Creationism News -- December 2012 2012 12 Dedicated

Creationism News -- December 2012    2012  12 Dedicated

Creationism News -- December 2012 2012 12 Dedicated to David Coppedge who sacrificed his career as the Head Systems Administrator for the Cassini Spacecraft in JPL to honor the Creator of the Universe. He also spent literally thousands of hours to make his excellent websites. The contents of this presentation were taken from David Coppedges website http://crev.info. Pray for the Lords guidance and help in his excellent websites. Pastor Chui http://ChristCenterGospel.org [email protected] 02/10/20 1 Two Studies May Indicate Problems for Vast Ages

Two articles in secular science literature point to possible upsets in long-age assumptions for the earth and mankind. Most Human Mutations Are Recent A press release from the University of Washington states, Harmful protein-coding mutations in people arose largely in the past 5,000 to 10,000 years. The Exome Sequencing Project, a consortium of evolutionary geneticists, surveyed a million single-letter changes in the human exome (protein-coding genes) for 6,515 people. Overall, the researchers predicted that about 81 percent of the single-nucleotide variants in their European samples, and 58 percent in their African samples, arose in the past 5,000 years. 02/10/20 2 Two Studies May Indicate Problems for Vast Ages

The researchers were able to fit this surprise into the outof-Africa hypothesis by claiming that mutations became fixed more rapidly among Europeans after they migrated. The Out of Africa bottleneck led to inefficient purging of the less-harmful mutations, one explained. Still, if 150 mutations are passed from parent to offspring on average, it would seem that rate of damage could not go on for many tens or hundreds of thousands of years. See also the Science Daily article on this, that states, The researchers pointed out that the results illustrate the profound effect recent human evolutionary history has had on the burden of damaging mutations in contemporary populations. 02/10/20 3 Two Studies May Indicate Problems for Vast Ages

The consortium agrees that their results indicate most harmful mutations in the human gene pool are of recent origin, evolutionarily speaking. Without supporting evidence, though, the researchers used standard Darwinian talking points to hope for a positive outcome, hoping that the large number of recent mutations may have created a new repository of advantageous genetic variants that adaptive evolution may act upon in future generations. Whatever the meaning, Science Daily said that the researchers stated, The recent dramatic increase in human population size, resulting in a deluge of rare functionally important variation, has important implications for understanding and predicting current and future patterns of human disease and evolution. 02/10/20 4

Two Studies May Indicate Problems for Vast Ages Tree Rings Point to a Recent Cosmic Ray Event What on earth happened in 768 A.D.? Charlemagne was busy building his empire, unaware of something happening over his head. The Charlemagne Event was not caused by him; something beyond earth sent a shower of cosmic rays our way. PhysOrg asks some pointed questions: Until recently, the years 774 and 775 were best known for Charlemagnes victory over the Lombards. But earlier this year, a team of scientists in Japan discovered a baffling spike in carbon-14 deposits within the rings of cedar trees that matched those same years. Because cosmic rays are tied to carbon-14 concentrations, scientists around the world have wondered about the cause: a nearby supernova, a

gamma ray burst in the Milky Way or an intense superflare 02/10/20 5 emanating from the Sun? Two Studies May Indicate Problems for Vast Ages In the article, Adrian Melott (U of Kansas) presents his argument that the spike came from a coronal mass ejection from the sun. This CME could have been 1020 times larger than the largest spike observed in recent times (1859), called the Carrington Event. Stars beyond our sun have been observed to have very large flares. Other cosmic sources might include a gamma ray burst or nearby supernova, though the latter would have been observable in the sky. If an extra-large CME occurred during Charlemagnes battles, it might not have been noticed. It might have caused a slightly

higher risk of skin cancer. But today if one that size occurred, it would disrupt the worlds power grid and blow out transformers over a wide area. Wed only have a few minutes warning before our civilization would become seriously disrupted. 02/10/20 6 Two Studies May Indicate Problems for Vast Ages We offer these findings as stimulations for further research by asking some questions. If a CME or other cosmic source could dramatically increase carbon-14 production in the atmosphere, what does that do to the calibration profile for radiocarbon dating? What could be the impact of a large shower of cosmic rays on the atomic clocks used for radiometric dating in general? Could a cosmic event stimulate accelerated nuclear

decay, lowering the activation threshold to give a false reading of longer ages (e.g., more fission tracks) than actually occurred? If not, how would we know? Open-minded physicists may want to look into this. 02/10/20 7 Two Studies May Indicate Problems for Vast Ages Regarding the mutation rate, the finding appears to add more impetus to Dr. John Sanfords theory of genetic entropy, that the human race could not purge harmful or nearly-neutral mutations fast enough to avoid extinction in very many thousands of years, let alone tens of thousands. The evolution-talk in the article seems concocted to rescue Darwins long ages rather than face the clear implication

that humans have not been evolving for hundreds of thousands of years. Even with lower population sizes, genetic entropy takes its toll. And if you think bullets to the genome provide a pool of variants that natural selection may act upon in future generations, good luck 02/10/20 8 outrunning extinction while the bad ones add up. Are Scientists Capable of Stupidity? Scientists are only people, and most people do or say dumb things sometimes. You can decide how to classify these scientific ideas. Overhyped Martian claims of the past: While the world eagerly awaits NASA announcing something

big about Mars next week,* Clara Moskowitz reminds us on Space.com that there were at least five overhyped claims in the past: (1) the canals on Mars, (2) flowing water on Mars, (3) the face on Mars, (4) microbes in a Martian meteorite, and (5) claims of possible life from Vikings 1 and 2. Many of these were taken very seriously by renowned scientists of the day. 02/10/20 9 Are Scientists Capable of Stupidity? Alien Breck: A long time ago in a beauty salon far, far away: We may be able to detect aliens by their hairspray, Charles Q. Choi announced on Space.com: Alien hairspray may help us find

E.T. Presumably space babes would wish to keep their locks in place with chloroflurocarbons, which astronomers might detect in a planetary atmosphere. Thats probably enough said, except to note that NASA considered this story newsworthy enough to give it good press on their Astrobiology Magazine website. 02/10/20 10 Are Scientists Capable of Stupidity? Organized ignorance: When you dont know what you are talking about, does it help to organize your

ignorance? Apparently Claudio Maccone thinks so. Astrobiology Magazine said Maccone took another look at the Drake Equation for calculating how many aliens inhabit the galaxy. But the Drake equation must not be evaluated only by the numerical values it produces. Some say the Drake equation is a way to organize our ignorance. By exposing the extraterrestrial intelligence hypothesis mathematically, we limit the real possibilities to each term and approach the final 02/10/20 answer: how many alien civilizations are there? 11 Are Scientists Capable of Stupidity? Maccone massaged the ignorance with new inputs and came up with a new estimate of how many alien civilizations there are, which

nobody can check. He simultaneously solved another problem of organized ignorance: why hasnt SETI detected any aliens yet? Answer: the average distance of these unknown civilizations might put them too far for our current detectors to find. How convenient; maybe we can use that method 02/10/20 to explain why we havent found ghosts. 12 Are Scientists Capable of Stupidity? Minds by mistake: Someone didnt think this through. Maybe Darwin made him do it. Take an ape brain and zap it: instant intelligence! That seems to be the gist of a story on Science Daily, Origin of Intelligence and Mental Illness

Linked to Ancient Genetic Accident. What does the prestigious University of Edinburgh think of one of their own, Seth Grant, proposing that a genetic accident led to his brain? He proposes that a mistake caused a gene to make multiple copies of neurons, which led to both intelligence and mental illness. This makes mental illness the flip side of intelligence, leading readers to believe that Grant may not be able to tell one from the other. *We learned later the latest Mars hype was due to a misunderstanding; see Live Sciences explanation. 02/10/20 13 Are Scientists Capable of Stupidity? Whats disturbing is that nobody in the press called these people on these claims, although Clara Moskowitz came

close. Evolutionary scientists have the gall to declare their critics ignoramuses. We simply show you what they say; you decide. 02/10/20 14 Evolution of Flight: A Story Looking for Evidence An evolutionary dogma is that land dinosaurs evolved into flying birds. When the claims are acid-washed with critical analysis, what evidence remains?

