Monday, 29 September 2014
We share 50 per cent of our genes with bananas, but that does not make as half bananas.
Popular culture and science museums will tell us that we differ genetically from chimpanzees by 2 per cent.
Assuming the common ancestry of chimps and humans, scientists only measured the parts of our DNA that matched those of chimps. Much of it didn’t. In the past decade, the difference has kept on getting bigger and bigger. First, it was 5 – 6 per cent, then 23 and now perhaps 30 per cent or so. Nature, for instance, admitted in 2010 that the Y chromosomes of the chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) and humans are ”horrendously different from each other”.
The two per cent difference is a myth that does not at all correspond to reality.
Saturday, 27 September 2014
Bill Nye, who is fond of being known as the science guy, does not like those who are critical of evolution.
Mr. Nye advocates censoring criticism of evolution. He famously debated Ken Ham last April in an attempt to make his view more popular.
He probably only managed to persuade those who already had bought into the Darwinian model of explaining origins.
Recently, he spoke again of the importance of knowing evolution. He likened it to the alphabet.
Darwin does follow close on the heels of A, B and C. and after the D-word we have something beginning in E.
The problem with Nye’s agenda is that it is entirely worldview based. When it comes to origins, he is not the science guy, but the materialistic guy.
Mitchell, Elizabeth. 2014. Bill Nye Likens Evolution to the Alphabet. Answers in Genesis.(September 19).
Friday, 26 September 2014
Old beliefs don’t die easily. For ages, it has been scientific dogma that Earth began as a molten blob and gradually cooled and got its water.
The origin of the water has remained a mystery. In 2010 some scientists nevertheless proposed that Earth probably had water from day one.
More recently, researchers confirmed the presence of “massive amounts of water 400 to 700 kilometers beneath Earth's surface” in a mineral called ringwoodite.
This cannot tell us much about the origin of Earth’s water, but a new study attempts to do just that.
In a paper published this week in Science, researchers suggest that Earth’s water is older than the sun:
“In studying the history of our Solar System's ices, the team -- led by L. Ilsedore Cleeves from the University of Michigan -- focused on hydrogen and its heavier isotope deuterium. Isotopes are atoms of the same element that have the same number of protons but a different number of neutrons. The difference in masses between isotopes results in subtle differences in their behavior during chemical reactions. As a result, the ratio of hydrogen to deuterium in water molecules can tell scientists about the conditions under which the molecules formed,” ScienceDaily reports.
The team assumed a conventional (i.e. naturalistic) origin of the solar system. However, their stimulation suggests a somewhat unorthodox conclusion:
“At least some of the water in our own Solar System has an origin in interstellar space and pre-dates the birth of the Sun.”
What is particular interesting, is that according to Genesis, Earth is older than the sun, so Earth’s water should likewise be older than the sun. Moreover, the Bible mentions the “waters which were above the firmament” (Genesis 1:7, NKJV), so we should expect to find water in outer space.
Carnegie Institution. 2014. Earth's water is older than the sun: Likely originated as ices that formed in interstellar space. Science Daily. (25 September).
Wednesday, 24 September 2014
Far from lending support to the orthodox Darwinian dogma of slow gradual change, the fossil record speaks instead of the sudden appearance of fully-formed animals.
The Cambrian Explosion was an enigma for Charles Darwin and it still is a headache for some of his latter-day followers.
Recent discoveries have actually made things worse for evolution. The earliest animals with muscles already appear in the Ediacaran, i.e. before the Cambrian Explosion.
According to Science Daily:
“The fossil, dating from 560 million years ago, was discovered in Newfoundland, Canada. On the basis of its four-fold symmetry, morphological characteristics, and what appear to be some of the earliest impressions of muscular tissue, researchers from the University of Cambridge, in collaboration with the University of Oxford and the Memorial University of Newfoundland, have interpreted it as a cnidarian: the group which contains modern animals such as corals, sea anemones and jellyfish. The results are published today (27 August) in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.”
There’s not much new under the sun. While Haootia quadriformis, the new Edicaran animal, seems to have no ancestors, it resembles some stalked jellyfish that still live in our time. It is hardly a good poster boy (or girl) for evolution.
