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DNA Coding Multiplies in Complexity

As if the discovery that DNA is a language translation system was not enough to challenge evolutionary theories, it is becoming increasing clear that DNA is a code operated by another code.  Science on Oct. 221 had a feature on gene regulation, which writer Elizabeth Pennisi termed “Genome’s Second Code.”  She began, “The genome has […]

News Nuggets

Here’s a collection of news items that deserve quick notice: Mars Rumbles:  Mars still has minor earthquakes, says Space.com, That’s without plate tectonics, “But scientists don’t know exactly how Mars is constructed.”  The Mars Exploration Rovers, meanwhile, awaking from a winter’s nap, are still gathering science data long past their expected lifetime.  Evidence for past […]

Another Thing to Worry About: Synthetic Biology

Philip Ball is no alarmist, but as consultant editor of Nature,1 he had sobering words last week about things that could go wrong in the new field of synthetic biology, where scientists are tinkering with cells to create artificial life forms: The expanding toolbox of ways to re-engineer microbes – and even construct new ones […]

Volcanic Gas Helps Link Up the Building Blocks of Life

A gas emitted by volcanoes, carbonyl sulfide (COS), enables amino acid molecules to form peptide bonds.  That’s what long-time origin-of-life researcher Leslie Orgel and colleagues at Scripps Institute have found.  The reaction is especially productive in the presence of metal ions that act as catalysts, and even better in the presence of oxidizing agents.  Moreover, […]

PBS Airs Another Evolution Series: Origins

PBS NOVA aired its latest installment on evolution, a 4-hour miniseries entitled Origins, on September 28 and 29.  The website hype describes it as follows: Has the universe always existed?  How did it become a place that could harbor life?  What was the birth of our planet like?  Are we alone, or are there alien […]

Update: Intelligent Design Paper

The controversy over Stephen Meyer’s intelligent design paper (see 09/16/2004 headline) continues.  Science printed a brief but dismissive news item claiming its publication was a mistake, but journal editor Rick Sternberg has answered the charges on his personal website.  Meyer has responded to criticisms leveled by Richard Monastersky in the Chronicle of Education.  The Discovery […]

Cell Exhibits Robust Engineering Design

An international team of biotechnologists writing in the journal Cell1 thinks biologists need to focus more on the concept of robust engineering design.  The abstract sounds like something out of an Intelligent Design Movement paper: Robustness, the ability to maintain performance in the face of perturbations and uncertainty, is a long-recognized key property of living […]

Introducing: The Spinach Cell Phone

The next spinach sandwich you hear about may not be an item at the health food bar but an electronic device powered by the sun.  According to an MIT press release, chloroplasts from spinach leaves have been successfully sandwiched into a solid-state electronic photocell that could be used before long to power cell phones and […]

Termites: If You Can’t Lick ’Em, Mimic ’Em

Termites, despite their bad rap, have something to teach human homebuilders.  Their mounds are self-sufficient, air-conditioned, environmentally friendly and cheap to run, according to a story in EurekAlert.  “The mounds incorporate a complicated network of tunnels and air conduits designed to channel air flow for the control of internal air quality, temperature and moisture levels.” […]

Discovery of Transfer RNA Recounted

In the Sept. 16 issue of Nature,1 Mahlon Hoagland recounts how he did the key experiment in 1957 that proved DNA used “soluble RNA” intermediates, later named transfer RNA (tRNA), on the way to protein synthesis in the ribosome, only to find that Francis Crick had predicted the existence of such intermediates. By this time […]

Peering Into Paley’s Black Box: The Gears of the Biological Clock

William Paley’s famous “watchmaker argument” for the existence of a Designer, though intuitively logical to many, has been criticized by naturalists on the grounds that one cannot compare mechanical devices to biological ones.  Biological “contrivances” might operate on totally different principles than mechanical ones made by humans we know.     Michael Behe’s 1996 book […]

Nature Says ID Paper Scored a Publishing Success

A news story in the Sept. 9 issue of Nature1 says, “A new front has opened up in the battle between scientists and advocates of intelligent design, a theory that rejects evolution and is regarded by its critics as another term for creationism.”  Reporter Jim Giles says the paper by Stephen Meyer of the Discovery […]

Pop Goes the Fatbubble Theory for the Origin of Life

Jack Szostak and colleagues at Howard Hughes Medical Institute have a new entry for stories about how the first life got rolling: the bubble theory.  Bubbles of fat molecules enclosing genetic material might have given rise to a primitive form of natural selection, they say; the more effective at replication the RNA inside a lucky […]

Are We Lost on a Speck of Cosmic Dust?

A new Copernican revolution seems to be in the works, not another “demotion” of man from the center of the universe, but a promotion back to the ancient idea of plan or purpose for our existence.  The demotions reached their nadir with Carl Sagan’s Cosmos and other books that declared we are nothing special, that […]

School Science “Tyranny” Tries to Scare Off Lecture Critical of Darwinism

Is a high school campus an open marketplace of ideas and a guarantor of free speech?  Look at this story in Agape Press about the troubles a high school student endured trying to get Michael Behe to speak at an after-school lecture this past February.  Though an optional event not during normal operating hours, and […]
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