Evolve or Choke 10/31/2003
Scientists have a new theory on why birds evolved from dinosaurs, according to
oxygen was low, so they had to evolve bird lungs. Peter Ward (of
Rare Earth fame: see Jan 14 headline), teamed
up with U. of Washington paleontologists to surmise that twice in the past,
275 million and 175 million years ago, oxygen levels sank and temperatures
rose to make it hard to breathe. At sea level, it would have felt like
high altitude. This contributed to the Permian extinction, they think,
causing the extinction of 90% of living species, and may have contributed to
the Triassic-Jurassic extinction, too.
Part of the motivation for the new idea is the supposition that
the extinctions were drawn-out events, not sudden happenings that might have
been explainable by an asteroid impact. Ward hypothesizes that large
sauropods had breathing apparatus that was unhindered by the low oxygen
levels, whereas mammal-like reptiles and true mammals were hit
particularly hard. Those who evolved survived; those who didnt,
choked and croaked:
In addition, Peter Ward, a UW professor of biology and Earth and space sciences,
believes the conditions spurred the development [sic] of an unusual
breathing system in some dinosaurs, a group called Saurischian dinosaurs that
includes the gigantic brontosaurus. Rather than having a diaphragm to
force air in and out of lungs, the Saurischians had lungs attached to a series
of thin-walled air sacs that appear to have functioned something like bellows
to move air through the body.
So in other words, The reason the birds developed these systems is that
they arose [sic] from dinosaurs halfway through the Jurassic Period.
They are [sic] how the dinosaurs survived, Ward said. The team seems to
accept the hypothesis that later, at the Triassic extinction 65 million years
ago, an asteroid wiped out the dinosaurs, but spared the birds and mammals.
Ward, working with UW biologist Raymond Huey and UW radiologist
Kevin Conley, believes that breathing system, still found in todays birds,
made the Saurischian dinosaurs better equipped than mammals to survive
the harsh conditions in which oxygen content of air at the Earths surface
was only about half of todays 21 percent.
The literature always said that the reason birds had sacs
was so they could breathe when they fly. But I dont know of any
brontosaurus that could fly, Ward said. However, when we
considered that birds fly at altitudes where oxygen is significantly lower,
we finally put it all together with the fact [sic] that the oxygen level at the
surface was [sic] only 10 percent to 11 percent at the time the dinosaurs
evolved. [sic] (Emphasis added.)
If you took all the best evidence that evolutionists could muster for their
theory that humans evolved from bacteria and filtered it through the rigorous
demands of science (i.e., that the evidence must be observable, testable and
repeatable), would anything be left? Look at this magical, mystical
tale. They have no way of knowing what oxygen levels were back when.
They have no way of knowing what caused the extinctions, or of dating them
back there in unobservable zillions of past years. The only thing that is
observable is that we have mammals and birds alive today, and
dinosaur bones in the rocks. From this, they weave a fantastical
story that low oxygen levels somehow created exquisitely-designed lungs
that allow birds to soar above the mountains. Thank goodness there
were not flying brontosaurs.
At Last: Evolution Found 10/31/2003
Did you catch the miracle word in the story? birds
arose from dinosaurs. This is like the words emerged
and formed. How this miracle happened is never stated.
Who did the miracle is left unstated also. Who raised the birds?
Who formed the lungs? Who caused the new information to emerge against
the downward pressures of entropy? Just believe. Apparently
the birds thought up all this technology themselves without help.
It is a foolish supposition to presume that stress breeds
technology. Maybe it is an anthropomorphism. We know that it
happens in human societies (necessity is the mother of invention, after
all), but invention requires intelligent design. If you want to talk
about repeatable science, do some laboratory work. There, you will
discover that every bird, mammal or lizard subjected to stress
doesnt evolve new technology. It dies.
Next headline on: Darwinism and evolutionary theory.
Next headline on: Dinosaurs.
Next headline on: Birds.
Next dumb story.
Any article with a title like this has to cause a reader to stand up
and take notice: Scientists find evolution of life.
Unless its just a Halloween prank, thats how
announced their summary of work by scientists from UC Riverside and
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, as published in the
Oct. 31 issue of Science.
Ridgwell, Kennedy and Caldeira discovered [sic] that
the increased stability in modern climate may be due in part to the
evolution of marine plankton living in the open ocean with shells
and skeletal material made out of calcium carbonate, the news
item states (emphasis added in all quotes). They conclude that these marine organisms
helped prevent the ice ages of the past few hundred thousand years
from turning into a severe global deep freeze.
The idea is that without the buffering effect of these
shells, the oceans would suck the greenhouse gas --
carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere -- making the
Earth colder, promoting an even deeper ice age.
This is presumably what happened in the Precambrian, when
(as some contend) runaway glaciation produced a Snowball
Earth. Once shelled plankton evolved, however,
they were able to buffer the planet from such catastrophes.
The report does not specify how these calcium carbonate shells
evolved or emerged from precursors that did not have them
(see Sept. 22 headline).
Nevertheless, the emergence of shelled plankton might have helped
additionally when we humans were first coming along:
The most recent ice ages were mild enough to allow and
possibly even promote the evolution of modern humans, Caldeira said.
Without these tiny marine organisms, the ice sheets may
have grown to cover the earth, like in the snowball glaciations
of the ancient past, and our ancestors might not have survived.
Ahem, were waiting. We see a story, based on a lot of
suppositions, but we were
expecting an earth-shaking announcement that evidence for the
evolution of life has been found. We have been waiting
in line for a long time. Thank you for the sidewalk
entertainment, but please: cough up the evidence promised, or we want our
money back. We might even sue you for bait and switch.
Cave Deposits Reveal Million-Year Record of Evolution 10/30/2003
Scientist was a little more fair in their reporting, using words like
suggest, think and believe in stating the opinions of the
researchers. They also gave another scientist a chance to lob a
soft-petal criticism: Its an intriguing idea, but it will
certainly be contentious, said David Archer of U. of Chicago.
He points out the limited nature
of the paper, noting that planktons ability to regulate carbon has
been known for a long time. Whats new here is the idea
that having calcium carbonate deposition in the deep sea makes the system
more stable than it would be with only shallow water deposition,
he claims. Funny that no one sees this as a mark of design or plan.
Next headline on: Geology.
Next headline on: Darwinism and Evolutionary Theory.
From deep in a Colorado cave comes a tale of owls, packrats and fossil teeth, recounted in
Berkeley News. Tony Barnosky (paleobiologist at UC Berkeley)
and colleagues have been mapping layers of deposits from Porcupine Cave
that they claim tell a remarkable evolutionary story covering
a million years.
The story begins with owls swooping down on sagebrush
voles (small, gopher-like animals), devouring them, then later coughing
up pellets containing fur, bones and teeth. These pellets are then
picked up by packrats and stored in their nests. Barnosky claims
that packrats had been doing this at Porcupine Cave for 400,000 years,
leaving a layered record in which changes to bones and teeth can be
The team has been studying this cave since 1985.
They have examined over 200 teeth from the cave and compared them with
363 modern specimens. They found slight changes in the teeth of
the voles, which they attribute to climate changes assumed to have taken
place 800,000 years ago. Since the time interval represents only
a small part of the typical 1.5-million-year life span
of a mammalian species,
however, he admits that all the voles in the deposits represent one
species. Moreover, the sagebrush vole today is probably
the same species as that of 800,000 years ago, he confesses,
although he believes changes in the teeth clearly
indicate the vole is evolving to adapt to more arid conditions.
The tooth changes primarily involve triangular patterns
on molars that presumably provide more cutting surface area that would
not grind down as quickly. Early voles had four of these
molar triangles, whereas modern ones have five, six, or even
believes he sees a gradation period during which interbreeding
was common, leading to a time when more molar triangles gradually
The cave deposits do not include any precursors to the
sagebrush vole. Because fossils of the sagebrush vole
are not found before the species appears full blown in
Porcupine Cave, Barnosky thinks that the sagebrush vole
had only recently evolved, the article states (emphasis added).
Barnoskys teams paper is published in the
Oct. 21 Royal Society Proceedings B and will be the subject
of a book to be published next year. The research was funded
in part by the National Science Foundation.
This story is so weak as to be
hilarious. Here it is touted as a million year record of evolution,
but for all that assumed time, what happened?
Slight changes to tiny surface areas on teeth within one species.
Is this all evolutionists can come up with? If the lifetime of a
mammalian species is supposed to be 1.5 million years (pray tell, how
is this calibrated?), then there should have been considerably more
evolution in this little mammal than adding one or two molar triangles. It would not be
surprising if more variation in teeth were found between living
voles than that identified from these fossil deposits. Where is
the evolution? An unbiased evaluator of this story would expect
much, much more evidence than tiny changes in tooth shape.
Textbook Publishers Fix Errors About Evolution (Partially) 10/30/2003
This story only makes evolutionary sense to one who
is already a dogmatic evolutionist. The method of dating the
deposits is not given. The story rests not only on that evolutionary
assumption, but on another controversial
story about climate changes being driven by Milankovich cycles (slight
changes in Earths orbit). Barnosky assumes that more molar
triangles are better for hot, arid environments. Has he done his
homework and calculated the fitness benefit? Has he asked the
modern voles if they are better off than their deprived ancestors?
Science reporters seem to think this meager
evidence gives a scientist credibility as a soothsayer.
Notice this expert testimony, with its political overtones,
that is nowhere challenged by the reporter:
Its likely that speciation takes place over a longer time
interval than extinction. So, climate changes like the global
warming we are seeing today are probably happening too fast
to cause anything but extinction. Better get the students
to write their Congresspersons.
This is a prime example of how evolutionary storytelling
consists of tiny gopher-tooth size particles of observable data held
together with ample supplies of philosophical mud. Surely
evolutionists can do better than this if they expect the world to
accept their molecules-to-man philosophy as being empirically based.
Next headline on: Mammals.
Next headline on: Fossils.
Next headline on: Darwinism and Evolutionary Theory.
It appears that the Discovery
Institutes campaign to get textbook publishers to clean up their
act in presentations of Darwinian evolution have met with partial
success (see July 25 headline). According to their
release 10/30/2003, at least 10 corrections have been made
(see their background
document), but significant problems still remain. Now the
textbooks contradict each other, and quite a few other factual errors are still in print.
Discoverys documents make for good reading
and are self explanatory. It is inexcusable for textbook writers
to continue to propagate fallacious notions, such as the myth that
human embryos have gill slits or that Haeckels embryos demonstrate
evolutionary ancestry. Just setting the record straight would
go a long way toward bringing creation-evolution confrontations between parents,
educators and politicians into the
sphere of rational discussion. It wastes a lot of time having to undo
the miseducation and misinformation implanted in peoples heads from
their high school biology classes. If adults of high schoolers,
supporters of the NCSE and ACLU, and school board members
really understood how much of their faith
in Darwinian evolution was built on false and irrelevant claims, they would
probably act more rationally at school board meetings.
Pterosaurs Had Advanced Aerobatics and Guidance Technologies 10/29/2003
Next headline on: Schools.
Not clumsy, awkward gliders were they. Pterosaurs were masters at
detecting fish under the water and swooping in efficiently for the catch.
This from detailed computer modeling of the brains and ears of pterosaurs from
analysis of their skulls, performed by Witmer et al. of Ohio University
published in the Oct. 30 issue of Nature1 (see reports on
Scientist, and News and Views summary in the same issue of Nature
by David Unwin2). The team used X-ray tomography to infer that the flying
reptiles had exceptional guidance and control systems that probably allowed
them to perform complex aerobatic manoeuvres while keeping their gaze firmly
centred on their prey. says New Scientist.
EurekAlert adds, they found key structures to be specialized and
enlarged, a discovery that could revise views of how vision, flight, and the
brain itself evolved.
1Witmer et al., Neuroanatomy of flying reptiles
and implications for flight, posture and behaviour,
425, 950 - 953 (30 October 2003); doi:10.1038/nature02048.
2David M. Unwin, Paleontology: Smart-winged pterosaurs,
425, 910 - 911 (30 October 2003); doi:10.1038/425910b.
What does this have to do with evolution?
EurekAlert, an arm of the National Science Foundation (NSF), feels
compelled to throw in an evolutionary mythoid built on futureware.
These scientists found already existing advanced technology in
extinct creatures. No gradual chain of transitions leading up to an
animal that could fly, home in on a target, maneuver and dive has been found.
National Geographic dreams that pterosaurs were the first of only
three vertebrates to evolve [sic] flight. Birds, close cousins [sic] of
pterodactyls, are believed to have evolved [sic] from theropod dinosaurs
about 150 million years [sic] ago. Bats are mammals thought to have
evolved [sic] from shrew-like creatures about 50 million years [sic] ago.
Its time scientists and their toady reporters stop mentally placing these
spectacularly designed animals into imaginary evolutionary trees, and just
admire their awesome capabilities. The discovery could
revise views of how vision, flight, and the brain itself evolve, all
right, if and only if revise means overthrow.
Fruit Helps Prevent Skin Cancer 10/29/2003
Next headline on: Dinosaurs.
According to several studies summarized on
Fruits offer powerful protection against skin cancer.
Citrus fruits, grapes, cherries, mint and pomegranates are some of the
fruits mentioned in the studies as sources of effective anticancer agents.
Hmmm...Adam and Eve ate a lot of
fruit...hmmm...Adam and Eve did a lot of sunbathing...Hmmm...
Scientists Argue Over Age of Deep Sea Vents 10/28/2003
Next headline on: Health
Both BBC News
and Nature Science
Update report that geologists are arguing about the age of rocks around
deep sea vents. The common idea since the 1980s is that they date back
billions of years, but newer findings suggest just thousands.
The disputes revolve around greenstones and ironstones and stalactites that
the young-age camp says could not have survived for so long.
Some other difficulties of the old age are noted by NSU:
Paul Knauth used de Rondes estimated age for the pods [3.5 billion
years] to calculate the salinity of the ancient ocean. He now believes
that he was wrong. Quite a few people - including me - have
been burned by this, says Knauth, who works at Arizona State
University in Tempe. Other researchers have drawn similar conclusions
about the seas depth, temperature and chemical makeup.
Knauth said I was flabbergasted when shown evidence by Lowe
and Byerly, who argue for an age of 100,000 years. Its
obvious if you look at these things that theyre very recent,
he said. The de Ronde party claims hematite could only have originated
at temperatures of several hundred degrees (hotter than todays vents),
and that delicate features in South African greenstones, thought to be
remnants of early deep sea vents, could not have survived mineral replacement
scenarios postulated by the opponents.
Debate also centers on the contribution by deep sea vents
of ocean minerals and salts. But there seems to be another motivation
for keeping the old date: maintaining the role of deep sea vents in the
origin of life. Martin Brasier (U. of Oxford) stated emphatically,
Theres a very strong connection between the signature of life on
the early Earth and hydrothermal processes.
This isnt going to break the paradigm.
Brasier may be emphatic primarily because
chemical evolutionists have been pushed into a corner with fewer and fewer
options, since the heyday of Miller and Urey in the 1950s. With the
old primordial soup myth pretty much defunct, and panspermia too far fetched
for most scientists, deep sea vents provided promising incubators for life,
some believed. No way are they going to let anyone take these venues away,
Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week 10/24/2003
It must be admitted that a young date for some vents does not
rule out old dates for others. But it is noteworthy that
scientists can disagree by many orders of magnitude on the age of an
object. Old ages are not intuitively obvious from surface characteristics,
unless old ages are a priori the default preference in ones
intuition. Does anyone want to gamble on the validity of the newer
guess of 100,000 years? We observe active deep sea vents today,
and apparent remnants of old vents with no dates on them. It is reasonable
to measure growth rates of existing vents, but there is a logical fallacy
Some geologists seem to forget this.
NSU does not provide detail about Knauths admission
that the old date led to incorrect conclusions about the salinity of the
ocean. Presumably this means that if the vents were sources of salt,
and if they were 3.5 billion years old, the oceans would have been
impossibly salty by now. If so, this provides implicit corroboration
of work by creation scientists
(see, for instance, Humphreys and Austin
cited by Sarfati) that demonstrates the salinity of the oceans puts an
upper limit on their age. Deep sea springs, incidentally, were mentioned
in the Bible long before modern oceanographers discovered them
(see Austin article).
Next headline on: Origin of Life.
Next headline on: Dating Methods.
Speaking of biotherapy (see next headline), John Church said,
Its a highly sophisticated natural means of achieving
certain ends. Natures been doing research and development on this for
300 million years. All weve got to do is cash in on that fact.
Next dumb story.
Biotherapy: Pour in the Happy, Hungry Maggots
If you are not the squeamish type, you might get a Halloween chill out of a
Geographic News story about maggot medicine. Maggots are coming back
into vogue as doctors assistants. They eat away gangrene and compete
with bacteria, leaving wounds clean and free of infection. John Church,
a proponent, says there is an art to it. You must have a happy,
hungry maggot or you will get no results, he cautions. The
environment on the wound must be what they would naturally seek out in
Dr. Edgar Maeyens deprecates himself as just the assistant
to the real surgeons the maggots:
Im just a supporting actor here, he
says. The maggots are marvelous.
They love scavenging dead tissue. They dive right into the dirty work
and leave a clean scene in just 72 hours or less. Theres truth to
the old battlefield remedy after all.
For patients with severe infections, untreatable because
of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, maggots provide a promising
alternative procedure (if the patient
can stand that tingly sensation).
Add this to the column, Things
considered pests, vermin, nasty and ugly today might have originally had
beneficial purposes. (See also
March 14 headline). Other
examples of biotherapeutic agents being studied include leeches and bees.
Baloney Detecting Exercise 10/24/2003
Next headline on: Health.
Next headline on: Bugs and Crawlers.
Next amazing story.
Jack Szostak at Howard
Hughes Medical Institute claims to have a
proof-of-principle that growth and division is possible
in a purely physical-chemical system. Though he cautions,
We are not claiming that this is how life started,
he does say, we have demonstrated growth
and division without any biochemical machinery.
Your assignment is to apply the
Baloney Detector to this article.
You are permitted to view the film Unlocking
the Mystery of Life, and access the past three years of chain links on
Origin of Life for supporting material.
Next headline on: Origin of Life.
Cosmology: Greater Wall Discovered
A Great Wall of galaxy clusters, 80% bigger than the one found by
Geller and Huchra in 1989, has been uncovered by the Sloan Digital Sky
Science Update. Back then, the first Great Wall was considered
a challenge for big bang theorists, because of the so-called lumpiness
problem how could a smooth beginning lead to such large-scale
structure? Since then, they have concluded the observations were
within the constraints of the theory.
This new structure is 1.3 billion light-years long,
600 million light-years longer than the earlier one.
Cosmologists are cautiously optimistic that the new, bigger
Sloan Great Wall will not sound the death knell for their theories,
even though its size comes as a surprise to astrophysicists.
The theory must survive at all costs. No observation may be
considered valid unless it has been first confirmed by theory.
Gene Evolution: A Classic Case Revisited
Next headline on: Cosmology.
Evolutionists lately have leaned heavily on gene duplication as a source
of functional novelty. As the story goes, after a gene duplicates,
one continues functioning, and the other is free to mutate and evolve.
The evolution of the copy (paralog) might involve neofunctionalization
(acquisition of a new function) or subfunctionalization (splitting
up of functions, like a semitrailer truck dividing into a smaller truck
and a storage bin; see also
Are there examples in nature?
A prototypical example has been the Xdh gene that codes for
xanthine hydrogenase (XDH). This enzyme exists in all life forms, but has
a paralog Ao in eukaryotes that codes of aldehyde oxygenase (AOX), and
another in vertebrates (AOX') that, surprisingly, is more similar to Xdh than
to the Ao in invertebrates; additionally, it is lacking in a protochordate
assumed to be an ancestor of vertebrates. This indicates to the authors of
a paper by Francisco Ayala and colleagues in PNAS1 that
the gene duplicated twice and evolved toward convergent functions.
Other than that unexpected feature, all three enzymes share similar
sequences and differ only in their electron receptors and substrates.
The authors feel, therefore, that they have demonstrated evidence for
positive Darwinian selection (neofunctionalization):
In mammals, XDH interconverts with an oxidase
form [xanthine oxidase (XO)], which, like AOX, uses dioxygen
as the final electron acceptor. Interconversion is caused by
dislocation of the active-site loop, a stretch of several consecutive
amino acid residues (Gln 423-Lys 433, in bovine XDH) that
surrounds the FAD cofactor. AOX and XDH can easily
be aligned along their entire lengths. This, jointly with the fact
that Xdh is ubiquitous in the tree of life, whereas Ao is circumscribed
to, but pervasive through multicellular eukaryotes, indicates
that Ao evolved from a eukaryotic copy of Xdh some time
before the origin of multicellularity.
In their analysis, they find that both AOX and AOX', though separately
evolved, seemed to converge on similar structural pockets for their
substrates. This argues that positive selection for function was
active, not just neutral mutational drift.
1Rodriguez-Trelles, Tarrio, and Ayala,
Convergent neofunctionalization by positive Darwinian selection
after ancient recurrent duplications of the xanthine dehydrogenase
Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 10.1073/pnas.1835646100, Published online before
print October 23, 2003.
Whenever we see a title hinting that positive Darwinian selection for a new
function has been demonstrated, we get excited, because maybe now this
theory that has taken over the world will finally exhibit some empirical
evidence. But what have we here? All they have shown are three
enzymes that look similar, but operate on different substrates. Two
of them operate on the same substrate but have slightly different structures.
To make their story work, they have to invoke the miracle of convergent
evolution acting on two separate gene duplications.
News from Nature
One would think it would be a better Darwinian story to see
all three of these enzymes arranged in a clear line of descent, but here is
what happened, according to their story. (1) Bacteria already possessed
an advanced, complex, molecular machine (XDH), a key enzyme in the catabolism
of purines, and the gene that codes for it (Xdh), possessing more than
1330 nucleotide letters. (No ancestor of this advanced, multipart
machine2 is proposed.) (2) The Xdh gene duplicated,
and then rapid positive selection turned it into an aldehyde oxidase, AOX.
AOX lived on in the invertebrates. (3) A protochordate lost AOX,
and evolved into vertebrates. (4) Sometime before the evolution of
ray-finned fishes, Xdh duplicated again, and the second paralog
evolved into AOX' by convergent evolution, and lives on in all the vertebrates
and mammals. (5) Once the new function was found, the rapid evolution
of both paralogs ceased, perhaps because of the constraints of purifying
If this is the best the evolutionists can come up with, it
appears weak indeed. How many billions of similar episodes of positive
selection must have had to occur, simultaneously, for a bacterium to
evolve into a fish? If positive selection is so necessary for so many
things, should it not be abundantly obvious everywhere? Yet they admit
that it must be rare:
chances for a paralog to evolve a new function are small when
compared with the fraction of duplicates that become silenced
by degenerative mutations. If duplications eventually become
a significant molecular source for evolutionary novelty, it is
because they occur at a very high rate: on average, one per gene
per 100 million years, estimated from eukaryote genomic surveys,
which is comparable to the rate of mutation per nucleotide
site in nuclear genomes of vertebrates.