02/10/20 15 Evolution of Flight: A Story Looking for Evidence 1. Early bird tryouts: One claim going around now is that Archaeopteryx and other early birds were poor flyers, implying that they were transitional forms to falcons and hummingbirds that later progressed to perfect the art of flight. PhysOrg, for instance, titled a recent article Early birds had an old-school version of wings. Complete with artwork that makes them look awkward, the article is based on analysis of fossils of Archaeopteryx and Anchiornis by Nicholas Longrich of Yale, who examined the feathers and decided they were configured differently thereby showing progressive evolution: Now its clear that early birds were more

primitive and represented transitional forms linking birds to dinosaurs. Other than saying so, what did he find? We can see the wing slowly becoming more advanced as we move from Anchiornis, to Archaeopteryx, to later birds. OK, but what 02/10/20 16 were his criteria for ranking them? Evolution of Flight: A Story Looking for Evidence Archaeopteryx has this weird design with multiple layers of long flight feathers, Longrich said. The dinosaur Anchiornis has tons of simple, striplike feathers that overlapthe only bird that has anything remotely similar is a penguin. That means that early wings probably worked effectively as simple airfoils for gliding,

and perhaps for very primitive flapping flight at high speeds, the researchers say. But the feathers on those wings couldnt separate and twist in the way they do in a modern bird. Low-speed flight and ground takeoff may have been difficult, or even 02/10/20 17 impossible, for them. Evolution of Flight: A Story Looking for Evidence But penguins are very advanced birds with feathers well adapted to their habitat. On what basis can Longrich say that these individuals either had specialized feathers for their needs, or represented degenerate stages of feathers, as seen in some modern flightless birds? Instead, he built a progression from feathers on

dinosaurs for warmth, then for display, then for gliding, then for flying, without providing the dates or locations that would illustrate an actual progression. 02/10/20 18 Evolution of Flight: A Story Looking for Evidence Moreover, he had to tweak the rates of evolution to keep the story flying: The researchers propose that the wing feather arrangement seen in modern birds may have evolved within a period spanning perhaps a few tens of millions of years and then remained largely

unchanged for the last 130 million years. That seems a case of special pleading, but Nature News gave the work a short, positive 02/10/20 19 statement, and so did Live Science. Evolution of Flight: A Story Looking for Evidence Longrichs original paper appeared in Current Biology, where he and his team proclaimed, The avian wing represents one of natural selections most remarkable inventions and praised it profusely. After presenting his transitional sequence, though, problems entered to confuse the picture: There are a number of issues that complicate this scenario. First, the phylogenetic positions of Archaeopteryx and Anchiornis remain uncertain. Most

studies recover Archaeopteryx and Anchiornis as successive outgroups to modern birds, but a recent analysis suggests that Archaeopteryx and Anchiornis may be more closely related to the Deinonychosauria. If so, this would require that either the long, asymmetrical remiges shared by Archaeopteryx and modern birds were acquired convergently, or that the short and symmetrical remiges 02/10/20 20 of Anchiornis are derived. Evolution of Flight: A Story Looking for Evidence It could also mean that the multitiered feather arrangement is derived for an ArchaeopteryxDeinonychosauria clade, rather than primitive. Further complicating the scenario presented here is the fact that the dromaeosaurid Microraptor gui also has the long, asymmetrical primaries seen in Archaeopteryx and

Neornithes (the morphology of the coverts, however, remains unknown for Microraptor). Microraptor may have independently evolved the advanced feather morphology, or again, Anchiornis may represent a reversal. It is also possible that the derived morphology of the remiges seen in Archaeopteryx and Microraptor is primitive for Paraves, and that Anchiornis actually lies outside of this clade. To resolve these conflicts, we require both a better understanding of maniraptoran phylogeny and new information on the plumage of basal maniraptorans such as Protarchaeopteryx and Caudipteryx. 02/10/20 21 Evolution of Flight: A Story Looking for Evidence Curiously, the news articles failed to mention these

potentially falsifying problems. Longrich also entertained a punctuated equilibria evolutionary scenario: rapid development of flight, followed by 130 million years of stasis. So: all that can be said, based on the evidence is this: Regardless of the precise scenario invoked, it is clear that Archaeopteryx and nonavian dinosaurs have a wing feather organization that differs from that of modern birds. If the evidence is that limiting, other scenarios could accept these differences without invoking progress sequence from dinosaur to bird. 02/10/20 22 Evolution of Flight: A Story Looking for Evidence

Then, shockingly, he compared bird evolution to airline engineering, and claimed they are similar: Strikingly, a pattern of stasis is found in manmade aircraft as well: following rapid advances in aircraft design in the early 20th century, progress slowed in later decades, such that many aircraft designed in the mid20th century still operate. The processes behind the evolution of vertebrate wings and aircraft wings may be the same. The constraints imposed by fluid mechanics mean that a relatively small number of possible wing configurations are effective airfoils; once these geometries are discovered either by natural selection or aeronautical engineering, only small 02/10/20 23 refinements are possible. Evolution of Flight: A Story Looking for Evidence

The irony was apparently lost on Longrichs team that engineers work by intelligent design, not by natural selection. If the constraints of physics mean only working machinery will fly, how could he claim that natural selection is capable of what engineers took decades of intelligent planning to execute? The popular science articles left this flawed argument from analogy out, too. 02/10/20 24 Evolution of Flight: A Story Looking for Evidence

2. Composite explanations: A very confident-sounding article by Michael Balter in Science Magazine on Nov. 2 was titled, Flying Dinos and Baby Birds Offer New Clues About How Avians Took Wing. It began, Most scientists agree that birds are living dinosaurs, survivors of the mass extinction that did in all other dinos at the end of the Cretaceous period 65 million years ago. Birds are also the result of a remarkable series of evolutionary events that transformed dinosaurs from mighty masters of the land into light and feathery lords of the skies. At a meeting of vertebrate paleontologists here last month, researchers pondered fresh clues about the origins of flight from studies of 02/10/20 25 feathered dinosaurs and baby birds. Evolution of Flight: A Story Looking for Evidence

