Saturday, 27 August 2016

Environment Trumps Mutations in Madagascar Carp


Cyprinus carpio. Image courtesy of Alexander Francis Lydon, public domain.




Joel Kontinen

If Darwinists insist on describing the changes occurring in the common carp (Cyprinus carpio) as evolution, then it certainly is not of the Darwinian variety.

In Medieval Europe monks selectively bred carp that had fewer scales so the fish would be easier to prepare and cook.

While monks might not have been too fond of scales, fish need them as they protect them from parasites.

Some of these so-called mirrow carp were eventually set free in Madagascar in 1912.

A paper published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B shows that while the carp had a loss-of-function mutation resulting in “reduced scale cover”, they are now mostly covered with scales.

It seems that the environment helped them to regain something they once had. Nothing new is introduced; no evolution is occurring.

Thus, environmental factors trump mutations.

There was a time when most Darwinists believed random mutations and natural selection ran the show.

Now, they’re not too sure. Things like epigenetics and quality control in cells are prompting some prominent scientists to discard old orthodoxy.

No wonder the Royal Society is arranging a conference that will take a critical look at neo-Darwinism.

Source:

Panko, Ben. 2016. Carp undergo ‘reverse evolution’ to get their scales back. Science (23 August).



Thursday, 25 August 2016

Proxima b: Nearest Exoplanet Might Be Bombarded With Intense Solar Flares


An artist’s impression of Proxima b. Image courtesy of ESO/M. Kornmesser.




Joel Kontinen

Just over 4 light years away, Proxima b is the closest exoplanet we could get. What is more, astronomers think that it orbits its sun Proxima Centauri in the habitable zone where liquid water can potentially be found.

No wonder it has made overtly optimistic headlines.

However, it might be good to keep in mind that Venus and Mars orbit the Sun in its habitable zone, and look how friendly to life they are.

Proxima b has a mass that is at least 1.3 times bigger than Earth’s. It orbits its sun at a distance of 7 million kilometres, which is much closer than where Mercury orbits our sun.

As Proxima Centauri is a red dwarf, it is fainter and cooler and probably also more unstable than the Sun.

Nevertheless, some researchers believe that the planet could be habitable. According to Science Daily, it

has an estimated surface temperature that would allow the presence of liquid water.”

But there are some big iffs:

Despite the temperate orbit of Proxima b, the conditions on the surface may be strongly affected by the ultraviolet and X-ray flares from the star -- far more intense than the Earth experiences from the Sun.”

In other words, it might be a dead planet. With a year lasting only 11 days it is bound to be a world that differs enormously from what we are used to:

Two separate papers discuss the habitability of Proxima b and its climate. They find that the existence of liquid water on the planet today cannot be ruled out and, in such case, it may be present over the surface of the planet only in the sunniest regions, either in an area in the hemisphere of the planet facing the star (synchronous rotation) or in a tropical belt (3:2 resonance rotation). Proxima b's rotation, the strong radiation from its star and the formation history of the planet makes its climate quite different from that of the Earth, and it is unlikely that Proxima b has seasons.”

While the discovery of potentially habitable exoplanets tends to make splashing headlines, further research has often shown that even the most promising cases, for instance Kepler 438 b and Kepler 452 b, have turned out to be far less habitable than once assumed.

Some life-friendly exoplanets, such as Gliese 581 d and Gliese 581 c, might not even exist.

Exoplanets tend to be weird. The ones we know about don’t resemble Earth at all.

Why, then, are some people so keen to find them?

The naturalistic /materialistic worldview needs them. It detests the possibility that humans are unique and wants to see aliens everywhere in the universe.


Source:

European Southern Observatory (ESO). 2016. Planet found in habitable zone around nearest star: Pale Red Dot campaign reveals Earth-mass world in orbit around Proxima Centauri. Science Daily (24 August).



Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Five-Eyed Aliens: Evolution and Imagination




Might space aliens look a bit like Opabinia regalis? Image courtesy of Nobu Tamura, Creative Commons (CC BY 3.0).



Joel Kontinen

A new article in The Conversation speculates on what aliens might look like. Matthew Willis, Professor of Evolutionary Palaeobiology at the University of Bath, UK, skips over the pertinent question of whether ETs exist.