Animals first flex their muscles: Earliest fossil evidence for animals with muscles. ScienceDaily August 26, 2014.
Monday, 22 September 2014
In real life, we would tend to associate quality control with something that has been designed for a purpose. This would also apply to the minuscule scale of the cell, which after all is full of amazing, almost miraculously tiny motors.
A new paper by researchers at the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG) highlights the quality control that exists in the cell.
According to a CRG news release:
“In a paper published today in Science, CRG researchers describe a new protein quality control system in the inner nuclear membrane.
The new system has two main functions, to eliminate misfolded proteins and to protect the nucleus from accumulating mislocalised (or ectopic) proteins. This may be especially relevant in non-dividing cells such as neurones.”
The brief news release makes frequent use of the term quality control. What is missing is any explicit or implicit reference to random Darwinian mechanisms.
A new quality control pathway in the cell. Centre for Genomic Regulation. 18 September 2014.
Saturday, 20 September 2014
New research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that the decision to let Terri Schiavo starve to death in 2005 was ethically questionable and all too hasty. Individuals characterised as vegetative might not be so vegetative after all.
According to Nature news, “A dozen volunteers watched Alfred Hitchcock for science while lying motionless in a magnetic-resonance scanner. Another participant, a man who has lived in a vegetative state for 16 years, showed brain activity remarkably similar to that of the healthy volunteers — suggesting that plot structure had an impact on him.”
Previously, doctors often used the term permanent vegetative state (PVS) of patients who have been in a vegetative state for about a year. However, the new research suggests that this might be premature:
“The film, an 1961 episode of the TV show Alfred Hitchcock Presents that had been condensed down to 8 minutes, is a study in suspense. In it, a 5-year-old totes a partially loaded revolver — which she thinks is a toy — around her suburban neighbourhood, shouting ‘bang’ each time she aims at someone and squeezes the trigger.
While the study participants watched the film, researchers monitored their brain activity by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). All 12 healthy participants showed similar patterns of activity, particularly in parts of the brain that have been linked to higher cognition (frontal and parietal regions) as well as in regions involved in processing sensory information (auditory and visual cortices).
… a 34-year-old man who has been in a vegetative state since he was 18, had patterns of brain activity in the executive and sensory brain areas, similarly to that of the healthy subjects.”
Adrian Owen, a neuroscientist at the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada, says that the patient’s brain activity was “indistinguishable from a healthy participant watching the movie.”
Nature news also mentions the 2006 case of a 23-year-old woman: “When the researchers asked her to imagine playing tennis while she was in an fMRI machine, motor areas of her brain lit up in much the same way they do in healthy people.”
Incredible things do happen. In 2009, the media reported on a Belgian man who recovered consciousness after being in a coma for 23 years.
We could call them miracles.
Callaway, Ewen. 2014. Hitchcock thriller reveals busy mind in 'vegetative' man. Nature news (15 September).
Thursday, 18 September 2014
Neil deGrasse Tyson of Cosmos fame might be an excellent communicator but sticking to facts might not be his cup of tea.
Sceptics like to overuse the word denialist of those who refuse to accept the view that the natural realm is the only one that is.
In actual fact, however, they are the real denialists.
They often see Neil deGrasse Tyson as being on their side. That is obviously true, but his version of history relies to a great extent on fabricating past events and getting the details all wrong.
He seems to have a tendency to invent facts. What is more, few people have managed to fabricate as many quotes as Tyson.
Recently, Sean Davis wrote in The Federalist:
“Neil deGrasse Tyson may be a fabulous scientist, and a consummate showman, but he's downright terrible at accurately quoting people. Or, if you're a ‘glass half full’ kind of person, you might say that Neil deGrasse Tyson is pretty amazing at needlessly fabricating quotes and scenarios to showcase his own brilliance.
We've already established that a newspaper headline touted for years by Tyson likely doesn't exist. We've also established that the exact quote he uses to bash members of Congress as being stupid also doesn't exist. And then we established that the details within one of Tyson's favorite anecdotes -- a story of how he bravely confronted a judge about his mathematical illiteracy while serving on jury duty -- seem to change every time Tyson tells the story.”
Davis, Sean. 2014. Another Day, Another Quote Fabricated By Neil deGrasse Tyson. The Federalist (16 September).