Friday, 22 July 2016

Is Dark Matter Dead? Two-Year Experiment Didn’t Find A Whiff


Some would see dark matter in this picture. Image courtesy of NASA, N. Benitez (JHU), T. Broadhurst (Racah Institute of Physics/The Hebrew University), H. Ford (JHU), M. Clampin (STScI),G. Hartig (STScI), G. Illingworth (UCO/Lick Observatory), the ACS Science Team and ESA.





Joel Kontinen

This summer has not been good for dark energy, one of the several unknown factors used to prop up the Big Bang. Some astronomers want to get rid of it.

And now it seems that dark matter is faring even worse. A two-year search for this elusive stuff found absolutely nothing.

Astronomers believe that this stuff should “be made up of particles that have some mass and interact weakly with other matter,” as New Scientist puts it; hence the name weakly interacting massive particles, or WIMPs.

But a fancy name does not mean that it really exists. In the standard model, i.e. the Big Bang, dark matter is needed to keep galaxies together, otherwise they might fly apart and the universe would be a mess.

Writing in New Scientist, Jacob Aron says: “What’s unknown is how often these particles bounce off each other – their scattering cross section – and their mass. They should also occasionally bump into normal matter. These rare collisions are what experiments like the Large Underground Xenon detector (LUX) are designed to pick up, in order to determine WIMPs’ properties.”

But they didn’t find “a single whiff”.

Basically, the Big Bang model says that in the beginning there was a quantum fluctuation that occurred for no reason at all, and then the universe suddenly accelerated for no reason, breaking all cosmic speed limits during a brief epoch called inflation.

The BB model should have produced as much antimatter as there is matter and thus blown everything up.

Obviously, it didn’t. Instead, we see a finely tuned universe in which early galaxies grew too fast for the Big Bang.

Everything in our cosmic neighbourhood points to Divine foresight.

God by His sovereign wisdom created a
habitable place for us.

Source:

Aron, Jacob. 2016. Dark matter no-show puts favoured particles on death row. New Scientist (21 July).


Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Did Noah’s Flood Leave Rivers Beneath Greenland’s Glaciers?

Nuuk. Nowadays Greenland looks like this. Image courtesy of Oliver Schauf, public domain.




Joel Kontinen

Many geological discoveries suggest that our planet was once much warmer than it is now. We have read of Arctic dinosaur fossils, camel fossils in Canada, pollen from tropical trees in Antarctica
and a fossilised tropical forest in Norway, to name just a few examples.

We can probably add another interesting discovery to this list. An article posted on Live Science gives the gist:

A network of ancient rivers lies frozen in time beneath one of Greenland's largest glaciers, new research reveals.”

The article then mixes data and assumptions, featuring belief in millions of years:

The subglacial river network, which threads through much of Greenland's landmass and looks, from above, like the tiny nerve fibers radiating from a brain cell, may have influenced the fast-moving Jakobshavn Isbrae glacier over the past few million years.

We shouldn’t forget that that no one has actually dated the rivers and radiometric dating has serious defects.

It almost always is in conflict with dates obtained through the molecular clock approach.

Michael Cooper, a doctoral candidate in geography at the University of Bristol, UK, who with his colleagues wrote a paper on the rivers, thinks that the

Shape of the valleys and canyons beneath the ice [suggest that they were] likely formed by rivers cutting the rock away over time, rather than by the glacier.”

He points out that the valleys were V-shaped instead of being U-shaped. He proposes that they were formed before the ice age.

That might well have been during or just after the great Flood.

Huge aquifers in arid Northern Kenya, a semi-desert known for its Born Free books and TV series featuring the lioness Elsa and her cubs, might likewise be remnants of Noah’s Flood.

Mountain gaps and massive fossil graveyards also speak of a universal watery catastrophe.

We can’t be absolutely sure whether the hidden rivers are relics of Noah’s Flood but that seems to be a valid interpretation. What we know is that they are a glimpse into a world that differs a lot from ours.

Source:

Ghose, Tia. 2016. Secret World of Primeval Rivers Lies Beneath Greenland Glacier. Live Science (5 July).


Monday, 18 July 2016

Thank Evolution for Bad Science

Is Charles Darwin culpable for bad science?



Joel Kontinen

The scientific community is facing a huge crisis.

Increasingly, researchers are publishing results that others can’t replicate. Scientific misconduct is on the rise. Many papers have been retracted, as scientists were less than rigorous in their research.

Unfortunately, at least one good paper was also retracted for no other reason than its use of two non-Darwinian keywords.