(Emphasis added in all quotes.)
So they admit right in the introduction that only one duplication per gene can
be expected each 100 million years, and that degenerative mutations are more
likely to silence them. Is this really a high rate? No, compared
to what is needed, and even then, unless it survives all the error-correcting
mechanisms in the cell and finds a way to get propagated in the gametes and
spread throughout the population, its the end of the line gotta
wait another 100 million for your lucky lottery ticket.
They also admit that of any changes in function that do occur
in the paralogous copy, they are more likely to be due to subfunctionalization
Theoretical results suggest that subfunctionalization should be a
more common outcome of duplication than neofunctionalization
under plausible conditions, specifically when subfunctionalizing
mutations greatly outnumber neofunctionalizing mutations and
the selective advantage of the neofunctional alleles is small.
However, little is known about the relative importance of each
evolutionary outcome from real data.
Review question, class: how much is known from real data about the evolutionary
outcomes of gene duplications?
Another problem. Even after a gene duplication, finding
a new function by positive Darwinian selection is hard to differentiate from
the Dykhuizen-Hartl effect model, which theorizes that
functional divergence occurs by random fixation of neutral
mutations under relaxed purifying selection owing to reduced
functional constraints of redundant genes. These fixed mutations
can be complementary loss-of-subfunction mutations or mutations
that later induce a change in gene function when the
environment or the genetic background is altered.
If your eyes have not yet glazed over from all this evolutionary
mumbo-jumbo, it basically admits that (1) Theoretical evidence for
selection, the thing that made Charlie famous and turns bacteria into
blue whales (given enough time), is hard to discern from other factors, and
(2) We dont
have any good examples from real data except maybe for this AOX story.
One would think evolutionists would be in crisis mode.
They need trillions of examples of positive Darwinian selection, and all
they came up with in this paper is one, and it looks pretty weak.
To make the story work, they need two duplications, a loss, and convergence,
which is like winning two lottery tickets in a row.
Try to look at the data objectively, and all one can say is
that (1) all organisms have (and use) an enzyme for purine catalysis,
(2) invertebrates have (and use) an enzyme for aldehyde oxidation;
(3) vertebrates have (and use) a different enzyme for aldehyde oxidation;
(4) these three enzymes contain extensive structural and sequence
similarities. Does this prove common ancestry? You probably
have a large flat-headed screwdriver in your garage, and a large Phillips
screwdriver as well. These share extensive sequence similarities,
but act on different substrates. Really gifted craftsmen usually have
extensive sets of very similar tools, all of which were skillfully designed.
All of us have probably
heard Perry Mason cases that appeared open and shut at first glance,
only to have a surprise ending opposite what was assumed. Solomon
said, The first to present his case appears just, until another
comes and examines him
The authors of this paper are like lawyers arguing that the
defendants, (all living things), are guilty of evolving
by positive Darwinian selection. They have amassed circumstantial
evidence on one scenario, involving two or three facts that might be
related, but have called no eyewitnesses.
18:17). They spent all their time presenting technical details on one
putative example of positive selection.
The defense attorney tried a different tactic. He brought out a slide
projector. He showed picture after picture of living things:
a water strider,
a conch shell,
a monarch butterfly,
a giant redwood,
and much, much more. After about a thousand slides,
he remarked, The prosecutors have explained their scenario, based
on a hunch about a slight
possibility of a hypothesis that two molecules in these organisms might,
just might, have presumably arisen by an unguided, purposeless, process
called Darwinian selection. Do you feel his mechanism was plausible
enough, and sufficiently productive, to lead to all these?
Next headline on: Darwinism and
Evolutionary Theory. Next headline on:
Genes and DNA.
2 Ao and Xdh encode two
large (generally, ~1,330 codons), structurally complex oxidoreductases
(AOX and XDH, respectively) of the xanthine
oxidase family of molybdo-flavoenzymes. AOX and XDH
are homodimers with a molecular mass of ~290 kDa, with each
monomer acting independently in catalysis. Each monomer
comprises three consecutive domains linked by short interdomains:
one ~20-kDa N-terminal domain that contains two
distinct iron sulfur redox centers (2FeS), an ~40-kDa flavin
adenine dinucleotide (FAD)-binding domain, and an ~85-kDa
C-terminal molybdo-pterin (Mo-pt)-binding domain, also containing
the substrate binding sites. XDH has long been
recognized as the key enzyme in the catabolism of purines,
oxidizing hypoxanthine into xanthine, and xanthine into uric
The Oct 23 issue of Nature has a number of tidbits of interest:
Maddox gives a favorable review to Basil Mahons new book,
The Man Who Changed Everything: The Life of James Clerk Maxwell
Maddox agrees the 19th-century physicist was Outstanding in his
field, and that his work was at the foundation of the modern world,
but mentions nothing of Maxwells Christian faith.
Read our online biography of Maxwell, one
of the greatest scientists in history, a born-again Christian and
- Von Braun: Kristie Macrakis reviews John Cornwells
book Hitlers Scientists: Science, War and the Devils
Pact (Viking, 2003). In passing, she takes a brief swipe at Wernher von Braun:
His [Cornwells] lively account is also a damning indictment:
come across as depraved, amoral nerds who were willing to serve any regime
if they got paid for it. Cornwell unearthed a quotation from Wernher
von Braun, designer of the German V-2 flying bomb who went on
to direct NASAs Apollo programme, illustrating that he did not
care if he worked for Uncle Joe or Uncle Sam: All I really wanted
was an uncle who was rich.
Context can make all the difference.
We are not given the entire quote here, or anything of where, when, to whom, and
under what circumstances it was said. How many of us have uttered
hallway talk, half-jokingly, that if lifted and put into a different context,
would be damning? Both authors assume the worst. Macrakis
unfairly makes a snap judgment that this one quote implies von Braun was
a depraved, amoral nerd only interested in money. One reality
of the situation is that
von Brauns team needed money, not for selfish indulgence,
but for hardware to pursue the dream of space flight;
that is why he went to the German army in the first place, because his
rocket club had no resources for such an audacious dream. Was this
statement said early on, while von Braun was a merry heathen
in his youth, before the atrocities of Hitler and Stalin became known?
Was it said under duress to SS officers who suspected von Braun had
secret allegiances to the US? Was von Braun impersonating the feelings
of others, as a sarcastic remark? Was it said at all? How do we
know the statement was not attributed to him by an enemy? We are not told.
There are many ways quotations can be twisted or distorted to imply the
exact opposite of their meanings or the true intentions of a person, or even
if accurate, can represent early opinions later repudiated.
Read our biography and see if this
dismissive characterization bears any resemblance to the historical record.
If von Braun were less than a man of integrity, would not the fruits of devious motives
have surfaced during the subsequent 30 years? If you wouldnt
want your entire life represented by one sentence lifted out of context,
then reserve judgment till you hear the rest of the story.
- Theistic Evolution: Richard Lenski reviews Simon Conway
Morriss new book, Life's Solution: Inevitable Humans in a Lonely
Universe (Cambridge, 2003). Morris opposes the views of Stephen
Jay Gould on the contingent nature of evolution, and proposes instead that
humans were inevitable. Lenski fails to see the difference, when they
both agree contingent circumstances led to making Earth habitable.
Atheistic evolutionists can tolerate
theistic evolutionists, as long as God is a nebulous, distant personage
uninvolved in the operation of the world. Whats the difference?
- Evolution By Niche Construction: Laurnet Keller reviews
a book by Smee, Laland and Feldman, Niche Construction: The Neglected
Process in Evolution (Princeton, 2003). This sect of Darwinists
downplays natural selection, preferring another mechanism instead:
All living creatures, through both their metabolism and their behaviour,
actively change and control the world in which they live. Organisms
choose habitats and resources; they construct nests, holes, burrows,
webs or pupal cases; and they modify the chemical environment in which
they live. These alterations, which occur at scales ranging from
the extremely local to the global, inevitably modify some of the selection
pressures acting on the organisms. And it is precisely this the
effects of an organism on its own environment that the authors believe
to be the important component that has been neglected by the conventional
theory of evolution.
Keller thinks they go overboard: But it is unfortunate that the
authors attempt to oversell the significance of niche construction.
By advocating a grand, extended evolutionary theory, they distract readers
from the more important message of the book, which is that the influence
of organisms on their environment can have far-reaching consequences.
Poor Charlie is getting hit from all sides, while his fans keep trying to
rescue his reputation. (See Oct. 14 headline.)
Niche construction sounds like either Gaia or a convoluted form of
circular reasoning. Organisms evolve
their niches, so that their niches can evolve them.
- Mountain Building:
Lamb and Paul Davis have a
novel new theory of how the Andes rose to such heights: the climate did
it. In the same issue,
Jones considers this surprising hypothesis. The idea is that
long periods of drought reduced the amount of sedimentary deposits that
the plate boundary. This made the mountains jerk upward higher than others
along the Pacific Rim.
Now examines it with the cautious opinion of a Cornell geologist:
its hard to get accurate chronologies for climate and
mountain uplift and the correlations may not hold up as more data come in.
JSS is fair game in any phenomenon you cannot
- Human Kindness: Ernst Fehr and Urs Fischbacher
have a Review
Article entitled, The Nature of Human Altruism.
They admit at the outset, Some of the most fundamental questions
concerning our evolutionary origins, our social relations, and the
organization of society are centred around issues of altruism and
selfishness. Experimental evidence indicates that human altruism
is a powerful force and is unique in the animal world.
Since evolutionists havent been
able to find the gene for altruism or a Darwinian mechanism
that would make human self-sacrifice evolve, they conclude more work must be
done: Current gene-based evolutionary theories cannot explain
important patterns of human altruism, pointing towards the importance
of both theories of cultural evolution as well as gene-culture co-evolution.
Why are they so surprised that Human societies represent a huge anomaly
in the animal world? Why the head-scratching that altruism is
exhibited by people from hunter-gatherers to nation-states? Why the
puzzlement over the observation that total strangers will often quickly
become friends? If we randomly pick two human strangers from
a modern society, they say, and give them the chance to engage in repeated anonymous
exchanges in a laboratory experiment, there is a high probability that
reciprocally altruistic behaviour will emerge spontaneously.
Only an evolutionist would be surprised by this, because all
they see, ultimately, are chemical reactions. What they are missing
is: its all about soul.
- Advanced Tree-Building:
A team from Howard Hughes Medical Institute believes they have found the
skeleton key to molecular phylogeny, and even Nature editor
Gee (Evolution, Ending Incongruence) is impressed.
In their paper, Genome-scale
approaches to resolving incongruence in molecular phylogenies,
they found that by concatenating 20 or so orthologous genes at random from
six species of yeast, the conflicting phylogenetic trees converged onto
one neat consensus tree, with 100% bootstrap confidence. They feel
this approach, now that we are getting more genome-wide data sets, will
overcome some or all of the conflicts molecular phylogenists have been
puzzling over for years.
Well take a wait-and-see on this
claim. First of all, they only examined six related species of yeast
from the same genus. Its likely even within a creationist
model that these all diverged from an original yeast kind, so a clear
relationship would be expected. But they admit in several places
that single-gene comparisons lead to radically different trees.
Furthermore, they have no clear explanation for why this would be so,
or why the concatenated data set would eliminate the conflicts.
Better take a close look at the software they used, with its evolutionary-based
algorithms like maximum likelihood (likely to whom?),
maximum parsimony (whos paying the bill?) and
majority rule consensus (did the majority usurp power by
- Human Genome: The Human Genome Project has
chromosome 6. This chromosome, 166,880,988 base pairs long, comprises
6% of the entire genome. They identified 1557 genes and 667
Chromosome 6 has many genes involved in the immune system and transfer-RNA
construction, and genes directly implicated in cancer, schizophrenia,
autoimmunity and many other diseases.
Next headline on: Human Body.
Next headline on: Genes and DNA.
Next headline on: Politics, Ethics, History.
Next headline on: Geology.
Next headline on: Darwinism.
Ribosome Does Fast Forward Scanning 10/23/2003
Remember cassette players that allowed you to scan ahead to the next
song? Ribosomes in the cell are like tape readers that can
translate one message, written in DNA, to another message, written
in proteins. The tape that the ribosome reads is
a string of messenger RNA, freshly delivered from the DNA code in the
nucleus by other molecular machines. Once the tape is inserted
into the ribosome, it reads the message and ties amino acids together
to form a protein chain. If you watched the film
Unlocking the Mystery of Life,
you saw a computer animation of the process in slow motion.
Now it appears that the ribosome has a scan function.
Scientists have known about a puzzling phenomenon that
occasionally occurs within the ribosome. For unknown reasons,
the ribosome can disengage its reading head from the tape and fast-forward
to another spot, then continue reading and translating at the next open
reading frame (ORF). This is
called translational bypassing. They know that this
is signalled automatically by codes embedded in the messenger-RNA
tape: a take-off code and a landing code, among others.
What they didnt know is whether the reading head continues to scan
the code while disengaged. By analogy with cassette players,
is it fast forward or scan? Apparently, its
A team of scientists at the University of Washington figured
this out by rigging two landing codes into the tape. They found that
the ribosome always took the first one. This can only mean that the
ribosome is able to scan the message while disengaged and detect the presence
of the landing site. Their paper is published in the Oct. 23 online
preprints of PNAS.1
Although it is still unclear why the ribosome would want
to jump ahead on the recording, other researchers, like
Gesteland, believe it is part of a bag of tricks the
cell has to regulate gene expression or correct errors.
1Gallant et al., Evidence that the bypassing
ribosome travels through the coding gap,
of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 10.1073/pnas.2233745100,
Published online before print October 23, 2003.
There is so much more to learn about
genes, proteins, and the processes that translate and regulate them.
So far, the more we know, the less plausible evolution appears.
Consider what must be true for scanning to occur. Both the DNA and the
ribosome have to understand the coding convention; i.e., which codon means
stop, which codon means take-off, and which codon means landing.
There needs to be a clutch mechanism in the ribosome that can disengage
the growing peptide chain and stop the influx of loaded transfer RNAs.
There needs to be processive scanning; the ribosome needs to be constantly
reading and understanding the message, even when not translating it.
There needs to be a reliable way to re-engage the translation machinery
at exactly the right nucleotide, and there needs to be a way to join the
translated frames into a seamless product.
More on the Nobel Controversy 10/22/2003
All kinds of possibilities come to mind at what this might
mean. Undoubtedly this is linked to the way the code is spliced in
the nucleus. Perhaps all the shuffling of introns and exons by
the spliceosome has the purpose of altering either the message itself,
or the way the messenger RNA will be read by the ribosome, or both
(see Sep. 3 headline).
The cell apparently has multiple methods of recoding a gene
on the fly. Maybe these embedded scan codes can trigger
different outputs that head toward different exit doors and are treated
differently by post-translational machines. There might be regulators
that can respond to feedback from within the cell, telling the ribosome
we dont need that subroutine right now; skip over it and
continue on the next one. If so, the big picture of gene
translation is far more complex than at first realized (which was already
far more complex than Darwin could have imagined).
Man-made guidance and control software has to be able to
handle contingencies. The elegance of software is its ability to
branch from one routine to another, depending on the input or the
environment. It appears that the cell is a master of routines.
It can rapidly generate the tools and machines it needs to survive,
depending on changes in temperature, salinity, acidity, and a host of
other dynamic situations. In the rare instances when errors occur,
there are numerous built-in error-correction routines and processes
ready to handle them.
At first, it appeared the ribosome was a
simple, sequential-access mechanism like an old-fashioned tape
recorder. The bag of tricks
that scientists are now exploring reveals a more sophisticated set of
pre-programmed, random-access, dynamic routines, with feedback loops,
error correction and repair mechanisms that make
a modern DVD player look archaic.
Heres where an intelligent design approach would be better for
science. Evolutionists have a habit of looking at newly-discovered
phenomena as cobbled parts from previously thrown-together junk from our
evolutionary past, not master-planned, but just good enough to
get by. This puts them in an embarrassing position when the reasons
become known. From an ID perspective, a biochemist could assume at
the outset there must be a cause for each effect, like translational
bypassing, that was programmed for a purpose. Which scientist, do
you think, would be more likely to get the right answer first?
Next headline on: The Cell.
Next headline on: Intelligent Design.
Next amazing story.
(See Oct. 10 headline.)
Fonar Corporation, the MRI scanner
company founded by Dr. Raymond Damadian, has produced more documentation
backing up their claim that the exclusion of Damadian from the 2003
Nobel Prize for Medicine or Physiology was
A shameful wrong
that must be righted
Cone Snails: Masters of Venom
- A second New York Times
full-page ad documents the fact that both winners were aware of Damadians
discovery, and got their ideas from his 1971 paper.
- The company issued a position
paper on the controversy, and formed a Friends of Raymond Damadian
Committee that is paying all costs for the ads.
- A series of TV interviews with Dr. Damadian has been made available on
In five short video clips, Dr. Damadian calmly and matter-of-factly explains
the controversy, the background of MRI discovery, and what could be done
to correct the injustice of the Nobel decision.
Cone snails (genus Conus) are venomous molluscs living in the sea.
With 500 species, they comprise arguably the most species-rich genus
of living marine invertebrates, say a team of biologists mostly from
the University of Utah, writing in a Colloquium for the
the National Academy of Sciences1. The beautiful shells
of these animals,
shaped somewhat like miniature Greek urns with spiral-shaped tops,
decorated with elaborate mosaic patterns reminiscent of Moorish art
(see this gallery),
are prized by collectors and
have won them admiring names like
and cloth-of-gold. (For more on shells, see June 26
One wouldnt think these little gems would be predators, but everythin
gotta eat. Depending on the species, cone snails
prey on fish, worms, and other molluscs with a unique biological weapon:
protein venom. And what an arsenal they have: among the 500 species,
biologists estimate they can produce 50,000 different venom peptides.
(Some can even kill a human see
website but some of the molecules also have potential medical uses.)
Most of these are short chains of amino acids less than 100 units long;
some as short as 12 to 20. These short polypeptides are produced,
in turn, by enormous numbers of genes:
The analysis carried out on Conus venom peptides suggests
that a majority of the estimated ~50,000 peptides are encoded
by only ~12 conotoxin gene superfamilies. These superfamilies
have undergone rapid amplification and divergence, accompanying
the parallel radiation and diversification of Conus species
at a macroevolutionary [sic] level. ... Each major Conus
peptide gene superfamily comprises thousands of genes, encoding
different peptides. This leads to the remarkable functional
diversity seen among the ~50,000 different peptides.
These peptides exert a powerful effect on some specific ion channel
or receptor target in their prey. The sheer number of peptides
these animals can manufacture is staggering. The authors put it in
It is fair to say that the snails likely
have evolved a greater diversity of ion channel-targeted pharmacological
agents than even the largest of pharmaceutical
companies (this diverse array includes peptides that are being
developed for use as human pharmaceuticals). These venom
peptides have allowed different cone snail species to specialize
on at least five different phyla of prey and defend themselves
against a spectrum of predators that might be even more diverse.
Following this awe-inspiring introduction, the authors delve into the
biochemical details of the venoms of just two species, and then make
some generalizations about their putative evolution.
Most proteins and enzymes are longer than 100 amino acid
units, probably because they must be that long or longer to fold into
functional three-dimensional structures. The cone snail venom peptides,
though much shorter, also need to fold in a precise way. Their folds
are held in place by disulfide bridges connecting cysteine residues.
These cross-links must be formed between the correct cysteine residues:
something needs to guide the bridges to the correct attachment points.
This is the role of the PDI family of enzymes
(protein disulfide isomerase).
After a venom is produced by the translation machinery in the ribosome,
another enzyme (gamma-Glutamyl carboxylase)
modifies certain glutamate residues into gamma-carboxyglutamate,
which presumably also aids the folding process. As the peptide is
transferred from a reducing environment in the cytosol to an oxidizing
environment in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), folding is enhanced by
PDI in the presence of doubly-ionized calcium (Ca2+).
The gamma-carboxyglutamate residues, binding to the calcium, may serve as
handles for the enzymes, orienting the cysteine residues in such a way that
the PDI enzyme can associate them to form the correct disulfide bridges.
(The authors feel what they have observed may help elucidate the more
general problem of protein folding.) The final peptide is not activated
until it is ejected from the venom duct, so that the venom does not jeopardize
the cone snail itself.
The authors speculate about the evolutionary relationships
between cone shells, insects, humans, and the common ancestors of each.
carboxylase is a highly conserved enzyme, involved in everything
from human blood clotting to Conus venom, they feel its role in
protein folding was the ancestral function: Such a folding mechanism
for proteins may have been more
generally important earlier in evolution, but it was probably
largely supplanted later by other mechanisms for facilitating
folding of larger polypeptides, such as specialized molecular
1Bulaj et al.,
Colloquium: Efficient oxidative folding of conotoxins and the
radiation of venomous cone snails,
of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 10.1073/pnas.2335845100,
published online before print Oct. 22, 2003.
These scientists did yeomans work with PCR and other lab techniques,
but that does not qualify them as just-so storytellers. Watch them launch
into Storybook Land (emphasis added):
Minnesota Evaluates Science Standards
The role of Gla [gamma-carboxyglutamate]
suggested above provides an attractive general
mechanism for folding small polypeptides, perhaps even including
the primordial [sic] proteins. Based on structural work on signal
recognition particle peptides, it was recently suggested that
the first proteins evolved [sic] as membranes formed [sic], when RNA still
dominated biochemistry [sic]. Specifically, the first functional
polypeptide-like chains in incipient [sic] life forms were created [sic] to
deal [sic] with a membrane surrounding the catalytic/informational [sic]
RNA. If this view is correct, then the possibility is raised that
gamma-carboxyglutamate, with its capacity both for interacting with
membranes and directing folding may have been present in the
earliest functional polypeptides [sic], which were presumably much
smaller than present-day proteins. Once a Ca2+-free cytosol
evolved [sic], however, a doubly negatively charged amino acid might
become a liability [sic] for intracellular protein function, and in most
taxa at the present time, gamma-carboxyglutamate is probably largely
a relict amino acid in a few secreted proteins. This modification
remains prominent only in those present-day phylogenetic systems [sic]
where more specialized uses have evolved [sic] (such as mammalian
blood clotting and Conus venom peptides).
Notice how many wiggle words and evolutionary assumptions are embedded in
this one paragraph. They even twist the C word into evolutionary
meaning: life forms were created... (in their worldview,
the creator is time and chance).
All such talk is pure speculation, not science. They found no ancestry,
no phylogeny, and no transitions. They connected dots miles apart with
inference. Blood clotting, for example, is a tremendously complex
system: so much so, that Michael Behe used it as
a prime example
of irreducible complexity in his book Darwins Black Box.
Chaperones are another hugely complex system
(see May 5 headline). With a wave of the
hand, they just assume chaperones came along and took over the protein-folding
job at some point in deep time. They beg
the question that the RNA World Scenario has any validity
(see 07/11/2002 headline).
