Thursday, 31 May 2018
Radiocarbon dating is thought to be a highly reliable dating method, but a new paper published in the journal PNAS suggests that carbon dates may be off by several decades and, in some cases, a hundred years or so.
Other dating methods are even less reliable.
Manning et al. state:
“We observe a substantive and fluctuating offset in measured radiocarbon ages between plant material growing in the southern Levant versus the standard Northern Hemisphere radiocarbon calibration dataset derived from trees growing in central and northern Europe and North America. This likely relates to differences in growing seasons with a climate imprint.”
They go on to say:
“This finding is significant for, and affects, any radiocarbon application in the southern Levant region and especially for high-resolution archaeological dating—the focus of much recent work and scholarly debate, especially surrounding the timeframe of the earlier Iron Age (earlier Biblical period). Our findings change the basis of this debate; our data point to lower (more recent) ages by variously a few years to several decades.”
The half-life of Carbon-14 is 5,730 years, so the study does not affect really old dates.
Evolutionists will not carbon date dinosaur bone, though they certainly should do so, as they’re known to contain C-14, thus falsifying the dogma of millions of years.
And they should date coal and diamonds as well.
Manning, Sturt W et al. 2018. Fluctuating radiocarbon offsets observed in the southern Levant and implications for archaeological chronology debates. PNAS (29 May).
Tuesday, 29 May 2018
Whereas the SETI folks would like to see evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence, the METI (Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence) people go a step or two further. They want to decode messages sent by intelligent aliens.
Last week METI held a workshop in Los Angeles with the aim of finding out if “language — or at least certain essential elements of language — might be universal throughout the cosmos.”
Noam Chomsky promoted the view that all “terrestrial languages share a common underlying structure," and the METI folks think that this might also apply to the whole universe.
Sheri Wells-Jensen, a linguist at Bowling Green University in Ohio, wants to recruit laypeople to decipher potential messages sent by aliens.
For some reason, the SETI/METI people tend to assume that aliens are “far more advanced technologically than we are” and thus capable of sending intelligent messages from their home planet or spaceship tens of hundreds of light years away.
However, all signals thought to hail from intelligent aliens have been false ones, including the famous wow signal and the sounds coming from the assumed megastructure near Tabby’s star that raised hopes in the SETI community.
What is more, aliens have never bothered to answer our messages, but this has not put an end to the hope that one fine day they might do so.
However, there is no evidence that space aliens even exist.
Wall, Mike l. 2018. Intelligent Aliens Might Speak Our Language. And You Can Help Decode Their Messages. Live Science (27 May).
Sunday, 27 May 2018
Why do some people like to eat insects? Reporting on a new paper published in the journal Science Advances, Phys.org proposes an answer.
It has to do with our (assumed) ancestors – “small, furry creatures that scurried around the feet of the dinosaurs 66 million years ago” – who were mostly insect eaters.
“The scientists inferred this because the genes for the enzymes that allowed these early ancestors of all mammals to digest insects are still hanging around in nearly all mammal genomes today.”
These enzymes are called chitinases. Scientists think that humans also have a chitinase gene as well as “remnants of three other chitinase genes in their genome, though none of them are functional.”
This does not signify common descent, however.
While the paper never even suggests that there might be a better and more logical explanation than a typical Darwinian just-so story, common design is a far more credible one.
University of California - Berkeley. 2018. What we inherited from our bug-eating ancestors. Phys.org (16 May).
Friday, 25 May 2018
The human brain is a Darwinian enigma.
In 2008 Harvard professor Richard Lewontin admitted that scientists did not know anything about brain evolution.
That did not put an end to speculations, however. From just-so stories about our assumed lizard brain to more sophisticated – but not necessarily brainy – assumptions, evolutionists have brought up new hypotheses and resurrected some old ones.
Neuroscientists are willing to admit that the human brain is a wonderful organ, capable of “surprisingly complex interactions,” as the journal Neuron put it in 2016.
