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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 […]

Desperately Fleeing God in Cosmology

Does the fine-tuning of the universe require belief in God?  Or will multiverse theory allow for a self-perpetuating, eternal, godless cosmos?  Tim Folger explored this topic in an interview with Andrei Linde, a cosmologist currently at Stanford, in Discovery Magazine.  The opening line sums up the controversy: “Our universe is perfectly tailored for life.  That […]

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 […]

Poison Planet Was Life’s Training Ground

Navy Seals go through “Hell Week” in their training to become warriors.  The radical hardships they endure help prepare them for missions that will call on their deepest resources of courage and determination.  These men of the elite special forces also become experts in dealing with explosives.  Can molecules do the same, with a little […]

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 […]

Evolution in Person

For a blind watchmaker, Evolution is quite the seer.  Science articles often personify Evolution into a wizard and worker of miracles.  This is odd, considering that evolution is supposed to be an aimless, purposeless process of chance and necessity with no goals in mind. Evolution, the Learner:  Evolution learns from past environments, we are told […]

Body’s Junk Is Useful Stuff

What’s the difference between junk and stuff?  The jokester replies that stuff is the junk you throw away, and junk is the stuff you keep.  When it comes to stuff in your body that scientists have called junk, you had better keep all of it, because your life may depend on it. Junk DNA:  The […]

Serving Up Life on the Rocks with a Twist

We’ve heard theories life arose in a primeval soup, around hot deep-sea vents, around volcanoes and other hot spots; why would anyone consider the origin of life in ice?  A scientist in Spain has suggested life may have started in ice.  The title to the Science Daily write-up finds this to be the ultimate divination: […]

FrankenTitan Comes to Life

There’s electricity at Titan, the large moon of Saturn.  That can only mean one thing: life!  “Electricity Found on Saturn Moon–Could It Spark Life?” asked a headline on National Geographic News by Rebecca Carroll.  Visions of spark discharge tubes in a mad scientist’s lab arise in the imagination.  “Recently identified electrical activity on Saturn’s largest […]

The Life and Death of Oxygen

The oxygen in our atmosphere has the energy equivalent of 20 thousand billion billion hydrogen bombs.  To maintain the oxygen level in our atmosphere, that amount of energy would have to be spent in manufacturing molecular oxygen every 4 million years (a thousandth the assumed age of the earth).     Now that we have […]

Minding the Brain, or Braining the Mind?

There’s a battle brewing over who controls your brain: nature or your mind.  Materialist scientists are recognizing that creationists are getting a foothold on this hill and “declaring war over the brain,” according to an article in New Scientist.  Psychiatrist Jeffrey Schwartz fired this salvo: “Materialism needs to start fading away and non-materialist causation needs […]

How Not to Teach Evolution

Current Biology usually interviews a scientist for each issue.  In the October 14 issue,1 the subject was Dyche Mullins, a molecular biologist at UC San Francisco.  His story of how evolution was taught in high school should make teachers and parents take notice.     After the usual anecdotal fluff about what kind of cookies […]

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?  […]

SETI Could Find Design in Neutrinos

Most of the scientists involved in SETI research are very antagonistic to Intelligent Design.  Nevertheless, they find the design inference perfectly “natural” when looking for ways to comb through natural phenomena for intelligently-designed signals.     Two new methods for detecting alien messages were reported by Science News in the Oct. 11 issue.1  Both involve […]

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 […]
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