Saturday, 24 September 2016

Ig Nobels 2016: Rock Personalities and Human Animals


Might these rocks have personality?



Joel Kontinen


Each year, Harvard University awards research that differs quite a bit from the run-of-the-mill papers flooding science journals. While the Ig Nobels are meant to be funny, they are based on real research.

Often, the research has a Darwinian connection. Or what would we say about this year’s economics prize, awarded to Mark Avis, Sarah Forbes, and Shelagh Ferguson, for assessing the perceived personalities of rocks, from a sales and marketing perspective?

According to the evolutionary worldview, rocks are our distance ancestors. Life and consciousness are afterthoughts. ‘Personality’ should actually be a big dilemma for Darwinists.

This year’s biology prize is no less Darwinian. It was awarded jointly to “Charles Foster, for living in the wild as, at different times, a badger, an otter, a deer, a fox, and a bird; and to Thomas Thwaites, for creating prosthetic extensions of his limbs that allowed him to move in the manner of, and spend time roaming hills in the company of, goats.”

In attempting to be as authentic as possible, Mr. Foster ate worms, while Mr. Thwaites munched grass like his hirsute mates.

In a Darwinian world, man is just another animal, related to things like mushrooms. So why not eat grass and worms and live like our four-footed cousins?

Each winner also received a $10 trillion monetary compensation for their ordeal. Robert Mugabe might not like this, but it is a Zimbabwean banknote, hardly worth the paper it is printed on.

Source:

Bohannon, John. 2016. Sex life of rats, personalities of rocks awarded Ig Nobel Prizes. Science (22 September).

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Smart Ants Build Quick Impromptu Bridges


An ant bridge. Image courtesy of Geoff Gallice, Creative Commons (CC BY 2.0).




Joel Kontinen

Ants are ingenious creatures. While they have a miniature brain, they can do some basic arithmetic, and build living rafts and huge anthills.

Some of these structures are over 9 metres (30 feet) high. Taking their size into account, humans would have to erect buildings that are over 2 kilometres (1.25 miles) high to be able to compete with these clever builders.

Some ants have come up with an elaborate farming system. Evolutionists believe this happened some “25 million years” ago.

Recently, New Scientist (NS) described another amazing ability, viz. bridge building, that ants are good at:

“BARRO Colorado Island is tiny and sits in the middle of the Panama Canal. Here, below the forest dome, a diminutive predator scuttles over dead leaves and along narrow branches. Nearly blind, this Eciton army ant follows a trail of chemical signals laid down by her sisters. She pushes forward, relentlessly, in search of prey. Whatever she finds, she’ll bring back to the nest to share with her colony.

But then she stops. The ground has dropped away in front of her. There is no scent trail, just empty space. Other members of the colony that were following begin to climb over her. Now, instead of walking in a line, they grip hold of one another using hooks on their feet, adding body after body to build an impromptu bridge. More and more join in, until they traverse the gap. And there they remain until the entire foraging party, numbering hundreds, has crossed. Then, as suddenly as it came into being, the bridge disperses, and the ants continue on their way
.”

NS says that this is “an impressive feat of coordination.” Given their “very limited brainpower” and despite having no “overview of the situation” they manage to do the impossible.

This would be difficult if not impossible to explain by invoking Darwinian processes that tend to be more or less myopic.

But in a created world we would expect animals to be intelligent.


Source:

Hess, Peter. 2016. Get inside the collective mind of a genius superorganism. New Scientist (7 September).





Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Interstellar Cloud Destroys Belief in Alien Megastructure Near Tabby’s Star



Some thought it was comets. Image courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech.




Joel Kontinen

No megastructure. No aliens.

Not so long ago SETI enthusiasts thought they saw evidence of a “massive extraterrestrial construction project”, as New Scientist puts it, near Tabby’s star.

A star can become 1 per cent dimmer when an exoplanet crosses in front of it. This occurs at regular intervals. However, astronomers were unable to explain why Tabby’s star or KIC 8462852, as it is officially known, became 20 per cent dimmer – sporadically.

Recent research suggests that asteroids or alien megastructures can’t explain what is happening. The proposed solution is a swarm of interstellar comets.

The problem is that no one knows whether they exist.

Jason Wright at Pennsylvania State University, who initially came up with the idea of alien megastructures, now thinks the dimming may be caused by an interstellar cloud between us and the star.

This might well be a plausible explanation as Tabby’s star has been dimming for a hundred years or so.

This has not been a good year for the SETI folks. It has cast doubt on the famous wow signal and the strong radio signal coming from the star HD 164595.