Our large brain continues to puzzle scientists. A paper published in Nature attempts to explain how it came to be so big, six times as large as those of mammals of comparable size.
According to the abstract, “establishing causes for brain-size evolution remains difficult. Here we introduce a metabolic approach that enables causal assessment of social hypotheses for brain-size evolution. Our approach yields quantitative predictions for brain and body size from formalized social hypotheses given empirical estimates of the metabolic costs of the brain. Our model predicts the evolution of adult Homo sapiens-sized brains and bodies when individuals face a combination of 60% ecological, 30% cooperative and 10% between-group competitive challenges, and suggests that between-individual competition has been unimportant for driving human brain-size evolution.” (internal references omitted).
The authors go on to conclude: “Our model indicates that brain expansion in Homo was driven by ecological rather than social challenges, and was perhaps strongly promoted by culture.”
The problem with all evolution-inspired brain research is that it assumes that our brain evolved from chimpanzee-like brains.
But if the human brain never evolved from an ape-like brain, then all Darwinian explanations turn out to be mere storytelling masquerading as science.
González-Forero, Mauricio and Andy Gardner. 2018. Inference of ecological and social drivers of human brain-size evolution. Nature 557, 554–557.
Wednesday, 23 May 2018
Who hasn’t heard the expression 'Birds of a feather flock together'? However, sometimes birds form mixed flocks.
What is more, they often live their lives as though they belonged to the same species.
A paper published in the journal Behavioral Ecology looks at how two small Australian songbirds – variegated fairy-wrens and splendid fairy-wrens – “not only recognize individual birds from other species, but also form long-term partnerships that help them forage and defend their shared space as a group.”
These wrens have a lot in common. According to Science Daily,
“Both species feed on insects, live in large family groups, and breed during the same time of year. They are also non-migratory, meaning they live in one area for their entire lives, occupying the same eucalyptus scrublands that provide plenty of bushes and trees for cover.
When these territories overlap, the two species interact with each other. They forage together, travel together, and seem to be aware of what the other species is doing. They also help each other defend their territory from rivals. Variegated fairy-wrens will defend their shared territory from both variegated and splendid outsiders; splendid fairy-wrens will do the same, while fending off unfamiliar birds from both species.”
These tiny birds take a very un-Darwinian approach to life.
The paper obviously fails to mention that the term ‘species’ can occasionally be rather fuzzy.
A case in point is a Darwinian icon. Even at best, the differences between the various varieties of Darwin’s finches are vague, and the birds don’t comply with Darwinian expectations.
Moreover, the term 'species' is anything but an accurate description of a particular type of organism.
The great number of hybrids, such as ligers, zonkeys, wholpins, geeps, grolars and leopons, supports the view that the biblical concept ‘kind’ differs considerably from the biological term ‘species’, being more inclusive.
The Australian fairy-wrens confirm the Genesis after its kind principle in that they most probably belong to the same 'min' or kind.
University of Chicago Medical Center. 2018. Birds from different species recognize each other and cooperate: Researchers show for the first time how birds from two different species recognize individuals and cooperate for mutual benefit. Science Daily. (21 May).
Monday, 21 May 2018
Exosomes and ectosomes are tiny extracellular vesicles that all cells produce. Exosomes measure 50–150 nm and ectosomes 100–500 nm.
Previously, researchers assumed that both vesicles were remnants of dead cells, but a recent paper published in the journal Current Biology shows that they were wrong.
Exosomes and ectosomes can travel relatively long distances, and exosomes can deliver cargoes that include non-coding RNAs and DNA sequences to other cells.
Scientists are just beginning to learn about their function, but they already know that these vesicles
“navigate through extracellular fluid for varying times and distances. Subsequently, they interact with recognized target cells and undergo fusion with endocytic or plasma membranes, followed by integration of vesicle membranes into their fusion membranes and discharge of luminal cargoes into the cytosol, resulting in changes to cellular physiology. After fusion, exosome/ectosome components can be reassembled in new vesicles that are then recycled to other cells, activating effector networks.”