So cone shells use gamma-carboxyglutamate for venom peptides, and mammals
use it for blood clotting. Does that indicate a relationship?
Only if evolutionary JSS is in your blood. (But evolutionary JSS cannot
prevent theoretical hemophilia; the facts have a way of leaking out
Evolutionary JSS is the mystical, magical, extrasensory perception (also
known as imagination), that visualizes miracles in the foggy past:
...the first proteins evolved as membranes formed
[a synonym for their favorite miracle word emerged], when RNA still
dominated biochemistry.... This sentence demonstrates that
evolutionism is a form of idolatry. Evolutionists have deities, too;
they are just slower and dumber.
Evolutionists and creationists have the same facts available
for study. Neither could give a complete, satisfactory, authoritative
explanation for why there are so many cone snail species, and so many
varieties of venom peptides and the genes that code for them, because
no human observer was there when they came into existence.
500 species does not seem excessive in view of the vastness of the sea,
and the variety of habitats and niches available to them.
It is not beyond probability that extensive horizontal variation
has generated much of the variety from a smaller set of original forms.
Even so, no one has observed a cone snail evolving into vertebrate or
any other kind of animal. All the ingredients
in the cone snail the venom ducts, the PDI enzymes, the endoplasmic
reticulum, the geometric elegance of the shells, the developmental pathways,
the gene superfamilies are complex entities.
The parts all work, and they all work together. Cone snails are successful
in their habitats because they have what they need, and they need what they
have. Thats really all that science can say about it.
If evolutionists could just get off their hobby horse of connecting
distant dots, both camps could agree. They could both look at cone
snails, and remark with astonishment, Well, what do you know.
Next headline on: Ocean Life.
Next headline on: Darwinism and Evolutionary Theory.
Minnesota is another state considering changes to its science standards.
Institute praises the first draft of the standards for stating that
Students will be able to explain how scientific innovations and new
evidence can challenge accepted theories and models, including cell theory,
atomic theory, theory of evolution, plate tectonic theory, germ theory of
disease, Big Bang theory.
There is room for improvement, however, writes
Seth Cooper of the Institute: benchmarks pertaining to neo-Darwinian
evolution remain incomplete by failing to address the scientific controversy
that exists surrounding the theory. Discovery Institute has
supplied a proposal to correct shortcomings, in hopes of bringing the
standards in line with the Santorum Amendment. This is the official
policy of Congress on the subject. It was explained in the journal
report as follows: where topics are taught that
may generate controversy (such as biological evolution), the curriculum
should help students to understand the full range of scientific views
that exist, why such topics may generate controversy, and how scientific
discoveries can profoundly affect society.
This debate is a
in school boards across the country.
It is generating vociferous arguments, often with more heat than light.
It is essential to be informed on the issues.
Cooper praises the Minnesota Commissioner of Education for pointing out
that, in the standards, nowhere does this language mention
intelligent design or creationism. Instead, it simply states the
idea that children should understand that there is diversity of opinions
and beliefs. Even if it mentioned either concept, the standards
would remain constitutional, as long as scientific evidences alone, not
religious arguments, are presented.
Guest Commentary 10/20/2003
The usual suspects trot out their favorite canard that this
is all about separation of church and state, one of the
most flexible smokescreens in US
political debate. Intelligent design is a scientific approach that is already
commonly used in archaeology, forensics, cryptography and SETI.
Evolution is just as religious as any creation myth because it is not subject
to observation or falsification. Let students hear all the scientific
evidence, and no parent, school board, Congressman or scientist will have
anything to fear except the downfall of pet dogmas.
For a timely look at this controversy, be sure to see the
film Icons of Evolution.
The DVD version has a helpful section of questions and answers on the
legal ramifications of teaching the controversy in the
science class. (Basically, there are none. Its already
constitutional and encouraged by Congress.)
Next headline on: Schools.
Next headline on: Politics.
This entry submitted by a reader demonstrates that our
Baloney Detector is proving helpful.
Re: Sexual Identity Hard-Wired by Genetics, Study Says,
Reuters News Service
The headline claims to have found that sexuality (i.e. homosexuality or
heterosexuality) is hardwired. But when you actually look at the
science all they found is that male and female mices brains are
different. One would think that this shocking discovery that males
and females are physically different (not just in the most obvious ways)
would lead to the opposite conclusion. However, the implication here is
that the brains of homosexuals are different from their straight
counterparts in the same way as between the sexes. However this is not
what the study found at all, and the very real possibility is that
it might well be the exact opposite. Scientists have been earnestly
trying to find some genetic justification for accepting homosexuality as
natural, but to claim to have found this link when the facts couldnt be
further from the truth sounds pretty desperate. In addition, Im not
sure finding some inherent difference would change the moral question
any more than discovering why some people have an increased natural
tendency toward violence, pedophilia, or cannibalism. There was another
story in the past that made a similar claim, but all they found was that
lesbian women werent as easy to startle...hardly scientific proof of a
Good detection work. (For a different
interpretation, see World
Net Dailys report on this story.) Whenever you
hear an outrageous claim made in the name of science, hack away at the
interpretation with an intellectual machete and get to the data (if any),
buried in the midst of the thorny thicket of
Look at the raw data with a critical eye, then draw your own logical
Next headline on: Politics and Ethics.
Homo erectus Was Fully Human
Sometimes a scientific quest leads to adventure. The cover story of
for the week of Oct. 18
tells the seafaring tale of Robert G. Bednarik, who set out to prove that
Asian populations of
Homo erectus were the first sailors. The reason?
Stone tools dated at 800,000 years (too old for Homo sapiens, but
within the assumed age of H. erectus) have been found on Indonesian
islands that presumably had no land bridges during the last million years.
He finds the usual explanation for this a stretch (emphasis added in
If hardy teams of H. erectus reached Flores [an island off Bali]
by sea, their mode of transportation remains unknown. Some scientists
suspect that small numbers of Stone Age folk accidentally [sic!] drifted
as far as Flores after climbing onto thick mats of vegetation that
sometimes form near the Southeast Asian coast.
So Bednarik and crew built a bamboo craft with stone tools and set out
to sea. The harrowing voyage, through tropical storms and 16-foot
waves, was successful. After paddling furiously 12 hours, and fixing
broken masts and sails with their stone tools, they reached
a nearby island, fatigued and dizzy, but alive.
That speculation doesnt float, contends
Bednarik. Only a craft propelled by its occupants could negotiate
the treacherous straits separating one Indonesian island from the next.
Bednarik is director of the International Institute of
Replicative Archaeology in South Caulfield, Australia. He has been
bucking the current to show not only that Homo erectus
was capable of building boats and navigating the open sea, but also
possessed a culture, whose art and tools imply communication with spoken
language and symbolic thought. Bednarik has no qualms about
paddling against the academic mainstream, Bruce Bowers reports.
Over the past 30 years,
hes become a self-taught authority on Stone Age rock art.
Hes written hundreds of
scientific articles and now edits three journals, all without having
attended a university or earned an academic degree.
Bowers compares him to Thor Heyerdahl, who upset the mainstream in 1947
with his theories of Polynesian island-hopping sailors.
Some scientists are entertaining the possibility that
Bednarik is right. Others are skeptical and cling to the old story.
To these, Bednarik taunts, Armchair archaeologists, who think that
sea crossings are a piece of cake, really ought to try doing this on
drifting vegetation. His next project is to sail to Sardinia
from Greece, and across the Strait of Gibraltar, on cane rafts.
For more information, see the
Mariners Project website.
On a related subject, the
explores the controversy over artwork found in Italy
alleged to be from H. erectus. Mainstream scientists cannot
believe pre-humans living 150,000 or more years ago were capable of art,
and attribute the face-like structures to geological processes.
Then there is a figurine in Morocco claimed to be 400,000 years old.
1Bruce Bowers, Erectus Ahoy: Prehistoric
seafaring floats into view,
News Week of Oct. 18, 2003; Vol. 164, No. 16.
What a great story on courage to challenge the mainstream.
Both sides are still corrupted by the fallacious dating of alleged human
ancestors, but at least Bednarik got out there and did some real
experiments, even to the point of putting his life in danger.
Talk is cheap because the supply exceeds the demand. Science is
supposed to be about observation and experimentation, not mere talk.
Its easy to spin a tall tale about floating on a mat of vegetation,
but go try it sometime in 16-foot waves!
Quick Cure for Some Genetic Diseases Planned
Bednarik is enough of an evolutionist to
spin his own just-so story to explain away the evidence:
He suspects that genetic and cultural evolution played out slowly [sic]
among human ancestors over the past 2 million years [sic].
Groups that moved across Africa and Asia interbred to some extent
and passed cultural innovations back and forth. In this continental
melting pot, a hazy biological boundary separated H. erectus from
H. sapiens. About 1 million years ago [sic], Stone Age Asians
probably [sic] congregated near coasts, and their fishing rafts were
eventually adapted for sea travel. Remains of these shore
inhabitants would have [sic] since become submerged and so are
unavailable to archaeologists.
The story goes on, but at least Bednariks version flies in the face of the
out of Africa myth popular among mainstream evolutionists.
But think about it: if these individuals could speak in verbal language,
with symbolic thoughts, and build boats and sail them, they were not
primitive they were human beings. Only an evolutionary
mindset puts these individuals into an ancestral lineage with apes:
Some scientists, however, dont think any part of Bednariks
theory holds water. Stone Age folk 800,000 years ago didnt
make long-range plans, talk to one another, or form cultural groups,
so they couldnt have organized efforts to build rafts and row to
islands, contends archaeologist Iain Davidson of the University of New
England in Australia.
And why not? Because they were too stupid, too unevolved, to have
been capable of such technology. That is an assumption, a belief: not a
proof. Where, Dr. Davidson, is your empirical evidence?
Bednarik at least has artwork and tools found on remote islands.
Implements can be relatively primitive without being sub-human.
To this day, naked Indians in the Amazon jungles subsist in grass huts
with blow-gun darts, yet they are fully human, with language, culture and
all the capabilities for abstract conceptual understanding. If stones
were the only thing available to make tools, you would have made stone tools,
too. Some people like the simple life.
Once again, the actual fossils in the assumed ape-man ancestry fit either
of two categories: clearly ape or clearly human. It happened with
Neanderthal and now it is happening with Homo erectus.
Do you need a degree to impact the world of science?
It can help, but look at this example of an outsider. Sometimes college
credentials only steer otherwise bright minds into the mainstream.
It takes independence, critical thinking and courage to fight the
current. Those skills are not necessarily taught in the university.
Sometimes they are untaught! As long as you
do exemplary work that cannot be refuted, you can shake up the world
of ivory tower eggheads. Now if we can just get them to admit
their dating methods also dont float, well be making real
progress. Meanwhile, shake hands with Brother Erectus.
Next headline on: Early Man.
Certain forms of muscular dystrophy and cystic fibrosis may soon be
curable with a pill, says
Scientist. The pill helps the protein-building machinery read
through the stop code in a defective gene so that an essential
protein can be made. Experimental tests with the drug, named PTC124,
may begin on humans next year.
If it works, this will be wonderful news
for many who suffer from these diseases. The mechanism of the cure
points out the specificity of the genetic code. When the
code is correctly located, the ribosome knows when the protein ends,
and all is well. If a premature stop code has been inserted in the
gene by a mutation, protein construction is aborted, and the incomplete
polypeptide is destined for destruction. The new drug has a way to
latch onto the stop code and prevent it from being interpreted as such.
Its like putting a cover over a stop sign, or commenting out an extraneous
EXIT directive in a computer script.
Notice how damaging single mutations like this can be
(see Oct. 1 headline on pleiotropic effects).
Sufferers of these genetic diseases are not surviving as the fittest.
They are not evolving into something more complex. Complex life
is sustainable only because a sophisticated factory of machines work
against equilibrium to produce interacting, functional networks
(see Sep. 29 headline).
Throughout the uncountable zillions of copies of genes made daily throughout
the living world, most mistakes are caught and corrected. Occasionally,
one slips through. The results can be devastating. Why mistakes
are allowed to exist is a question for philosophers and theologians, but
it is exciting to see that scientists, discerning the inner workings of
the genetic code, are finding ways to bypass the errors and provide new
hope for millions affected by them.
Actually, every human is suffering under the mutational load
accumulated through thousands of years of inheritance. It is very
probable that the first humans were much more fit (i.e., possessing
error-free genomes). Only presumption believes evolution is improving
our fitness. The evidence indicates we are devolving, because many
harmful mutations are known, but there are no unequivocal examples of
By exercising good design science, we can apply our intelligence to help
repair what errors our genetic mechanisms occasionally let slip, but we should
be not proud: compared to the built-in manufacturing and proofreading
processes in the cell, our techniques amount to little more than sticking
a finger in a dike.
Next headline on: Genes and DNA.
Next headline on: Health.
Raymond Damadians campaign against the Nobel Committee (see
Oct. 10 headline) got prominent attention in the 10/16 issue
of Nature. See the update.
acknowledged the priority of Damadian but sided with the Nobel decision.
This is odd, considering Damadians paper was published in Science
before Lauterburs was published in Nature. Gretchen Vogel,
author of the news article, quotes an
MRI expert who claims Damadians idea did not lead
to todays MRI. Yet the Fonar website lists a number of
other expert witnesses, including the Supreme Court, who claim otherwise.
For an undisclosed reason, Damadian did not respond to Sciences requests
for comment. Important people are often too busy to meet a
publishing deadline. Enough documentation,
going back 30 years, is available to anyone who wishes to examine it.
One would certainly assume Damadians original 1971 paper in their
own journal would suffice.
See also 10/22/03 update.
Titans Oceans and Other Saturnian Mysteries
Await Cassinis Probing Eyes
Exclusive Planetary scientists gathered
at JPL for a quarterly meeting continued their planning for the upcoming arrival
of Project Cassini/Huygens at
Saturn. Thursday mornings session included a pre-press announcement
that lakes may have been discovered on Titan. Steven J. Ostro displayed
data collected from the Arecibo radio telescope, published later in the day in
Radar echoes from the surface of the distant atmosphere-shrouded moon give
strong evidence of specular reflection at certain longitudes which could only
come from very smooth surfaces, similar to the glint of sunlight, reflected
off the oceans at visible wavelengths, seen from Earth orbit
by Shuttle astronauts.
If the interpretation fits, Titan may be the
only other body in our solar system with a liquid surface.
Water, of course, would be frozen solid; instead, Titan may have lakes or
oceans of liquid methane, ethane or nitrogen some 10 to 200 km wide.
(See also, in the same issue of
Ralph Lorenz' commentary on the Arecibo findings.)
ride-along partner, the Huygens
Probe, will separate from the Cassini orbiter next year for a parachuted descent
to Titans surface on January 14, 2005.
Lebreton, project scientist for Huygens, expressed excitement that the
probe may land with a splash.
1Campbell, Black, Carter and Ostro,
Radar Evidence for Liquid Surfaces on Titan,
Vol. 302, Issue 5644, 431-434, October 17, 2003, 10.1126/science.1088969.
2Ralph Lorenz, The Glitter of Distant Seas,
Vol. 302, Issue 5644, 403-404, October 17, 2003, 10.1126/science.1090464.
Earth-based instruments have done just about all they can do at this point
to determine the nature of Titans mysterious surface. It is one of the most
bizarre locales in the solar system. No other moon has a substantial
atmosphere. Titan has 10 times the nitrogen density of Earth, and 1.5 times
the atmospheric pressure. The Huygens probe
will descend for over an hour through the atmosphere and then measure
the surface with multiple instruments for about 30 minutes. It is prepared
to survive in solid or liquid. The Cassini orbiter will supplement the
adventurous Huygens mission by making over 44
near encounters with Titan, mapping the entire globe
with visible, infrared, and radar instruments.
Life Found in the Genome Desert
Titan poses a severe challenge to scientists who believe it
formed 4.6 billion years ago. As discussed before here
headline), its thick atmosphere should have long ago eroded away and
collapsed. Also, as reported this year (see
headline), the thick deposits of hydrocarbons that should have accumulated
for billions of years appear to be missing. To maintain the long ages,
planetary scientists have to hypothesize either that the atmosphere formed
recently, or that there is a mechanism for recycling the methane space
blanket that sustains the atmosphere. Others suggest that outgassing
replenishes the atmosphere and subduction removes the precipitated deposits.
It would be exceptional, however, if this small moon, so cold and far from
the sun, had any such mechanisms; would these not also suggest the moon
could not be as old as claimed?
Titan is not the only Saturnian indicator of youth.
The rings, also, are considered young (geologically speaking) by all planetary
scientists. The Saturn system, in fact, is filled with puzzles.
Just before the dawn of the approach science phase, which begins
in January, anticipation is growing at what might be discovered.
This reporter took the opportunity to chat with several Cassini scientists
and ask them what they consider to be the biggest mysteries at Saturn.
They readily responded as if enjoying the question. Saturns
high winds, its magnetic field, the detail in the rings, the fresh-looking
surface of Enceladus, and Titans atmosphere were quickly listed.
How do the ring spokes form? Are they clouds of fine dust caused by
impacting meteoroids? If so, this is another evidence the rings are
being eroded rapidly. Are there embedded moons that can resupply the
Saturns magnetic field is a puzzle.
Why is the magnetic field aligned with the
rotational axis? A German scientist working with the magnetometer team
readily admitted that Saturn does not fit the convection-dynamo theory.
He said that the models prove there must be some deviation between the
two axes for the dynamo model to work. He also admitted that most of the
magnetic fields in the solar system are still very puzzling, such as those at
Ganymede (which should have none), Mercury (which should have none),
Uranus (which is highly inclined and off center), and Neptune (ditto).
An investigator working with the ultraviolet
spectrometer, when asked if he wanted to make any
predictions, wisely responded that we are going to Saturn in exploratory
mode: i.e., we are just going to see what is there.
On that everyone can agree; nothing helps a model like data.
(Too bad evolutionary biologists
have different rules, including Finagles).
Like early explorers, Cassini is going to bring us unprecedented
observations. How appropriate on the 200th anniversary of Lewis and
Clark to be exploring new terra incognita. A whole generation
has grown up since Pioneer 11 saw Saturn briefly in 1979, and the Voyagers
in 1980 and 1981. They passed through this wilderness, but Cassini
is setting up camp and building a fort. The nominal
mission lasts into 2008, but an extended mission is likely.
The flood of new and better data is sure to astound scientists
for years. If history is any guide, the number of puzzles solved will
be surpassed by new ones. So good luck, Cassini! All of us back on
Earth are vicariously on board with you for the ride of a lifetime.
Any news of interest will
be reported here on Creation-Evolution Headlines as soon as
Next headline on: Solar System.
Next headline on: Dating Methods.
Next headline on: Physics.
Next headline on: Geology.
Southwestern deserts are often filled with living things, if you look
closely enough. Similarly, the deserts in the human
genome, only sparsely populated with protein-coding genes, are turning
up some surprising functions. Four California-based geneticists
published a paper in
Oct. 17 that found long-range enhancers in these regions:
Approximately 25% of the genome consists of gene-poor regions greater
than 500 kb [kilobases], termed gene deserts. These segments have been
minimally explored, and their functional significance remains
elusive. One category of functional sequences postulated to
lie in gene deserts is gene regulatory elements that have the ability
to modulate gene expression over very long distances.
They found evidence that this is true, and scientists had better pay attention:
The demonstration that several of the enhancers characterized in
this study reside in gene deserts highlights that these regions
can indeed serve as reservoirs for sequence elements containing
important functions. Moreover, our observations have implications
for studies aiming to decipher the regulatory architecture of
the human genome, as well as those exploring the functional
impact of sequence variation. The size of genomic regions believed
to be functionally linked to a particular gene may need to be
expanded to take into account the possibility of essential
regulatory sequences acting over near-megabase distances.
(Emphasis added in all quotes.)
1Nobrega, Ovcharenko, Afzal, and Rubin,
Scanning Human Gene Deserts for Long-Range Enhancers,
23 June 2003; accepted 8 September 2003, 10.1126/science.1088328.
A man walked into a desert at high noon, saw nothing but sand, and
concluded, Theres no life here. Was he being
a good scientist? Notice how geneticists have focused their gaze
primarily on genes, and considered these gene-poor deserts uninteresting.
There may be much more than meets the eye. At night, a desert can
come alive with owls, coyotes, beetles, and moths; by day, a
snake or lizard might be just over the next dune. It would seem
a scientist who believes in intelligent design would be more motivated
to ask, Wonder what that region is there for?, while an evolutionist
might conclude, Thats just leftover junk from our animal past.
A Nobel prize winning biologist recently said as much (see
Aug. 24 headline).
Convection Can Copy DNA
Next headline on: Genes and DNA.
Next headline on: Intelligent Design.
Science Update talks about a new method that uses convection
to speed up copying of DNA strands. It still uses the older
PCR (polymerase chain reaction) method, which uses a DNA-copying
enzyme (DNA polymerase). The convection current does away
with the need for alternating hot and cold cycles. Though the intent
of the invention was to assist lab workers, the researchers took a moment to
speculate about convections possible role in the origin of life:
The researchers suggest that convection in natural systems
on the early Earth - for example, near undersea volcanic vents -
might have helped to drive the replication of primitive
information-carrying molecules akin to DNA.
alert just went off. This was a complex process using
an already-available complex enzyme. It has nothing whatever
to do with the origin of life. What are primitive
information-carrying molecules, for crying out loud?
Information is not information if there is no function.
To be or not to be is not information if there is not
a human who understands that is the question.
Living Fossil Frog Found
All we get from evolutionists are wiggle words.
Here they use both suggest and might in one sentence.
Suggest to whom? Only to one already a believer in evolution.
In science, one cannot use hunch words indefinitely without proof.
A hypothesis is OK if it leads to a demonstration of fact.
If not, it is nothing more than a pure guess that must be judged
wrong until proved right. Evolutionists should not be allowed
to pretend chemical evolution is scientific when it is merely a
collection of maybe, might, perhaps, suggested, inferred hunches
beset by a host of intractable problems.
Next headline on: Origin of Life.
Next dumb story.
An unusual amphibian dubbed the coelacanth of frogs has been found
in India. Scientists have placed this one-in-a-century
discovery in its own family, according to S. Blair Hedges in
Nature1 Oct. 16 (see also
Geographic News). The specimen, found and described by
Biju and Bissuyt in the same issue of
comes from a line they estimate to have diverged from the Neobatrachia
(advanced frogs) some 130 million years ago.
1S. Blair Hedges, Biogeography: The coelacanth of
425, 669 - 670 (16 October 2003); doi:10.1038/425669a.
2S. D. Biju and Franky Bossuyt, New frog family from
India reveals an ancient biogeographical link with the Seychelles,
425, 711 - 714 (16 October 2003); doi:10.1038/nature02019.
Finding a new organism is always exciting, but
right away, the evolutionists run from Adventureland to Fantasyland via
Mr. Toads Wild Ride, tell their Mad Hatter tale, and lead the news
media in the chorus, Its a small, small Darwinian world.