It seems that those who reject the Christian worldview tend to believe in more or less bizarre phenomena.

There seems to be a strong correlation between belief in Darwinian evolution and in UFOs, for instance.

Source:

Hall, Shannon. 2016. ‘Alien megastructure’ star may be explained by interstellar junk. New Scientist (19 September).


Sunday, 18 September 2016

Protein from ”3.8 Million-Year-Old” Ostrich Shells Refutes Darwinian Dogma


Here’s a bit younger ostrich egg.




Joel Kontinen

Science calls them the “oldest-ever proteins.” Their assumed age is “3.8 million years”, and researchers extracted them from ostrich egg shells found in Laetoli, Tanzania.

This might be a bit misleading, as collagen has been discovered in dinosaur bone, and collagen is certainly a protein.

Scientists have estimated that collagen could last perhaps 1– 2 million years if kept frozen, otherwise it would not last even half a million years.

Laetoli lies just south of the Equator on a plain where temperatures would hardly ever fall below the freezing point, so it seems that dogma (millions-of-years) means more to these researchers than letting the evidence speak for itself.

The preservation of DNA in “1.4 million year” old plankton, as well as blood vessels and radiocarbon (C-14) in dinosaur bone make it practically impossible to believe in millions of years.

But what beats all other discoveries of ancient protein is that of protein compounds in “1.88 billion year old” cyanobacteria.


Source:

Gibbons, Ann. 2016. Oldest-ever proteins extracted from 3.8-million-year-old ostrich shells. Science (16 September).



Friday, 16 September 2016

Potassium Kills Moon Origin Hypothesis

Potassium isotopes in lunar rocks like this killed the leading Moon origin hypothesis. Image courtesy of NASA.




Joel Kontinen

Secular Moon origin hypotheses have not fared well recently.

And the ones that do make it into headlines rely too much on fiction and speculation.

The latest casualty is the view that relies on the collision between a Mars-sized body and a proto-Earth. A paper in Nature compared the potassium-41 and potassium-39 levels in lunar rocks and terrestrial rocks.

Science Daily summarises the results:

The leading theory for the moon's formation got in trouble recently when it was revealed that the moon and Earth are isotopic twins. Now highly precise measurements of the isotopes of an element that was still condensed at the ‘cut off’ temperature when material started to fall back to Earth suggest a dramatic solution to the problem.

The expression ‘got in trouble’ is an understatement. The hypothesis or story is practically dead.



Source:

Washington University in St. Louis. 2016. Moon is proto-earth's mantle, relocated, chemistry suggests. Science Daily. (12 September).





Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Professor Stuart Burgess: Sceptics Can’t Avoid Irreducible Complexity: They’re Standing on a Knee Joint That’s Irreducibly Complex


Prof. Stuart Burgess speaking at the recent Creation Declares conference in London.





Joel Kontinen

While evolutionists expect to see bad design, there is no such thing in nature.

Richard Dawkins was as wrong as wrong could be when he wrote about what he thought was poor design, especially when he claimed that the human eye was the work of a complete idiot.

It is actually a good example of superb design and has inspired engineers to build better cameras.

But, then, Dawkins has never designed anything.

Everything we see in nature is designed very well, even in a fallen world. Many excellent features in the animal kingdom and in us are better designed than the smart devices humans have built.

Prof. Stuart Burgess of the University of Bristol, UK, lectured on biomimetics at the recent Creation Declares conference in London.

In his talk, he quoted Charles Darwin, who said:

If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.”

There are numerous such things, not only in animals but also in us. In addition to the dragonfly’s delicate design, birds’ wings, fish jaws, we also have something that every sceptic needs, i.e. the knee joint that is irreducibly complex.

Source:

Burgess, Stuart. 2016. Inspiration from Creation: Lessons from Biomimetics. Lecture given at the Creation Declares Conference in London, UK. (9 September).





Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Creation Declares Conference: Biblical Creation Is Becoming More Popular in Europe



Creation Ministries International (CMI) arranged a two-day conference in central London.




Joel Kontinen

When I attended my very first creation conference in the United Kingdom in 2006, it drew some 400 participants. Now, ten years later a two-day conference attracted almost a thousand people from 12 countries.

The speakers at the Creation Declares were some of the best scientists and theologians within the creationist movement, including professor Stuart Burgess, and doctors Jonathan Sarfati and Vij Sodera.

The talks they gave at the conference reminds us that creation declares the glory of God, even after the Fall that brought bad things into the world and Noah’s Flood by which He punished the evil that was rampant in the ancient world.