The most scientists agree statement is, of course, a mere appeal to authority and bandwagon arguments. Discounting those, what evidence did Balter present? The said baby birds are none other then Ken Dials partridge family chicks hes been promoting for nearly a decade (see (1/16/2003, 12/22/2003, 5/01/2006, 1/25/2008, 6/26/2011). Critics could argue that looking for evolutionary clues from living birds is a throwback to Haeckels Recapitulation Theory (2/18/2011#4, 10/31/2012), a technical foul in modern evolutionary theorizing. And since bird chicks come with the genetic program to make them extend their wings in preparation for a life of flight, it would seem nothing could be said about how unobservable dinosaurs behaved and even if they extended their flightless arms, a mechanism that doesnt get the genetic mutation for this behavior into the gametes could be criticized as Lamarckian. 26 02/10/20 Evolution of Flight: A Story Looking for Evidence

Other than that, Balters report included a dispute about whether Microraptor was a flyer or glider, or a transitional form from dromeosaurs at all. Apparently it had enough equipment to fly fairly well, whether or not it had the same turning radius as some modern birds. Kevin Padian entered the fray to criticize the arboreal (tree-down) taint of the discussion. He claims the debate ended in favor of the cursorial (ground-up) theory when none other than Ken Dial introduced his wing-assisted incline running hypothesis (WAIR) with the partridge family. Thomas Holtz thought that makes evolutionary sense because there would have been selective pressure to ascend into the trees and then get out of them once you got up there. No evidence was cited that it really happened that way. 02/10/20 27

Evolution of Flight: A Story Looking for Evidence Ashley Heers came prepared to respond to criticisms that WAIR conjures up the ghost of Recapitulation Theory but did she succeed? In Raleigh, Dials graduate student Ashley Heers argued in a widely applauded talk that paleontologists should search for clues to the origins of flight by studying the stages that young birds go through as they begin to fly. Although the 19th century idea that ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny has been widely discredited, Heers said, many young animals do retrace key evolutionary steps between birth and adulthood. For example, she argued, young birds such as chukars, a member of the partridge family, have many features that are typical of extinct carnivorous dinosaurs but are not present in adult birds.

02/10/20 28 Evolution of Flight: A Story Looking for Evidence They include unfused thoracic vertebrae and a small pelvis and very small keel, an extension of the sternum that protrudes outward from the ribs. Young chukars and other juvenile birds also have symmetrical feathers that give way to asymmetrical ones in adult birds, a pattern that reflects differences between early and later feathered dinosaurs. And Heers and Dial have documented wing-assisted incline running in baby chukars; although they cannot yet fly, if their wings are clipped or blocked, their ability to run up

inclines is greatly reduced. 02/10/20 29 Evolution of Flight: A Story Looking for Evidence This sounds like she rebuked Recapitulation Theory only to embrace it. If she had a response to the fact that baby birds have a genetic program to fly, while dinosaurs did not, Balter didnt report it. Yet her presentation was widely applauded, he did notice. 02/10/20 30

Evolution of Flight: A Story Looking for Evidence 3. Heavy-set pre-birds: Other than mentioning imaginary feathers, another article on Science Daily avoided the question of the origin of flight while undermining a different evolutionary assumption: the idea that bigger is better. For Some Feathered Dinosaurs, Bigger Not Always Better, the headline reads. The falsifiable notion in question was whether diet contributed to dinosaur size. Now researchers have started looking at why dinosaurs that abandoned meat in favor of vegetarian diets got so big, and their results may call conventional wisdom about plant-eaters and body size into question. 02/10/20 31

Evolution of Flight: A Story Looking for Evidence The largest feathered dinosaurs were more than 100 times more massive than your average person, says Zanno. The reality is that for most of us, it is downright difficult to imagine a feathered animal of gigantic proportions. 02/10/20 32 Evolution of Flight: A Story Looking for Evidence

Apparently it takes a scientist who has practiced imagination to get good at it. Anyway, a simplistic, clear-cut evolutionary advantage toward larger size disappeared in the data. They found that these theropod groups were experimenting with different body masses as they evolved, with some getting bigger, while others were getting smaller, the article anthropomorphized. In short, there was no clear-cut drive to get big size seemed to provide no overwhelming advantage during the evolution of these animals. Flight was certainly not on their experimental curriculum. 02/10/20 33 Evolution of Flight: A Story Looking for Evidence

4. All praise to natural selections engineering perfection: Perhaps the most jaw-dropping juxtaposition of praise for engineering design and for natural selection can be seen in a recent paper in the CEAS Aeronautical Journal. First, heres what Hans Frsching and Holger Hennings have to say about the power of evolution: 02/10/20 34 Evolution of Flight: A Story Looking for Evidence

Avian flight is one of the remarkable achievements of vertebrate evolution. The enigmatical flight of birds with their inimitable flight capabilities has at all times attracted our attention. Flying animals have populated the sky already since more than hundred million years. Here, the birds evolved in their long evolution, from dinosaurs to bipedal feathered flying reptiles, to perfect flight machines of nature. They dominate in exemplary manner the fundamental requirements for an efficient flight propulsion, aerodynamic lift, flight stability and control, and extreme lightweight construction. Thus, in the early pioneering time of aircraft design, birds were the pilot instructors of the Homo sapiens in his efforts to realise the ancient human dream to fly, finally with the aid of technical resources. 02/10/20 35 Evolution of Flight: A Story Looking for Evidence

Thats essentially all they had to say about evolution. But then, in their conclusion, they waxed nearly ecstatic about the design perfection in avian flight: The study demonstrates conclusively, that concealed aeroelastic effects contribute essentially to the marvellous flight capabilities of birds. Certain structural wing asymmetries and specific anatomic peculiarities of the bony wing skeleton play thereby a fundamental role. An extremely precise coordination of the complex wing beat motions, together with a perfect flight guidance and control performance, are additional basic requirements for an efficient active flight. The birds dominate all of these requisites in a masterly manner. 02/10/20 36

Evolution of Flight: A Story Looking for Evidence In a flight-mechanical control circuit, the large flight muscles, and many others in the wing, serve as actuators, the extremely marked sense organs act as flight sensors, and the extremely developed cerebellum takes the function of a computer as guidance and control centre. These biological elements communicate with lightning speed like an autopilot as a biotechnical marvel with unimaginable precision. Thus, the birds can precisely adjust and control their flight in all styles and situations without flow separation in a stable flight-mechanical and aeroelastic equilibrium. With their spectacular flight capabilities, birds are really the inimitable flight artists of nature. They are equipped with unique flight skills, all mysteries of which

are obviously still not yet completely known. No Darwinian aftertaste in that paragraph. 02/10/20 37 Evolution of Flight: A Story Looking for Evidence Darwinists are a club of ideologues whose mission is to maintain a naturalistic scenario at all costs, even if it means committing various evolutionary no-nos, such as (1) Recapitulation Theory, (2) Lamarckism, (3) JustSo Storytelling, and other no-nos for general science like (4) big lie, (5) half-truth, (6) non-sequitur, (7) card stacking, etc. (see all the tricks of the trade in the Baloney Detector). Observations are mere props to keep their story going. Its not that they are blind to the evidence; they are without excuse, because it is clearly seen all around them (Romans 1:1625), even overhead in a passing flock of birds. Because they know design in their hearts, they hate everyone who 02/10/20