To impress the tourists,
they pull out their bag of story-building tricks, like Bayesian inference
(which being translated, means Darwin in, garbage out),
heuristic maximum parsimony, bootstrapping, likelihood models, molecular clocks,
phylograms and such. They run their bells-and-whistles software programs
like Modeltest and MrBayes, all built on evolutionary assumptions.
Then they pour this contaminated mixture with the frog into the blender,
mix well, and hand you a green evolutionary story to swallow.
Is Darwins Theory Going Out of Style?
Let us all understand that all they found was a living frog.
It sits on the lab counter, doing just fine, and isnt evolving from or
to anything else. Their story has a number of problems,
which Hedges (though he accepts it) is kind enough to point out
So they can partially explain the frogs evolution
if and only if they are allowed to tweak the molecular
clock, get continents to break apart on cue, get selective land bridges to
appear, and get more funding to fill in the blanks.
Dont trust any storyteller who feeds you the line that this
family of frogs took a 130 million year ride. Hedges concludes,
Clearly, there is a need for more fossil collections and investigation
of living faunas, and for refined molecular clocks, to better understand
how continental drift influenced Indias biota if at all.
- What we dont know about biodiversity:
This discovery also draws attention to our incomplete knowledge
of biological diversity, even at the higher taxonomic levels.
- Differences between the geological clock and the molecular clock:
If it diverged from the
Seychellean frogs (sooglossids) as early as molecular clocks indicate,
130 million years ago, continental breakup would not directly
explain its origin India did not split from the Seychelles until
65 million years later.
- Land bridges to the rescue: But why does the current biota
reflect such isolation while the late Mesozoic fossils of India
indicate past land connections ('biotic bridges')? Perhaps
those bridges were more like chains of islands that allowed some
but not all groups to disperse, as occurred in the past history
of plant and animal interchange between North and South America.
Did these bridges have turnstiles to allow some organisms to pass, but
not others? Sounds pretty ad hoc. Were the frogs strong enough
to leap from island to island?
- Madagascar doesnt fit the story: Nonetheless, it is
unclear why Indias Mesozoic partner Madagascar lacks some major groups
of vertebrates, such as caecilians and representatives of the new
frog family, when evolutionary analyses indicate that they should
have been there in the past.
In short, nothing in the data that supports the story;
the story is just colorful wrapping paper around the data.
Frogs, however, have a way of hopping out of their wrappings.
This is a good time to read our frog joke.
Next headline on: Fossils.
Darwin was famous for his theory of natural selection (NS) as the primary
mechanism for evolution, but NS seems to have been artificially unselected in a paper
by American and Chinese scientists published online 10/13/2003
in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences1.
Their paper is still evolutionary, but portrays the Darwinists
as the opposing team
A key question in the evolution of biological complexity is,
how have integrated biological systems evolved?
Darwinists proposed natural selection as the driving
force of evolution. However, the striking similarities between
biological and nonbiological complexities have led to the argument
that a set of universal (or ahistorical) rules account for the
formation of all complexities. The yeast protein
interaction network is an example of a complex biological system
and contributes to the complexity at the cellular level. By
analyzing the growth pattern and reconstructing the evolutionary
path of the yeast protein interaction network, we can address
whether or not network growth is contingent on evolutionary
history, which is the key disagreement between the Darwinian
view and the universality view.
(Emphasis added in all quotes, and embedded references deleted.)
Their paper examines yeast networks and finds correlations between
In the conclusion, the authors again position themselves opposite
the Darwinists on the game court:
The key disagreement between the Darwinian view and the
universality view on the evolution of biological complexity is the
role of historical contingency. Undoubtedly, efforts to
search for universal rules benefit our understanding on biological
complexity. However, by using the yeast protein interaction
network as an example, we observed a correlation between
network evolution and the universal tree of life. This observation
strongly argues that network evolution is not ahistorical, but is,
in essence, a string of historical events.
1Qin, Lu et al., Evolution of the Yeast
Protein Interaction Network,
of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 10.1073/pnas.2235584100,
published online Oct. 13, 2003.
Poor Charlie is having a hard time. Hes becoming the new
Rodney Dangerfield. The evolutionists think they have something
better now: universal self-organizing principles things just
spontaneously self-organize into complex systems. Take aim, all
creationist hunters: theres a sittin duck fer ya.
Would Darwin Have Agreed with Mendel, or Vice Versa?
Next headline on: Darwinism and Evolutionary Theory.
It is one of the great What-if? questions in the history of
biology. What if Gregor Mendel and Charles Darwin had met?
asks Nigel Williams in the Oct. 14 issue of Current Biology.1
What might have been the outcome for nineteenth century biology
if both had grasped the significance of each others work?
All we can do is speculate. Mendel apparently came within 20 miles of
Darwins house when he visited London for
the Great Exhibition of 1851 (eight years before publication
of the Origin of Species), but Darwin was indisposed with family
matters at the time. They probably never met. Williams thinks
it unlikely, even if they had, that either man
would have had a favorable meeting of minds:
But others believe Mendel and Darwin were on different intellectual
tracks. Once Gregor Mendel is placed back into the intellectual
landscape that he would himself recognize, its clear that he
would always seen The Origin of Species [sic] as a challenge to
his own worldview. For his part, Darwin was also being
guided by long-since outdated forms of scientific thought.
His lifelong commitment to theories of blending heredity would always
have precluded his taking Mendels results seriously.
Seldom can two important scientific thinkers have written at such
hopelessly crossed purposes, says science historian John Waller
in a recent book, Fabulous Science.
Blending heredity refers to an outdated view that the
maternal and paternal lines blended like a fluid to produce a unique
offspring. Darwins critics pointed out that,
If inheritance was a matter of blending, however, every variant
would effectively be blended out in just a generation or two.
Mendels discoveries showed that traits, even if recessive and
hidden in the phenotype, remained distinct. A recently-found
letter from Darwin to Wallace shows that he was considering non-blending
ideas of heredity, even though he is mostly remembered for his
now-discredited theory of pangenesis, a semi-Lamarckian view that
acquired traits from all over the body worked their way via pangenes
into the gametes.
Williams points out that the story of Darwin having
an unopened copy of Mendels paper on his shelves appears to be
an urban legend. Apparently the two never crossed paths in person
or in correspondence. All we can ask, therefore, is what if?
1Nigel Williams, Speaking Volumes,
Biology Vol 13, R789-R790, 14 October 2003.
The Darwinian Revolution was well on its way before Mendels
seminal paper on dominant and recessive traits in garden peas
was discovered by neo-Darwinists, even though
the monk of Brno had sent copies to leading scientists
of his day. Mendel believed
his experimental work argued for the persistence of traits. Being
Catholic, he almost certainly opposed the Darwinian belief that all
organisms had descended with modification from simpler ancestors.
Two Faces on Cloning
Whether blending or non-blending inheritance, either
paradigm spelled trouble for Darwinism. As stated above, blending
of new traits would have diluted them to oblivion in short order. But
Mendelian persistence of traits is descent without modification.
It would take the neo-Darwinists a major rethinking in the 1930s to
incorporate Mendels laws into evolutionary theory.
The result? Mutations are the source of genetic variation.
Thats right, folks: shoot bullets at the car and it might evolve
into a Porsche. That story lasted for awhile, but now it seems
to be falling out of favor. The new tall tale is that gene duplication
provides the raw material. Or maybe self-organizing networks.
Give em time; theyll think of something to scale the
brick wall Mendel erected in their path.
Next headline on: Genes and DNA.
Next headline on: Darwinism and Evolutionary Theory.
Human cloning: a resounding No! Therapeutic cloning: why not?
That is the opinion of many scientific institutions, says Nigel Williams
in Current Biology 10/14/2003.1
More than 60 of the worlds leading science academies have called
for a UN ban on the reproductive cloning of humans, to prevent the
exploitation of vulnerable people. But they also urged that any
such ban should not extend to cloning human tissue for the treatment
Cloning of animals is known to lead to malformed individuals, spontaneous
abortions, fetal disorders and often death. For these reasons, it is
considered by many scientists to be unethical to experiment on humans.
But that reasoning
does not extend further back to embryonic stages, because as Lord May, President
of the Royal Society, believes, At that point this thing,
often called an early embryo, is far less complex in any biological
sense than the average potato.
Lord May admitted that
Opinions on the ethics of therapeutic cloning in different
countries are divided. But he feels the controversy over
therapeutic cloning can be
distinguished from the majority opinion against human cloning.
It would be a tragedy if we allowed disagreements on therapeutic
cloning to jeopardize a convention that could ensure that human
reproductive cloning is outlawed across the globe and protect vulnerable
people from unscrupulous individuals.
Therapeutic cloning is proceeding apace in some countries.
But of the situation in the United States,
Williams writes, with a tone of despair,
In the US, despite some breakthroughs, research
on human-derived stem cells has been handicapped by the Presidents
decision two years ago to allow work only on stem cell lines developed
earlier. Scientists have testified before Congress that research
is still all but paralysed in this area because of the
1Nigel Williams, Top scientists back human cloning ban,
Biology Vol 13, R785-R786, 14 October 2003.
Is it permissible for a scientist to lie
to push an agenda? Lord May just said you were far less complex
in any biological sense than an average potato when you were a ball of
cells in your mothers womb. Any high school biology student
should know how blatantly false that is. When you were a ball of cells,
you had at least 30,000 genes and 3 billion DNA letters coding for a brain,
a heart, a central nervous system, complex digestion and much, much more.
An average potato, even if living, had different information that, although
complex also, is no match for a human brain. Unless you are Mr. Potato
Head, your zygote was far more complex than any prize russet brown.
Doesnt the genetic
information in the DNA qualify for the description,
in any biological sense?
Ape-Human Brain Differences: More Than Genes
And pray tell, where is the magic point along the continuum of embryonic
development when a human embryo passes instantaneously from no rights to
full human rights? At what point would all scientists agree they
can no longer cut it up and play with it, but must respect it and give it
due process of law? There is only one point where the full complement
of DNA that codes for a human crosses a clear line of demarcation from
non-person to individual, and that is the moment of conception
That is launch. Everything after that is flight operations.
The duplicity of scientists on moral issues like this is
inexplicable. Look at the concern they have over vulnerable
people that need to be protected from unscrupulous
individuals. Yet look at the cavalier disregard for the rights
of the most vulnerable of all. On what moral grounds, rooted in
Darwinian survival of the fittest, do they have any feelings whatsoever
for the vulnerable? At least be consistent.
For more on the ethics of therapeutic cloning, check out
our satire on Cannibal Rights in the Aug.
Next headline on: Politics and Ethics.
Its not just the words you say, its how you say them.
Not just a common marriage complaint, its true of genes.
To that could be added, its how often you say them, and its
the words you left unsaid, that make all the difference.
Humans are often compared with apes, and we are usually told
there is just a very slight difference, maybe 3-5%, in our genetic makeup.
Thats not the whole story of why humans dont swing in trees
(except for junior boys) and why monkeys dont write Shakespearian plays
(see May 12 headline), according to
neurologists writing in PNAS October 13.1 (See
also summary of paper on EurekAlert.)
They studied 169 genes between chimpanzees and humans, and found that
90% of the brain-related genes were more expressed in humans.
Expression of genes for heart and liver functions, however, were nearly
identical. They summarize (emphasis added):
Surprisingly, most differences between the brains of humans and
non-human primates involved up-regulation, with ~90% of the
genes being more highly expressed in humans. By contrast, in the
comparison of human and chimpanzee heart and liver, the numbers
of up- and down-regulated genes were nearly identical. Our
results indicate that the human brain displays a distinctive pattern
of gene expression relative to non-human primates, with higher
expression levels for many genes belonging to a wide variety of
functional classes. The increased expression of these genes could
provide the basis for extensive modifications of cerebral physiology
and function in humans and suggests that the human brain is
characterized by elevated levels of neuronal activity.
Another interesting sidelight of the study is how humans survive to old
age, since combination of long lifespan and high neural activity
makes humans particularly vulnerable to neurodegenerative disease.
Just like the faster and more often a car is driven, the more potential
for accident, high-octane genes are subject to failures:
Activity-related damage accumulates with age and has the potential
to cause catastrophic breakdown late in life. By understanding
how humans protect their brains from activity-related damage, we hope
to better understand why those mechanisms fail, says Mario Caceres,
quoted in the EurekAlert article.
1Caceres, Lachuer et al.,
Elevated gene expression levels distinguish human
from non-human primate brains,
of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 10.1073/pnas.2135499100,
published online 10/13/2003.
Sounds like the claim about the small genetic differences between
humans and apes is a good example of a half
truth (see 09/25/2002
headline). More and more evidence is showing that something is
controlling the expression of genes
(see 07/06/2001 headline).
By intuition, anything controlling the genes must be more
complex than the genes themselves. If so, this means the whole Central Dogma
of genetics (genes are the master controllers, and drive protein
production) is also a half truth, as is the
reductionist statement above, the human brain
[as opposed to the ape brain] is characterized by
elevated levels of neuronal activity.
How Peacock Feathers Shimmer and Shine
These scientists start off with typical Darwinspeak:
The origin of humans was accompanied by the
emergence [theres their favorite miracle word again] of
new behavioral and cognitive functions, including language
and specialized forms of abstract representation. However,
the neural foundations of these human capabilities are poorly
understood.... *Sigh* Use your brains; thats
what they were created for.
Next headline on: Early Man.
Next headline on: Genes and DNA.
Photonic crystals are not exotic power sources on sci-fi starships.
Peacocks, butterflies and other animals use photonic crystals
every waking day. They use them to impress their mates with brilliant,
Whats a photonic crystal? It is a regular array
of finely-spaced layers that plays tricks with photons, units of light.
When photons hit these arrays, they reflect in ways that reinforce certain
wavelengths into brighter hues than could be obtained with pigments.
A team of Chinese scientists tell all about it in a paper in PNAS
published online 10/13/2003.1 They have electron micrographs
of the barbules within peacock feathers. Heres how they
summarize it, after lots of equations and graphs:
Our experiment and simulations reveal that the coloration in
peacock feathers takes advantage of the partial photonic
bandgap of the 2D photonic-crystal structure in the cortex. The
strategies for color production in peacock feathers are very
ingenious and rather simple, i.e., by means of the variation of the
lattice constant or the number of periods. Varying the lattice
constant shifts the midgap frequency of the partial photonic
bandgap. The number of periods controls the production of
additional colors, eventually leading to the additive, mixed
coloration. Diversified colors can be produced by means of these
strategies. (Emphasis added.)
The crystals are composed of melanin rods (the same protein that colors
human skin), connected by keratin bridges (the protein in fingernails).
Even though they call this rather simple, (in terms of the
orderly geometric spacing), they admit
at the outset, Although the structural colors of avian feathers
have been studied for a long time, many questions remain to be
answered. In particular, the precise physical mechanism that
produces the diversified colors in peacock tail feathers has not been
established. They hope their paper brings us a little closer
to understanding how the peacock achieves its dazzling displays of color.
For a popular-level summary of the paper, see this article in
Geographic News. It mentions that the first suggestion peacocks
used tiny, layered structures to produce their colors dates back to
Sir Isaac Newton.
1Jian Zi et al., Coloration Strategies in
of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 10.1073/pnas.2133313100,
published online 10/13/2003.
They left us hanging. They didnt
give us any good stories about how this evolved. What good is a
scientific paper if Charlie is not vindicated? Evolutionists must
plant their flag here before the Intelligent Design scoundrels claim the
Take Your Pick: See or Sniff
Too late, Columbus. National Geographic just
claimed it in the name of King Charlie. Here is an excerpt from their
Conquest Speech (emphasis added):
Charles Darwin was one of the first scientists to argue that female
peacocks prefer [sic] the males with the boldest and most attractive [sic] ornaments,
and subsequent work has shown [sic] that brightly decorated males enjoy [sic] greater
mating success [sic]. Studies have also shown [sic] that the quality of
ornamentation in peacocks is an accurate [sic] reflection of the state of
the immune system, so females are picking [sic] those males genetically
predisposed for tip-top health.
For the fallacies in the above claims, see the
headline. Millions of years of trial and error
that has a certain rhythm to it. Lets make it a
have the schoolchildren all sing it together:
Discovering so-called photonic crystals in peacock feathers could allow
scientists to adapt the structures for industrial and commercial
applications, said [Andrew] Parker [U. of Oxford]. These crystals
could be used to channel light in telecommunications equipment, or to
create new tiny computer chips. We can take advantage of
millions of years of evolutionary trial and error, for
new technologies, he said.
Millions of years of trial and error
Millions of years of trial and error
Photonic crystals and colorful tails
From millions of years of trial and error.
But teacher, Who is trying,
and Who is deciding whats an error? Shut up and sing.
Next headline on: Birds.
Next headline on: Physics.
Next amazing story.
See also a related headline on butterfly
photonic crystals, Jan 29.
A new theory reported in
tries to explain why we and our presumed monkey ancestors have such good color
vision. Humans can see about 2.3 million hues, more than our pet dogs
and cats. The old hypothesis was that monkeys evolved better color vision to see colorful
fruit. (This idea, proposed by Grant Allen in 1879, has fallen out of
favor because it is known to have inconsistencies with observations.)
A new hypothesis is that our ancestors evolved improved color vision,
including better discrimination of red from green, to detect the more nutritious
reddish parts of leaves.
Part of the reason for the new hypothesis is that some
New World monkeys eat mainly leaves, not fruit. It was a huge
discovery that howler monkeys had independently evolved [sic] the same kind of
color vision that monkeys from Africa and Southeast Asia had, says
Nathaniel Dominy of Yale. Why would the only monkey in South
America to evolve trichromatic vision [sic] be the one that eats the least
amount of fruit? It didnt make a lot of sense.
(Emphasis added in all quotes.)
Dominy and his colleague, Peter Lucas (U. of Hong Kong), also believe that
primates began to lose acuteness in the sense of smell around the same
time. Maybe there's a trade-off, speculates Dominy, according
to the article. As your visual system improves, maybe your
olfactory system declines. John Travis, author of the Science
News article, generalizes the speculation:
The lesson of these recent studies may be that whatever evolution
gives [sic] to an animal, it can also take away.
Indeed, scientists have noted that red-green color blindness is much
more prevalent in people than in chimpanzees and other Old World
primates. Perhaps because people now turn to the local market
for their food instead of foraging among the foliage, they no
longer need to see red.
Travis points out that not everyone agrees with the new speculation:
Other scientists arent certain anyone will ever know whether
primates first used their improved color vision to pick out fruits
or leaves or to do something no one has yet guessed.
I think its one of these fruitless debates, jokes
James Bowmaker of University College London, who studies the
evolution of vision [sic]. Theres no argument that
having the red-green color vision we have does enable us to do
these tasks, but whether thats why it evolved [sic] is another
question. And you will never answer that one, of course.
You cant go back 35 million years ago and ask a primate.
1John Travis, Visionary Research: Scientists delve into the
evolution of color vision in primates,
Week of Oct. 11, 2003; Vol. 164, No. 15.
That doesnt keep them from dreaming about it. The only data points they
have are loss of function (not gain) of trichromatic vision in
certain species. The rest of the story is a mythoid,
built on the assumption that evolution is true.
The interpretation smells like selective vision.
The Lone Creationist Rides Again
Notice the intellectual atrocities committed by the evolutionists
here: (1) independent invention of trichromatic vision (the miracle of
convergent evolution), (2) the non-sequitur
about tradeoffs between vision and smell, and its attendant
personification fallacy that what
evolution giveth she also taketh away, and (3) the weird
suggestion that supermarkets cause color blindness.* Thats both
hands waving, and one leg, too. Any more and theyll fall over.
Supermarkets still sell red and green lettuce, dont they?
Next headline on: Darwinism and Evolutionary Theory.
Next headline on: Mammals.
Next dumb story.
has an unusual story about one mans unusual approach to getting fairness back into
the science class. Pastor Jeff Smith of North Carolina is hopping onto
his Tennessee walking horse to embark on a 400-mile
Creation Quest, a Journey
for Academic Freedom from Concord, NC to Washington, DC.
He will be speaking and preaching along the way. His message?
The time has come for us to repeal the prohibition against the idea
that God created the heavens and the earth. Let the children hear
both sides of the debate and trust them to come to their own conclusions.
The Darwin Only approach is not education, it is
indoctrination. For the sake of academic freedom this policy must
Interesting, and everybody likes the image
of a cowboy riding off into the sunset, but were not
convinced this is the most effective way to get the point across.
The problem is, most of the public already agrees with him. Its
the elites who will view this as a goofy sideshow or anachronistic
B Western. But then, if the elitist outlaws get wind of the
multitudes joining up with
Sheriff Smiths posse, and how much
ammo they have, they might decide the better part of valor is to
hole up in some mountain hideout and lay low.
Sleep Helps Memory
Pastor Smith does have one thing going for his campaign.
A horse is a good visual aid against evolution.
See Jan. 2 headline,
for instance, or this one from 12/20/2001.
Do evolutionists know how the horse evolved? Neigh.
(See 01/19/2001 headline, and
discussion of the horse series by
Next headline on: Schools.
You remember things better after a good nights sleep,
Experiments performed on college students by neurobiologists at
McGill University showed that the group that had sleep after learning
a task performed better. According to Karim Nader, who reviewed
two papers in Nature1, this demonstrates that memory is
not static, but gets stored and restored.
In the first paper,
Fenn et al.2 found that
Recognition performance immediately after training showed a significant
improvement that subsequently degraded over the span of a days
retention interval, but completely recovered following sleep. Thus,
sleep facilitates the recovery and subsequent retention of material
learned opportunistically at any time throughout the day.
Performance recovery indicates that representations and mappings
associated with generalization are refined and stabilized during sleep.
In the second paper, Walker et al.3
showed that waking reactivation can turn a
previously consolidated memory back into a labile state requiring
1Karim Nader, Neuroscience: Re-recording human memories,
425, 571 - 572 (09 October 2003); doi:10.1038/425571a.
2Fenn et al., Consolidation during sleep of perceptual
learning of spoken language,
425, 614 - 616 (09 October 2003); doi:10.1038/nature01951.
3Walker et al., Dissociable stages of human memory
consolidation and reconsolidation,
425, 616 - 620 (09 October 2003); doi:10.1038/nature01930.
Advanced computer networks no longer store
backups on magnetic tape in one location. Instead, they use Storage
Area Networks (SAN), composed of pooled resources of tapes and disk.
These are managed by
sophisticated software that can store and move backup images dynamically.
A snapshot image can be made quickly, and moved off to permanent storage
at a later time (like at night while the computers are sleeping).
Also, the SAN manager can move archives in and out
of permanent storage, and relocate images according to availability
of resources. If the brain has something akin to SAN, it makes
human memory all the more amazing.
Nobel Prize Committee Accused of Rewriting History
Have you ever had a mental block regarding something
you knew you knew, like a persons name,
but could not recall it on the spot for anything? Then you
changed the subject and worked on something else, and presto! the answer
came back to mind. This seems uncannily like a restore request was
sent to a backup manager to retrieve a long-lost image.
