It’s Still a Rare Earth
September 25, 2011
Now that hundreds of extrasolar planets are known, how do they compare to ours? The Kepler spacecraft has found a varied assortment of all sizes and distances away from their parent stars. Only a few reside in their star’s habitable zones. But that’s only the first of many requirements for life. Two recent studies indicate that Earth remains a rare bird in the celestial aviary.
Where Do Gems and Precious Metals Come From?
September 7, 2011
Gold, diamonds, and other precious metals and gems... they are found close to the surface of the earth where humans can mine them and make jewelry. But they shouldn’t be there. Heavy elements should have sunk deep into the core of the Earth soon after it was formed. Wait till you hear some of the latest ideas about how precious metals and gems arrived near the surface. Maybe they shot up from the mantle. Maybe they came from outer space.
Another Crash in Lunar Tunes
August 4, 2011
Our moon has two faces. One is the familiar man-in-the-moon side that always faces Earth. The other side is mountainous and heavily cratered, possessing a thicker crust with almost none of the large impact basins we see as dark maria on the Earth-facing side. The giant impact theory for the origin of the moon – that a Mars-size object hit the Earth and the debris coalesced into our planetary companion – has been controversial since it was first proposed. Will adding another impact help? It all depends on what one means by “scientific progress.”
July 29, 2011
Eruptions can come in two types: literal and figurative. Some planetary bodies are literally erupting. Others are causing figurative eruptions in theories. Here are some recent news stories about planets, moons, comets and other objects circling our sun and other stars. There hasn’t been much news from Mercury or Venus this month, so we’ll start on the home planet and work outward.
Science Can Be Wrong for Decades, Centuries
July 18, 2011
The history of science shows some wrong theories being accepted by leading scholars for long periods of time. Ptolemaic astronomy, unquestioned for over 1200 years, is a prime example. Not all examples are old, though. In modern times as well, scientists are finding that theories unquestioned for decades, even centuries, were wrong. That being so, what confidence can we have that today’s scientific beliefs will stand the test of time for the next decade or century? A recent spate of science articles shows some long-held theories being questioned – others being tossed overboard.
The Rise and Fall of Submerged Landscapes
July 10, 2011
Under the sea lies a lost land of terrestrial life. On this submerged landscape in the North Atlantic Ocean, river channels and fossils of pollen and coal are now being covered up by the remains of sea creatures. Live Science compared it to the lost continent of Atlantis. How did this fossil terrestrial landscape rise above the water, only to sink again?
A Tale of Two Pollens
June 29, 2011
Ambiguity is a bad word in science. Scientists want to be objective. To scientific realists, scientific truth is “out there” in the world, waiting to be discovered. The 20th century tempered scientific realism somewhat from its extreme form (scientism, the belief that science is the only reliable guide to truth). Knowledgeable scientists are more or less aware of the role of paradigms, social pressure and webs of belief that can affect interpretations of scientific data. But there is still a widespread perception that science “finds” truth in the world. Whether that happens can be pondered while exploring two recent stories about fossil pollen that arrived at opposite conclusions: one (by evolutionists) that supports old-earth geology (and “climate change” politics), and one (by creationists) that undermines it, finding fundamental biases among evolutionists who refuse to accept the implications of the data.
Political Science 101: Doubt Scientific Claims
June 25, 2011
Science goes through a chain of messengers from data to consumer. In between are fallible scientists, who speak often in incomprehensible jargon and often only partially understand what they observe, but often wish to gain notoriety with a major discovery (or need to publish or perish). Next, the institutional press offices decide what is significant and try to digest the jargon to layman level. The predigested stories are then delivered to science reporters, who sometimes sensationalize the filtered stories to make a name for themselves. Finally, the media outlets, prone to peer biases, dress up the products to grab the eyes of readers of their newspapers, magazines, or web pages. How much of the real scientific data remains at the end of this game of Telephone? Sometimes the bias is clearly evident, but often the product is delivered with all the presumptive authority of science. Once in awhile, a reporter comes clean about the dirty work involved.
National Geographic Rates Noah’s Flood
June 3, 2011
Pictures of the record floods in the eastern United States this year have been shocking and alarming (examples on Fox News). They raise questions about the potential for flooding on this planet: how big can they get? National Geographic News decided to look at some of the biggest floods in history and included the granddaddy […]
Mars as Anomalous Runt
May 26, 2011
The Mars rover Spirit is now dead in its tracks, but the planet under it continues to rumble, in theoretical overhauls and anomalies. Mars has been much on the mind of news reporters this week after a new paper speculated that the red planet grew up fast and then stopped as a runt.
Fossils Support Evolution! (Because Evolution Is Assumed)
May 18, 2011
Fossils come in a variety of manifestations – not always bone. They could be leaf imprints, whole animals trapped in amber, footprints, or mineral traces made by once-living organisms. Some recent fossil finds are having trouble fitting into evolutionary theory. But one thing about those Darwinists: they always find a way. Graph fight: Evolutionists have […]
Mt. St. Helens Recalls Overturned Paradigms
May 18, 2010
The eruption of Mt. St. Helens in May 1980 not only eroded mountains and canyons, it caused earthquake shifts in geological paradigms.
Paper View: A Geology Paradigm Suffers a Paradox
August 7, 2009
A pair of geologists found a paradox in a paradigm. That paradigm is the belief that ancient ocean levels rose and fell in cycles as ice sheets retreated and advanced, and the cause of the cycles was periodic changes in earth’s orbit. They modeled this process and couldn’t get it to work. They couldn’t get […]
Crystal Mysticism Invades Astrobiology
March 20, 2009
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 […]
Geology Sinks in the Mud
December 14, 2007
Question: what is the most abundant sedimentary rock in the world? Follow-up question: what would happen to the science of geology if the consensus theory of how this most abundant sedimentary rock was deposited turns out to be wrong? Prepare for a paradigm shift: experiments have shown mistakes in long-held assumptions about mudstone formation. Here’s […]