Now two scientists are proposing an interesting reason for increasing scientific misconduct: evolutionary forces.

Writing in New Scientist, Simon Oxenham says:

Paul Smaldino and Richard McElreath at the University of California Davis used an evolutionary theory-based computational model to analyse the problem of bad science. They found that ‘the most powerful incentives in contemporary science actively encourage, reward and propagate poor research methods and abuse of statistical procedures’. In short, it’s natural selection for shoddy science.”

Well, if that is what evolution-believing researchers think, how can we trust anything they say?

While scientists are fond of using words like ‘innovative’, ‘groundbreaking’ and ‘novel’ in the abstracts of their papers, they tend to exaggerate the importance of their findings:

Smaldino and McElreath found that their model pushed researchers to do less rigorous science, and publish more false positives. They suggest that their model shows that bad science can be explained as a result of the evolutionary selective pressures that are acting on scientists.

Putting it in slightly different words, it seems that scientific misconduct thrives in the Darwinian community.

For instance, evolutionary psychologist Marc Hauser, a champion of Darwinian morality, was accused of scientific misconduct.

So perhaps we should thank evolution for bad science.

Source:

Oxenham, Simon. 2016. Evolutionary forces are causing a boom in bad science. New Scientist (8 July).


Saturday, 16 July 2016

Weird Exoplanet With Three Suns Suggests Earth Is a Privileged Planet

An artist’s impression of the HD 131399 tree-star system. Image courtesy of ESO/L. Calçada, Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0).




Joel Kontinen

If you think that Earth is just an ordinary planet, or that our solar system is in no way special, you might want to think again.

While we keep on hearing of new exoplanet discoveries almost weekly, none of them resemble our just right blue planet.

Ours is a privileged world.

Astronomers have known for some years that many star systems are really weird. Hot Jupiters and Super Earths orbit systems that look anything but friendly.

Now it seems that some systems are really strange.

A report in Science says:

“Far-off solar systems keep getting weirder: Researchers have spotted a super-Jupiter orbiting a star in a three-sun system at a distance twice as far as Pluto is from our own sun. That makes the planet, dubbed HD 131399Ab … by far the widest ranging exoplanet in a multistar system, the scientists report online today in Science. Preliminary data suggest that the gas giant—about four times the mass of Jupiter—orbits the largest and brightest of the three stars (which has about 1.8 times the mass of our sun) once every 550 years or so. The other two suns in the system … smaller stars that orbit each other relatively tightly and quickly, lie somewhere between 45 billion and 60 billion kilometers away.”

Obviously, researchers do not expect to find little green men in these worlds – or creatures of any colour, for that matter.

“The intricate dance of the planet and these stars … is taking place about 320 light-years from us. Measurements at near-infrared wavelengths suggest that HD 131399Ab’s atmosphere contains water vapor and methane, and that the planet’s cloud tops are about 850 K (577°C).”

This odd star system is a major problem for naturalistic scenarios:

It’s not exactly clear where this odd world formed, the team notes: It might have coalesced closer to the main star in the system and then migrated outward to its present locale, or it may have formed in orbit around the smaller pair of stars only to be ejected and then captured by the larger star.”

‘Exactly clear’ is an understatement. Some exoplanets are so weird that they have practically killed off all naturalistic planet formation theories.

But Earth seems to be fine-tuned for life.

Source:

Perkins, Sid. 2016. Distant planet has three suns and a year more than 500 times longer than ours. Science (7 July).




Thursday, 14 July 2016

The Toucan’s Beak: Intelligently Designed Thermoregulator


A toco toucan (Ramphastos toco). Image courtesy of Leon Petrosyan, Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0).


Joel Kontinen

The toco toucan (Ramphastos toco) has an enormous beak, roughly one-third of its total length. Evolutionists have proposed at least two explanations for this:

Charles Darwin thought its size could be explained by sexual selection.

Latter-day evolutionists assumed that the bird ate fish because its beak looked like it did.

However, both guesses were as wrong as wrong could be. Many animals that look carnivorous actually eat vegetables or fruit.

Bagheera kiplingi is a spider that eats acacia leaves. Fruit bats drink nectar and eat tropical fruit. The giant panda mostly eats bamboo. Tiarajudens eccentricus, an extinct a dog-sized, sabre-toothed animal, ate plants.

And Moschus cupreus, a sabre-toothed mammal that still lives in Afghanistan, is not a predator.

A paper in Science suggests that the toucan’s beak

“serves primarily as a thermoregulator. Infrared thermography techniques, which allow detailed observations with minimal disturbance to the birds, show that the birds alter blood flow to the bill according to ambient conditions, effectively using it as a radiator to ‘dump heat’.”