38 points it out. Pray for them. Secular Scientists Excuse Profanity If everything evolves, then profanity evolves, and its no big deal, even if it warms the atmosphere. In The Evolution of Profanity, Heather Littlefield, a linguist at Northeastern University, gave a completely relativist perspective on profanity in an interview by Linda Ogbevoen posted on PhysOrg . After all, if the human intellect evolves, like Medical Xpress reported, then its just neurons firing. And if animals are just as moral as we are, as Live Science proclaimed, we are not essentially different from animals. And if cooperation evolves, as Science Daily and PhysOrg keep saying, then so does noncooperation which could include profanity. Why wouldnt Littlefield believe and teach, therefore, that the only content we give to bad words is arbitrary and socially determined? It evolves

over time, and nothing is really right or wrong with it. Littlefield did not mention the kind of profanity that blasphemes God, but there 02/10/20 39 were no indications she felt any different about that. Secular Scientists Excuse Profanity Its not surprising, then, that a scientist at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) meeting, scheduled a talk with the F-word in the title of his paper, even though its a word associated with violent rape. Its not even surprising that Science Now thought it was funny at least, they did not condemn it, but put the word (with some asterisks) into their headline. 02/10/20

40 Secular Scientists Excuse Profanity Brad Werner of the University of California, San Diego, has livened things up with a suggestive title talk, scheduled as part of a session tomorrow called The Future of HumanLandscape Systems II. Drawing on Werners computer modeling of the relationship between human society and environmental systems, Is Earth F**ked? Dynamical Futility of Global Environmental Management and Possibilities for Sustainability via Direct Action Activism makes some disturbing conclusions. (Asterisks are included in the official title of the talk, which can be accessed by search.) [T]he dynamics of the global coupled human-environmental system within the dominant culture precludes management for stable, sustainable pathways and promotes instability, Werners abstract says. This appears to suggest the answer to his provocative question, then, is yes.

02/10/20 41 Secular Scientists Excuse Profanity Its also not surprising that if scientists believe the world is [expletive deleted], that they should get in your face about it. Nature on Nov 14 gave good press to Jeremy Grantham so that he could preach, Be persuasive. Be brave. Be arrested (if necessary). He praised James Hanson who has screamed warnings for 30 years about global warming, and Gus Speth, whose protests landed him in jail. Why wouldnt Granthams ending appeal call for violence and profanity? 02/10/20 42

Secular Scientists Excuse Profanity Overstatement may generally be dangerous in science (it certainly is for careers) but for climate change, uniquely, understatement is even riskier and therefore, arguably, unethical. It is crucial that scientists take more career risks and sound a more realistic, more desperate, note on the global-warming problem. Younger scientists are obsessed by thoughts of tenure, so it is probably up to older, senior and retired scientists to do the heavy lifting. Be arrested if necessary. This is not only the crisis of your lives it is also the crisis of our species existence. I implore you to be brave. 02/10/20

43 Secular Scientists Excuse Profanity The irony seemed lost on Grantham that appeals to ethics fail, because ethics evolve (according to the same scientific consensus he trusts), and is therefore socially constructed, because we are just animals. It wasnt even necessary for him to know that man-caused global warming is true just that most scientists agree it is (argument from authority, and bandwagon). I have yet to meet a climate scientist who does not believe that global warming is a worse problem than they thought a few years ago, he began. The seriousness of this change is not appreciated by politicians and the public. He might have a pulpit as a theist, but evolutionary processes are about power and reproductive success, not truth. 02/10/20

44 Secular Scientists Excuse Profanity If anthropogenic climate change were so clear as to demand immediate, even law-breaking, action, why do studies by scientists keep casting doubt on it? On Science Now, for instance, Sid Perkins reported that Recent drought trends [are] not so cut and dried. He began, The picture of expanding drought painted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change may not be quite as arid as it looks. A technique commonly used to estimate the severity of a drought may actually overestimate the effects of dry spells, new research suggests. Worldwide climate data combined with a more refined technique for assessing droughts reveal that they havent expanded as much in recent decades as previously

thought. 02/10/20 45 Secular Scientists Excuse Profanity On Nov. 15, Nature weighed in on this, saying A new assessment of drought trends over the past 60 years finds little evidence of an expansion of the area affected by droughts, contradicting several previous estimates. estimates the IPCC had relied on for its conclusions about the seriousness of global warming. In another global warming reassessment in Nature on Nov. 29, a team explored The mystery of recent stratospheric temperature trends, and concluded that The new data call into question our understanding of observed stratospheric temperature trends and our ability to test simulations of the

stratospheric response to emissions of greenhouse gases and ozone-depleting substances. Despite the uncertainties, PhysOrg worried that drought might happen, and PhysOrg preached we must act now, facts or not. 02/10/20 46 Secular Scientists Excuse Profanity The issue here is not whether global warming is indeed man caused, or even whether the scientists mentioned above believe it is. The issue is the ability of any human to make such sweeping conclusions based on unreliable, changing interpretations of data. Even worse is the self-refuting nature of a corrigible relativists appeal to ethics to get his fellows to change their ways. That thought alone is enough to make an amoral, unbridled animal

shout, @%#!! 02/10/20 47 Secular Scientists Excuse Profanity The bitter fruit of evolutionary thinking has not yet reached its limit of toxicity. The limit could well be The Abolition of Man. 02/10/20 48 Understanding Creationists (and Evolutionists)

A historian tells science teachers that To Teach Evolution, You Have to Understand Creationists. Should that advice apply both ways? In The Chronicle of Higher Education last month, Adam Laats seemingly advised a kinder, gentler treatment of creationists than the usual outrage from the secular Darwinian camp. There was no name-calling of them as ignorant, anti-science flat-earthers (or worse) from this historian and author from Binghamton University: instead, he urged that science teachers try to understand them. Cool your jets, he advised; attack-dog responses to creationist comments are uncalled for, as are the even milder (but no less virulent) comments from the likes of Bill 02/10/20 49 Nye the Science Guy (see 8/27/2012). Understanding Creationists (and Evolutionists)

Laatss reasons for moderation seem open-minded. He acknowledges that some creationists are not ignoramuses: U.S. Rep. Paul C. Broun Jr., Republican of Georgia, for instance, who took a ferocious beating after criticizing Darwinism and the Big Bang (he called them lies from the pit of hell), has a bachelors in chemistry and is an M.D. (Secular scientists are up in arms that he sits on the Science, Space, and Technology Committee of the House). A number of leading creationists have scientific credentials, Laats pointed out. He even praised William Jennings Bryan as a well-travelled man of letters with many degrees, who remarked that he had never been 02/10/20 50 called an ignoramus except by evolutionists. Understanding Creationists (and Evolutionists)

The snarky remarks by some scientists who are flummoxed by the durability of creationism, he says, cant on the one hand claim Broun is unqualified for his position, and on the other demand that an elected official not fight for the ideas in which his constituents believe. Its time for carrot, not stick, Laats advises: As it stands, scientists blundering hostility toward creationism actually encourages creationist belief. By offering a stark division between religious faith and scientific belief, evolutionary scientists have pushed creationists away from embracing evolutionary ideas. And, by assuming that only ignorance could explain creationist beliefs, scientists have unwittingly fostered bitter resentment among the creationists, the very people with whom they should be hoping to connect. 02/10/20 51