It would be interesting to see the algorithms for
human memory storage. It would also be
interesting to calculate the storage capacity of human memory in terabytes,
considering the fact that almost every sense perception is stored for a
lifetime. Scientists are only beginning to glimpse some of these
wonders in a vague way, but it is surely going to turn out more amazing
than we can imagine. Just think: while you sleep, the graveyard shift
is hard at work consolidating your days images onto permanent
So sleep is not a waste of time; it has an important function.
Tell your boss you need a nap to remember what he said.
Next headline on: Health.
Next headline on: Human Body.
Next amazing story.
When Paul Lauterbur and Peter Mansfield got the Nobel Prize for Medicine last
week for their work on MRI scanning technology, Dr. Raymond Damadian was
shocked. It was he who had first envisioned whole-body MRI scanners
in 1969. It was his paper, written in 1970, published in Science
in 1971, that demonstrated that water molecules in living
tissues responded to nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR),
and affirmed that this held promise for biological diagnosis.
It was he who proved this with experiments on laboratory animals, and later
on humans. It was he who had produced
the first working MRI scanner (now in the Smithsonian). It is he who
holds the patent on MRI, a patent hard-won against technology thieves over
the years that resulted in his vindication by the Supreme Court in 1997.
He has the National
Medal of Technology for his work on MRI, is enrolled in the Inventor's Hall of
Fame for his invention of MRI, and is the president of a company
Fonar Corporation, that
builds MRI scanners. It is his company that remains on the cutting
edge of MRI advancements. No one has devoted more of his life to MRI
technology; his name is almost synonymous with MRI.
None of this seemed to matter to the Nobel committee.
They gave the prize, with all its historical prestige, to two men who
merely made technical improvements based on
Damadians foundational discovery.
Without Damadians pioneering lead, they might never have considered
the possibilities of MRI. (See this
timeline of MRI for credit
discovery and invention, and also this background of the dispute over
credit for MRI in
written over a year before the Nobel announcement.)
Damadians company and supporters took an unusual step.
With the support of colleagues at the
State University of New York School of Medicine, where much of his
research was done, and with quotes from colleagues and authors of books
about MRI, they took out
full page ads
in the New York Times and Washington
Post. The ad accuses the Nobel committee of revising history.
Their evil was intentional, the ad claims, because the rules clearly allow
for three people to be named for the prize, so there is no excuse for
excluding Damadian. It is also contrary to the purpose of the
prize as stated in Alfred Nobels will, that it should be awarded
for the most important discovery [not procedure or refinement] within the
domain of physiology or medicine. Damadian feels the committee
has robbed him of 33 years of his identity, and has been effectively
written him out of the history he helped make. The decision is a
shameful wrong that must be righted, the ad proclaims in bold
committee showed inexcusable disregard for the truth, it says,
making a decision that is simply outrageous. Now that the
committee has disgraced itself, the ad calls for readers to
join their voice with the many distinguished physicians, scientists
and authors who are expressing their outrage at this decision, and
to urge them to include Damadian in the 2003 Nobel Prize for Medicine.
The Nobel committee claims the award was correctly chosen, however,
and the decision cannot be appealed.
Nature took notice of this unusual reaction in two articles,
neither of which was critical of Damadian. In the lead
Editorial1, the magazine confesses it may have biased the
opinion of Lauterbur:
Nature, while proud of its content over the years, has a
confession to make about this year's medicine Nobels. Not so
long ago, presciently pleased with having published Lauterbur's work,
we celebrated it along with other Nature greats in a promotional
campaign. Lauterbur politely wrote in to point out that we had
published it only after he had appealed against a rejection.
In addition, the esteemed journal flagellates itself somewhat for its
spotted history of recognizing true groundbreaking scientists:
Nevertheless a final moral rejected authors who are convinced of
the ground-breaking value of their controversial conclusions should
persist. A final rejection on the grounds of questionable
significance may mean that one journal has closed its door on you,
but that is no reason to be cowed into silence. Remember, as you
seek a different home for your work, that you are in wonderful company.
That company includes important papers on photosynthesis, Cerenkov
radiation, the Krebs Cycle, and Stephen Hawkings black hole
radiation, all rejected by Nature for one reason or another.
The other Nature News Item2 by Helen
Pearson describes the sensational protest by Damadians
company. Without taking sides, Pearson warns that Whatever the
outcome of Damadians complaint, observers say that such arguments
could diminish the esteem in which the Nobel prizes are held.
Sources: Reuters, posted on
Reuters as reproduced on Yahoo News,
and Fonar Corporation.
See also updates to this story on Oct 16
and Oct 22.
1Editorial, Coping with peer rejection,
425, 645 (16 October 2003); doi:10.1038/425645a.
2Helen Pearson, Physician launches public protest over
425, 648 (16 October 2003); doi:10.1038/425648b.
This is clearly an egregious injustice
by the Nobel committee. Damadian is the
Dr. MRI if there ever was one, yet the praise in the media for the
technology was going to others his name was not even mentioned in
most news reports after the announcement, as they gushed about how wonderful MRI
has been for millions of patients.
Rocks in the Head are Good for Balance
Steven Pincock at
who seemed to lean in favor of the decision,
agreed that Damadian was a pioneer and key player, holds the patent, and
build the first scanner. So why not at least
let him share in the prize?
The other two only built on what Damadian had done.
The best comment Nature could make for the other side was,
MRI experts agree that Damadian's concept was important, but say
that without Lauterbur and Mansfield's contributions the MRI technique
would not be where it is today. The pair showed how to use a
graded magnetic field, which varies from strong to weak across an object,
to rapidly take its image. But this begs the question whether
the other two would have even taken notice of MRI, had not Damadian first
demonstrated the fact that cancerous and healthy tissues can be distinguished
by NMR signals. That was the breakthrough. That is why Damadian
should get the credit, or at least share the credit.
Once Damadians paper had been written, a technology race was on.
Lauterbur and Mansfield both succeeded in obtaining clearer images than Damadians first one,
but it was only a matter of time before Damadian also refined the
technique himself. Clearly, the priority for pioneering the idea
and applying it to medicine goes to Damadian, and documents show that Lauterbur
acknowledged Damadians priority at the time. No one has done
more since then to advance MRI technology.
Should Damadian not at least be up on stage with Lauterbur in
Sweden at the award ceremony this December, instead of being totally ignored?
This fiasco is like crediting
Curtiss with inventing the airplane and snubbing the Wright Brothers.
Dr. Eugene Feigelson, dean of
the school of medicine on Long Island where Damadian is on staff and where
most of his work was done, whose
institution was indirectly snubbed by the selection, said
graciously, this is not
in any way meant to take anything away from the two winners.
But he was perplexed, disappointed and angry at the
incomprehensible exclusion of Professor Damadian, from the prize.
Others have expressed similar outrage. The co-author of a book on
the history of MRI expressed deep disappointment in learning of the
Nobel committees failure to recognize the real pioneer of MRI.
An NIH doctor called it Egg on the Nobel for Medicines face.
Dr. David Stark, co-author of Magnetic Resonance Imaging, the
definitive MRI textbook, is eager to set the record straight.
He told Damadian, I expect to spend the
rest of my life telling the true story on your behalf.
This further fuels the debate whether the Nobel Prize has
credibility any more. Any institution that would award a Peace
Prize to Yasser Arafat, one of the worst murderers and terrorists in
history, already has proven itself incompetent to judge. The Nobel Prize committee may
control a fortune in the estate of the late Alfred Nobel (who must be
rolling over in his grave right now), but it is accountable to no one as it
considers itself the arbiter of scientific achievement for the history books.
Maybe its better Damadian not be associated with them, despite the
prestige the Nobel Prize still holds among many. Raymond Damadian,
by the way, is a devout Christian, a patriotic American, and a young earth
creationist. One can only wonder if his political
incorrectness had anything to do with the decision.
Journal article admits that Lauterbur is considered an insider among
research scientists, whereas Damadian is the outsider, the M.D., who dared to
profit from his discovery. Is there a touch of bias toward
academia and against corporate America? Damadian is an academic, too,
but not just an ivory-tower researcher like Lauterbur. He built a
company that put the technology to actual use helping people. There appears to
be no sound reason for why Damadian should not be considered the father of
MRI scanning. He should get the gold, and maybe Lauterbur the silver
and Mansfield the bronze. It would not be surprising if the NAS delayed
dealing with the Damadian problem (as one insider termed it) as
if to ask, How can we rewrite history and steal the glory for one of
our boys, without getting sued? Damadian is too much a defender
of the truth to let them get away with it in silence.
Take a moment to read our short biography of Dr.
Raymond Damadian in our online book-in-progress, The
Worlds Greatest Creation Scientists. He is one of the most
gracious, considerate, intelligent, and dignified individuals you would
ever hope to meet. Not every great actor got an Oscar, and not every
great athlete got an Olympic gold. Damadian will probably not get an
ovation in Sweden, nor get his due of the $1.3 million
dollar prize, but those things are only transitory. For his faithfulness
to Jesus Christ, his reward is in heaven, and his earthly honor is reflected
in the healthful lives of, as Dr. Stark said, millions of patients who
benefit daily from his epochal scientific discovery.
Next headline on: Politics and Ethics.
Next headline on: Health.
Next time someone says you have rocks in your head, it might be a compliment,
depending on where and how big.
You have rocks in your inner ears that keep you from falling over.
No kidding. Fish, birds, and mammals have tiny crystals of calcite,
called otoliths, that are a key ingredient in the sense of balance.
This means that we all have tiny chunks of limestone in our heads.
How They Work: Because rocks have inertia, they resist
motion when moving forward, and they fall in a gravitational field.
The otoliths rest against tiny hair cells in a part of the inner ear called
the utricle (in mammals, just below the semicircular canals). When you
move or turn over, the hair cells sense the shearing motion of the
otoliths, and report the information to the brain. This sense works
in conjunction with the eyes to help you know which way is up, how fast you
are moving, and which direction you are turning. A good explanation,
with illustrations, can be found on the website of a clinical otolaryngologist,
Timothy C. Hain.
What They Look Like: Otoliths are microscopic. Fish
large oblong otolith resting on a bed of hair cells in the macula
(the gravity-sensing organ), whereas mammals have
many smaller, irregular ones, called otoconia, surrounded by hair cells.
Sometimes referred to as ear dust, the otoconia
are too small, 30 microns or shorter, to be seen without a microscope.
They are made up of calcium carbonate in a protein matrix. They form early
in the embryo and are maintained throughout life. Some of the vertigo
that ails seniors is due to shortage or accumulation of otoconia.
Normally, debris is thought to be reabsorbed and new otoconia regenerated,
but there is much still to be discovered about this sensory mechanism.
In fish, the otoliths are also part of their sense of sound.
Whats New: Scientists just found an enzyme essential for
proper otolith development. In the
Oct. 10 issue
of Science1, Sollner et al. found a gene they
named Starmaker that when mutated, causes zebrafish to
produce irregular stones with sharp edges instead of the smooth,
oblong otoliths produced in normal development. This is partly because
it switches the biomineralization process to produce aragonite instead
of calcite, a different crystal form of calcium carbonate.
(Some animals, like amphibians, actually use aragonite in their otoliths.)
Donna Fekete, in
a review of this paper in the same issue,2 has illustrations of
these little rocks in the utricle and describes how they work. She says
that the discovery may lead to improved medical treatments
for vertigo and more: In humans, mutations of a related protein
have been linked to congenital deafness and defects in tooth
mineralization, she notes.
In other words, the proteins that guide otolith development are also essential
for hearing, and are involved in producing the other gemstones in our head
1Christian Sollner et al.,
Control of Crystal Size and Lattice Formation by Starmaker in Otolith
Magazine 25 June 2003; 10.1126/science.1088443.
2Donna M. Fekete, Rocks That Roll Zebrafish,
Magazine 25 June 2003; 10.1126/science.1091171.
Did you know this? Did you know
that you have limestone in your ears? Did you know it is essential for
you to stand and walk? This is amazing stuff. Consider that it
is not just dust collected from a cave or wherever, but it is carefully manufactured
by proteins and enzymes, that are in turn directed by the DNA code.
The result are beautiful hexagonal crystals of calcium carbonate: little gems
in your head. They reside in a fluid
in your inner ear, enmeshed in a forest of hair cells that can sense
every move they make. Then there are the lovely crystals in your teeth
thats another amazing story, for another time.
Everywhere they look, scientists find complex systems of
interrelated parts. Slight mutations often cause complete loss of function,
sometimes in several apparently unrelated systems. Without these rocks
in your head, you would wobble dizzily like a drunken sailor and have a
hard time just standing up. When they work,
as they usually do, they work very, very well.
The rocks are actually the simplest part of the system.
The sensory apparatus that reports each movement, and the brain software that
continually monitors and interprets the signals and sends the necessary
messages to the appropriate muscles for rapid response, is mind boggling
in sophistication. How could such things evolve without intelligent
design? Get real! Whether its in a fish darting in the water,
or an eagle dive-bombing on its prey, or a cheetah in pursuit of a gazelle,
the hardware and software to accomplish such things surely overwhelms any
man-made imitations, and yet we get all excited when Sony builds a robot
that can walk upstairs (slowly) without falling over (sometimes).
Its time to give credit where credit is due.
Think about these tiny gemstones the next time you watch
the Olympics, and see a champion gymnast
do a complex routine on the balance beam. When she nails that
double-twisting dismount, stand up and cheer not just for her, but
for the Creator who thought of a good use for rocks in the head.
Next headline on: Human Body.
Next amazing story.
The Hubble Heritage Team has released a stunning high-res picture of
Galaxy M104. For medium size, click on the "print layout" box; for
full resolution in all its glory, click on the "Full resolution JPEG" box.
The picture is also
highlighted on Astronomy
Picture of the Day.
Composed for the Heritage teams fifth anniversary, the photo is a composite
of six images taken last May by the HST's newest Advanced Camera for Surveys
(ACS). The detail in the dust lanes is remarkable, and it shows many of
the 2000 globular clusters orbiting this galaxy.
See our Oct. 5 headline on globular clusters.
Next headline on: Stars and astronomy.
Geologists Call for a Time Out
No more blind dates for geologists, says Tom Clarke in a
Nature news item October 9.1
Earth scientists have decided it is time to talk time, he says.
At a meeting in Washington DC last week, experts [sic] in mass extinctions,
ancient climate and the art of dating rocks got together to work out plans
for a more accurate and complete geological timescale.
Why is the current scale considered inaccurate? Partly,
because the most accurate techniques for dating are work-intensive
and require more skill and money than most labs can spare. So researchers
often simply estimate rock ages by comparing the fossils found in one stripe
of rock to another of known [sic] age. He goes on:
Whats more, many historically important layers of rock were
dated before the more accurate [sic] techniques were invented.
Until recently, for example, the Cambrian explosion, from which
most animal species emerged [sic], was thought to have occurred some
575 million years ago over an unknown period of time. But the use of
highly accurate [sic] uraniumlead isotope measurements allowed Bowrings
lab to show that it actually [sic] began 544 million years ago and
lasted just a few million years (Science 261, 12931298; 1993).
Such information is crucial for palaeontologists determining exactly [sic]
when extinction events began and ended can help to establish whether they
were caused by a single catastrophic event or a slow change in the
(Emphasis added in all quotes.)
For these reasons,
The researchers plan to establish an international network of
laboratories that would use agreed standard procedures for dating
rocks, and to which all Earth scientists would send samples of agreed
quality from important sites. Over time, that would establish a
database of reproducibly accurate dates for everything recorded in
the Earths rocks, from the evolution of ancient life [sic]
to rapid climate-change events.
The team wants the US government to fund three new labs for $6 million,
with an operating cost of $5 million per year.
On Oct. 16,
also discussed the issue of inaccurate and conflicting
dates. The general sparseness of reliable ages was the primary
complaint at the workshop, reported Richard A. Kerr. The focus
of both articles was entirely on radiometric dating. Kerr claims some
dates differ by only 1%, and that they want to improve these by an order of
magnitude. They depend on the ash layers all-important to
radiometric dating. (This points out the fact that may not be
familiar to readers that fossils are not dated directly by radiometric
methods. Geochronologists take their samples from nearby igneous material.)
1Tom Clarke, Geologists seek to put an end to blind dates,
425, 550 - 551 (09 October 2003); doi:10.1038/425550b.
2Richard A. Kerr, A Call for Telling Better Time Over the
Volume 302, Number 5644, Issue of 17 Oct 2003, p. 375.
Did you catch the damaging admissions in
Clarkes brief report? (1) Paleontologists often rely on index fossils,
not radiometric dating methods. But the index fossil method
is built on the assumption of evolution. This admits the oft-cited
criticism that evolutionary dates are built on
(2) Many dates presented in
the standard geological time scale are built on methods even evolutionists
consider inaccurate. (3) Even using their own methods,
the Cambrian explosion was shorter than expected.
This puts the squeeze tighter on evolutionists who
understand what a problem it is for Darwinian evolution theory.
Universe Shaped Like a Soccer Ball
It sounds like this meeting was fallout from the riots over
the latest asteroid-impact dates (see Sept. 25
headline). They realize they need to get their stories straight
or they might provide ammunition to the creationists.
You can imagine what the agreed standard procedures
might be: (a) All dates must yield millions of years. (b) No methods
that yield much younger dates will be permitted (see
Sept. 25 headline). (c) Any dates not
fitting the expected evolutionary time scale must be tossed out.
Then the geologists can smile, shake hands, and present a unified front
at school board meetings, as they point to their sanitized data, and say,
This fossil is 4.78132 million years old, and all scientists agree.
Next headline on: Geology.
Next headline on: Dating Methods.
Next headline on: Fossils.
Just when you thought modern cosmology could not get any stranger, a serious
paper in Nature1 now claims the universe might have the
topology of a dodecahedron, similar to a soccer ball. George F.R. Ellis
(mathematician at U. of Cape Town), in a News and Views summary in the
same issue2, explains how Luminet et al. arrived at their
conclusions based on a mathematical analysis of patterns in the data from
the WMAP spacecraft. If true, it means the universe
is closed and finite.
Other astronomers, according to
claim to have evidence to the contrary.
printed a counter-claim that the soccer ball universe is out of bounds.
1Jean-Pierre Luminet et al., Dodecahedral space topology
as an explanation for weak wide-angle temperature correlations in the cosmic
425, 593 - 595 (09 October 2003); doi:10.1038/nature01944.
2George F.R. Ellis, Cosmology: the shape of the Universe,
425, 566 - 567 (09 October 2003); doi:10.1038/425566a.
The proposal does not mean the whole universe is
shaped like a dodecahedron. A dodecahedron would be the three-dimensional
projection of four-dimensional spacetime. One consequence is that the
universe is actually relatively small, with a hall-of-mirrors illusion
tricking us into thinking that space stretches on forever, according
A Self-Regulating Recycling System Found in the Cell 10/07/2003
Sounds weird, but if true, it would rule out an infinite universe
Andre Lindes variation on inflation theory called chaotic
inflation. This idea tried to rescue an eternal universe from the
implications of the big bang theory that spacetime had a beginning in the
finite past, by postulating that our universe was merely one spherical bubble
inside an infinite number of bubbles inflating at random for eternity.
(Not that Lindes Hindu background influenced his cosmology, or
At this time, however, it looks like the cosmologists
are arguing between themselves too much to see who, if anyone,
has a stronger case. Whats notable is that the universe could
be far stranger and counterintuitive than currently imagined by secular
astronomers, and that
cosmologists keep changing their stories. Are their ramblings any
more to be trusted than, In the beginning, God created the heavens and
Next headline on: Cosmology.
Cells are not watertight sacks; they import and export things. But
they are not leaky sacks either: everything coming and going is authenticated
by sophisticated mechanisms. Small packages, like water molecules or
individual proteins, have specially-designed channels embedded in the cell
membrane that check their credentials and make them run an electronic
gauntlet (see 03/12/02 headline, for
instance).2 Larger packages, however, have a surprising method of making
their entrance: they dive in and get wrapped in geodesic spheres.
The cell membrane neatly reseals itself around the point of entry, which
occurs only where specialized receptors allow it.
This is called endocytosis (for cargo on the way in) and exocytosis
(on the way out).
The geodesic spheres are made up of a three-armed protein
called clathrin. The clathrin molecules envelop the cargo, forming a
crystalline polyhedron around it.
(You absolutely have to see this cool animation by
Bruce of Harvard, showing clathrin forming a spherical vesicle;
incredible.) Once the cargo in its crystalline cage has been
safely ferried to its destination, the clathrin molecules disassemble and
are available for re-use.
(This process, and much more, is beautifully illustrated in the
award-winning animated short
film Voyage Inside the
Cell). Exocytosis is the process in reverse, when the cell
needs to export cargo to the outside: for example, when a nerve cell needs
to send neurotransmitters to another neuron. A host of helper enzymes
are involved in making both processes work.
Clathrin-mediated endocytosis is one of the primary
mechanisms by which eukaryotic cells internalize nutrients, antigens, and
growth factors and recycle receptors and vesicles, begin a team
of Pennsylvania scientists in a paper in the
3 issue of Cell.1 But it should be obvious that
the amount of cargo coming in must balance that going out, or else the cell
will burst or shrivel. A tight balance between synaptic vesicle
exocytosis and endocytosis is fundamental to maintaining synaptic structure
and function, they write, speaking especially of neurons that execute
these processes continuously in the central nervous system and the brain.
How can the cell maintain this balance?
These scientists discovered an automatic regulatory process
that ensures the materials are recycled properly. A protein called
endophilin, a key regulator of the endocytosis process, has two
states: open and closed. In the open state, it attaches to the interior
side of voltage-gated calcium channels (these are membrane turnstiles
that allow only doubly-ionized calcium to pass through). Here, it
somehow recruits other protein machines needed for the endocytosis
operation. When the calcium concentration reaches 1 micromolar, the
endophilin switches into the closed position. Then, it detaches from
the calcium gate, which would presumably allow the liberated
endophilin and dynamin [another helper enzyme] to become actively involved
in endocytosis immediately after SV [synaptic vesicle] exocytosis.
A similar self-regulating system had been known for exocytosis, but this
is the first time a mechanism has been found to regulate endocytosis:
By coupling tightly to both the exocytotic and endocytic machineries,
they conclude, voltage-gated Ca2+ channels are thus
uniquely positioned to coordinate the SV recycling process.
Their model, however, is just a rough picture of a much more elaborate
process scientists are just beginning to understand.
1Yuan Chen et al.,
Formation of an endophilin-Ca2+ Channel Complex
Is Critical for Clathrin-Mediated Synaptic Vesicle Endocytosis,
Vol 115, 37-48, 3 October 2003.
2Two American scientists just received
the Nobel Prize in chemistry October 8 for their work that revealed the
structure and function of the water and ion channels in the cell
See story in FoxNews.
What can you say but Wow! Cell operations are so amazing.