Looks like a considerable infusion of intelligence is needed to bring this about. But, then, practically everything in our cells requires intelligence.
In other words, “nothing about molecular machines makes sense without intelligent design.”
We also have two tiny postmen in our cells, i.e. dynein and kinesin, that carry cargo to specific addresses within cells.
Our cells are miniature cities running at 100 percent efficiency, and they produce 100,000 nanomachines per hour.
Meldolesi, Jacopo. 2018. Exosomes and Ectosomes in Intercellular Communication. Current Biology 28, R435–R444 (23 April).
Sunday, 20 May 2018
New research by Takuya Hashimoto at Osaka Sangyo University and colleagues suggest that the first stars formed “250 million years” after the big bang. This is some “150 million years” earlier than previously assumed.
This was supposed to be too early for star formation, as the Dark Age was thought to continue until some “400 million years” after the big bang.
The big bang has other problems as well, for instance missing antimatter, cosmic inflation, quantum fluctuation, missing dark matter and the likewise elusive dark energy.
In addition, the earliest galaxies formed too quickly.
“He [God] made the stars also,” Genesis tells us. That is by far the best explanation for the existence of the universe.
Crane, Leah. 2018. Some of the universe’s first stars have actually been seen. New Scientist (16 May).
Saturday, 19 May 2018
Two plants – the Venus Flytrap and the waterwheel or Aldrovanda vesiculosa – use traps to catch prey. Evolutionists assume that this strategy evolved only once in plants, so they have to assume that one of them evolved from the other.
There is no fossil evidence for this, however.
What is more, the plants are very different and use a different mechanism.
Reporting on research on the waterwheel published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, the BBC quotes study co-author Anna Westermeier at the University of Freiburg as saying: "It's very, very small and it's very, very fast, and this puts you basically to the limits of optical resolution."
The waterwheel is an amazing plant. The BBC goes on to say:
“At just 2-4mm, the traps are about a tenth the size of a Venus flytrap's, but they close in a remarkable 0.02 to 0.1 seconds.
The lobes or leaves of the waterwheel also do not change shape when they snap shut, but rather close like two halves of a mussel shell. The Venus flytrap flexes its leaves from flat to curved when enclosing its prey.”
So, a tiny plant can cause a big problem for evolution. The waterwheel looks like it was designed to cope in a post-Fall world.
The Venus flytrap knows how to count, and it’s not the only smart plant.
Trees communicate with each other, and the eucalyptus uses a clever trick to keep cool.
Mary, Halton. 2018. Waterwheel: Ten times faster than a Venus flytrap. BBC News (9 May).
Wednesday, 16 May 2018
Concretions are spherical rocks that often contain well-preserved fossils. A new paper published in the journal Scientific Reports suggests that they “formed very rapidly, at least three to four orders of magnitude faster than previously estimated timescales.”
Science Daily quotes study co-author Koshi Yamamoto, who says:"Until now, the formation of spherical carbonate concretions was thought to take hundreds of thousands to millions of years … However, our results show that concretions grow at a very fast rate over several months to several years."
How about during Noah’s Flood that has also formed many other kinds of geological formations, such as giant boulders, natural archways and water-formed gaps in mountains?
Nagoya University. 2018. Cracking open the formation of fossil concretions. Science Daily (2 May).
Yoshida, Hidekazu et al. 2018. Generalized conditions of spherical carbonate concretion formation around decaying organic matter in early diagenesis Scientific Reports 8:6308.
Monday, 14 May 2018
Researchers at the University of Exeter, UK, have found that beavers are great environmentalists.
Professor Richard Brazier and colleagues state that since 2011 a single family of beavers in West Devon “have built 13 dams, slowing the flow of water and creating a series of deep ponds along the course of what was once a small stream.”
