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Imagination as Science

Can a science exist without evidence?  Astrobiology, and its subcategory “the search for extraterrestrial intelligence,” involve a great deal of scientific equipment, trained researchers, and funding, but still have no observational evidence to support their reason for being: extraterrestrial life.  Where is the line between imagination and reality in these fields?     Some insight […]

Itemized Deductions

Here are some free deductions to take the edge off Income Tax Day…. as long as one deduces correctly. Israel is picking a national bird.  So what feathered friend will represent the Holy Land?  “The nine finalists include the hoopoe, the owl, the spur-winged plover, and the griffin vulture, but no doves.”  Source: Science, Random […]

Big Science Fights Its Customers

Has “Big Science” lost contact with the public it serves?  Several recent reports show the scientific establishment (as represented by the leading journals) taking positions at polar opposites of the majority, and wagging the dog of the body politic. Chimeras:  Even though ethicists have called it “a monstrous attack on human rights,” to blend human […]

Adulterers: Evolution Made Us That Way

Two articles that appeared the same day on Live Science are a study in contrasts.  One was titled, “Surviving Infidelity: What Wives Do When Men Cheat.”  The other was titled, “Are Humans Meant to Be Monogamous?”  The thread that tied them together was evolution.     The first article admitted the distress, shame, and sense […]

Neanderthals: Random Drift, Not Natural Selection

The differences between Neanderthals and modern humans were not due to evolution for bigger brains or anything of the sort.  They were due to genetic drift, says an article on Live Science.     “A team of anthropologists has compared measurements of Neanderthal skulls to modern human skulls, and argues that most variations among them […]

Oldest Bat Fossil: Was It Evolving?

A bat fossil surpassing the previous record holder for the oldest by 2 million years made the cover of Nature this week.1  The news media immediately began saying that it provided insight into evolution. The BBC News announced “Bat fossil solves evolution poser.” National Geographic called it the icing on the cake, and said that […]

Facile Fixes for Fossil Foibles

Can biologists see Darwin in the fossils?  Only if they look hard.  Andrew P. Hendry (McGill University) wrote in Nature that Darwin has been there all along; we just weren’t looking right.1     Hendry argues that our methods of statistically analyzing the fossil record are guaranteed not to see Darwin.  To explain the patterns […]

Animals from Junk by Chance

How to build an animal: throw junk DNA at it.  That seems to be the latest idea on where higher animals came from.  A press release from University of Bristol posted on Science Daily and EurekAlert announced, “‘Junk DNA’ Can Explain Origin And Complexity Of Vertebrates, Study Suggests.”     The basic idea, coming from […]

Did Birds Evolve Aeronautical Engineering?

Two news stories on birds may not seem to flock together.  One is about their supreme aeronautical engineering.  The other ponders when they evolved.     A story on EurekAlert and Science Daily describes how engineers are eyeing birds, bats and insects for design ideas.  The appeal is clear from the following comparisons: A Blackbird […]

Indebted to Darwin

Britain’s Food Standards Agency is concerned about diminishing fish stocks and is asking citizens to consume less, reported The Telegraph.  This can only mean one thing, thinks Ulf Dieckmann (International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Austria): it’s come time to pay the piper.  Who is the piper, you ask?  Answer: Charles Darwin. Dr Dieckmann […]

Did Darwinism Build the Nuclear Pore Complex?

After nine years of work, three universities including a team at Rockefeller University completed a beautiful new model of the nuclear pore complex.  The story is told by Science Daily.     The article attributed the origin of this exquisite gatekeeper of the nucleus to evolution: “their findings provide a glimpse into how the nucleus […]

Do Chicks Tell Dinosaur Tales?

For years, evolutionary biologists have battled over the origin of flight.  Did dinosaurs run along the ground and take off, or did they jump from trees?  The first idea is called the cursorial hypothesis; the latter, the arboreal hypothesis.  In 2003, Ken Dial [U Montana] had an idea: maybe watching partridge chicks could inform the […]

Getting a Hand on Facts and Meanings

What could be more simple than pressing a button with your finger?  That “seemingly trivial action is the result of a complex neuro-motor-mechanical process orchestrated with precision timing by the brain, nervous system and muscles of the hand.”  So says a press release from University of Southern California posted on EurekAlert.     Simple, everyday […]

Mouse Grows Long Finger, Takes Off Like a Bat

When does humor in a scientific journal cross the line of scientific objectivity?  You be the judge.  Science magazine, in its “Random Samples” news featurette, said this in the Jan. 18 issue: Over the past 100 million years or so, bats have evolved many features that distinguish them from their mammalian cousins.  One is long, […]

Zatta Fact?  “Scientific Facts” Evolve

Every once in awhile it is good to be reminded that “scientific facts” are in a constant state of revision.  Here are some recent examples of scientists with surprised looks on their faces: Cholesterol for health:  Surprise, says EurekAlert: cholesterol may actually pose health benefits.  “… don’t push aside bacon and eggs just yet,” it […]
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