The authors use the word machinery 14 times, and not once use the
word evolution or give any clue how all these parts emerged from
any simpler cell.
Mitochondrial Ribosome Structure Casts
Doubts on Endosymbiont Theory
All the parts of this system have to be present and functioning:
the voltage-gated calcium channels (voltage-gated: imagine that!), the
endophilin and dynamin and other helper enzymes, the clathrin, and much
more. Mechanisms must ensure that only authenticated cargo is allowed
in, and that the breach is resealed rapidly without leakage. The helpers
have to be recruited to the spot ahead of time, so they are ready for the
operation. The endophilin enzyme has to have the right shape to open
and close when the concentration of calcium is just right. The
ingredients must be recycled and kept in balance.
Each component is a complex system in itself. Each
protein is a large molecule of precisely-sequenced amino acids.
This is a system of complex systems. How
could such a smooth, efficient, functional system evolve? A mutation
in just one component can break the whole process: in fact, thats how
they learned about it, by artificially mutating a component, which drastically
impaired the operation.
Pause and wonder: you can read and
think about this right now because endocytosis and exocytosis is going on
in your brain millions of times a second.
Next headline on: The Cell.
Next amazing story.
Have you heard the story that early cells swallowed other ones and made them
their slaves? That is supposedly where mitochondria came from, but an
article in the
3 issue of Cell reports that there are some big differences between
the mitochondrial ribosomes of eukaryotes and those of bacteria, the presumed
Manjuli Sharma et al.1 determined the
structure of the eukaryotic mitochondrial ribosome (mitoribosome) for the
first time. These ribosomes (sites of protein synthesis) differ
from those in the cytosol, because they produce 13 specialized proteins
dedicated primarily to the production of ATP.
According to several genomic analyses, mitochondria are believed to
have arisen from an early endosymbiotic event between a eubacterium
and its host cell .... Therefore, it has generally been expected
that the mitoribosome will display greater structural and functional
similarities to a bacterial ribosome than to a eukaryotic cytoplasmic
ribosome. (Emphasis added in all quotes).
They found, However, the RNA and protein composition of the
mitoribosome differs significantly from that of bacterial ribosomes.
Whereas the small subunit has 950 nucleotides and 29 proteins, the
bacterial counterpart has 1542 and 21, respectively. The large
subunit has 1560 nucleotides and 48 proteins, but the bacterial counterpart
has 120 + 2904 nucleotides in two units, and 33 proteins.
Thus, the protein-to-RNA ratio is completely reversed in the
mitoribosome (69% protein and 31% RNA) relative to bacterial ribosomes
(33% protein and 67% RNA), they note.
Even among the roughly half of the proteins in the eukaryotic
mitoribosome that have homologs in bacteria, they are usually significantly
larger. And the whole ribosome, though larger, is more porous than
the bacterial one.
The rest of the paper describes the functional units of
the mitoribosome. They found exquisite entrance tunnels for the
transfer RNA and messenger RNA, and precision exit tunnels for the
nascent polypeptides. They feel their analysis
provides new insights into the structural and functional
evolution of the mitoribosome. But the paper also describes
large differences between the mitoribosomes and the ribosomes in the
rest of the cell:
Furthermore, unlike cytoplasmic ribosomes, the mitochondrial
ribosome possesses intersubunit bridges composed largely of proteins;
it has a gatelike structure at its mRNA entrance, perhaps involved in
recruiting unique mitochondrial mRNAs; and it has a polypeptide exit
tunnel that allows access to the solvent before the exit site,
suggesting a unique nascent-polypeptide exit mechanism.
It appears, therefore, that these three classes of ribosomes are quite
different from each other. This is probably due to the different
jobs they have to do, as expressed in the title of their paper: the
component proteins of the mitoribosome suggest they have an
expanded functional role over their counterparts.
1Sharma et al.,
Structure of the Mammalian Mitochondrial Ribosome Reveals an
Expanded Functional Role for Its Component Proteins,
Vol 115, 97-108, 3 October 2003.
This paper assumes evolution in
contradiction to the data.
They found no intermediates, and no support that this complex molecular
machine evolved from bacteria. They provide no plausible mechanism
by which significantly different proteins, in significantly different
amounts, could produce a significantly different structure in stepwise
fashion without breaking the machinery in the process. Yet to get
all these differences at once would be a miracle.
Lower Your Blood Pressure: Love Your Enemies
The structure they examined doesnt
match the glittering generality that
this precision device happened once upon a time when a eukaryotic cell
decided to invite a bacterium inside for lunch. Even though their
mitochondria have similar functions, their structures are completely
If we stuck to the observational facts, we would no sooner
assume one evolved from another as we would assume a Ferrari evolved from
a Volkswagen. Like cars, that have finely machined parts that fit
together, these different models of ribosomes are composed of hundreds
of parts arranged in very specific shapes (which are dependent on the
precise sequences of their building blocks), and these shapes all have
a critical role in the overall function: reading a DNA transcript (on
messenger RNA), and producing a protein.
These authors assume evolution but demonstrate the
opposite. Distinct topological differences in the mRNA entry
and polypeptide exit sites, as compared to the corresponding regions
in cytoplasmic ribosomes, suggest mechanistic divergence
of protein synthesis on the mitoribosome, they say, implying
common ancestry, and elsewhere they are even more explicit:
These observations indicate that during the evolution of the
mitoribosome, proteins took over some of the functions of rRNAs,
including much of their participation in the intersubunit
communication. Good grief, now we have proteins committing
job theft. Most of the paper is good scientific observation
with some nifty stereo pictures of the molecular machines.
The evolutionary storytelling adds nothing but subtracts much.
Next headline on: Darwinism and Evolutionary Theory.
Next headline on: The Cell and Biochemistry.
The Campaign for Forgiveness has
conducted a study that claims forgiveness lowers blood pressure,
according to EurekAlert.
The investigation included two items assessing forgiveness of oneself
and others and one item assessing feeling forgiven by God.
Additional studies by the campaign show that forgiveness reduces
pain and depression, and improves the rehab rate of those with
cord injuries. These results are to be presented at a Conference
on Forgiveness October 24-25 in Atlanta.
This entry implies no endorsement about the
Campaign for Forgiveness, which looks like some kind of touchy-feely
organization latching onto a half truth for
possible political application. There is a distinction between how we
conduct our personal relationships and how we argue positions on foreign policy
or national security.
Cold Plants Brought Forth Abundant Life
Be that as it may, its hard for science to measure such
things, and its unnecessary. Just open your Bible, where the
Manufacturers Operations Manual already has a lot to say about
forgiveness. If you allow your enemy to make you resentful, angry
and stressful, leading to high blood pressure and a risk of heart attack,
then he has won. He has transferred his weapons into your own
body, and made you self-destruct. By harboring an unforgiving spirit,
you have become your own worst enemy. So love your enemies,
Jesus taught, for a healthy heart if for no other reason.
(Its the best offense, too; it
Once again, psychology offers nothing new. Did these
psychologists never hear the
Prayer? Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who
trespass against us. Unlike pop psychology, this gives us both
the reason and the motivation to forgive sincerely.
For optimum physical and spiritual health, receive the
of God yourself first. (This presupposes we understand the extent
of our guilt and
of forgiveness.) Only then can you truly
it on to others.
Next headline on: Health.
Next headline on: Human Body.
Next headline on: The Bible.
According to a story in
Science Update, plants led the way to an explosion of new life-forms
on land and sea, known as the Cambrian Explosion.
German researchers are proposing a controversial theory that the
plants cooled Earth, making it conducive to complex life, explains
John Whitfield, writing for Natures news service.
The idea is a new twist on the Gaia hypothesis that living things
influence the global environment, Whitfield says.
This is contrary to a prevailing view that rising temperatures, not
coolness, ignited the biological Big Bang, a geologically short
period of time in which all the major body plans appeared abruptly on
The idea is that plants absorbed some of the then-higher
levels of carbon dioxide, reducing the greenhouse effect, and lowering
temperatures, and that this somehow stimulated evolution. Not
everyone is convinced, however:
Its also unclear whether there was a slump in temperatures, and
whether such a drop would have favoured complex life. Says
palaeontologist Robert Riding of Cardiff University, UK: Nobody knows
whats right or wrong, but it sounds odd to me.
Others hold to a Snowball Earth scenario, wherein the planet completely
froze over 500 million
and 800 million years ago, and that the explosion occurred after the
thaw. Others credit the rise of atmospheric oxygen.
Everyone agrees that the Cambrian explosion was waiting to
happen once the right conditions came along, the article quotes
Riding as saying. People argue over what those conditions
David Whitehouse covered this story in the
10/13/2003, and admits the Cambrian explosion is one of the most
significant and least understood periods in the history of life on
earth, and that what actually caused the Cambrian Explosion
Well, these alternative scenarios should
all be testable in the laboratory. A high school student could make
this a science project. Just put cultures of bacteria into different
environments at different temperatures and differing concentrations of
carbon dioxide and oxygen, and see which is the first to evolve into
jellyfish, brachiopods, trilobites, arthropods, flatworms, roundworms
and chordates. After all, an
explosion of evolution is just waiting to happen once the right
conditions came along, so lets give Mother Nature all
the possible right conditions and let er loose. Why hold
Globular Cluster Age,
Origin Beliefs Undergo Radical Revision 10/05/2003
How convenient for the storytellers that nobody can go back
in a time machine to see what really happened. All we do know is that
in the lowest rock layers in which multicellular fossils are found, all the
major body plans and phyla of animals appear abruptly, fully formed, already
functioning in a rich ecological environment. How could these things
be the product of slow, gradual evolution from bacteria? Its
the opposite of what evolution would predict. This is the issue
with the Cambrian explosion its a problem for evolutionists,
not for creationists.
For a good laugh, read the BBC news story. They
admit they have no data, its a huge mystery, the cause is unknown,
but nobody sees this as a problem! In fact, David Whitehouse ends
on a note of optimism: Dr von Bloh says that it will be of great
interest when we find other Earth-like worlds circling other stars to
see if they have had their own Cambrian explosions yet.
The timing of such events has implications for the search for intelligent
life in space, he says. So they cannot explain the Earth under
our feet, but they are already speculating about similar evolutionary
events on other planets we cannot see!
Shouldnt students be told the truth about the
Cambrian explosion, that it is contrary to the predictions of Darwinism,
and remains a major problem for evolutionary theory after 145 years of
speculation? Evolutionists must concoct a story for the Cambrian
explosion, or else they would have to admit life was created.
Isnt it amazing that any weird, wild, crazy alternative, even Gaia,
gets a hearing in Evolutionland, as long as it is naturalistic.
Isnt it amazing that Nature prints this stuff.
Isnt it amazing that intelligent people believe it.
Next headline on: Plants.
Next headline on: Fossils.
Next dumb story.
Globular clusters are the oldest objects in the universe, composed
of slowly dying old giant stars. Wrong, expresses an
article in the November 2003 Issue of Astronomy.
In Great Balls of Fire, by Marcia Bartusiak,
there have been major revisions of this picture that has been
textbook fact for decades.
She begins by quoting William Harris describing the old orthodoxy:
At the time I was a graduate student in 1970, globular clusters
were thought to be a routine area of study. The clusters were
considered among the oldest objects in the universe all the same
from one to the other. Some were bigger, some smaller. It was
not a terribly active field. That has all changed over the last
two decades, she writes. At least some of them are now considered
very young (maybe even forming today), they display more variety, and there is
more mystery about their origins than previously assumed.
These spherical arrangements of up to a million stars,
found around most galaxy types and constituting usually only one percent
or less of the galaxys total mass, were long described in textbooks as
having formed early after the Big Bang, and nearly as old as the universe
itself. In fact, for years, there was a puzzle in that age estimates
based on stellar evolution theory made them older than the then-accepted
age of the universe (which is impossible, by definition).
It was an irreconcilable age difference, she says.
Help arrived in 1999 with the
announcement that the universe appeared to be accelerating due to
some mysterious dark energy. This allowed the age of the
universe to stretch into an acceptable range to encompass the clusters.
But the age reconciliation problem was only one aspect of a growing revision
about the globs as they are affectionately known.
Some other problems:
Bartusiak ends with a description of what it might be like if Earth were
located in a globular: it would have a bustling community of 100,000
or more stars closer than Alpha Centauri [our nearest neighbor], lighting
up Earths sky during both day and night. Near-misses between
stars would be commonplace.
- Composition: Some globulars are metal-rich and some are
metal-poor. This is leading some astronomers to propose that some of
them formed much later through galactic mergers, perhaps recently. But
that produces another puzzle: how could there be enough starting material?
Its darn hard to build a tightly bound system like a
globular cluster, the author writes. She quotes William
Harris of McMaster University:
Two galaxies merging might make around three hundred clusters,
but to make thousands would require ten trillion Suns worth of
mass the raw material out of which the clusters and all other
field stars are made. The only epoch during which such huge amounts
of gas were routinely available within galaxies was the proto galactic
- Dynamics: Most of them should have been gone by now.
Within several hundred million years, the author writes of
globulars formed from a galactic merger or collision, most of these
clusters will be destroyed, their stars dispersed into the field.
The most massive stars will die quickly and explode, tearing the cloud
apart with supernova blasts. This exacerbates the starting
materials problem, but also begs the question of how the older,
primordial clusters could have also remained intact so long.
- Mixed Ages: Galaxy NGC 7252 has 500 globulars, half
of them old, half of them new. Astronomers are supposing that
the old ones formed near the beginning. But if the young ones formed from
a violent galactic merger, how did the old ones survive the merger?
- Blue Stragglers: Most globulars are primarily composed of
reddish stars, considered to be old giants in the last stages of their
evolution. Yet blue stars, considered young, have been located in
some clusters like 47 Tucanae, which the Hubble Space Telescope studied
The explanation to save the cluster age is that the blue stragglers formed as
a result of mergers of old stars.
- Planets: A strange planet was found within a globular
this July, orbiting
a binary system of a white dwarf and a pulsar. Since its host is a
metal-poor star (containing only 1/30 the abundance of heavy elements as our
Sun), this was a surprise to some scientists who believed planets needed
more than hydrogen and helium and a sprinkling of heavier elements to
form. Whats more, the planet is in a precarious position, its white
dwarf host orbiting a millisecond pulsar spinning 100 times a second.
Theres no way it couldve formed in its current
position, one astronomer stated. Another called the discovery
of this planet, 2.5 times the mass of Jupiter, two billion miles from
the binary pair, all within a globular, a stunning revelation.
- Black Hole Avoidance: A cluster in its youth does not
just sit; it evolves, the author explains, as kinetic energy
is exchanged continually between the stars. Lower-mass stars rev up
their velocity and eventually evaporate out of the system,
while higher-mass stars lose energy and sink toward the center.
Since the core gets denser, Why doesnt the entire globular
cluster completely collapse into a black hole as it shrinks? she
asks. Simulations show that stars join up into binary pairs,
like partners in a fast-paced square dance, avoiding the central
gravitational well. The ones that crash into each other might explain
the blue stragglers.
- Exotic Denizens: X-ray observations show not just old-age
red giants inhabiting these systems, but exotic characters
like cataclysmic variable stars, millisecond pulsars, and neutron-star
So globular cluster study has awakened from drowsiness.
The final quote says,
The field has opened up in ways that no one had imagined.
In the previous article of the same issue, another astronomical
topic is in similar intellectual ferment. Michael Turner (U. of
Chicago) writes about modern cosmology in Absurd Universe
(Astronomy Nov. 2003, pp. 44-47). Though he accepts the majority
interpretation of the WMAP data (see May
2 headline), that ordinary visible matter only
makes up 0.5% of the mass of the universe, the rest being dark matter (see
June 20 headline), he admits this seems absurd:
So here we are in our absurd universe, he concludes.
Bigger telescopes and observations will help us make sense of this
amazing universe in which we find ourselves.
(See also March 6 headline).
What strikes you about the globular cluster article is that heresy is
becoming orthodoxy. Ideas that were radical two decades ago are now
seriously entertained. Here are some examples (emphasis added):
Kuiper Belt Objects Pose Puzzles
So here we have another accepted truth that was unquestioned
for decades, common knowledge in textbooks, spouted matter-of-factly by
astronomy professors, swallowed meekly by students, that is all out the
window again. It would be a good example of science being a
self-correcting process except that current theories seem to
raise more questions than answers. How can a galaxy contain old
clusters if newer ones were formed through violent mergers? How can
a planet form around a metal-poor star and orbit a millisecond pulsar?
How can globs survive for so long in the presence of dynamical evolution?
How could they have formed late without enough material available?
- In the 1970s, brothers Alar and Juri Toomre... carried out computer
simulations suggesting elliptical galaxies arose from the merger of
disk galaxies a highly radical notion at the time.
- Francois Schweizer of the Carnegie Observatories believes many of the
metal-rich clusters surrounding ellipticals could be fairly new,
an idea that provoked gasps among astronomers when he first made the
suggestion twenty years ago.
- But in 1986, when Schweizer attended an astronomy conference in Santa
Cruz, California, generating ellipticals from mergers was still considered
heresy.... People at this meeting thought I was nuts,
recalls Schweizer. I had never worked on globular clusters,
so I knew the suggestion might ruin my career.
At the time, globular clusters were deemed ancient by definition.
Imagination comes to the rescue, producing stories more or less plausible,
and some of them may be true. The point is that scientific truth
can be very plastic. The weather vane of accepted truth can turn and
point in the opposite direction if stronger winds of evidence arrive.
To be sure, much of the revision is due to bigger and better instruments
providing better data than ever before. But this story should be
a lesson to always keep a skeptical eye on scientific claims.
Todays heresy might become tomorrows orthodoxy, and todays
truth might become tomorrows myth.
Next headline on: Stars.
Next headline on: Cosmology.
Next headline on: Dating Methods.
The November issue of Sky and Telescope (pp. 30-36)
contains a good review of what astronomers know and believe about
the Kuiper Belt, a zone of minor planets beyond Neptune.
In The 3rd Zone: Exploring the Kuiper Belt, S. Alan Stern
(Southwest Research Institute, Boulder, CO) reviews the history of discovery
of these objects and describes a decade of discoveries and
surprises. Some of the puzzles:
Kuiper Belt science is still in its infancy, Stern notes.
Helpful data is expected from the recently-launched
Space Infrared Telescope
Facility (SIRTF). If there is anything to count on, he
concludes, it is that the Kuiper Belt will continue to surprise.
- Collisional Evolution: Frequent collisions of objects have eroded
the Kuiper Belt over time. Computer simulations show that
objects hundreds and thousands of kilometers across could not have formed
in the present-day environment, Stern explains.
The region simply doesnt possess
anywhere near enough material for them to accumulate over the age of the
solar system. In fact, in order to form the planets we find there
today, the primordial Kuiper Belt must have had roughly 50 times its
- Color Classification: There are two distinct groups of Kuiper Belt
Objects (KBOs): red and gray. The origin of this
color diversity is also of interest, and not without controversy, he
says. If primordial, they must have formed in different regions of
the solar system, so why are they in the same belt today? If the
reddishness is due to space weathering, then Kuiper Belt comets
arent the fully primordial solar-system relics we once thought
- Binaries: One in 50 KBOs has a satellite. These show
remarkable characteristics, including the fact that many
are true binaries whose components are roughly the same size.
There are not enough bodies out there to explain these binaries as a result of
collisions. Yet to have them capture one another is improbable.
- Comet Scarcity: It was hoped the Kuiper Belt would explain the
source of short-period comets (see Sept.
3 headline). There is not enough material in the Kuiper Belt,
all the known KBOs are tens to hundreds of times larger and thousands
to millions of times more massive than kilometer-scale cometary nuclei.
This was a pretty fair article, up-front about the problems and not
dogmatic about theories. It is also nicely illustrated by Michael
Carroll. Everyone should welcome new data. Its
especially interesting when it overturns previously-taught dogmas.
There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in
Sexual Selection Study
Wins Ig Nobel Prize 10/03/2003
Next headline on: Solar System.
The un-prestigious Ig Nobel Prize for interdisciplinary science was won by
Swedish scientists this year. (The Ig Nobel prizes, the flip side of the
more famous Nobel prizes, are like the Doo-Dah version of the Rose Parade.
They are awarded to scientific studies that cannot, or should not,
The winning paper demonstrated that chickens prefer beautiful
humans. Chickens trained to peck at pictures of faces always seemed to
pick the hunky men and the long-haired, rosy-lipped women.
What does this prove?
Nature Science Update
tries to explain with a straight face: This suggests that man and
chicken share similar wiring, explains co-author Magnus Enquist of
Stockholm University. It could be one in the eye, he suggests, for
the evolutionary theory that we chose fit mates to share
their genes with our offspring.
(This is a reference to Darwins theory of sexual selection.)
Winners in other categories included a paper that claimed taxi
drivers have bigger brains, a study of which surfaces are best for dragging
sheep to be sheared, and an investigation into why a particular Japanese
statue did not attract pigeons. The authors of Murphys Law
were also posthumously honored. For full listing of winners, see the
Congratulations to the Swedish team for
giving proper credit to evolutionary theory. Someone
let the judges know about Creation-Evolution Headlines they
can find lots of candidates under the Dumb category for next
years entries. Follow the Chain Links and see which one you think
would be a winner.
Heres a recent
contender (see also the next one below it.) For some unexplained
reason, our statistics suggest a relationship between the
Dumb category and the entries under Darwinism and Evolutionary
I Think, Therefore I Am
Next headline on: Darwinism and Evolutionary Theory.
Next dumb story.
The Darwinian Revolution was part of a drive to naturalize biology;
that is, to explain biology, including the origin of species, strictly
in terms of natural law and chance, without divine intervention.1
Much rode on the coattails of that effort: evolutionary psychology,
evolutionary sociology, evolutionary ecology, and evolutionary politics.
Perhaps the crux of the debate is the human mind. Is there a
naturalistic causal chain leading from hydrogen to the mind?
Are all of our deepest emotions, dreams, aspirations, values, logical
arguments, thought processes, preferences, assumptions, intuitions,
hopes, plans, core values, and sincerely held beliefs traceable to
the chemical reactions in our neurons, plus nothing?
Thomas Metzinger thinks so, and
his book Being No One is given favorable press by
Franz Mechsner (Max Planck Institute for Psychological Research) and
Albert Newen (Philosophy Department, University of Bonn) in the
issue of Science.2 Their book review,
entitled Thoughts Without a Thinker, states the issue
beginning with Descartes foundational premise:
When the 17th-century philosopher Rene Descartes made his famous
statement I think, therefore I am, he was certain that
this intuition could not possibly be doubted. If there are
thoughts, there must be someone who thinks. Descartes identified
the thinker with himself, and himself with the immortal
soul. Unsatisfied with the Cartesian framework, scientists
try to explain human self-consciousness as a natural phenomenon.