Understanding Creationists (and Evolutionists) Laats also rejects the notion that creationists belong to a right-wing fringe. As Berkman and Plutzer demonstrate, the creationist beliefs of teachers embody the creationist beliefs of Americans in general, he said. The teachers are not ignorant of evolution, yet they choose to reject it. Remarkably, Laats is also willing to concede that some students who turn to embrace evolution might have done so not because of the facts of biology, but for personal moral failings or other motivations. Here, though, Laats reaches the limit of his tolerance for creationists: 02/10/20 52

Understanding Creationists (and Evolutionists) If we hope to spread the science of evolution, it does not help to charge forward in blissful ignorance about the nature and meanings of creationism. Broun may be wrong about evolution, embryology, and the Big Bang. But his scientific errors do not instantly disqualify him as a representative of the American people. Nor can they be explained away as a product of ignorance. Rather, those of us who care about promoting evolution education must admit the hard truth. It is not simply that creationists such as Broun have not heard the facts about evolution. Brounalong with other informed, educated creationistssimply rejects those facts. Evolution educators do not simply need to spread the word about evolution. We need to convince and convert Americans who sincerely hold

differing understandings about the nature and meaning of 02/10/20 53 science. Understanding Creationists (and Evolutionists) So in the end, Laats continued to hold that evolution is a matter of science, facts, and being right. Even if he allows that creationists are not ignoramuses, he implies that they hold differing understandings (by implication, misunderstandings), about the nature and meaning of science. More of the same presentation of the facts of evolution, therefore, is not going to convert those who reject facts. He didnt go any further, but others have suggested forms of mind control to influence those with false beliefs (see 9/27/2012). Given the limits of his toleration, others could well propose such measures as more effective than name-calling; for example, see

12/21/2005, How to Overcome Student Objections to Evolution. 02/10/20 54 Understanding Creationists (and Evolutionists) If you are a Darwin doubter, as you read this, you must guard against the tendency to want to leap up and hug Adam Laats for his tolerant attitude. Yes, it is refreshing to see someone in the secular journals actually say that Darwin doubters are not all ignoramuses. After being hit by that rock on the head for so long, it does indeed feel good when it stops. Your response, instead, should be, Why were you hitting me with that rock in the first place? What right do you have to call me an ignoramus when you believe everything in the universe, including your reason, emerged from nothing by an unguided

process? 02/10/20 55 Understanding Creationists (and Evolutionists) This is not just tit-for-tat. You need to reason with the evolutionist that his very use of reason shows that evolution is self-refuting. The evolutionist believes that reason emerged in the human mind by an unguided natural process; it did not exist before that. Therefore, he has no basis for trusting its validity (some very good treatments of this argument from reason in the new book The Magicians Twin discussed in the 11/20/2012 entry). Laats needs to see that evolutionists are the ones who have denied the facts. They are the ones who have misunderstood 02/10/20

56 the nature and meaning of science. Understanding Creationists (and Evolutionists) That being the situation, there is no reason that an articulate creationist could not write the very same article in inverted form: To Teach the Science of Creation, You Need to Understand Evolutionists. That spokesperson could employ the same arguments: admitting that not all evolutionists are ignoramuses, and that some who believe simply reject the facts of creation. Some even believe it for nonrational reasons. The person who should be cowering in shame for promoting a self-refuting worldview (which, by definition, cannot possibly be true), is Adam Laats and his fellow science teachers who promote it. 02/10/20

57 Understanding Creationists (and Evolutionists) If, and only if, Laats is willing to acknowledge, you have a valid point there, and that evolution could be the view that is factually wrong and unscientific, could there be a true meeting of the minds toward progress in mutual understanding. Anything less is a mere feint in a pitched battle. It just means the evolutionists will be kinder when they take creationists prisoner. Demand the evolutionists drop their arms and surrender the castle they have unrighteously usurped. 02/10/20 58

Ediacarans Not Related to Cambrian Animals Ediacarans Two surprises come from a re-analysis of classic Ediacaran fossils from Australia: theyre unrelated to Cambrian animals, and they may have lived on land. Dr. Gregory Retallack (University of Oregon), a native Australian, examined the rocks in south Australia containing fossil Ediacaran organisms. According to Astrobiology Magazine, Retallack now believes the creatures were not ancestors of ancient marine multicellular life, but instead represent remnants of land-dwelling lichen or other microbial colonies. His conclusion may or may not affect classification of Ediacarans from other parts of the world. 02/10/20

59 Ediacarans Not Related to Cambrian Animals Ediacarans Retallack used state-of-the-art techniques to examine the rock, and found that its old elephant skin appearance resembles crusty sandstone or microbial soil crusts in modern deserts. Below the sand in which they were buried he found evidence of fossil soils. This discovery has implications for the tree of life, because it removes Ediacaran fossils from the ancestry of animals, said Retallack, professor of geological sciences and co-director of paleontological collections at the UOs Museum of Natural and Cultural History. His evidence, mostly gathered from a site in the Flinders Ranges, is presented in a paper placed online ahead of print by the journal Nature

02/10/20 60 . Ediacarans Not Related to Cambrian Animals Ediacarans These fossils have been a first-class scientific mystery, he said. They are the oldest large multicellular fossils. They lived immediately before the Cambrian evolutionary explosion that gave rise to familiar modern groups of animals. In the paper, Retallack wrote, Newly documented palaeosols in the Ediacara Member of the Rawnsley Quartzite in South Australia now call for a reevaluation of its famous fossils, widely considered evolutionary predecessors of the Cambrian explosion of marine animal phyla. He also noted, Most Ediacaran fossils have no clear relationship

02/10/20 61 with modern animals. Ediacarans Not Related to Cambrian Animals Ediacarans If not sea creatures, what are they? Retallack suggested they could be lichens, other microbial consortia, fungal fruiting bodies, slime molds, flanged pedestals of biological soil crusts, and even casts of needle ice. In the paper and the press release, he had very little to say about evolution, except that the Ediacarans represent an independent evolutionary radiation of life on land that preceded by at least 20 million years the Cambrian evolutionary explosion of animals in the sea. 02/10/20

62 Ediacarans Not Related to Cambrian Animals Ediacarans So much for pointing to multicellular precursors to the Cambrian explosion. Retallack mistakenly called it the Cambrian evolutionary explosion. He should have said Cambrian explosion demolishing evolution. See the documentary Darwins Dilemma for reasons why. 02/10/20 63 Eye Retina Is Analog-to-Digital Converter

Before you see, your retina has done multiple digital transformations on the incoming signal. A new study by opthalmologists at the University of Tbingen, Germany has confirmed that the eye goes digital. Bipolar cells at the base of the retina, long thought to send continuous analog signals to the retina, have been shown to generate action potentials, or spikes, that represent on-or-off conditions (the basis of digital programming). The paper in Current Biology is technical; the interesting part is in the press release from the university, entitled The end of a dogma: Bipolar cells generate action potentials. The article explains the advantages of digital processing: 02/10/20 64

