediction. What was found?
A Young Moon for Life
January 3, 2012
Our moon is unique in the solar system. Just the right size and just the right distance, it is positioned to stabilize the tilt of Earth’s axis, providing stable seasonal cycles. Science lacks data so far to know just how unique the Earth-moon relationship in a habitable zone is among other stellar systems. We know from the planets of our own solar system that moons come in all sizes, from tiny Deimos to massive Titan, and orbit in apparently arbitrary radii from their host planets. What astrophysicists can do is predict what would happen on earth if things were different. That’s what one scientist did. Another discovery could change the view of the moon’s surface being unaltered for billions of years.
Cells Optimize Their Tasks
December 28, 2011
The key to design in manufacturing is optimization – hitting the “sweet spot” between competing interests. It’s not always possible to have all the elements of a product be ideal. A laptop computer, for instance, can’t have an extra-large monitor and simultaneously have long battery life and compact design. A muscle car cannot be expected to have the best gas mileage. In the heyday of “faster, better, cheaper” spacecraft, engineers often joked, “pick any two.” In the same way, living cells have to optimize their operations. A couple of recent papers explore how they find that sweet spot.
Dino Expert Plays Chicken
December 28, 2011
Jack Horner, the dinosaur hunter who was science advisor to the Jurassic Park movies, wants to create a real dinosaur. He won’t use the movie method, trying to extract blood from Jurassic amber, because “DNA degrades too quickly,” he said. But he has a method he thinks will work: un-evolve a chicken back into its dinosaur ancestor.
Humans Evolved from Pigeons
December 26, 2011
Experiments with pigeons show that their intelligence matches or exceeds that of chimpanzees. If evolutionists can infer that chimpanzees are our closest living relatives based on intelligence, why wouldn’t it be just as logical to infer that humans evolved from birds? As some recent articles show, such a whimsical story does not exceed in silliness what some evolutionists actually do claim.
Naturalizing Miracles, or Miracle-izing Nature?
December 24, 2011
Certain scientists feel a need to explain all phenomena by means of natural processes, including reports of miracles. The word “natural,” however, is slippery, taking on a variety of meanings. Is scientific reasoning, for instance, natural? If so, it is not composed of atoms and forces acting according to “natural law.” Is it possible that the tables can be turned on the naturalizers, to rescue Christmas from materialist re-interpretation?
Cambrian Explosion Louder Still
December 23, 2011
Darwin started a tradition of worrying about the Cambrian Explosion. Over time the problem has only worsened; now we know that all the animal phyla appeared suddenly in the oldest strata containing metazoan (multi-celled) animals. In recent decades, evolutionists had hoped that the strange Ediacaran fossils would provide the needed missing links. In addition, some thought they had found embryos of early metazoans in the exceptionally-preserved Precambrian beds of China. Those hopes have now been dashed, leading to moans and groans from Darwinians.
Human Variability Can Be Rapid
December 19, 2011
All living humans are interfertile – one species by definition. People from all parts of the globe can marry and have children, even though global travel is relatively recent in human history. Yet we know there is considerable variability between tribes and nationalities. Does this variability take millions of years? Does it lead to the origin of new human species? Recent evidence shows that variations can be rapid, both genetic and acquired, without reducing interfertility.
Philosophy on the Phringe
December 17, 2011
Some philosophy is just common sense. Some is abstruse, recondite, and technically challenging. But when employed against common sense, such as to support the belief that everything came from nothing, philosophy can get downright weird.
Good Science Requires Good Ethics
December 16, 2011
Science is conducted by humans for humans. It is not done in a vacuum. Even the lone researcher working in a basement hopes to make a discovery worth sharing. The need for ethical science shows most clearly when humans experiment on humans – with or without their consent. Two recent articles underscore the indispensability of moral grounds for science, and a third raises questions about the source of morality.