Did Lyell Lie a Little?

Science is supposed to be a collective process involving presentation of arguments by many people making reference to observational data.  Ideally, no one person’s world view should dominate what other scientists think.  Yet in the history of geology, the figure of Charles Lyell has loomed large as a guiding influence.  With rare exceptions, his principle […]

The Andes: Pop-Up Mountains

The majestic Andes of South America did not rise smoothly and gradually, a team of geologists reported in Science.1  Instead, long periods of stasis for tens of millions of years were punctuated by rapid periods of uplift.  It sounds as if punctuated equilibria theory has been stolen from evolutionary biology and applied to geology.  They […]

Living Iridescence Dazzles Scientists

The flashing colors of butterflies and birds (peacocks being the classic example) do not come from pigments, but from black structures on a microscopic scale.  How and why they do it is of great interest to scientists and engineers.  Susan Milius explored this topic in Science News this week.1     The basic principle behind […]

Geology: Another Catastrophic Rethink

Amphitheater-shaped canyons are common throughout the West – and even on Mars.  Geologists had them pretty well figured out.  Water seeps out the bottom of a wall, weakening the face of a cliff.  Gradually, material collapses and leaves a large alcove that continues to recede headward.  That idea is now questioned by a new theory […]

Update:  Cambrian Explosion Damage Control

Here’s an update to the “State of the Cambrian Explosion.”  Two years ago, our 04/23/2006 entry analyzed a lengthy paper in Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences by Dr. Charles R. Marshall, a Harvard professor of biology and geology.  Dr. Marshall had taken on the arduous task of explaining, in evolutionary terms, the sudden […]

Grand Canyon Age Estimates Fluctuate Wildly

Just when the park rangers were getting familiar telling the public the Grand Canyon was carved about 5 million years ago, some geologists announced the shocking news that it might be less than a million (05/31/2002, 07/22/2002).  The age was plummeting as recently as November (11/30/2007).  But then last month, another revision came: it’s 17 […]

Planet Formation: Just Add Water?

The Spitzer Space Telescope found evidence of water in a dust disk around a star.  Does this mean we understand how the earth, with all its water, formed?     Using the Spitzer infrared instrumentation, John Carr (Naval Research Laboratory) and Joan Najita (National Optical Astronomy Observatory) found spectra of organic molecules and water in […]

Revolt in the Darwin Camp

With minor skirmishes, the Neo-Darwinian Synthesis (natural selection acting on random genetic mutations) has held sway in evolutionary theory since the 1930s.  Now, discontent with the pre-eminence of natural selection is leading to a major skirmish between evolutionists to be fought at a conference this summer.  Susan Mazur calls this the “Woodstock of Evolution” in […]

Grand Canyon: How Do You Get a River Over a Mountain?

One would think that the Grand Canyon, one of earth’s most prominent geological features, studied by geologists for 140 years, would be well understood.  Wrong.  “The Colorado River’s integration off the Colorado Plateau remains a classic mystery in geology, despite its pivotal role in the cutting of Grand Canyon and the region’s landscape evolution.”  That’s […]

Wallace for Darwin Running Mate

Shouldn’t Darwin Day be named Darwin-Wallace Day?  After all, Alfred Russell Wallace is by most accounts the co-discoverer of natural selection.  Papers by Wallace and Darwin were read together at the Linnean Society meeting of 1858, over a year before Origin of Species was published.  Some groups are seeking to give Wallace his due in […]

Defending Darwin Day

Tomorrow is the 199th birthday of Charles Darwin.  The rising anticipation of a big 200th celebration next year prompts a question: why is this man worthy of such hullabaloo more than other scientists?  Why the efforts to make Darwin Day an annual event of international scope?  Kevin Padian undertook to justify all this attention in […]

Deep Sea Hydrocarbons Don’t Require Life

Remember the “Lost City” deep sea vents that were discovered by surprise in 2000 (12/13/2000)?  It appears that they are producing large quantities of hydrocarbons (methane, alkanes, ethene, acetylene, propene, propyne) without the help of living organisms (cf. 08/13/2002).  A team of scientists deduced that abiogenic reactions like the Fischer-Tropsch process and others may be […]

Life Influences Dating Method

The rate of calcium carbonate precipitation can double if microbes are present, says an article in PhysOrg.  Scientists studying hot spring deposits in Yellowstone made this “surprising discovery about the geological record of life and the environment.”  The article adds, “Their discovery could affect how certain sequences of sedimentary rock are dated, and how scientists […]

Bible Name Found on Jerusalem Artifact

A man named Temech has risen from the pages of the Bible.  The Jerusalem Post reported that his clay seal was found in a dig south of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem by archaeologist Eilat Mazar, who earlier found a portion of a wall from the same Nehemiah period (11/30/2007).  The article shows a picture […]

Evo-Giants Battle Over Evo-Love

Richard Dawkins and E. O. Wilson, both atheistic evolutionists, are at odds over the evolution of unselfish love (altruism).  Wilson attributes it to a revised form of group selection; Dawkins to individual selection (the basis of his “selfish gene” theory).     Evolutionists see no difference between the “eusociality” in insect colonies, in which individuals […]
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