Eye Retina Is Analog-to-Digital Converter Action potentials allow for much faster and temporally more precise signal transmission than graded potentials, thus offering advantages in certain situations. Even more amazing is how the eye massages its digitized information for the brain. The description sounds like a computer system: 02/10/20 65 Eye Retina Is Analog-to-Digital Converter

The retina in our eyes is not just a sheet of light sensors that like a camera chip faithfully transmits patterns of light to the brain. Rather, it performs complex computations, extracting several features from the visual stimuli, e.g., whether the light intensity at a certain place increases or decreases, in which direction a light source moves or whether there is an edge in the image. To transmit this information reliably across the optic nerve acting as a kind of a cable to the brain, the retina reformats it into a succession of stereotypic action potentials it digitizes it. Classical textbook knowledge holds that this digital code similar to the one employed by computers is applied only in the retinas ganglion cells, which send the information to the brain. Almost all other cells in the retina were believed to employ graded, analogue signals. But the Tbingen scientists could now show that, in mammals, already the bipolar cells, which are situated right after the photoreceptors within the retinal network, are able to work in 02/10/20 66 a digital mode as well.

Eye Retina Is Analog-to-Digital Converter The researchers were able to classify bipolar cell patterns into at least eight classes. Therefore, the systematic projection pattern of BCs provides distinct temporal building blocks for the feature extracting circuits of the inner retina, the abstract of the paper states. Could this be analogous to bits being organized into bytes for a kind of visual code? If nothing else, it improves reliability of the signal: To make information transmission to the brain reliable, the retina first has to digitize the image, the press release began. Why is this the end of a dogma? Action potentials had been noticed before, but were considered rare exceptions. The results from Tbingen call a widely held dogma of

neuroscience into question and open up many new 02/10/20 67 questions, the press release ended. Eye Retina Is Analog-to-Digital Converter As could be predicted, none of these articles mentioned evolution. How could they, when talking about computer cables and digital codes? There are two take-home messages from this paper. One is that the closer science looks at life, the more intelligently designed it appears. The autonomous bipolar cells cannot know what the brain needs. They had to be preprogrammed to send the most valuable information so that the brain can respond appropriately. They have to format the signal, using a code the brain can understand. And they

have to get it there fast; thats why digital is the way to go. The exquisite interaction of parts here, sending digitallyencoded information down a cable of sorts, is really mindboggling. Its not just a camera chip; its a whole Photoshop! 02/10/20 68 Eye Retina Is Analog-to-Digital Converter The other take-away message is that we dont really see whats out there in the world as it really is. Whats out there are just photons bouncing off objects. Before we see what we think were seeing, a long series of intermediaries (the cornea, the aqueous humor, the lens, the vitrious humor, the rods and cones, the bipolar cells, the retinal ganglion cells, the optic nerve, and who knows what else) has massaged, transformed and formatted the signal from the initial impingement of photons on the cornea. Philosophers can

have fun with this (see David Chalmers discuss the hard problem of neuroscience on Evolution News & Views). Creation apologists can also use this information as a response to skeptics who say they only believe what they see with their own eyes. 02/10/20 69 Hindcasting the Grand Canyon: Geologist Rejects Dam Breach Theory A geologist rejects the idea that an ancient lake spilled and carved Grand Canyon, but maybe he misrepresents the theory. Besides, how can geologists hindcast an unobserved event without philosophical assumptions? Grand Canyon Carved by Flood? Geologist Says No,

reads a headline on Live Science, but the URL is stronger: Megaflood debunked as Grand Canyon cause. Debunked is a strong word. It implies permanently laid to rest, or falsified, by a concurrence of geologists. In the article by reporter Becky Oskin, however, it appears that the debunking is just the opinion of one geologist, Bill Dickinson, an emeritus professor of geology at the University of Arizona in Tucson, who could provide no 02/10/20 70 better explanation. Hindcasting the Grand Canyon: Geologist Rejects Dam Breach Theory Tracing the history of the Grand Canyon is controversial. The deep gorge exposes a billion

years of Earth history in its candy-colored cliffs, but geologists cant agree when it formed, or exactly how. A long-standing hypothesis by both creationist and secular geologists places a vast lake, called Hopi Lake, to the southeast of the current canyon, proposing that a dam breach carved at least much of the canyon rapidly and catastrophically. The Painted Desert and other remnants called the Bidahochi Formation would be remnants of the old lake bottom. 02/10/20 71 Hindcasting the Grand Canyon: Geologist Rejects Dam Breach Theory Dickinson doesnt believe the dam breach is a valid story, so he said my main purpose is to dismantle it. He argues that the lake would have been too shallow,

and that the waters could not have climbed over the Kaibab Upwarp. This argument, though, overlooks the proponents scenario that the upwarp and the dam breach were tied together. Dickinson and others mentioned in the article additionally argue that theres no way the lake could have existed for 1020 million years. Creation geologists, however, do not need the millions of years, while secular geologists have no agreement on the sequence of events in the region, begging the question that the lake required the time. 02/10/20 72 Hindcasting the Grand Canyon: Geologist Rejects Dam Breach Theory

It would seem hard for Dickinson to triumph over a competing theory when he is admittedly baffled by the origin of the canyon: Knocking down Hopi Lake leaves a major puzzle: What was the course of the Colorado River before the Grand Canyon deepened? Some geologists think the early Colorado River flowed south into the lake. One of the hardest things to hindcast is to know how big a river youre looking for in Grand Canyon country, he said. What was the river like up in Utah? I hope that if people would just abandon the Hope Lake spillover game, their thoughts would lead them 02/10/20 73 on to worrying about Utah. Hindcasting the Grand Canyon: Geologist Rejects Dam Breach Theory

Although Dickinson presented a proposal that the ancestral river flowed northwest across northern Arizona, his idea hardly accounts for many features of the canyon, including its crossing the Kaibab plateau. Oskin implied that no other geologist is likely to come up with a better idea any time soon: Part of the challenge of solving the Grand Canyons history is that so much has changed in the ensuing millions of years: climate was different then, the topography has changed dramatically, and tectonic forces continue to reshape the plateau. 02/10/20 74 Hindcasting the Grand Canyon: Geologist Rejects Dam Breach Theory

It seems hardly appropriate for Oskin to say the megaflood theory has been debunked when all the other theories have just as many or worse problems. Oskin misrepresented the megaflood theory by assuming the millions of years as part of the story. Its the millions of years that are a large part of the problem with competing theories. This was no debunking; it was rather a story of a man on a mission to discredit competition so he could present his own fallible hindcast. 02/10/20 75 Globular Clusters Look Young and Old: Is This Scientific Explanation? Globular clusters supposedly all formed at the same time

long ago, but some look young. How do astronomers rescue the belief that they are ancient groupings of stars? Live Science (echoed on Space.com) introduced, once again (10/05/2003, 7/12/2008), the problem of blue straggler stars (BSS) blue supergiant stars in globulars that appear too young to inhabit such old clusters (the hot blue stars are thought to form and explode in too short a time to exist in ancient clusters that supposedly formed soon after the big bang). Reporter Mike Wall personified them thus: While such star clusters are many billions of years old, some of them manage to stay young at heart while others speed along toward decrepitude, astronomers found. 02/10/20 76 Globular Clusters Look Young and Old: Is This Scientific Explanation?

