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ID Book Survives Nature Relatively Unscathed

Considering the intemperate disdain intelligent design books usually receive from the major journals – when they are even noticed (see, for example, Nature’s review of a book by William Dembski in the 07/11/2002 headline) – a new ID book fared surprisingly well this week.  In Nature1 June 24, Douglas A. Vakoch (SETI Institute) reviewed the […]

Cosmos Ages a Billion Years in One Day

Physicists have found that a portion of the carbon-nitrogen-oxygen reaction thought to participate in fusion reactions inside stars runs two times slower than previously thought.  The measurements were made in the Laboratory for Underground Nuclear Astrophysics (LUNA), a lab nearly a mile underground in Italy that offers more protection from cosmic rays.  The ripple effect […]

Searchers in the Dark Over Dark Matter

No sooner had Sean Carroll published his essay in Nature1 that dark matter proves how insignificant we are, that Geoff Brumfiel tells us in Nature Science Update that researchers can’t find the stuff.  The Cryogenic Dark Matter Search II is four times more sensitive than previous searches, but came up empty.  Carroll had just reiterated […]

Lutherans Helped Copernicus

Every once in awhile, we are confronted to reconsider things we “know” are true, only to find out the truth is closer to the opposite.  The usual spin on Nicolaus Copernicus is that he was a brave scientist who threatened the church with his discovery that the earth orbits the sun, not the sun the […]

Privileged Planet Website Opens

A website featuring a new book by Guillermo Gonzalez and Jay Richards, The Privileged Planet, has opened.  The subtitle of the book is How Our Place in the Cosmos Is Designed for Discovery.  The authors take issue with pessimistic views, such as those of Steven Weinberg and Carl Sagan, that our planet is “pointless” or […]

The Evolution of Omnipotence

With a headline like “New Theory: Universe Created by Intelligent Being,” one might think that National Geographic News has gone creationist and rediscovered Genesis 1.  The opposite would be true.  The article by John Roach explores the radical thinking of a lawyer/scientist named James Gardner, who has just published a book, Biocosm: The New Scientific […]

Hubble Deep Field Surpassed: Ultra Deep Field

If you remember the awe of seeing the first Hubble Deep Field image in 1995, check out the new HUDF: Hubble Ultra Deep Field (see also the New Scientist report).  The field of view, just one-tenth the size of the full moon, is a composite of 800 images taken for 11.3 days.  The 1995 image […]

Anthropic Principle Won’t Go Away

The so-called “Anthropic Principle” is the observation that the universe, whether by accident or design, appears to have been fine-tuned for our existence.  Dating back decades, if not centuries, the idea has been alternately criticized and seriously pondered by the world’s greatest cosmologists.  During the 1990s the idea was ridiculed to the point that, if […]

Are Dark Matter and Dark Energy the New Epicycles?

An article in The Economist suggests that dark matter and dark energy may not be necessary to understand the structure of the universe.  It refers to two recent papers that explain the cosmic background radiation and galaxy clusters with ordinary matter, without a need for either of the other two unknown quantities.  Are dark matter […]

Should Cosmologists Get Worried Yet?

The unexpected finding of mature galaxies in the early universe (see 01/02/2004) has Robert Irion worried, but he seems surprised the theorists are not.  Reporting on last week’s meeting of the American Astronomical Society in the Jan. 23 issue of Science,1 he titles his article, “Early Galaxies Baffle Observers, But Theorists Shrug.”  He begins: “It’s […]

Instant Galaxies?

The Hubble Space Telescope, with its Advanced Camera for Surveys, has taken a peek at the most distant galaxy clusters ever seen.  The astronomers found “embryonic” galaxies in a “proto-cluster” of galaxies, named TN J1338-1942, that they estimate formed a mere 1.5 billion years after the Big Bang.  This find has been reported in the […]

Globular Cluster Origins: Where Do We Go From Here?

The simple explanation of globular clusters as bundles of ancient stars seems to be in a state of crisis, though the authors of a paper in the Jan. 1 issue of Nature1 try to keep a stiff upper lip.  They begin, “Nearly a century after the true nature of galaxies as distant ‘island universes’ was […]

Dark Energy Doubted

We’ve been told recently that two thirds of the universe consists of a mysterious phenomenon called dark energy.  Now, some scientists at ESA say it doesn’t exist.     Observations by the European Space Agency’s XMM-Newton X-ray Observatory of clusters of galaxies 10 billion light years distant show remarkable differences from nearby clusters in the […]

Questioning Earth’s Privileges

51; Two articles this week downplayed considerations that would make the Earth seem like a special place in the universe.  Both have ties to NASA.     Are life-friendly stars limited to a narrow band in the galaxy called the Galactic Habitable Zone (GHZ)?  NASA-supported Astrobiology Magazine cast doubt on the idea.  Citing a study […]

How Precise Is “Precision Cosmology”?

When data from the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) came in, cosmologists heralded it as the era of “precision cosmology” and immediately began to make claims that resulting data map confirmed some cosmological theories and falsified others (see 02/14/2003 headline).  Two papers in the Astrophysical Journal, however, are discounting the precision of the data and […]
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