Sunday, 30 November 2014

Earth's Magnetic Field: Fine-Tuning Protects Us from Radiation


A cross section of the Van Allen radiation belts. Image courtesy of NASA.




Joel Kontinen

Life as we know it could not exist if Earth did not have a magnetic field which protects us from charged particles emanating from the Sun.

Earth’s magnetic field forms the Van Allen radiation belts. According to an article in New Scientist:

“Far above Earth, this high-energy radiation from space can damage satellite electronics and pose serious health risks to astronauts. The particles also constantly charge towards the planet's surface, but luckily an invisible shield of plasma bent into a doughnut shape by Earth's magnetic field … keeps radiation at bay.”

Luckily?

Recent research disclosed an interesting detail:

A phenomenon called ‘plasmaspheric hiss’ seems to be responsible: very low-frequency electromagnetic waves just inside the boundary of the plasma shield that sound like hissing static when played through a speaker.”

What the article did not include was an admission that Earth’s magnetic field was most probably much stronger in the past, which might explain the long life spans of early humans living before the global flood of Noah’s day.


Source:

Graham, Flora. 2014. Invisible hissing doughnut is Earth's radiation shield. New Scientist (27 November).

Friday, 28 November 2014

No Conflict Between True Science and the Bible, Prominent British Scientist Says

A model of the Envisat satellite. Image courtesy of Wikipedia. Professor Burgess took part in designing a solar array for the satellite.




Joel Kontinen


Dr. Stuart Burgess, Professor of Engineering Design at Bristol University, writes in his foreword to the book Inside the Nye Ham Debate:

As a scientist I know that there is no conflict between true science and the Bible. I have carried out many experiments on biological systems and found them to contain solid evidence of purposeful design. In contrast, I have never seen experimental evidence that one could use to support evolution.

In his debate with Ken Ham, Bill Nye, who is not a scientist, claimed that belief in creation was detrimental to science. In contrast, Professor Burgess says:

“I totally disagree with Bill Nye that denying evolution hinders the development of technology. My belief in creation actually helps me develop technology because my high view of nature encourages me to copy the designs of nature. I believe my successful career has been partly due to my belief in biblical creation.”

Professor Burgess and his team have for instance designed a solar array for the Envisat satellite and a tiny flying robot that flies like a dragonfly.

They drew inspiration from the design they saw in nature.


Source:

Ham, Ken and Bodie Hodge. 2014. Inside the Nye Ham Debate. Green Forest, AR: Master Books.


Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Self-Assembling Solar Panels: Intelligent Solution in Nature

Dinos saw self-assembling solar panels.




Joel Kontinen

Our world is full of wonders. It looks like it has been designed for a purpose. In a New Scientist article, synthetic biologist Drew Endy says:

Look at trees. They grow self-assembling solar panels that recycle themselves. There's a pine tree in my front yard that's growing about a thousand pine cones. They're growing from what, exactly? Atmospheric carbon, trace things from the earth, water and photons.”

Plants do not waste. They have been in the recycling business since the dawn of time. Recently, researchers have looked for inspiration in the solutions they see in nature. Biomimicry has become a flourishing field of hi-tech engineering.

Intelligent solutions suggest that there is intelligence behind it all. From a Christian perspective that is exactly what we would expect to see.

You can read more about biomimicry here, here, here, here, here and here.

Source:

Heaven, Douglas. 2013. Meet the man writing a language to program life. New Scientist 2932 28-29.




Monday, 24 November 2014

Saturn Keeps Earth Habitable, Research Shows


Saturn. Image courtesy of NASA / JPL / Space Science Institute.





Joel Kontinen

Many exoplanets are weird and have highly eccentric orbits. In contrast, our solar system seems to be very different.

A recent study conducted by Elke Pilat-Lohinger of the University of Vienna, Austria, points out the role of the Saturn and Jupiter in keeping Earth friendly to life.

Using computer models, Dr. Pilat-Lohinger examined how “changing the orbits of these two giant planets might affect the Earth.”

Reporting on the research, New Scientist writes:

“Earth's orbit is so nearly circular that its distance from the sun only varies between 147 and 152 million kilometres, or around 2 per cent about the average. Moving Saturn's orbit just 10 percent closer in would disrupt that by creating a resonance – essentially a periodic tug – that would stretch out the Earth's orbit by tens of millions of kilometres. That would result in the Earth spending part of each year outside the habitable zone, the ring around the sun where temperatures are right for liquid water.