Given this range of incompatible ages, how can astronomers explain it? One way is to tweak the evolutionary rate dial: By studying the distribution of a type of blue star that exists in the clusters, we found that some clusters had indeed evolved much faster over their lifetimes, and we developed a way to measure the rate of aging, lead author Francesco Ferraro, of the University of Bologna in Italy, said in a 02/10/20 77 statement. Globular Clusters Look Young and Old: Is This Scientific Explanation?

The astronomers used an analogy of sediment sinking in a tank to classify clusters with blue stragglers concentrated near the center of some clusters, while others appear more homogeneous. Its not clear, though, that astronomers can simply tweak a dial to keep theory intact. Why would some clusters evolve faster than others? 02/10/20 78 Globular Clusters Look Young and Old: Is This Scientific Explanation? A few clusters had blue stragglers distributed

throughout, making them appear young. Some seemed old, with the stragglers already clumped in the center. And others were somewhere in between. Since these clusters all formed at roughly the same time, this reveals big differences in the speed of evolution from cluster to cluster, said co-author Barbara Lanzoni, also of the University of Bologna. In the case of fast-aging clusters, we think that the sedimentation process can be complete within a few hundred million years, while for the slowest it would take several times the current age of the universe.79 02/10/20 Globular Clusters Look Young and Old: Is This Scientific Explanation? Apparently their response boils down to, thats just the way things

are. Did the original paper in Nature by Ferraro et al. come up with any better explanation, perhaps some law of nature that tweaks the evolutionary rate dial in a predictable way? Globular star clusters that formed at the same cosmic time may have evolved rather differently from the dynamical point of view (because that evolution depends on the internal environment) through a variety of processes that tend progressively to segregate stars more massive than the average towards the cluster centre. Therefore clusters with the same chronological age may have reached quite different stages of their dynamical history (that is, they may have different dynamical ages). Blue straggler stars have masses greater than those at the turn-off point on the main sequence and therefore must be the result of 02/10/20 80 either a collision or a mass-transfer event. Globular Clusters Look Young and Old: Is This Scientific

Explanation? The fixed parameter in this story is the supposed ancient date of cluster formation. So far, the variables are undefined: a variety of processes. However, that word process never appears in the rest of the paper. The authors referred to the long-term effect of dynamical friction acting on the cluster binary population (and its progeny) since the early stages of cluster evolution, but did not explain why that fraction should vary all over the map from cluster to cluster. With crude approximations they claimed some success for a few clusters. Its also not clear why the dynamical age should differ from the absolute age. A cluster should only have a true age. Despite their hubris, if the dynamical age appears young, what are they saying?

02/10/20 81 Globular Clusters Look Young and Old: Is This Scientific Explanation? The signature of the parent clusters dynamical evolution encoded in the BSS population has now been finally deciphered: the shape of the radial distribution of BSSs is a powerful indicator of dynamical age. A flat radial distribution of BSSs indicates that dynamical friction has not yet had a major effect even in the innermost regions, and the cluster is still dynamically young. 02/10/20 82

Globular Clusters Look Young and Old: Is This Scientific Explanation? The authors still dont seem to understand the issue. Why should dynamical friction (if it is a law of nature) work differently in different clusters? Isnt this begging the question of dynamical age? Calling a cluster dynamically young because friction hasnt yet pulled the BSS stars into the center is theory-laden dependent on the notion that all globular clusters formed around the same time after the big bang. The authors did attempt independent confirmation: 02/10/20 83

Globular Clusters Look Young and Old: Is This Scientific Explanation? The quantization into distinct age-families is of course an oversimplification: in nature a continuous behaviour is expected and the position of rmin should vary with continuity as a sort of clock hand. This allows us to push our analysis further and define the first empirical clock able to measure the dynamical age of a stellar system from pure observational quantities (the dynamical clock): in the same way as the engine of a chronometer advances a clock hand to measure the flow of time, in a similar way dynamical friction moves rmin within the cluster, measuring its dynamical age. [Note: rmin refers to the radius of the portion of the distribution of blue stragglers beyond the cluster core]. 02/10/20 84

Globular Clusters Look Young and Old: Is This Scientific Explanation? Their empirical clock, however, is calibrated to two other theory-laden models on how long a cluster should take to reach its relaxation state, based on the theory that globulars are ancient: i.e., two theoretical estimates commonly used to measure the dynamical evolution timescales of a cluster, namely the central and the half-mass relaxation times. But those models are said to be less precise than the new proposed model: In fact, the radial distribution of BSSs simultaneously probes all distances from the cluster centre, providing a measure of the overall dynamical evolution and a much finer ranking of dynamical ages. 02/10/20 85 Globular Clusters Look Young and Old: Is This Scientific

Explanation? In the end, then, their taxonomy of dynamical ages looks like special pleading to maintain big-bang and stellarevolution theory, without independent support for believing it represents the way things are, other than the anomaly can be made to fit current thinking. 02/10/20 86 Globular Clusters Look Young and Old: Is This Scientific Explanation? This episode serves as a demonstration of

how normal science is conducted in a post-Kuhnian world. To see why, you need to come at the article and the paper as a fair-minded skeptic. Dont just take their word for it that clusters are ancient but have different dynamical histories: say, Show me. Are you convinced by their hand-waving attempts to rescue their theory? 02/10/20 87 Globular Clusters Look Young and Old: Is This Scientific Explanation? To a member of the guild working within the paradigm, everything makes perfect sense. Guild members are not

asking whether the paradigm is true. Instead, the name of their game is keeping the paradigm going. An anomaly shows up: blue stragglers that shouldnt be there. Moreover, these BSS intruders are distributed all over the map from cluster to cluster: some concentrated at the center, some homogeneous with BSS at the edges. The way things are is not the way things should be if the paradigm were true. No problem; well just invent a new parameter called dynamical age that is calibrated to the assumed age of the clusters; the more concentrated the BSS, the older the dynamical age compared to the cluster age. Very useful, isnt it? It serves as a way to classify the clusters within the paradigm. Theory rescued. 02/10/20 88 Globular Clusters Look Young and Old: Is This Scientific Explanation? If this sounds like self-serving poppycock,

you have not yet been hoodwinked by normal science. You were thinking that science is supposed to be an honest search for the truth about the universe. How naive. If that were the goal of science, reporters would certainly not have regurgitated the oracles of the guild uncritically. 02/10/20 89 The Evolution of Boxing

A new story is making the rounds: the human hand evolved to punch others lights out. The exquisite dexterity of the human hand, with its marvelous abilities to play a piano, make pizza and a thousand other things, is just a by-product of a more violent purpose, if evolutionists at the University of Utah are right. Let the news media do the headlines: BBC News: Fighting may have shaped evolution of human hand New Scientist: Human hands evolved so we could punch each other Science Daily: Fine Hands, Fists of Fury: Our Hands Evolved for Punching, Not Just Dexterity Live Science: Human Hands Evolved for Fighting, Study 02/10/20 90 Suggests

