Friday, 31 December 2010

Airbus draws inspiration from design in nature


Qantas Airbus A380. Image courtesy of Adrian Pingstone, Wikipedia.




Joel Kontinen

Engineers have often drawn inspiration from nature. The phenomenon is known as biomimicry.

Some time ago UNESCO’s newsletter A World of Science interviewed David Hills, who is Senior Manager of Flight Physics Research at the aircraft manufacturer Airbus. He says that ”nature is a library from which industry can learn”. He brought up several intriguing examples in which engineers have borrowed solutions seen in nature.

Lotus leaves have a structure that helps to keep them clean and dry even in wet conditions. Rain water does not penetrate them but takes the dirt away. Engineers have used this solution in the cabin. The plane needs less water on board, reducing the weight of the aircraft and the amount of fuel it needs.

Airbus engineers have also drawn inspiration from the Steppe eagle’s wings. According to the UNESCO newsletter:

The eagle’s wings perfectly balance maximum lift with minimum length. It can manipulate the feathers at the tips, curling them upwards until they are almost vertical to create a ’winglet’, a natural adaptation that acts as a barrier against the vortex for highly efficient flight.”

By using eagle technology, Airbus engineers have succeeded in keeping the wingspan of the A380 under 80 metres so that the plane can land on standard-sized airports. This would have been impossible without eagle technology.

The design in Airbus A380, the world’s largest passenger plane, suggests that many solutions seen in nature are more intelligent than human technology.

Unfortunately, many still deny that there is intelligent design in nature. Perhaps they should ask the engineers at Airbus.

Source:

Picard, Frederic. 2010. David Hills: ‘Nature is a library from which industry can learn’. A World of Science 8 (2): 15-16.

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Christmas was no accident




Joel Kontinen

700 years before Jesus’ birth, the Old Testament prophet Isaiah predicted:
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned…
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace

(Isa. 9: 2, 6).
This prediction began to be fulfilled on the first Christmas, over 2000 years ago. The prophets predicted details about Jesus’ birth, for instance His birthplace (Micah 5:2) and the virgin birth (Isa. 7:14).

Thursday, 9 December 2010

When does a human being become fully human?

Joel Kontinen

PZ Myers, who is known as a militant atheist, said recently that in the early stages of pregnancy an unborn baby is not a human being.

However, Darwinian evolution does not occur in the womb. In contrast to what Ernst Haeckel, the father of the misleading embryo drawings, believed, a human being does not repeat the assumed stages of evolution before his or her birth but is fully human from conception.

The baby’s genetic information does not increase with the passing of time.

These 4-dimensional ultrasound images reveal that a human being looks like a human being at a very early stage.




According to the Bible, a human being is fully human from the beginning.

- In Psalm 139, David describes how God formed him in the womb.
- Isaiah says: ”Before I was born the LORD called me; from my mother’s womb he has spoken my name.”(Isa. 49:1, NIV)
- The Gospel of Luke includes an interesting detail: ”When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.”(1:41, NIV) This suggests that we should not underestimate babies’ cognitive skills.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

The bacterium that was supposed to thrive on arsenic does not necessarily like it



NASA researchers found the bizarre microbe in Lake Mono, California. Image courtesy of Michael Gäbler, Wikipedia.



Joel Kontinen

The idea of a form of life that differs from that what we are used to seeing has suffered major setbacks in the past few days.

Many researchers have criticised the study recently published in Science on a microbe that tolerates arsenic. Nature News sums up their views: ”The microbe isn't using the arsenic, but instead is scavenging every possible phosphate molecule while fighting off arsenic toxicity.”

Roger Summons, a biogeochemist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, says that while the authors have shown that the organism ingests arsenic, they "haven't unambiguously identified any arsenic-containing organic compounds.”

It seems that the arsenic-tolerating bacterium is about to share the fate of the notorious fossil known as Ida: when the ado in the media dies down, critical researchers will show that the headlines did not correspond to the content of the find.

It looks as though the bizarre form of life is not so bizarre after all.

Source:

Katsnelson, Alla . 2010. Microbe gets toxic response. Nature News 7 December.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

New Scientist asks: Are you smarter than a Neanderthal?



Reconstruction of a Neanderthal girl. Image courtesy of Christopher P. E. Zollikofer, Anthropological Institute, University of Zurich.



Joel Kontinen

Recently, science writer Robert Adler wrote an article in New Scientist, asking whether it would be time to accept Neanderthals as fully human.

Early Darwinists thought that the Neanderthals were primitive ape-like beings who lived in caves, walked with a stooping gait and communicated by grunting.