This naturalization project is guided by the complex
question: How may conscious selfhood (subjective experience and
autonomous agency) emerge from causal chains of events in a physical
world? In Being No One, the German philosopher Thomas
Metzinger addresses this challenge and proposes a framework of
how self-consciousness might be naturalized. In a bold,
thorough, and thought-provoking synthesis, he combines a huge body
of neuroscientific and psychological research data with philosophical
considerations and fine-grained phenomenological reflections on
The reviewers delve briefly into Metzingers framework, and
discuss one of his most important observational supports: the mental
patients with Cotards syndrome, in which patients
experience themselves as being nonexistent, obviously contradicting
Descartess claim that the mere presence of thoughts leads to
the conviction of existence.
Metzinger, a professor at Johannes Gutenberg University
in Mainz, Germany, maintains that there are actually no autonomous
selves in the material world. The perception that
one is the source of thoughts and actions is an illusion, emerging
from physical processes in neuronal networks where no self can be
identified. To put it provocatively, there are experiences,
but no one who experiences; there are thoughts, but no thinker;
actions, but no actor. Based on this premise, naturalization of
self-consciousness means explaining the detailed
representational, functional, and computational structure of the
selfhood illusion. One must consider its evolutionary
advantage, how it emerges from neuronal processes, and
how it is related to the puzzling philosophical riddles in
connection with consciousness, such as the mind-body problem.
They believe Metzinger has hit on a successful trail
toward naturalism of the soul:
The theory of subjectivity Metzinger presents in Being No One
seems very promising in that it offers a conceptual
framework for explaining many empirical phenomena related to
human self-consciousness. His basic strategy is to
show that everything of interest regarding self-consciousness can
be reduced to phenomenal representations. Under the
presupposition that phenomenal representations emerge
from neuronal processes, this means that naturalization of
self-consciousness is indeed possible. Metzingers
interdisciplinary approach opens a new path toward
a scientific theory of consciousness and self-consciousness.
1For a recent discussion of the naturalization project,
see Cornelius Hunter, Darwins God (Brazos Press, 2002)
and the sequel, Darwins Proof (Brazos Press, 2003).
2Neuroscience: Thoughts Without a Thinker, a
review by F. Mechsner and A. Newen of Being No One by
Thomas Metzinger, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA (2003), 713 pp. ISBN 0-262-13417-9,
Magazine, Volume 302, Number 5642, Issue of 3 Oct 2003, p. 61.
A conceptual framework is not a fact, and a strategy is not a truth.
Neither of these three evolutionists has established anything close
to the wide-sweeping conclusion they claim. On what empirical
evidence do they make such bold philosophical judgments? Some
mental patients claim they have no self. How do we know they are
not good actors, and the psychologists are just suckers for what they
are being told by the patients? Have they ruled out all other
possibilities? And if minds dont exist, how can they apply
their minds to get into the mind of someone else and know anything?
They just shot themselves in the foot with the
if thoughts are illusions emerging from chemicals, they have no ultimate
validity; therefore the claim that thoughts are illusions from chemicals
Looking for Evolution in the
They also committed the either-or
fallacy about the mind-body problem. To say there is
either all mind or all body is a false dichotomy. Both are real.
The mind can harm the body, and the body the mind. There are complex
interrelationships between the two that we cannot fully understand.
That does not mean that one or the other is an illusion, or that one has
to explain everything about the other in its own terms.
Notice how, again, they trot out the favorite
evolutionary miracle word
emergence and flash it over the place. Who needs scientific
causality when uncanny entities like thoughts can just emerge from
non-thoughts, when selves can emerge from non-selves, when acts can
emerge without actors, when souls can emerge from neural synapses,
when pneuma can emerge from sarx?
Notice their hunger and thirst for mammon.
The desire to naturalize all of reality is clearly shown to be a passion,
not a science. Early science was motivated by desire to seek the
mind of God; post-Darwin science is motivated by a desire to undermine
all mind. It is a reductionist
mission, promoted with all the zeal of an evangelist, to expunge the
I term, information, from all equations, and leave only T (time),
E (energy), and M (matter). It is a project filled with
presuppositions, assumptions, beliefs, axioms, philosophical puzzles,
and doctrines. It is not science. It is religion.
They talk about illusion. Who is being deceived
here? They are deluded into thinking they have arrived at a
coherent, naturalistic system. For to believe that mind, self, and
consciousness are ultimately definable in toto by matter in motion,
they must endow T + M + E with all the attributes traditionally ascribed
to deity: omniscience, omnipotence, wisdom, and autonomous self-existence.
This is not naturalism: it is pantheism. Science Magazine offers no
platform for a rational alternative or rebuttal; it has become the pulpit
for the most radical of the philosophical materialists, and the
pseudo-scientific mouthpiece of the Church of Pantheism.
(Notice also that this is the only religion permitted in the
science classroom, and is defended against all engagements by
zealots of the NCSE, ACLU, PAW, and Big Science. This is to ensure that
young impressionable minds, which are mere illusions, will not be
disturbed as the Doctrine of Emergence is inculcated into them, with the
thought, which is a mere illusion, that there might be alternatives.)
Theistic evolutionists should take note. This review
makes abundantly clear that Metzinger-type evolutionists have no room
for you. They will not stand
for any personal Deity, no matter how remote from the operations of
nature. There is no soul in their theology. And if there is
no soul, there is no relationship, there is no Logos, there is no communication,
and there is no salvation. Ye are dead in your sins, and of all
evolutionists most miserable. Understand your plight, and choose
you this day whom you will serve.
Pastors should take note. Believers of all stripes
should take note. Thinkers should take note.
Human beings who have hearts thumping in their chests should
take note. This book review should amplify the red alarm, in
case you havent already heard it blaring since 1859.
Darwinism, predicated on the religious belief it is possible to naturalize
all of reality, seeks to usurp all other belief systems.
It instigates the worst totalitarianism in history, for its core
beliefs deny the existence of free will itself. Its laws lead to
the end of reason, the destruction of the soul, and the dissolution of
self-consciousness into a frothing sea of illusions. It is none other
abolition of man.
Their hope is dashed on nothing less
Than nature's blood and randomness.
They dare not trust Descartes' frame,
but wholly lean on Darwin's claim.
No solid rock in Darwinland,
All logic ground is sinking sand,
All reasoning is thinking bland.
Next headline on: Human Body.
Next headline on: Darwinism and Evolutionary Philosophy.
Lets check in on the October issue of
Phylogenetics and Evolution1
and see how the Darwinists are doing figuring out the evolutionary
history of various organisms. (Emphasis added in all quotes.)
These are from the first seven of 16 papers in the October issue.
- Lizards: Jennifer Hay et al. examine the line
of Tuatara, a beak-headed lizard isolated in New Zealand that is
an example of a living fossil from the age of dinosaurs.
Tuatara (two species of Sphenodon) are the last representatives
of a branch of an ancient reptilian lineage, Sphenodontia, that have
been isolated on the New Zealand landmass for 82 million years
[sic]. We present analyses of geographic variation in allozymes,
mitochondrial DNA, nuclear DNA sequences, and one-way albumin
immunological comparisons. These all confirm a surprisingly
low level of genetic diversity within Sphenodon for such an
They propose a population bottleneck during the Pliocene.
But the data sets are conflicting, some showing much divergence, others
showing little divergence:
All data sets reveal clear genetic differentiation between the northern
populations and those in Cook Strait, but offer conflicting
views of the history and taxonomic relationships of the Cook Strait
population on North Brother Island, currently recognised as
Sphenodon guntheri. Allozymes show this population to be
the most divergent of all tuatara populations, but preliminary
mitochondrial DNA data indicate few differences between S.
guntheri and Cook Strait Sphenodon punctatus.
Interpretation of the trees is confounded by the lack of a
suitable outgroup. As in other cases of conflicting nuclear
and mitochondrial data sets, the different data sets likely reveal
different aspects of the animals evolutionary history [sic], and
introgression is not uncommon between species pairs.
Geographic News reported a major fossil find of
Sphenodonts in South America. There were many fossil specimens, including
the largest Sphenodonts ever found (3 feet long), mixed in with dinosaur
bones. They all appeared to have been buried by flood waters.
- Fish: Oris I. Sanjur (Smithsonian) et al.
examine the phylogeny of the European chub, Squalius,
based on mitochondrial cytochrome b.
Because the lines are not monophyletic (one clear ancestral line),
they have to invoke multiple episodes of colonization:
The Iberian Squalius species do not constitutes [sic] a monophyletic
group. Our data indicate that the Iberian Peninsula was
colonized at least twice by two different monophyletic lineages,
a meridional group and a Central Europe group. The amount of species
diversity found in the Iberian Peninsula and the phylogenetic
relationships among these species, together with their geographic
distribution, suggest that the Central Europe lineage colonized
the Iberian Peninsula at a latter time.
- Corals: Armando Sanchez et al. (U. of Buffalo)
studied this group, because Gorgonian octocorals lack corroborated
hypotheses of phylogeny. They studied insertions and
deletions (indels) in mitochondrial and nuclear RNA.
Was there a clear line of evolution?
Gorgonian corals, branching colonies with a gorgonin-containing
flexible multilayered axis (Holaxonia and Calcaxonia), do not form a
monophyletic group. These corroborated results from
maternally inherited (16S) and biparentally inherited (18S) genes
support [sic] a hypothesis of independent evolution of branching
in the two octocoral clades.
The title of their paper invokes convergent evolution, the idea that
the two clades arrived at similar structures independently.
- Algae: A Japanese team, Nozaki et al.,
studied green algae and think they found a basal phylogeny.
But they noticed the flagella of some went clockwise and others
went counter clockwise:
Since the phylogenetic relationships [sic] of the green plants
(green algae and land plants) have been extensively studied
using 18S ribosomal RNA sequences, change in the arrangement of basal
bodies in flagellate cells is considered to be one of the major evolutionary
events in the green plants. However,
the phylogenetic relationships between biflagellate and
quadriflagellate species within the Volvocales remain uncertain.
This study examined the phylogeny of three genera of quadriflagellate
Volvocales (Carteria, Pseudocarteria, and Hafniomonas)
using concatenated sequences from three chloroplast genes.
Using these multigene sequences, all three quadriflagellate genera were
basal to other members (biflagellates) of the CW (clockwise) group (the
Volvocales and their relatives, the Chlorophyceae) and formed three
robust clades. Since the flagellar apparatuses of these
three quadriflagellate lineages are diverse, including counter
clockwise (CCW) and CW orientation of the basal bodies, the CW
orientation of the basal bodies might have evolved [sic]
from the CCW orientation in the ancestral quadriflagellate volvocalean
algae, giving rise to the biflagellates, major members of the CW group.
Ben Warren et al. studied Indian Ocean sunbirds and think
they found evidence for multiple colonizations in the past.
Netherlands scientists, Thomassen et al., examined the
swift family. Some swifts use a form of echolocation in caves
and some do not. Thankfully, these appeared to form separate
groups, but there were also surprises:
Due to a lack of distinctive morphological characters, swift
taxonomy and phylogeny has always been an area of disagreement.
To shed more light [sic] on this subject, we reconstructed swift(let)
phylogeny based on 1143 bp of mitochondrial cytochrome-b DNA sequence.
Although this is not the first attempt to reconstruct swift phylogeny
using molecular data, our results show higher support for many of the
branches due to our much longer sequences. However, placement
of Hydrochous is still unexpected. Implementation of more
conservative genetic regions and sampling of more taxa could solve
this problem. Most importantly, the Collocaliini
resolve as a monophyletic group. The internal structure of the
group shows that non-echolocating Collocalia and echolocating
Aerodramus form two distinct clades. This is in congruence
with earlier classifications based on morphological characters, but in
contrast with more recent classifications.
Phylogenetics and Evolution, Elsevier Inc.,
Volume 29, Issue 1, Pages 1-184.
Had enough? It goes on and
on. Each paper finds surprises and unexpected results, but
the data always support (more or less) evolution, because that is
the title of the journal: not Molecular Phylogeny and Creation, but
Molecular Phylogeny and Evolution. Evolution is a given.
The data must fit, or they wont get published. Can you
imagine any scientist concluding, Our data do not support any
common ancestry; they indicate these groups had separate origins?
No way. Make it fit, or get out.
Biggest Fish and Oldest Shark Found
And they have very flexible ways of making the data
fit. Theres convergent evolution, parallel evolution,
stasis, punctuated equilibria, maximum-parsimony tree building,
Bayesian inference (a glorified GIGO process), and all kinds of other
tricks to get uncooperative data into the Big Picture.
Here are examples from the other papers in this issue:
These examples reveal that Molecular Phylogeny and Evolution
is a game played by scientists who have nothing better to do than prop
- Lice: Each hypothesis is supported morphologically and/or
embryologically, and this problem has not yet been resolved. ...
A high diversity of 12S rDNA secondary structure was also
observed in wide range of Phthiraptera and Liposcelididae, but these
structures seem to have evolved independently in different clades.
- Grasshoppers: Phylogenetic analysis indicates a direction of
dispersal: South America -> North America -> Eurasia, that is
opposite to what was previously believed.
- Passerine birds (including most garden-variety birds):
The African rockfowl and rockjumper are found to constitute
the deepest branch within Passerida, but relationships among the
other taxa are poorly resolved--only four major clades receive
statistical support. ... Monophyly of their Sylvioidea could
not be corroborated--these taxa falls either into a clade with
wrens, gnatcatchers, and nuthatches, or one with, e.g., warblers,
bulbuls, babblers, and white-eyes. The tits, penduline tits,
and waxwings belong to Passerida but have no close relatives among
the taxa studied herein.
- Macaques: From phylogenetic tree reconstructions including
further macaque species, we detected a paraphyletic origin of
Mentawai macaques with the Siberut population more closely related to
Macaca nemestrina from Sumatra, than it is to populations from the
- Fish: Our findings support the utility of mtDNA control
region sequences for phylogenetic studies within the agassii
species complex and confirmed the monophyly of this particular
lineage, excluding O. luteus. However, the
monophyly of further morphologically defined lineages within the
agassii complex appears doubtful. No support
was found for the utility of these data sets for inferring
phylogenetic relationships between more distantly related taxa
originating from Lake Titicaca.
- Leaf beetles: The establishment of ancestry among the
subtribes of the Luperini refutes the monophyly of cucurbitacin
feeding and cucurbit specialization, with the New World Diabroticina
being paraphyletic to the Old World Aulacophorina and
cosmopolitan Luperina. These data unambiguously support the
convergent evolution of cucurbitacin feeding in rootworms and are
inconsistent with the ancestral host hypothesis.
- Sea bass: Serranus was found to be paraphyletic.
Centropristis, formerly considered the sister taxon to
Paralabrax, was not closely related in these analyses.
Cratinus agassizii, a monotypic genus from the eastern Pacific,
was found to be the sister taxon to Paralabrax.
There is greater resolution for intergeneric and subfamily relations
than interspecific relationships.
It must be stressed that both creationists and evolutionists
have no conflict over variation and ancestry within certain limits.
You have more similarities within your family tree than with people from other
nationalities. Different kinds of swifts, macaques, sea bass,
root rot fungi or grasshoppers can be expected to show family trees
within their kinds. But Molecular Phylogeny and Evolution gamers
are convinced there are no limits to this variation, and that every
complex system, including swift
echolocation, fish eyes, grasshopper legs, coral houses, beetle mouth parts,
sparrow wings and human gymnasts are all products of slime plus time.
The only way they can argue this is by stuffing uncooperative data into
predetermined beliefs via convoluted, hand-waving stories.
These extended quotes
and examples should prove this charge beyond reasonable doubt.
Next headline on: Genes and DNA.
Next headline on: Darwinism and Evolutionary
reports the biggest fish story to date: a 72-footer
twice as long as the living record holder, the whale shark,
Also reported by
Geographic News is the worlds oldest shark fossil,
tagged at 409 million years, 15 million longer than the previous record.
From all appearances and descriptions,
these were both fully formed fish, not transitional forms evolving
from something else. Every time these discoveries are made they
seem to push evolutionists into having to believe these complex
creatures formed earlier and faster than previously thought.
But where is any evolution? If anything, it appears there has
been devolution from the bigger and more diverse biota of the past.
Dont Mutate This Gene,
Or Else 10/01/2003
Wonder if this kind of big fish could have swallowed a man.
Particularly one on the way to Tarshish.
Next headline on: Fish and Ocean Dwellers.
Next headline on: Fossils.
Hit the power grid, and you shut down hospitals, businesses and homes.
When traffic controllers go on strike, trucks pile up on the highways,
and merchants, from florists to toolmakers, cannot get their goods.
A whole city or economy can grind to a halt from one failure in a key
component. Similarly, mutations to certain
genes can have what are called pleiotropic effects, causing harm
to very different organs and functions scattered all over the body.
In the Sept. 30 issue of
three New York geneticists describe the failures that ensue from
a mutation in one protein in the IFT family: kidney cysts, photoreceptor
degeneration, skeletal abnormalities, and spermatogenesis defects. ...
A targeted Tg737 knockout [to a particular IFT protein] is
embryonic lethal, with early embryonic defects that include
randomized left/right asymmetry, a consequence of missing cilia on
the embryonic ventral node. IFT proteins might also
be essential for coordinating signals from cilia to other parts of
Like most scientific papers, this one is focused on just
one narrow aspect of one protein in one organism, the fruit fly.
As background information, however, they describe what IFT does and
how it works. IFT stands for intraflagellar transport.
It is a family of proteins involved in building the insides of flagella
(These are the whip-like appendages common in most living things,
from the outboard motors on bacteria, to the sweepers lining your
respiratory tract, to the paddling tails on sperm cells).
If you could shrink yourself down to a few microns and watch, heres
what you might see going on inside the shaft of a cilium or
flagellum under construction (emphasis added):
The eukaryotic cilium or flagellum is a distinct subcellular compartment,
with its own characteristic microtubular cytoskeleton, the axoneme, and
a membrane that, though continuous with the plasma membrane, can localize
distinct sets of proteins. This distinction is maintained by a
specific mechanism of intraflagellar transport (IFT). IFT was first
observed in the single-celled alga Chlamydomonas as a
bidirectional movement of uniformly sized particles along the flagellum,
in the space between the axoneme and the flagellar membrane.
Biochemical characterization of the particles revealed over 16
constituent proteins associated in A and B subcomplexes.
Particle movement toward the plus ends of the axonemal microtubules
at the tip of the flagellum is driven by kinesin II, and mutants
lacking kinesin II subunits or complex B proteins do not extend cilia
beyond the transition zone of the basal body.
In mutants that express a temperature-sensitive kinesin, flagella
shrink after a shift to the restrictive temperature, and this
shrinkage indicates that IFT is needed to maintain and regulate flagellar
length. IFT particles and kinesin are returned to the cell body
by a nonaxonemal dynein, and mutants with
defects in this process
typically have swollen cilia that accumulate IFT particles.
Some IFT proteins are concentrated in the cytoplasm close to the basal
bodies as well as in the cilia proper, and the transition fibers that
connect the basal body to the cell membrane are a possible site for
the docking and exchange of IFT particles, motors, and cargo.
In other words, there is a specialized molecular highway down the shaft
of a flagellum, between
the membranes, with little molecular trucks (dynein and kinesin) that transport
cargo (the protein particles) to and from the tips of the growing end.
Intraflagellar transport might be termed the Transportation Department
for these organelles. Since everything from eyes, sperm, and
lungs depend on cilia or flagella, you can imagine what happens when a
mutation shuts down the highway department and brings construction of these
essential organelles to a halt.
A related paper in the same issue2 discusses
what happens when another one of the IFT proteins,
Kinesin II-mediated anterograde intraflagellar transport, mutates
and prevents the kinesin truck from moving down the highway.
It makes their cilia sluggish and uncoordinated, and causes auditory
An analysis by George Witman (U. of Mass. Medical School)
of these papers was published in the subsequent (Oct. 14) issue
of Current Biology.3
1Han, Kwok and Kernan, Intraflagellar Transport Is
Required in Drosophila to Differentiate Sensory Cilia but
Vol 13, 1679-1686, 30 September 2003, pp. 1679-1686.
2Sarpal et al., Drosophila
KAP Interacts with the Kinesin II Motor Subunit KLP64D to
Assemble Chordotonal Sensory Cilia, but Not Sperm Tails,
Biology Vol 13, 1687-1696, 30 September 2003, pp. 1679-1686.
3George B. Witman, Cell Motility: Deaf Drosophila
keep the beat,
Biology Vol 13, R796-R798, 14 October 2003.
The authors do not attempt to explain how this system evolved,
other than to note that these proteins are highly conserved.
Their paper focuses on one IFT gene in one species, the fruit fly,
and the conclusion is that while fruit fly cilia depend on the particular
IFT under consideration, their sperm do not.
Surprisingly, fruit fly sperm tails are extremely long, longer than
the fly itself, and they are able to grow by other means than IFT,
possibly by external supply of components from the cytoplasm.
Impacts Dont Ignite
Still, think about the problem of pleiotropy for
evolution. It is simplistic to expect one mutation to have only
one effect. As shown here, a mutation, even if beneficial for
one part (by some stretch of the imagination), is likely to damage
another part, or many other parts.
Shutting down the trucking industry might reduce
our dependence on foreign oil, but how will the mail get delivered?
How will freight get to manufacturers, and finished products get
In a commonly-cited evolutionary example,
a mutation can provide some resistance to malaria, but at the cost
of rendering its host vulnerable to a deadly disease: sickle-cell
anemia. Is this all that evolution can hope for?
How can evolutionists really believe that such mistakes led to the
high degree of specialization and interrelationship observed in
living cells? Surprisingly, they turn the argument around.
They say that pleiotropy is their ally. An accident in a
gene might lead to major changes all at once. This is like
believing a cosmic ray hit a reptile egg and a bird hatched out.
Life, whether in a fruit fly, nematode, alga, or human,
involves tightly-knit, coordinated parts. Every week, it seems,
biochemists find some gene or protein that is absolutely essential.
Any mistake either causes major problems, or the organism does not
even survive to birth. Moreover, organisms have complex emergency
teams that fight against mutations. If terrorism doesnt
build a city, dont expect pleiotropic mutations to evolve life.
Next headline on: The Cell.
Next headline on: Genes and DNA.
In the October issue of
Ivanov and Melosh argue that meteorite impacts dont start volcanos
erupting. They just scratch the surface and cause local melting.
Even a 12 mile wide
asteroid whacking the earth at 32,000 miles an hour, making a 200 mile
wide crater, cannot get the mantle lava to erupt. The results of
their numerical simulation show that the crater collapses almost
flat, and the pressure field returns almost to the initial
Therefore, their models suggest that impacts cannot be the
common initiator of
large igneous provinces any time in postheavy bombardment
(Thats almost all the time Earth has had solid ground.)
1B.A. Ivanov and H.J. Melosh, Impacts do not initiate
Eruptions close to the crater,
Vol. 31, No. 10, pp. 869872, DOI: 10.1130/G19669.1.
Catastrophists of both evolutionist
stripe have invoked meteorite impacts as possible instigators of
large-scale volcanism leading to extinctions.
