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Alien Engineering: Is It Intelligent Design?

The SETI Institute finished airing a 2-part series on the History Channel called Alien Engineering (it will be rebroadcast on Feb. 18).  The series, featuring SETI Institute scientists Seth Shostak and Frank Drake, asks the following questions: Prepare for an exercise in imagination.  Suppose that an alien spacecraft crashed in the desert and we humans […]

Keeping Saturn’s Moons Old

The Saturn system has a problem: young moons.  The current consensus on the age of the solar system (4.5 billion years) cannot handle such young objects.  Richard A. Kerr in Science last month described the vexing problem:1 Why is there geology on Saturn’s icy satellites?  Where did these smallish moons get the energy to refresh […]

Space Travel Too Hazardous for Humans

Astronomy magazine’s March 2006 issue contains a couple of sobering articles for those who like to dream of humans mastering the universe.  Asking “Will moon dust stop NASA?”, Trudy E. Bell described the dangers of space dust: “it sticks to spacesuits, wreaks havoc on equipment, and may be physically harmful,” she wrote, citing the experiences […]

Can Caves Record Climate History?

Many geologists and climatologists have assumed that cave formations, forming slowly over long ages, preserve a record of climate changes.  These assumptions have been challenged by University of Texas researchers who experimented with water dripping from stalactites in a cave in Barbados.  Their work was published in GSA Bulletin.1     Climate history could be […]

These Feet Were Made for Walking (and Running)

We usually walk or run.  When walking, we roll from heel to arch to toe and rock our arms back and forth.  When running, we bounce up and down slightly while pumping our arms.  Did you know that many other gaits are possible?  Why do we use only two?  A team of specialists in bio-robotics […]

Thermodynamics Defeats Evolution “in a Most Spectacular Way”

The second law of thermodynamics (2TD), what Sir Arthur Eddington called the supreme law of nature, does not permit evolution, argued Granville Sewall in The American Spectator; in fact, evolution violates it “in a most spectacular way.”  A mathematics professor at Texas A&M University, Sewall explained that 2TD applies to much more than heat flow; […]

Echoes of Historic Supernovae Observed

Astronomers using telescopes at the Cerro-Tololo observatory in Chile were able to detect the faint light echoes of supernovae (see EurekAlert, Space.com and original paper in Nature1).  They found three light echoes for six of the smallest previously-catalogued supernova remnants (SNR) in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), a small irregular galaxy visible from the southern […]

Undersea Christmas Lights Explained

There is a marine animal like a jellyfish that puts on one of the most dazzling light shows in nature.  Some ctenophores, or comb jellies, can send multi-colored pulses of light that radiate down their sides in a rainbow of colors.  If you’ve ever seen one of these on a TV nature show, you were […]

Choose You This Day: Multiverse or I.D.

If Leonard Susskind is right, cosmologists are escaping the conclusion of intelligent design (ID) by backing into a radically speculative idea: a near infinity of universes.  Susskind, a theoretical physicist from Stanford, just published a book, Cosmic Landscape: String Theory and the Illusion of Intelligent Design (Little, Brown 2005), that explores current cosmological thinking about […]

Don’t PNA in our OOL

Theories for the origin of life (OOL) are in a crisis, unable to imagine how something as complex as a replicating cell could come into existence. Could PNA do it?

Butterflies Invented LEDs First

Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) were a prized invention of physicists, improved greatly in 2001, but now we find butterflies invented them first.  We already knew that butterfly wings achieve their shimmering iridescence by means of photonic crystals (01/29/2003), as do some birds (10/13/2003), but now it appears that the butterflies have even more exotic tricks up […]

ICR Challenges Validity of Radiometric Dating

acked out the facilities of Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, California Saturday.  Their frequent applause was not for contemporary musicians or a preacher, but for scientists.  Ten miles from their headquarters, the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) had rented the large auditorium for the formal presentation of the results of its eight-year research […]

Cellular Black Box Reveals Precision Guidance and Control

Amazing discoveries about the cell are being made each week.  It’s a shame more people don’t hear about them.  They are usually written up in obscure journals with incomprehensible jargon, but when explained in plain English, the findings are truly astounding.  Not long ago, the cell was a “black box,” a mechanism of unknown inner […]

“Marvelous Puzzle”: Enceladus’ South Pole Surface Less Than 1,000 Years Old

Enceladus, a moon of Saturn smaller than the British isles (comparison image), has a region at the south pole that is less than 1,000 years old, and maybe only 10 years old.  This conclusion, announced at Cassini science briefings in London August 30, is based on multi-instrument observations taken July 14 during the closest flyby […]

Your Brain Has Perfect Pitch

Scientists have a knack for asking questions about things most of us take for granted.  “The whole orchestra tunes up to an A note from the oboe – but how do our brains tell that all the different sounds are the same pitch?” asks Robert J. Zatorre in Nature.1  This is a puzzling question to […]
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