The beavers have had “a significant impact … on reducing the flow of tonnes of soil and nutrients from nearby fields into a local river system.”
The study “showed the dams had trapped more than 100 tonnes of sediment, 70% of which was soil, which had eroded from 'intensively managed grassland' fields upstream. Further investigation revealed that this sediment contained high concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorus, which are nutrients known to create problems for the wildlife in rivers and streams and which also need to be removed from human water supplies to meet drinking-quality standards.”
Nature is not necessarily red in tooth and claw. Even in the post-Fall world, we can see glimpses of peace, co-operation and goodness that defy naïve Darwinian explanations.
University of Exeter. 2018. Beavers do dam good work cleaning water, research reveals. EurekAlert (9 May).
Saturday, 12 May 2018
If you thought satellite DNA was junk, you might need to think again. Science Daily suggests that it “plays a crucial role in holding the genome together.”
Researchers are increasingly finding use for non-coding DNA.
Professor Yukiko Yamashita and colleagues published a paper in the journal eLife, disclosing their findings.
They suggest that pericentromeric satellite DNA, once dismissed as junk, “performs the vital function of ensuring that chromosomes bundle correctly inside the cell's nucleus, which is necessary for cell survival.”
The researchers noticed that if they cut off a protein called DI from the cells of fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster), germ cells would die and the banana munchers would thus have no offspring.
This protein is known to bind to satellite DNA.
While Prof. Yamashita thinks that we can credit evolution for preserving pericentromeric satellite DNA, which “consists of a very simple, highly repetitive sequence of genetic code,” intelligent design is a far better explanation.
Several recent studies have found important functions for “genetic junk”. (See examples here, here and here.)
University of Michigan. 2018. Scientists discover a role for 'junk' DNA. Science Daily. (11 April).
Thursday, 10 May 2018
When French engineer Gustave Eiffel designed the tower that bears his name, he copied the structure of the human femur.
Last year (2017) Science reported on an invention called supersteel that is based on human bone.
The bone’s inner structure makes it both lightweight and hardy. For a similar reason pterosaurs were efficient fliers - and birds still are.
Recently, Science published a paper by Roland Kröger of the University of York and colleagues at Imperial College London. They used electron microscopes to look at the nanostructure of human bone.
“The authors believe that the fractal-like structure of bone is one of the key reasons for its remarkable attributes,” Science Daily concludes.
Fractals are seen everywhere in nature. They suggest that there’s nothing haphazard in creation, but every detail is designed carefully.
The Science Daily article elaborates:
“Besides the large number of nested structures in bone, a common feature of all of them is a slight curvature, providing twisted geometry. To name a few, the mineral crystals are curved, the protein strands (collagen) are braided, the mineralized collagen fibrils twist, and the entire bones themselves have a twist, such as those seen in the curving shape of a rib for example.”
This does not look like the work of the blind watchmaker that our old friend Richard Dawkins used to be so fond of.
University of York. 2018. Revealing the remarkable nanostructure of human bone. Science Daily. (3 May).
Tuesday, 8 May 2018
Plants are a lot more complicated than evolutionists are willing to admit. We can hardly chalk up their growth to Darwinian processes.
A paper published in Nature Plants discusses the molecular machinery that builds plant cell wall components.
Phys.org gives the gist of what goes on in plant cells:
“Two proteins embedded on membranes within plant cells serve as a scaffold to organize three key enzymes that specifically channel carbon into the synthesis of a cell-wall polymer called lignin.
Lignin is essential to plants' ability to grow upright and represents a substantial carbon-storage component of plants. But because it surrounds the other cell-wall components—cellulose and hemicellulose—lignin protects these carbon-rich substances from the biochemical processes commonly used to convert them to fuels or other bio-products.”
Building a plant gets quite complicated. While the three enzymes “are located near one another on a membrane known as the endoplasmic reticulum, they don't interact directly. Instead, two separate proteins interact with all three enzymes."