But when it comes to intelligent aliens, he isn’t absolutely sure.

Prof. Willis looks at the assumed evolution on Earth and speculates what might have happened if some bizarre Cambrian creatures, such as the five-eyed Opabinia, would not have become extinct.

After toying with the idea that five-eyed intelligent creatures might be reading his post if their ancestor had survived, he remembers convergent evolution. He believes it has for instance given some unrelated sea creatures streamlined bodies for moving swiftly in water.

The word that best explains his take on alien life is speculation:

But what aspects of alien biology might we expect? Carbon-based biochemistry is likely given that carbon forms stable backbone chains, and makes stable but readily breakable bonds with other elements. Other elements, notably silicon and sulphur, make less stable bonds at Earth-like temperatures. Water or some other solvent also seems necessary. For evolution to occur there needs to be some mechanism for storing and replicating information with moderate fidelity, such as DNA, RNA or some analogue. Although the first cells appeared on Earth quite early, multicellular animals took nearly 3 billion more years to evolve. So it may well be that life on other planets could get stuck at the single-celled stage.”

He doesn’t think aliens would look like insects, though, and opts for some kind of symmetry (two eyes, two ears, two feet) but suggests chance might have played a major role in giving us things like five fingers, so perhaps ETs might have four or six of them.

What has this to do with science?

Nothing. It’s pure speculation. But Darwinists believe that life must have evolved in many places in the universe, so it’s almost certain that aliens exist.

Stephen Hawking acknowledges that he’s afraid of them, and a former astronaut believes they’ve visited Earth several times.

Researchers have spent an enormous amount of taxpayers’ money in their search for alien life but they haven’t heard a whisper despite listening for over 50 years.

Some have even speculated that they live in our seas.

What Darwinists tend to forget is that life does not just happen. It has to be designed and created. Darwinian processes can’t produce life. Gases will remain gases and rocks remain rocks. They don’t magically turn into any kinds of creatures, alien or not.

Source:

Wills, Matthew. 2016. What do aliens look like? The clue is in evolution. The Conversation (19 August).


Sunday, 21 August 2016

Rio 2016: Long Distance Running Is a Darwinian Enigma


Fabienne St Louis (seen here in 2011) took part in the women’s triathlon in Rio despite a cancer diagnosis. Image courtesy of MartinPutz, Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0).



Joel Kontinen

Some animal rights activists seem to think that chimpanzees are almost human although DNA comparisons tell a very different story, putting the difference between our genomes at anywhere between 5 – 6 and 30 per cent, with our horrendously different Y-chromosomes.

Perhaps Rio 2016 reminds us that while apes might be good at swinging from trees, they could never run a marathon.

Unlike us, they were never created in God’s image to walk and run upright on two feet.

Unlike apes, we have a chin, and the golden ratio in us speaks of ornate design that cannot be explained away by Darwinian mechanisms.

Such top - down planning is the opposite of what we would expect from the blind Darwinian watchmaker.



Friday, 19 August 2016

Nanotyrannus: The Dino That Never Existed – And What It Implies for Noah’s Ark

Image courtesy of Conty, Creative Commons (CC BY 3.0).




Joel Kontinen

In 2003, palaeontologists from the Burpee Museum of Natural History in Illinois unearthed a dinosaur they thought looked like a tiny cousin of Tyrannosaurus rex. Half the size of the notorious killer, they dubbed it Nanotyrannus.

But then some researchers began having doubts. What if Nanotyrannus was a juvenile T. rex?

After all, older specimens of many animals look very different from the young.

This was not the first fossil of a smaller Tyrannosaur that was found. Disagreement about its status had begun decades earlier.

In 2009 National Geographic aired a documentary called Dinosaurs Decoded. It claimed that a third of all dinosaur species never existed. It suggested that Nanotyrannus was a young T. rex.

Later, researchers said that Torosaurus did not exist. They suggested it was an adult Triceratops.

Seen from a creation perspective, these developments mean that Noah had to take far fewer dinosaur kinds on the Ark than previously thought.

Nanotyrannus should also remind us that it is often very hard to draw conclusions from old bones that cannot speak for themselves.

This also applies to fossils purported to belong to our family tree.

