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Bacteria: Let’s Harness Those “Perfect Machines”

Ten Italian scientists have a novel idea.  They want to hitch up their wagons to bacteria and use them to power nanomachines.  It’s too much work to build such “perfect machines” from scratch, they said.  Why not just take advantage of what nature has already provided?     Their paper in PNAS1 is downright dreamy […]

Can Darwin Be Rescued from a New Eye Discovery?

Darwinists have claimed for years that the human eye is an example of bad design, because it is wired backwards – the photoreceptors are located behind a tangle of blood vessels and other material.  But then in 2007, German scientists found that cone-shaped cells called Müller cells act like waveguides that transmit the light through […]

Maxwell’s Demon Helps Run Your Muscles

James Clerk Maxwell once speculated that the second law of thermodynamics could be violated if an agent or “demon” could sort the hot and cold molecules at a barrier, thus overcoming the tendency toward thermal equilibrium.  Something like this has been found at work in the molecular machines in our muscles.  The actin-myosin motor is […]

Conflicting Reports About Earthlike Planets

Are earth-like planets rare or common?  Your opinion might depend on which news stories you read.  “Polluted Old Stars Suggest Earth-like Worlds May Be Common,” reported Space.com and Science Daily.  The idea is that hydrogen in the atmospheres of white dwarfs might have come from water, which might be remains of rocky planets that got […]

You Live in a Wormhole in a Black Hole

Is it publish or perish time?  A physicist at Indiana University thinks that “our universe could have itself formed from inside a black hole existing inside another universe.”  Let Nikodem Paplowski explain his idea: But he also notes that since observers can only see the outside of the black hole, the interior cannot be observed […]

Elephants Equipped with 4WD

An elephant is built like a four-wheel drive vehicle, say scientists from the Royal Veterinary College in London.  Unlike other mammals, which divide acceleration and braking between the front and rear legs, “power is applied independently to each limb,” reported PhysOrg from a paper in PNAS.1 “Elephant limbs operate analogously to four-wheel-drive vehicles,” the authors […]

No Clear Explanation for Saturn’s Rings After 6 Years of Cassini

Those who hoped Cassini would solve the puzzles of Saturn’s rings should read the paper today in Science.1  The state-of-the-rings report, authored by a Who’s Who of ring scientists, is filled with questions.  Titled “An Evolving View of Saturn’s Dynamic Rings,” the report cannot determine their origin, their age, or their composition.  List the points […]

Man Will Never Fly (to the Stars)

It’s risky to say “never” in science.  The Man Will Never Fly Society had a short life.  However, an article on Space.com makes it seem a safe bet that, Star Trek notwithstanding, warp-speed flights to the stars are out of the question for humans.  “Warp speed will kill you,” the article announced; why?  Because interstellar […]

Divining Violent gods as Natural Cosmic Creators

Ancient stargazers imagined the violent actions of gods in the heavens giving rise to the stars, earth and man.  Today’s secular astronomers engage in a similar kind of lore.  While not naming their gods after mythical heroes, they describe them as forces of nature whose violent clashes give rise to order and design.  Sometimes they […]

Flight Design: Flies and Birds Get it Wright

Parse the following sentence for logical consistency: “Just as the Wright brothers implemented controls to achieve stable airplane flight, flying insects have evolved behavioral strategies that ensure recovery from flight disturbances.”  That is the first sentence from a paper in PNAS yesterday about the stabilizers in fly wings.1  Ristroph et al just compared design principles […]

Spider Hair: The Perfect Water Repellant Surface

To keep dry, make like a spider.  “Engineering researchers have crafted a flat surface that refuses to get wet,” began a press release from University of Florida.  “Water droplets skitter across it like ball bearings tossed on ice.  The inspiration?  Not wax.  Not glass.  Not even Teflon.”  The audience waits breathlessly for the answer.  “Instead, […]

Molecular Highway Motor Comes into Focus

A beautiful new image of kinesin, a molecular machine that carries cargo on cellular highways, has been produced in greater detail than ever by a team at Berkeley and Brandeis Universities.  Science Daily published a picture and description of how kinesin works.  “Life’s smallest motor – a protein that shuttles cargo within cells and helps […]

Life Masters Physics

Living things, especially cells, have mastered the forces of advanced physics in ingenious ways.  This ingenuity sometimes inspires physicists to try to copy it.  Here are some recent examples: Photosynthesis and quantum mechanics:  Nature reported that plants take advantage of quantum mechanics in photosynthesis.1  “The photosynthetic apparatus of cryptophyte algae is odd – its pigments […]

Spider Webs Are Precision Dew Collectors

Photographs of dew drops on spider webs are favorite targets for nature photographers, because they resemble strings of pearls on fine jewelry (example 1, example 2).  But did you know the reason dewdrops bead up so well on webs is due to the fine microstructure of the spider silk?  A team of Chinese scientists studied […]

Universe Has a Run-Down Feeling

There’s 30 times more entropy in the universe than thought, according to Dr. Charley Lineweaver at the Australian National University.  PhysOrg said that Lineweaver and a PhD student Charles Egan measured the entropy of the universe.  It looks like it is feeling pretty run down.  “We considered all contributions to the entropy of the observable […]
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