It seems that Saturn’s distance from Earth is not the only parameter that matters:

Tilting Saturn's orbit would also stretch out Earth's orbit. According to a simple model that did not include other inner planets, the greater the tilt, the more the elongation increased. Adding Venus and Mars to the model stabilised the orbits of all three planets, but the elongation nonetheless rose as Saturn's orbit got more tilted. Pilat-Lohinger says a 20-degree tilt would bring the innermost part of Earth's orbit closer to the sun than Venus.”

The research was published in the International Journal of Astrobiology.

Some time ago, Geoffrey W. Marcy, professor of astronomy at the University of California at Berkeley, acknowledged that our solar system is a rarity.

Source:


Hecht, Jeff. 2014. Saturn's calming nature keeps Earth friendly to life. New Scientist (21 November).




Saturday, 22 November 2014

All Scientists Have Unconscious Biases, Microbiologist Says

Sir Isaac Newton's portrait by Godfrey Kneller (1702). Image courtesy of Wikipedia.



Joel Kontinen

A recent article in the journal Nature on the merits of scientific fame included an interesting admission:

All scientists have unconscious biases,” Laura Piddock, a microbiologist at the University of Birmingham, UK, said.

Some people tend to think that wearing a white lab coat makes one sort of unbiased and infallible. This, of course, is by no means true. Scientists are real human beings with real hopes, aspirations and beliefs.

And biases.

Unfortunately, some scientists believe that nature is all that there is – that the supernatural sphere does not exist. For them science is not a search for the best explanation but it is a search for the best naturalistic explanation.

In contrast, the great pioneers of science, such as Sir Isaac Newton, were not biased in that way.

Science can be misused and elevated to the status of a religion.

Scientism is something that C. S. Lewis warned us about.

Source:

Woolston, Chris. 2014. Being a big name in science brings benefits. Nature (12 November).




Thursday, 20 November 2014

Fixity of Species Is a Darwinian Myth

Exposing a Darwinian fable. A zonkey or zedonk at Colchester Zoo in 2004. Image courtesy of Wikipedia (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license).




Joel Kontinen


Anti-creationists like Bill Nye often assume that a belief in creation amounts to the fixity of species. Some time ago, synthetic biologist Drew Endy suggested:

With Darwin and the theory of evolution came a sea change in perspective. We moved from an idea of the natural world as something that doesn't change to something that does.”

There are very few, if any, creationists who believe in the fixity of species. What they believe is that living things change according to their kinds. For instance, cats change, but they will never evolve to become dogs.

The biblical concept kind does not correspond to the biological term species but is a wider concept.

Accordingly, while evolutionists were surprised to see a zonkey or a cross between a zebra and a donkey, this hybrid was to be expected in the Genesis-based model. The same applies to a liger (lion + tiger), a geep (goat + sheep) and a cross between a grizzly and a polar bear.

The change we see in these hybrids is not of the Darwinian variety. No new genetic information is added.

Source:


Heaven, Douglas. 2013. Meet the man writing a language to program life. New Scientist 2932, 28-29.



Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Humans Are a Privileged Species, New Documentary Suggests



A new documentary shows that humans are no accidents.





Joel Kontinen

Recently, sceptics like Bill Nye and Neil deGrasse Tyson stressed the importance of acknowledging that we are basically nothing more than insignificant accidents that evolution never really had in mind.

In contrast, a new documentary featuring geneticist, Dr. Michael Denton, comes to a very different conclusion.

Produced by Discovery Institute, Privileged Speciesexplores growing evidence from physics, chemistry, biology, and related fields that our universe was designed for large multi-cellular beings like ourselves.”

The 33-minute document “investigates the special properties of carbon, water, and oxygen that make human life and the life of other organisms possible, and it explores some of the unique features of humans that make us a truly privileged species.”

Source:

Privileged species.com


Sunday, 16 November 2014

These Tusks Are Not for Killing: Sabre-Toothed Deer Is Still Found in Afghanistan


Moschus moschiferus is a related species. Image courtesy of Николай Усик /http://paradoxusik.livejournal.com.




Joel Kontinen

We usually associate sabre-toothed mammals with the Ice Age. However, a new study published in the journal Oryx suggests that the Kashmir musk deer Moschus cupreus still lives in Afghanistan. They lack antlers but the males grow tusks.

Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) researchers conducted a survey of Moschus cupreus’ habitat and concluded:

“This wildlife survey in the eastern forests of Afghanistan after decades of war indicates that the musk deer still persists there despite unregulated hunting, extensive deforestation, habitat degradation, and the absence of rule of law.”

Stephane Ostrowski and colleagues suggest that the Kashmir musk deer is endangered, however.

Tusks do not necessarily indicate ferocity. An ancient sabre-toothed animal found in Brazil preyed on plants.

Most people would associate sharp teeth with killing. However, not all animals with sharp teeth as a weapon. Pandas prey on bamboo and fruit bats drink nectar and eat tropical fruit.


Source:

Ostrowski, Stephane et al. 2014. Musk deer Moschus cupreus persist in the eastern forests of Afghanistan. Oryx, 1–6.




Friday, 14 November 2014

Dogs Are Better Learners Than Chimps


Man’s best fried is a better learner than a chimp.




Joel Kontinen

A recent study compared the skills of human infants and chimpanzees in an attempt to explain why we are much better at learning – and building culture – than chimps.

According to an article in Live Science, Edwin van Leeuwen, a doctoral student at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, and his colleagues “tested 23 German preschoolers and 14 chimpanzees, putting them both through almost identical experiments.”

They put three cups on a table. A reward – either a toy or food – was hidden under one of the cups. The children and the chimps were allowed to watch how the others fared in the test.

It was no surprise that the preschoolers did much better than the chimps. The apes seemed to be unable to learn from others but approached the test in a haphazard way.

”Chimps just aren't as motivated to learn from one another as humans are,” Live Science concludes.

Evolutionists used to believe – and some still do, despite the evidence – that chimps are almost humans.

Dogs are quite clever at finding such treats. Experiments have shown that they only need to take a look at the human experimenter to know where a potential treat is hidden.

This might be a big disappointment for ardent Darwinists, but in the real world dogs (as well as elephants and crows) are cleverer than apes.

While training might to some extent explain why dogs are clever, it is not to easy to say why a wild fox can be astoundingly intelligent and innovative.


Sources:

Hare, Brian, Josep Call and Michael Tomasello. 1998. Communication of Food Location Between Human and Dog (Canis Familiaris). Evolution of Communication 2 (1): 137 –159.

Pappas, Stephanie. 2014. Why Chimps Haven't Evolved Culture Like Humans. Live Science (November 12).






Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Consciousness is a Ghostly Thing In a Naturalistic World

Plants seem to have some kind of intelligence but it might be an exaggeration to say that they are conscious.




Joel Kontinen

Consciousness Is an immaterial phenomenon. For those who embrace a naturalistic /materialistic worldview it seems to be an enigma and they have tried to fill the Internet with explanations of how we can be conscious of anything.

In their evolution-based story, life has to appear from non-life (although we know that it can’t), so consciousness must also be a hard nut to crack.

Recently, Michael Graziano, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Princeton, wrote an opinion piece in The New York Times:

How does the brain go beyond processing information to become subjectively aware of information? The answer is: It doesn’t. The brain has arrived at a conclusion that is not correct.”

However, we are much more than our brains. But Professor Graziano goes on to say:

When we introspect and seem to find that ghostly thing — awareness, consciousness, the way green looks or pain feels — our cognitive machinery is accessing internal models and those models are providing information that is wrong. The machinery is computing an elaborate story about a magical-seeming property. And there is no way for the brain to determine through introspection that the story is wrong, because introspection always accesses the same incorrect information.”

It appears that worldview determines what he thinks about consciousness. It is a “ghostly thing” and our brain is a machine.

Things are a bit more complicated in the real world that is not populated by ghosts. Our brain is a lot more than a cognitive machine: it is a marvel and it is an integral part of us.

We are the ones who are aware.

Source:

Graziano, Michael S. A. 2014. Are We Really Conscious? The New York Times (10 October).


Monday, 10 November 2014

Young Ice on Old Mercury: Dilemma for Long Ages

Mercury’s North Pole. Image courtesy of NASA.





Joel Kontinen

Finding water ice on Mercury, the solar system's innermost planet where temperatures can soar to over 430 degrees Celsius (800 degrees Fahrenheit), might be an enigma for long-agers. How could it possible survive there for millions of years?

Researchers first got to know about ice on Mercury some 20 years ago. In 2012, NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft confirmed that there indeed was ice in “permanently shadowed craters” near the planet’s north pole.