Even some Darwinists acknowledge that our (assumed) evolution is a difficult puzzle. The existence of Australopithecus sediba, for instance, makes it a mess.

When it comes to dinosaurs, we would do well to remember that with radiocarbon (C-14) and soft tissue, they certainly are our friends, helping to refute the old dogma of millions of years and uphold the historicity of Genesis.

Source:

Riley, Alex. 2016. Meet Nanotyrannus, the dinosaur that never really existed. BBC Earth (17 August).

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Darwinian Story: Thank Ancient Moss for the Oxygen You Breathe


Evolutionists tend to believe that these moss-covered rocks are hundreds of millions years old.


Joel Kontinen

Evolutionists have repeatedly claimed that oxygen made complex life possible. Usually, they mean the Cambrian Explosion, often called biology’s Big Bang.

Not so long ago, science publications wrote about hi-tech trilobite eyes, complex Cambrian brains and thinking animals.

But a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) suggests oxygen levels did not rise until almost a hundred million years after the Cambrian Explosion.

Based on computer simulations, it argues that moss-like plants began colonising the land roughly “470 million years” ago. After 50–70 million years, Earth’s atmosphere would have had as much oxygen as today.

The research includes customary Darwinian storytelling. New Scientist says:

The earliest terrestrial plants were simple bryophytes, such as moss, which lack vein-like systems to transport water and minerals.”

However, while a typical moss might only have a single set of chromosomes, it has everything it needs to conquer vast stretches of land.

Moss are not necessarily very simple. Image courtesy of LadyofHats, public domain.

The researchers do not tell us how marine creatures coped for a “hundred million” years without the protection of an ozone layer.

But, then, evolution is often a fill-in-the-dots-game. If the theory requires it, Darwinians are allowed to join dots that are separated by 100 million years.

Source:

New Scientist staff and Press Association 2016. Without oxygen from ancient moss you wouldn’t be alive today (15 August).


Monday, 15 August 2016

A Not-So-Brainy Darwinian Brain Evolution Story

“Surprisingly complex interactions”: Image courtesy of US National Institutes of Health, public domain.




Joel Kontinen

The human brain is a Darwinian enigma. Evolutionists are baffled at its size and effectiveness.

But it has also inspired just-so stories featuring things like our assumed lizard brain.

However, not all researchers have let their imagination carry them away.

In 2008 Harvard biology professor Richard Lewontin admitted that we don’t know anything about brain evolution.

Two years later, Brian J. Ford, a research biologist at the University of Cambridge, UK, said that the human brain may be a trillion times more capable than we can imagine.

Neuroscientists have tended to be puzzled at how wonderful the human brain is.

They are willing to acknowledge that surprisingly complex interactions occur between “neurotransmitter receptors and other key proteins,” enabling us to process information really fast.

This has inspired engineers to build smarter computers.

Neuroscientists have suggested that the brain may be designed to help us learn. They have described it as a vast community of microscopic computers and a well-organised library, to name a just a few suggestions.

But all this has not sounded the death knell for Darwinian brain stories that tend to be anything but brainy.

A new paper published in the journal Scientific Reports has this to say:

Humans have evolved a disproportionately large brain as a result of sizing each other up in large cooperative social groups, researchers have proposed.”

The research was based on computer modelling and had nothing to do with examining a brain.

Science Daily states:

Lead author of the study Professor Roger Whitaker, from Cardiff University's School of Computer Science and Informatics, said: ‘Our results suggest that the evolution of cooperation, which is key to a prosperous society, is intrinsically linked to the idea of social comparison -- constantly sizing each up and making decisions as to whether we want to help them or not.’ ”

Then comes the brain part:

“The research team propose that making relative judgements through helping others has been influential for human survival, and that the complexity of constantly assessing individuals has been a sufficiently difficult task to promote the expansion of the brain over many generations of human reproduction.”

So, forget things like meat eating. Sizing each other up is the new Darwinian explanation for our big brains – until they come up with a new not-so-brainy story that completely demolishes the current one.

But those who have not been numbed by Darwinian tales might well see real evidence of superb design in one of the most complex organs ever created.

Source:

Cardiff University. 2016. Large human brain evolved as a result of 'sizing each other up'. Science Daily (12 August).