The abstract gives some details:

“The toco toucan (Ramphastos toco), the largest member of the toucan family, possesses the largest beak relative to body size of all birds. This exaggerated feature has received various interpretations, from serving as a sexual ornament to being a refined adaptation for feeding. However, it is also a significant surface area for heat exchange. Here we show the remarkable capacity of the toco toucan to regulate heat distribution by modifying blood flow, using the bill as a transient thermal radiator. Our results indicate that the toucan's bill is, relative to its size, one of the largest thermal windows in the animal kingdom, rivaling elephants' ears in its ability to radiate body heat.

This suggests a major dilemma for Darwinians: How many toucans perished during a heat wave before evolution found a cure through increasing the size of their beaks?


Source:

Glenn J. Tattersall, Denis V. Andrade and Augusto S. Abe. 2009. Heat Exchange from the Toucan Bill Reveals a Controllable Vascular Thermal Radiator. Science 325: 5939, 468–470.



Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Ostriches’ “50-Million-Year-Old” American Cousin Is a Darwinian Dilemma


Ostriches have an American cousin that they hadn’t heard from – until now.



Joel Kontinen

It seems that each new fossil discovery presents a fresh dilemma for Darwinian evolution. Two exceedingly well-preserved bird fossils found in an ancient lake-bed in Wyoming are no exceptions.

A paper published in the Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History describes a bird now known as Calciavis grandei.

At least the first part of the name is a misnomer. Calci means ‘hard’ or ‘stone’ and avis ‘bird’, but according to a report posted on Science Daily, the specimens are “completely intact with bones, feathers, and soft tissues.

The flightless birds are roughly the size of a chicken. They are assumed to be “50 million years” old and relatives of ostriches.

Ostriches are flightless African birds, but some of their cousins must have succeeded in getting over to America, or evolution had to find another solution to their close kinship with the Calciavis grandei.

Darwinians will now have to choose to believe in either rafting or convergent evolution.

1. The birds rafted from Africa, much like the old world monkeys had to do, as a wide ocean separated Africa and South America.

While continental drift might have brought the continents a bit closer, hundreds of kilometres still separated them. The birds would have been expert mariners.

Evolutionists also have to assume that tarsiers rafted from Asia to Africa and back again – several times, that old world monkeys rafted to South America and then either swam or rafted to Central America.

2. The birds evolved in both Africa and America. While Darwinists often invoke convergent evolution, it makes their case even less credible.

So, they’re welcome to pick their favourite fable. In either case, it’s anything but credible.

Source:

Virginia Tech. 2016. Ostrich relative lived in North America about 50 million years ago. Science Daily. (5 July).


Sunday, 10 July 2016

Too Heavy to Fly? Darwin-Defying Design in Huge Pterosaurs

Intelligently designed for flight. Image courtesy of Hugo Salais López, Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0).





Joel Kontinen



Some pterosaurs were as big as giraffes. With a wingspan of 10–11 metres (32–36 ft.), they seemed to be too large and too heavy to fly.

So, how did they do it?

A recent post in The Conversation suggests that in a way they resembled giant bats, with exquisitely designed features:

Unlike birds with feathered wings, pterosaurs had a membrane that stretched from the end of an elongated fourth finger to their legs (more similar to a bat than a bird). This membrane had internal structures called actinofibrils to strengthen the wings, and provide structural support. They also had a unique bone in their wrist called the pteroid, which controlled the leading edge of the wing.

But it seems that like some extinct mosaic-like animals (such as Archaeopteryx and Tiktaalik) and some living mosaics (for instance, the duck-billed platypus and the spiny anteater), they also shared some features with another kind of living animal, viz. the bird:

Pterosaurs also had a highly specialised respiratory system, similar to that of birds, with air sacs in addition to their lungs. This is a much more effective breathing system, which is important for providing the large amounts of energy needed for flight. Pterosaurs had air sacs in their necks and trunk, and larger creatures also had them in their wings. In many cases, the air sacs invade the bones and hollow them out, making their wing bones extremely thin-walled. This is referred to as skeletal pneumaticity and is another important element contributing to large pterosaurs' ability to fly.”

The take away message from this post is that the pterosaurs were designed for flight.

Darwin-defying top-down design is very evident in these amazing creatures of yesteryear.

Source:

Martin-Silverstone, Elizabeth. 2016. Pterosaurs should have been too big to fly – so how did they manage it? The Conversation (30 June).