Much has changed in a hundred years. Now we know that the Neanderthals knew how to light fires; they built wooden structures, made musical instruments, buried their dead and most probably also knew how to speak.

Eric Trinkaus, professor of anthropology at Washington University at St. Louis, Missouri, says: ”Neanderthals were people, and they probably had the same range of mental abilities we do."

Some skeptics assume that Neanderthals had to be less intelligent than modern man. However, new scientific discoveries have caused the ranks of doubters to become thinner.

According to the model based on Genesis, the Neanderthals were Adam’s descendants just like us. They probably lived in Europe during the ice age following the Flood.

Source:

Adler, Robert. 2010. Are you really smarter than a Neanderthal? New Scientist 2789, 32-36. (Reading this article online requires registration.)

Noah’s ark was an amazingly large vessel



Joel Kontinen


In 2007 Johan Huibers, a Dutch carpenter, built a floating ark that was 70 metres (230 ft) long, 13 metres (43 ft) wide and 13 metres (43 ft) high. Many were amazed at how big the Dutch ark was. However, its volume was roughly one-fifth of Noah’s vessel.

It took 20 weeks for Huibers to build his ark. He hopes to build a full-size ark one day.

The original ark was a huge ocean-going vessel. It could take on board as many animals as could fit in over 520 railroad stock cars. The dimensions of the ark made it a very seaworthy vessel. Not even 30-metre (over 90 ft) waves could have capsized it.

Noah’s ark has been in the news lately. Ark Encounter and Answers in Genesis are building a full-size ark in Kentucky. It should be ready in 2014.


Source

Gunnink, Frans. 2008. One man and a vision. Creation 30(4):12–14.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

The secular view of Earth’s origin is fast approaching the view described in Genesis



According to Genesis, there was plenty of water on Earth from the beginning. Image courtesy of NASA.

Joel Kontinen


Genesis describes a planet that had plenty of water from the beginning. In contrast, secular interpretations of science have assumed that Earth began as a hot molten planet that got its oceans later during its history.

However, secular views are beginning to change (read more here and here).

Linda Elkins-Tanton, a geologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will soon publish a study in the journal Astrophysics and Space Science. It suggests that the water on Earth did not come from asteroids or comets.

Elkins-Tanton analysed the chemical composition of meteorites and used the data in simulations of the early state of Earth-like planets. According to ScienceNOW, “Her models show that a large percentage of the water in the molten rock would quickly form a steam atmosphere before cooling and condensing into an ocean.”

Researchers have been puzzled by how Earth got its water surprisingly quickly – in only some tens of millions of years.

The answer is not blowing in the wind. It can be found in Genesis. There was plenty of water on Earth already on the first day of creation. There is no need to assume that it took millions of years to get liquid water to Earth.

Source:

Dorminey, Bruce. 2010. Earth Oceans Were Homegrown.
ScienceNOW. (29 November).

Well-known atheist: "I would like to encourage more people to abort”



PZ Myers. Image courtesy of Larry Moran, Wikipedia.



Joel Kontinen


PZ Myers, an associate professor of biology at the University of Minnesota Morris, is probably better known for his bizarre exploits in the blogosphere than for his scientific achievements. Recently he wrote a blog post in which he said he was “pro-abortion” and wanted “to encourage more people to abort.

Myers was responding to a web poll in which a couple are asking readers to help them decide whether they should have an abortion. The poll is probably a scam but Myers’ views are genuine.

Why would Myers be so enthralled with death? He says that getting rid of a foetus is no big deal since it does not have to do with a human being.

Like fellow unbeliever Peter Singer, Myers seems to be an intellectually honest atheist who admits that according to his worldview, human life has no innate worth.

Christianity emphasises man’s innate worth. In contrast to atheists, who might draw inspiration from Haeckel’s forged embryo drawings, the Bible says that a human being is fully human from conception. Created in God’s image, he or she is extremely valuable.

Source:

http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2010/11/an_online_abortion_poll_for_re.php

A giant Noah’s Ark to be constructed in Kentucky



Noah’s Ark was not a toy ship.


Joel Kontinen

A huge replica of Noah’s Ark will be constructed in north Kentucky not far from the Answers in Genesis Creation Museum.

Ark Encounter LLC and Answers in Genesis will build a full-scale replica of the ark in Kentucky. It is planned to be ready in 2014.

Genesis mentions that the Ark was 300 cubits long. A cubit was measured from the elbow to the tip of the middle finger. Ancient cultures used different cubit lengths. The ordinary Egyptian cubit was approximately 18 inches or 457 millimetres long, which would make the ark 450 feet or 137 metres long. The Egyptian royal cubit measured 20. 6 inches or 523-525 millimetres. If Moses, who was well versed in Egyptian royal culture, used this cubit, the ark would have been 515 feet (157 metres) long.