The endoplasmic reticulum is the “cell's interior ‘highway’ of membranes lined with the molecular machines that make proteins and transport those products within or out of cells.”
It should not be too difficult to see evidence of an intelligently designed system in all this. Molecular protein-making machines do not come about through trial and error. Designing them requires intelligence, as does the transportation business they’re involved in.
Human cells are even more amazing. They produce 100,000 nanomachines per hour and build miniature cities running at 100 percent efficiency.
Mcnulty Walsh, Karen. 2018. New details of molecular machinery that builds plant cell wall components. Phys.org (30 April).
Sunday, 6 May 2018
A new paper by Jessica Spake (a PhD student at the University of Exeter, UK) and colleagues published in Nature discloses the weirdness of WASP-107b, a hot Jupiter-sized exoplanet that has an atmosphere containing helium. It also has a comet-like tail.
Located in the constellation Virgo some 200 light years from us, WASP-107b orbits its star every 5,7 days. At 500º C (932º F), it is one of the hottest exoplanets.
While this bizarre world is as big as Jupiter, its mass is only one-eighth of Jupiter’s.
Many exoplanets tend to be weird, which suggests that Earth is most probably unique, created to sustain life.
Some foreign worlds, such as WASP-12b, are extremely hot. WASP-121b is so hot that it can cause iron to boil.
Our entire solar system seems to differ from all other star- planet systems.
Despite making big headlines, no exoplanet we know of is genuinely habitable.
Wenz, John. 2018. Colossal exoplanet has an enormous comet-like tail of helium. New Scientist (2 May).
Friday, 4 May 2018
Archaeologists have excavated a huge two-storey house in the Shephelah area in the Judean Hills, not far from Jerusalem.
“The archaeologists who excavated the house, at a site now called Tel Eton, in Israel, said in an article published online March 13 in the journal Radiocarbon that the date, design and size of the house indicates that a strong organized government existed at Tel Eton around 3,000 years ago. They added that this government may be the United Monarchy,” Live Science explains.
The United Monarchy refers to the reigns of David and Solomon before the kingdom split into two (Judah, the area in and around Jerusalem, and the northern kingdom known as Israel).
“Excavated between 2006 and 2015, the two-story house is constructed partly of ashlar stones. The ground floor is about 2,500 square feet (230 square meters) in size, putting it among the largest 1 percent of buildings that existed in the region around 3,000 years ago, Avraham Faust, an archaeology professor at Bar-Ilan University who leads excavations at Tel Eton, told Live Science.”
This is not the only archaeological evidence we have of King David. A few years ago, some sceptics still doubted his historicity. But then archaeologists found a 9th century B.C. inscription with the text House of David in Tel Dan in northern Galilee.
Some other recent discoveries, for instance excavations at Khirbet Qeiyafa, likewise confirm the existence of the United Monarchy.
We should not be surprised, as the Bible records history accurately. (See examples here, here and here.)
Jarus, Owen. 2018. Does This 3,000-Year-Old House Confirm King David's Lost Biblical Kingdom? Live Science (3 May).
Wednesday, 2 May 2018
Found in South and Central America, the Hercules beetle (Dynastes hercules) is the longest living beetle. Males can grow to 17.5 centimetres (7 inches), including the horn.
Noted for its strength, the Hercules beetle can carry enormous loads. A paper published in 1996 suggested that a much smaller rhinoceros beetle could manage a load that was a hundred times heavier than it, so it is logical to assume that a Hercules can lift and carry an even heavier load.
It can also fly.
Evolutionists believe that beetles are living fossils that have been around for at least “105 million years”.
The great diversity in all kinds of animals including beetles speaks of creation.
BioLib.cz. 2017. Hercules Beetle, Dynastes hercules.
Kram, Rodger. 1996. Inexpensive Load Carrying by Rhinoceros Beetles. Journal of Experimental Biology 199, 609–612.