Some have even hypothesized that meteors triggered Noahs flood.
Subjective ideas do not always stand up to analysis (not that
this paper is the final word, either).
When you cannot repeat the past or play back a video tape,
its hard to know for sure.
Whoops, These Old Rocks Are
Really Quite Young 10/01/2003
The observable fact remains that there exist
huge expanses of volcanic deposits around the world that defy uniformitarian
explanations. Todays active volcanism looks like small sparklers
in comparison to the epic fireworks shows of the past. As remarkable
as Earths lava fields are, they pale in comparison to the activity
going on right now on the most volcanically active body in the solar
system, a little moon in the cold of space near Jupiter, named Io
(see 09/27/2003 headline).
Next headline on: Geology.
A classic example of ancient rock, long assumed to have contained organic
compounds from the earliest life-forms, has been reinterpreted as dating from
opposite extreme of the geologic time scale. In the October issue of
Donald R. Lowe (Stanford) and Gary R. Byerly (Louisiana State)
looked at some South African ironstone pods that
have been interpreted as deposits of Archean seafloor hydrothermal
vents and have provided what are arguably key observations about surface
environments on early Earth. Up till now, these deposits
yielded what are putatively the oldest-known complex organic
compounds and have been used to estimate Archean surface temperature,
ocean depth and volume, and seawater composition and to deduce relationships
between hydrothermal activity and seafloor sedimentation.
But Lowe and Byerly wondered why the beds were so undeformed
if they were really three billion years old, especially in the vicinity of
deformed rocks of much younger age. They also wondered how the material
they were made of, a thermally unstable hydrated form of iron oxide, could
have survived intact for so long. In addition, they found cavities
filled with dripstone that seem to have formed around the same time.
This formation begged for reinterpretation.
Lowe and Byerly have a new story.
They argue that these rocks are in fact Quaternary deposits
formed as spring and shallow
subsurface deposits of young (Quaternary) groundwater and/or low-temperature
(The Quaternary Period is the most recent in the geologic column,
estimated to be 10,000 to 1.8 million years old, whereas Archean rocks
are assumed to be the very oldest, up to 3.5 billion years old.)
The ironstone may contain some rare remnant veins
of Archean quartz, but otherwise, The presence of a well-preserved
modern iron oxide spring terrace confirms that these are deposits of young
subaerial springs and contain no record of Archean life or environments.
1Donald R. Lowe and Gary R. Byerly, Ironstone pods in the
Archean Barberton greenstone belt, South Africa: Earth's oldest seafloor
hydrothermal vents reinterpreted as Quaternary subaerial springs,
Vol. 31, No. 10, pp. 909912, DOI: 10.1130/G19664.1.
Notice that this deposit had been
considered Earths oldest seafloor by earlier storytellers.
Notice how it was used as a foundation for other tall tales about the
ancient ocean, including its depth, temperature and chemistry. And
notice the new date differs by three orders of magnitude or more,
undermining the whole pyramid of stories built on top of one faulty
assumption. Anyone think geological dating is an exact science?
Anyone think the new story and its date estimates are the final truth?
Remember this article next time you read a confident national park sign
explaining how such and such a formation was formed by oopty-oop processes
4.28523 kajillion years ago.
Next headline on: Geology.
Next headline on: Dating Methods.
Click on Apollos, the trusty|
Scientist of the Month
|Guide to Evolutionary Theory
I wanted to let you know I appreciate your headline news style of
exposing the follies of evolutionism.... Your style gives us constant,
up-to-date reminders that over and over again, the Bible creation account
is vindicated and the evolutionary fables are refuted.
(a reader, location unknown)
You have a knack of extracting the gist of a technical paper,
and digesting it into understandable terms.
(a nuclear physicist from Lawrence Livermore Labs who worked
on the Manhattan Project)
After spending MORE time than I really had available going thru
your MANY references I want to let you know how much I appreciate
the effort you have put forth.
The information is properly documented, and coming from
recognized scientific sources is doubly valuable. Your
explanatory comments and sidebar quotations also add GREATLY
to your overall effectiveness as they 1) provide an immediate
interpretive starting point and 2) maintaining the readers
(a reader in Michigan)
I am a huge fan of the site, and check daily for updates.
(reader location and occupation unknown)
I just wanted to take a minute to personally thank-you and let
you know that you guys are providing an invaluable service!
We check your Web site weekly (if not daily) to make sure we have
the latest information in the creation/evolution controversy.
Please know that your diligence and perseverance to teach the
Truth have not gone unnoticed. Keep up the great work!
(a PhD scientist involved in origins research)
You've got a very useful and informative Web site going.
The many readers who visit your site regularly realize that it
requires considerable effort to maintain the quality level and
to keep the reviews current.... I hope you can continue your
excellent Web pages. I have recommended them highly to others.
(a reader, location and occupation unknown)
As an apprentice apologist, I can always find an article
that will spark a spirited debate. Keep em
coming! The Truth will prevail.
(a reader, location and occupation unknown)
Your website is fantastic. PLEASE keep it going.
(a reader, location and occupation unknown)
Thanks for your web page and work. I try to drop by
at least once a week and read what you have. Im a
Christian that is interested in science (Im a mechanical
engineer) and I find you topics interesting and helpful.
I enjoy your lessons and insights on Baloney Detection.
(a reader in Kentucky)
I look up CREV headlines every day. It is a wonderful
source of information and encouragement to me.... Your gift of
discerning the fallacies in evolutionists interpretation of
scientific evidence is very helpful and educational for me.
Please keep it up. Your website is the best I know of.
(a Presbyterian minister in New South Wales, Australia)
Ive written to you before, but just wanted to say again
how much I appreciate your site and all the work you put into it.
I check it almost every day and often share the contents
(and web address) with lists on which I participate.
I dont know how you do all that you do, but I am grateful
for your energy and knowledge.
(a prominent creationist author)
I am new to your site, but I love it! Thanks for updating
it with such cool information.
(a home schooler)
I love your site.... Visit every day hoping for another of your
brilliant demolitions of the foolish just-so stories of those
who think themselves wise.
(a reader from Southern California)
I love to read your website and am disappointed when there is
nothing new to read. Thanks for all your hard work.
(a missionary in Japan)
I visit your site daily for the latest news from science journals and other media,
and enjoy your commentary immensely. I consider your web site to be the
most valuable, timely and relevant creation-oriented site on the internet.
(a reader from Ontario, Canada)
Keep up the good work! I thoroughly enjoy your site.
(a reader in Texas)
Thanks for keeping this fantastic web site going. It is very
informative and up-to-date with current news including incisive
(a reader in North Carolina)
Great site! For all the Baloney Detector is impressive and a
great tool in debunking wishful thinking theories.
(a reader in the Netherlands)
Just wanted to let you know, your work is having quite an impact.
For example, major postings on your site are being circulated among the
Intelligent Design members....
(a PhD organic chemist)
opening a can of worms ... I love to click all the related links and
read your comments and the links to other websites, but this usually makes me late
for something else. But its ALWAYS well worth it!!
(a leader of a creation group)
I am a regular visitor to your website ... I am impressed
by the range of scientific disciplines your articles address.
I appreciate your insightful dissection of the often unwarranted conclusions
evolutionists infer from the data... Being a medical
doctor, I particularly relish the technical detail you frequently include in
the discussion living systems and processes. Your website continually
reinforces my conviction that if an unbiased observer seeks a reason for the
existence of life then Intelligent Design will be the unavoidable
(a medical doctor)
A church member asked me what I thought was the best creation web site.
I told him CreationSafaris.com.
(a PhD geologist)
I love your site... I check it every day for interesting
information. It was hard at first to believe in Genesis fully, but
now I feel more confident about the mistakes of humankind and that all
their reasoning amounts to nothing in light of a living God.
(a college grad)
Thank you so much for the interesting science links and comments
on your creation evolution headlines page . . . it is very
visit your site almost every day, and really enjoy it. Great job!!!
(I also recommend it to many, many students.)
(an educational consultant)
I like what I seevery
much. I really appreciate a decent, calm and scholarly approach to the
whole issue . . . . Thanks . . . for this fabulous endeavorits superb!
It is refreshing to read your comments. You have a knack to get to the heart of
the matter. (a reader in the Air Force).
your website. It has well thought out structure and will help many
through these complex issues. I especially love the
Baloney Detector. (a scientist).
I believe this is one of the best sites on the Internet.
I really like your side-bar of truisms.
Yogi [Berra] is absolutely correct. If I were a man of wealth, I would
support you financially.
(a registered nurse in Alabama, who found
us on TruthCast.com.)
Unbelievable . . . .My question is, do you sleep? . . . Im utterly
impressed by your page which represents untold amounts of time and energy
as well as your faith. (a mountain man in Alaska).
wanted to say that I recently ran across your web site featuring science
headlines and your commentary and find it to be A++++, superb, a 10, a homerun
I run out of superlatives to describe it! . . . . You can be sure I will
visit your site often daily when possible to gain the latest information
to use in my speaking engagements. Ill also do my part to help publicize
your site among college students. Keep up the good work. Your
material is appreciated and used.
(a college campus minister)
Featured Creation Scientist for October
1791 - 1867
For October, were happy to present (finally)
one of the greatest in the roll call of the worlds greatest
creation scientists, Michael Faraday.
This months biography has the makings of a good movie. Who doesnt
enjoy hearing about someone rising out of poverty to achieve fame and
success, making the world a better place, without it going to his
head? Stay tuned.
Recently a scientist was asked what historical persons life he would most
like to relive. The answer was Michael Faraday. His was a Cinderella
story, the embodiment of a Horatio Alger novel, with plenty of human
interest that makes for a satisfying plot.
But its not just a good story; it was a life that changed the
world. Faraday was a nobody who trusted God, applied
himself, and succeeded. He became the
worlds greatest experimental physicist; to this day he is often
admired as such, notwithstanding the ultra-tech toys modern chemists
and physicists have at their possession. The president of the
Institution for Electrical Engineers (IEE), for instance, at the
unveiling of a Michael Faraday statue in 1989, said,
His discoveries have had an incalculable
effect on subsequent scientific and technical development.
He was a true pioneer of scientific discovery.
Faraday dazzled audiences with his public demonstrations.
He discovered some of the most important laws of physics and
chemistry, discoveries which revolutionized the world economy.
But none of this mattered to him as much as one thing: his Christian
faith. He would rather be praying and studying the Bible with his
fellow church members than be at an awards ceremony or have audience
with royalty. Steadfast and humble, Faraday remained absolutely
committed to Biblical truth from early childhood throughout his long
life. He would have been considered a fundamentalist Christian,
had the term existed in his day. But nothing, not even the rising
tide of skepticism in Britain leading up to the Darwinian revolution,
shook his confidence in the word of God. And Faraday was not one to
hear a snicker uttered by fellow scientists; he was too highly
respected for that. His contemporaries would have agreed with
what Lord Rutherford said of him in 1931,
The more we study the work of Faraday with the perspective of time,
the more we are impressed by his unrivalled genius as an experimenter
and natural philosopher. When we consider the magnitude and extent
of his discoveries and their influence on the progress of science and
industry, there is no honor too great to pay to the memory of Michael
Faradayone of the greatest scientific discoverers of all time.
Start listing the things that run on electric motors
automobiles, fans, clocks, airplanes, pumps, vacuum
cleaners, and so much more and you begin
to get a hint of what Faradays work brought forth.
Add to the list generators, transformers, electrolysis,
electromagnets, and many other products of his lab, and
Faradays importance to the history of science and technology
starts to come into focus. It has been said that the wealth
generated by the inventions based on Faradays discoveries
exceed the value of the British stock exchange. This is probably
an understatement. Yet Faraday remained a modest, unpretentious
soul who never sought financial profit from his work. He accepted
a cottage from the government in his senior years,
but rebuffed honors. When the queen wanted to knight him,
he declined, wishing to remain plain old Mr. Faraday to the
end. The glory of Jesus Christ was the only reward he sought.
This series on scientist Christians (too bad we cannot reverse
the order of the terms, no thanks to Mary Baker Eddy) has a
recurring theme: circumstances
are not the sole determiner of success. There have been some
who came from well-to-do families (Boyle, Joule) but others
(Newton, Kepler, Carver) seemed to have everything
against them. Teachers should take note that a child from a
poverty-stricken family and a bad neighborhood might turn out
to be the next Michael Faraday. Man looks on the outward
appearance, Samuel reminded Jesse, the father of a ruddy
shepherd boy destined to become King David, but God
looks on the heart.
The most precious gift a poor mother and father can give their
children is an example of faith, diligence, and godliness.
The Faraday household had little of this worlds goods, but they
had these intangible treasures. The centrality of worship in
their life made them resolutely confident in the sovereignty
and grace of God. Michael gained from his faith a sense of
purpose and drive and fortitude to withstand the rigors of life.
He developed values that subjugated worldly passions and
promoted honorable work. And for the benefit of science, his
faith provided curiosity about Gods creation and a deep belief
in the unity of nature. As we will see, this belief steered
him right toward his most fundamental discoveries.
In this regard, young Michael Faraday was a rich child, even though
outwardly his clothes were shabby, his shoes were worn out with
holes, and he knew hunger. His father, a blacksmith, had health
problems and went for extended periods without work. More than
once Michael was given a loaf of bread by his mother and told
it needed to last him a week. The boy had to learn how to
work hard and bear responsibility at an early age. Properly
understood and applied, these challenges can build character.
Jeremiah said, It is good for a man to bear the yoke in his
youth (Lam. 3:27). Faraday was living proof of that.
Rather than turn him into a thief or vagabond,
hardships and deprivation instilled in Michael an appreciation for the few good
things he had, a desire to succeed, and a deep hunger for
knowledge. That hunger began to be satisfied when he took a job
as an apprentice bookbinder at the age of 13.
Prior to his apprenticeship, he had attained only the rudiments of
education through Sunday school: reading, writing, and arithmetic.
Though math would never be his strong point, he learned good penmanship,
mastered writing and note-taking, and was a voracious reader.
In the print shop, he often read the books that were to be bound.
He was especially drawn to articles on science. When he read in
Encyclopedia Britannica about the new discoveries being made
about electricity, including Voltas new battery device that
could supply a constant current, he was so fascinated, he cobbled
parts from around the shop, including bottles, rags and clamps,
made his own Voltaic pile, and used it to do simple experiments.
Faraday was also strongly influenced by a book by the English hymnwriter
Isaac Watts on The Improvement of the Mind. Michael
resolved to discipline himself by taking reading profitable books,
taking good notes at important occasions, and observing the habits
of influential people. These helped to fill in deficiencies
from his substandard schooling. Whenever he could, he asked
friends and acquaintances to help him with grammar, spelling
Michael dreamed of being a scientist, but felt trapped.
It seemed at times he would never be
able to leave the working world he was in. His mother and
family members depended on his income, even more so when his
father passed away when Michael was only 19. By now he was
a journeyman bookbinder working for a French businessman.
One day, he was given a stub of paper that was to become
the ticket to his dreams: free tickets to a series of scientific
lectures at the Royal Institution by the one of Britains
most eminent scientists, Sir Humphry Davy.
The Royal Institution was a showcase of science built in 1799 by
Count Rumford (Benjamin Thompson). It was a
combination laboratory, library and
lecture hall. It contained one of the largest Voltaic piles
of the era. Well stocked with chemicals, wire and magnets,
it was the place to learn physical science. Humphry
Davy, famous for inventing the miners safety lamp, was
an early experimenter with electrolysis and used it to discover
six elements: potassium, sodium, calcium, strontium, barium,
and magnesium. He was another Christian man of science.
Henry Morris summarizes his testimony: he was a Bible-believing
Christian, highly altruistic and generous, though not as spiritually
minded and patient as was Faraday. He was also a poet and,
for a while, something of a Christian mystic. In his declining
years, however, he returned to Biblical Christianity and found
peace therein. (Men of Science, Men of God, p. 38).
Sir Davys public lectures at the Royal Institution were very
popular and brought in a good source of funding (since it relied
on subscribers). One can imagine how Faraday, now a young
man and well read in chemistry and electricity, would have dreamed
of hearing Davy. He had already been attending Wednesday night
meetings of the City Philosophical Society, a group of working men
interested in science. He kept voluminous notes, which his
boss often showed off to customers. One customer was so
impressed, he gave Michael free tickets to four lectures by Sir
Humphry Davy. The year was 1812, and Faraday was now 21.
He came early with ample note-taking materials and sat on the front
Spellbound by all Davy presented on stage, Faraday wrote down
everything, recopied it neatly at home, and bound it into a
book 386 pages long. Months went by as Faraday continued
to dream of becoming a scientist like Davy. His apprenticeship
over, he took a job as a bookbinder across town, but was bored with
business. He took a bold step. He wrote to Humphry Davy
and asked for a job. With his request, he enclosed a bound
volume of notes he had taken at the lectures. Davys
reply was polite, but disappointing; there were no positions
available. In October of that year, Davy was temporarily
blinded by an explosion in the laboratory. Faraday managed
to become his secretary for a few days, but when Davy recovered,
there were still no positions available.
A carriage pulled in front of Michaels home one evening with
a letter from Davy. Excitedly, Michael tore it open.
It was a summons to appear at the Royal Institution the next day!
Davys assistant had just been dismissed for involvement in
a brawl, so now a position was available, and Davy had not forgotten
the eager young man. Davy had discovered many things, but as
he later admitted, his greatest discovery was Faraday.
It was a substantial pay cut to take the job, but Michael
enthusiastically accepted. His position was little more than
a janitor: washing bottles, setting up for lectures, keeping
records, repairing things, and assisting the master as needed.
But it was a science education par excellence, learning at
the feet of one of the greatest scientists in England.
Faraday applied himself diligently. He learned everything he
could, keeping detailed notes, and working long hours willingly.
Soon he was the equal of any chemist in the world.
Whats more, in 1813, Davy invited him on come along as his personal
secretary on a tour of Europe, including Italy, Switzerland,
Holland and Germany, for a year and a half. Faraday had the
opportunity to personally meet some of the most important scientists
on the continent, including Alessandro Volta. It was not
always easy; the talkative and snobbish Mrs. Davy had the
habit of treating Michael like a servant, but overall, the experience
was a powerful supplement to Faradays ongoing education.
Faraday was like a kid in a toy shop at the Royal Institution.
His experiments are legendary. Many have written on his lifetime
discoveries, which are best summarized by
Faraday, who became one of the greatest scientists of the 19th
century, began his career as a chemist. He wrote a manual of
practical chemistry that reveals the mastery of the technical aspects
of his art, discovered a number of new organic compounds, among them
benzene, and was the first to liquefy a permanent gas
(i.e., one that was believed to be incapable of liquefaction).
His major contribution, however, was in the field of electricity and
magnetism. He was the first to produce an electric current
from a magnetic field, invented the first electric motor and
dynamo, demonstrated the relation between electricity and chemical
bonding, discovered the effect of magnetism on light, and discovered
and named diamagnetism, the peculiar behaviour of certain substances
in strong magnetic fields. He provided the experimental, and a
good deal of the theoretical, foundation upon which James Clerk
Maxwell erected classical eletromagnetic field theory.
This summary conceals years of hard work, and many lonely yet
adventurous days and nights in the laboratory. Sometimes
Faraday used his tongue as a voltmeter or chemical taster, and
explosions were not uncommon. But he was a stickler
for accuracy, kept good records, and published faithfully.
He also learned and mastered the art of lecturing and became
famous for his stage demonstrations.
Within a decade of his employment by Davy, Faraday exceeded his
master in eminence. By 1824,
he was appointed the Institutes Director. He was now
a skilled lecturer, well-known experimentalist, Fellow of the Royal
Society, and published scientist, with many major papers to his
credit. He was also a married man, having wed Sarah Barnard,
a member of his church, in June, 1821.
Come back soon for the rest of the story, including Faradays
unusual church and the influence of his faith on his science!
If you enjoyed this series,
learn more about great Christians in science by reading
our online book-in-progress:
The Worlds Greatest
Creation Scientists from Y1K to Y2K.
Copies are also
available from our online store.
A Concise Guide|
You can observe a lot by just watching.
First Law of Scientific Progress
The advance of science can be measured by the rate at which exceptions to previously held laws accumulate.
1. Exceptions always outnumber rules.
2. There are always exceptions to established exceptions.
3. By the time one masters the exceptions, no one recalls the rules to which they apply.
Nature will tell you a direct lie if she can.
So will Darwinists.
Science is true. Dont be misled by facts.
Finagles 2nd Law
No matter what the anticipated result, there
will always be someone eager to (a) misinterpret it, (b) fake it, or (c)
believe it happened according to his own pet theory.
3. Draw your curves, then plot your data.
4. In case of doubt, make it sound convincing.
6. Do not believe in miracles rely on them.
Murphys Law of Research
Enough research will tend to support your theory.
If the facts do not conform to the theory, they must be disposed of.
1. The bigger the theory, the better.
2. The experiments may be considered a success if no more than 50%
of the observed measurements must be discarded to obtain a correspondence
with the theory.
The number of different hypotheses erected to explain a given biological phenomenon
is inversely proportional to the available knowledge.
All great discoveries are made by mistake.
The greater the funding, the longer it takes to make the mistake.
The solution to a problem changes the nature of the problem.
Peters Law of Evolution
Competence always contains the seed of incompetence.
An expert is a person who avoids the small errors while sweeping on to the grand fallacy.
Repetition does not establish validity.
What really matters is the name you succeed in imposing on the facts not the facts themselves.
For every action, there is an equal and opposite criticism.
Thumbs Second Postulate
An easily-understood, workable falsehood is more useful than a complex, incomprehensible truth.
There is nothing so small that it cant be blown out of proportion
Hawkins Theory of Progress
Progress does not consist in replacing a theory that is wrong with one that is right. It consists
in replacing a theory that is wrong with one that is more subtly wrong.
The best theory is not ipso facto a good theory.
Error is often more earnest than truth.
Advice from Paul|
Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle
babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge by
professing it some have strayed concerning the faith.
I Timothy 6:20-21
Song of the True Scientist
O Lord, how manifold are Your works! In wisdom You have made
them all. The earth is full of Your possessions . . . . May the glory of the Lord endure forever. May the
Lord rejoice in His works . . . . I will sing to the Lord s long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have my
being. May my meditation be sweet to Him; I will be glad in the Lord. May sinners be
consumed from the earth, and the wicked be no more. Bless the Lord, O my soul! Praise the Lord!
from Psalm 104
Through the creatures Thou hast made
Show the brightness of Thy glory.
Be eternal truth displayed
In their substance transitory.
Till green earth and ocean hoary,
Massy rock and tender blade,
Tell the same unending story:
We are truth in form arrayed.
Teach me thus Thy works to read,
That my faith, new strength accruing
May from world to world proceed,
Wisdoms fruitful search pursuing
Till, thy truth my mind imbuing,
I proclaim the eternal Creed
Oft the glorious theme renewing,
God our Lord is God indeed.
James Clerk Maxwell
One of the greatest physicists
of all time (a creationist).
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