The first ocean-going vessel to exceed this length was actually built in the 1860s, so the ark was certainly no small tug boat.

The Flood was a major historical event for which we have plenty of evidence. Consider the following, for example:

1) Huge fossil graveyards have been found all over the world, including in the Grand Canyon where billions of nautiloids were buried catastrophically.

2) Marine fossils can be found even on top of the highest mountains.

3) There are flood legends in practically all cultures. The story of a great catastrophe seems to have been engraved in the collective memory of humans.

While God judged the world, He provided a way of escape for those who trusted in Him by instructing Noah to build a huge ocean-going vessel.

Source:

Kentucky Governor, Ark Encounter LLC, and AiG Announce Plans to Build a Full-Scale Noah’s Ark. Answers in Genesis. 1 December 2010.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Ten years ago: Icons of Evolution caused distress in the Darwinian camp

The book that challenged Darwinian icons.




Joel Kontinen

In Icons of Evolution, a book published in 2000, Jonathan Wells, who has a PhD in molecular and cell biology, showed that the most usual textbook proofs of evolution were misleading.

The Darwinian icons speak more of the evolutionists’ willingness to believe their theory than of anything else. They do not support evolution.

Wells discusses Archaeopteryx, Miller and Urey’s origin of life experiment, Darwin’s tree of life, homology (similar structures in different species), Haeckel’s embryo drawings, the peppered moth, Darwin’s finches, fruit fly mutants and man’s assumed origins in his book.

Icons of Evolution caused many evolutionists to become nervous It showed that their best proofs were anything but convincing.

Singing Hallelujah! at a fast food restaurant

And He shall reign for ever and ever



Joel Kontinen

Praising God has been an essential part of Christmas since a group of shepherds at Bethlehem first got to know of the Messiah’s birth. However, few of us have seen a performance like the one that the customers at a Canadian fast food restaurant saw on November 13th this year.

As the pianist finishes playing Jingle Bells at the restaurant in Welland, Ontario, a dark-haired young woman wearing a red scarf pushes her tray forward. Speaking on a cell phone, she stands up and begins to sing the chorus of George Fridrich Handel’s Messiah. A man in a blue hoodie soon joins her. A couple in the food queue do the same. Then, a man and woman stand up on chairs to sing.

Some of the customers look puzzled but others begin to take pictures with their cell phones. Soon the entire fast food restaurant rings of praise to God.

Instead of performing on stage, the 80 singers of the Chorus Niagara sang where they happened to be, among the other customers of the restaurant. The woman who sang with a cell phone to her ear is soprano Stephanie Tritchew, who, thanks to YouTube, became a star.

Judging from the applause, the public was pleased with what they heard. With over 9 million YouTube views, the performance has certainly become a hit.

The singers wanted to ”spread Christmas cheer” at the mall.

In doing that they succeeded exceedingly well.


Source:

Debora Van Brenk. 2010. Handel's Messiah flash mob a Youtube smash. Toronto Sun. (1 December).

NASA did not find little green men – but it found a bacterium that likes arsenic




Lake Mono, California. Image courtesy of Henry Lydecker, Creative Commons.





Joel Kontinen

Recently, NASA announced that it would disclose an important discovery that had to do with extraterrestrial life. Some already dreamt of little green men but none were found.

Felisa Wolfe-Simon, a NASA geomicrobiologist, and her colleagues found a bizarre microbe in a lake in California. It thrives on arsenic instead of phosphorus.

Although NASA recommends updating biology textbooks and some even speculate that we might discover different forms of life on Saturn’s moon Titan, the significance of the find might perhaps be seen in proper perspective if we remember that phosphorus and arsenic both belong to the same main group, i.e. the nitrogen group, in the periodic table.

The discovery nonetheless shows that life on earth takes on surprising forms. It does not say anything about the origin of life.

One can always speculate. Paul Davies, who was a member of the research group reporting on the find in Science, has previously suggested that there might be weird forms of life on our planet.

Naturalistic theories of the origin of life still cannot explain how and why living beings came about from non-life. Life can only come from life. In other words, genetic information always requires a sender and intelligent life requires an intelligent Sender.

Sources:

Gronstal, Aaron. 2010. Get Your Biology Textbook...and an Eraser! Astrobiology (2 December).

Wolfe-Simon, Felisa & al. 2010. A Bacterium That Can Grow by Using Arsenic Instead of Phosphorus. Science 330: 6009.