Recently, researchers were able to study photos that MESSENGER sent. The images “suggest that the ice lurking within Mercury's polar craters was delivered recently, and may even be topped up by processes that continue today.”

This, of course, is an attempt to explain why there could be ice on the Sun’s next-door neighbour, a planet assumed to be billions of years old.

A more logical explanation is that Mercury is not that old at all. This view gets support from its weakening magnetic field, for instance.

There is no shortage of evidence for a young solar system. Saturn’s moons Titan, Mimas and Enceladus speak for a younger solar system, as do short-term comets.

Source:

Wall, Mike. 2014. First Photos of Water Ice on Mercury Captured by NASA Spacecraft. Space.com (October 15).


Saturday, 8 November 2014

Carl Sagan Day: Skeptics’ New Holy Day?


Skeptics are celebrating Carl Sagan Day. Image courtesy of NASA/JPL.




Joel Kontinen

It began with Darwin Day (February 12th). Then they invented Newtonmas. Now, they’re celebrating Carl Sagan Day on November 8th.

The “they” are sceptics, atheists and Darwinists. They are obviously trying to get likeminded folks to celebrate secular feasts instead of religious ones.

One might suspect that dislike (or perhaps even hatred) of Christianity is a major motive behind this trend.

While all the deceased gentlemen they are celebrating were scientists, the inclusion of Sir Isaac Newton is somewhat peculiar.

After all, he was no unbeliever.

Even sceptics will admit that Newton was one of the greatest scientists of all times. Yet he wrote more about the Bible than about science – and he believed in a literal Genesis and a young earth.

Newton wrote in Principia, Book III:

”This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent Being. … This Being governs all things, not as the soul of the world, but as Lord over all; and on account of his dominion he is wont to be called 'Lord God' Παντοκράτωρ [Pantokratōr cf. 2 Corinthians 6:18], or 'Universal Ruler'. … The Supreme God is a Being eternal, infinite, absolutely perfect.

But Newton’s birthday happens to be on the 25th of December.


Source:

Saganday.com






Thursday, 6 November 2014

Quote Mining and the Orwellian Use of Language





Joel Kontinen

Evolutionists are fond of using language in a typically Orwellian manner. Take the expression quote mining, for instance. I have been accused of doing that more than once.

Recently, David Klinghoffer of Discovery institute posted an excellent definition of what they really mean:

‘Quote mining’ defined: When a scientist is accurately cited as saying something true but awkward for the Darwinian evolutionary cause.

How true.

Source:

Twitter


Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Wet Earth: Some Call It Lucky But Fine-Tuning Is a More Plausible Explanation


Water almost everywhere.




Joel Kontinen


Naturalistic explanations are not doing a good job of explaining why we live on a blue planet that differs from all other known worlds.

There seems to be no shortage of water in the universe, yet, as a recent article in New Scientist puts it, “The more we learn about how Earth acquired and retained its water, the more it seems the situation was incredibly fortuitous.”

The word fortuitous does not sound very scientific, but Earth seems to be very special place.

It is interesting that Isaiah 40:22 that speaks about the shape of our planet (a sphere) also suggests that God made it to be habitable.

In keeping with the timeframe shown in the book of Genesis, some other objects in our solar system also display signs of youth.



Source:

Zalasiewicz, Jan and Mark Williams. 2014. Weird wet worlds: Why Earth is lucky to have oceans. New Scientist 2993 (3 November).



Saturday, 1 November 2014

Evolution’s Fatal Flaws That Anti-Creationists Don’t Want to Hear About


Image courtesy of Creation Ministries International.





Joel Kontinen

Creation Ministries International (CMI) released a documentary on the fatal flaws of Darwinian evolution. According to CMI’s UK newsletter, “we believe evolution theory has no answer to these fatal flaws, once they’re properly explained and understood.”

It seems that evolutionists do not even want to hear about them. The trailer of Evolution’s Achilles’ Heels caused quite a stir in the evolution camp:

“Already there has been a lot of activity by skeptics of creation and opponents of CMI. Some weeks ago, Richard Dawkins posted our video on his own website and as a result we had 20,000 dislikes on the YouTube version of our trailer within just a few hours. During the late summer, skeptics also tagged our trailers as “not suitable” and managed to get them blocked by YouTube! CMI-USA had to lodge an appeal with YouTube in order to get them reinstated. No doubt the skeptics are very agitated by the potential of this doco film!”




Source:

CMI-INFObytes 30 September 2014.