The Evolution of Boxing The latter includes a link to a Human Evolution Quiz complete with the iconic ape-to-man sequence. None of these sources seem critical of the new paper published in the Journal of Experimental Biology, despite the fact that it appears Lamarckian. Genes for a well-fisted male would have to make it into the gametes or would end in the grave of the champion prize fighter. Those genes, furthermore, would have to come from multiple random mutations that did not see a fist coming at the end of the line. 02/10/20 91 The Evolution of Boxing

Prof. David Carrier, lead author of the study, left himself an out with a dual use notion: Ultimately, the evolutionary significance of the human hand may lie in its remarkable ability to serve two seemingly incompatible, but intrinsically human, functions (i.e., fine manipulation and striking). To make the idea look scientific, his team took athletes and measured the force of impact of slaps by an open palm compared to punches with a fist, with thumbs inside and out. 02/10/20 92 The Evolution of Boxing

Human-like hand proportions appear in the fossil record at the same time our ancestors started walking upright 4 million to 5 million years ago. An alternative possible explanation is that we stood up on two legs and evolved these hand proportions to beat each other. Studying the current configuration of a boxers hand, though, says nothing about its origin or intention. Sure, the hand can make a fist, but it can also seal a deal with a friendly handshake and make love. Why should an evolutionist focus on one capability? Why can women make fists if the men do most of the punching, and fists are an artifact of sexual selection? If fighting was the evolutionary priority, why didnt males evolve horns, like 02/10/20 bighorn sheep, to free up their hands for other things? 93 The Evolution of Boxing

Carrier didnt think about those questions. He was more interested in justifying violence as an evolutionary aspect of human nature: I think there is a lot of resistance, maybe more so among academics than people in general resistance to the idea that, at some level humans are by nature aggressive animals. I actually think that attitude, and the people who have tried to make the case that we dont have a nature those people have not served us well. I think we would be better off if we faced the reality that we have these strong emotions and sometimes they prime us to behave in violent ways. I think if we acknowledged that wed be better able to prevent 02/10/20 94 violence in future. The Evolution of Boxing

But why should humans go against the nature evolution gave them? And why dont chimpanzees make fists, when they are violent in their fights between males? What does acknowledge mean to an evolved ape brain? None of the news articles thought about these obvious questions, though some considered whether the ability to make a fist was a cause or effect of the evolution of the hand. 02/10/20 95 The Evolution of Boxing Did you catch the latest oxymoron? Evolutionary significance. Secular reporters are toadies for the

latest toads offered them by evolutionary charlatans. To sense the warts on their offerings, you have to take the gloves (and blindfolds) off. 02/10/20 96 The Holly and the I.D. News from Epigenetics Holly I.D. - Holly leaf shape may be due to epigenetic control one of several recent developments in the field of epigenetics. Epi-Deck the Halls: National Geographic reported that the prickly outline of holly leaves appears to be an epigenetic

response to predation. The same plant can have smooth leaves and prickly leaves. Browsing by animals sets off an epigenetic response, leading to the prickly outline, even though each leaf cell has the same genetic code. Sex cells: A protein named Tet that erases epigenetic markers may be responsible for turning on the meiotic genes that switch regular cells into sperm or eggs, reported Nature on Dec. 20. 02/10/20 97 The Holly and the I.D. News from Epigenetics Holly I.D. - Gene accessibility: A paper in the journal Cell (Hihara et al., Dec. 13) found that local chromatin dynamics, including

Brownian motion, plays a role in the accessibility of molecular machines to stretches of DNA. We propose that this local nucleosome fluctuation is the basis for scanning genome information, the authors said. Large-scale organization: Another research article in Cell (Sandhu et al., Oct 25) discussed Large-Scale Functional Organization of Long-Range Chromatin Interaction Networks. These networks play important roles in transcription regulation. They are organized into nonrandom spatial clustering the authors dub rich clubs, communities and spokes. This large-scale organization helps repress mutations among vital genes, and shapes functionally compartmentalized and error-tolerant transcriptional regulation 02/10/20 98 of human genome in three dimensions. The Holly and the I.D. News from Epigenetics Holly I.D. -

Add another dimension: Speaking of 3-D, a paper in Science today (Dec 21) discussed alternative splicing in 4 dimensions. Alternative splicing leads to different patterns of splicing that represent cell type specific alternative interpretations of the genomic information, the authors said. Alternative splicing allows the shuffling of protein-coding domains or confers distinct sensitivity of the spliced mRNAs to regulatory factors. Though evolutionary in tone, the articles science concerned modulating the scope of signaling, gene regulation, and protein-protein networks that speak of organization and control. 02/10/20 99 The Holly and the I.D. News from Epigenetics Holly I.D. -

The paper they referenced in the same issue of Science by Barbosa-Morais et al. was also evolutionary, but the actual data do not require a common ancestry interpretation, especially since it concerned vertebrate splicing codes. The overall finding was that overall organ AS[alternative splicing] profiles more strongly reflect the identity of a species than they do organ type. For more on alternative splicing, see a PhysOrg entry, Alternative splicing of RNA rewires signaling in different tissues, may contribute to species differences. 02/10/20 100 The Holly and the I.D. News from Epigenetics Holly I.D. -

Epigenetic islands: In Nature on Nov. 9, Dirk Schbeler discussed Epigenetic Islands in a Genetic Ocean. He talked about the latest discoveries in methylation patterns: This inheritability makes DNA methylation highly attractive as a potential means to store information in a form of epigenetic memory that regulates genes over developmental processes or in response to environmental conditions. 02/10/20 101 The Holly and the I.D. News from Epigenetics Holly I.D. - Not parasites: In a Presidential Address in Science Nov 9, Nina V. Federoff

debunked the idea that transposable elements (TE) are parasites on the genome. TEs comprise more than half of many mammalian genomes and were thought to be junk or selfish invaders: 02/10/20 102 The Holly and the I.D. News from Epigenetics Holly I.D. - My purpose here is to challenge the current, somewhat pejorative, view of TEs as genomic parasites with the mounting evidence that TEs and transposition play a profoundly generative role in genome evolution. I contend that it is precisely the elaboration of epigenetic mechanisms from their prokaryotic origins as suppressors of

genetic exchanges that underlies both the genome expansion and the proliferation of TEs characteristic of higher eukaryotes. This is the inverse of the prevailing view that epigenetic mechanisms evolved to control the disruptive potential of TEs. The evidence that TEs shape eukaryotic genomes is by now incontrovertible. My thesis, then, is that TEs and the transposases they encode underlie the evolvability of higher eukaryotes massive, 02/10/20 103 messy genomes. The Holly and the I.D. News from Epigenetics Holly I.D. - Systems biology meets epigenetics: PhysOrg reported that some Swiss scientists are making progress understanding the interplay of epigenetic

interactions with a systems biology approach. Combining both approaches with a computational model is providing insights into concepts like how a stem cell differentiates into a tissue cell, or how chromatin modifications affect gene 02/10/20 104 expression. The Holly and the I.D. News from Epigenetics Holly I.D. - Epigenetics is proving to be a fruitful field for research, possibly as fruitful (or more so) than the discovery of the genetic code itself. As stated earlier (8/21/2012, 9/06/2012), it involves codes upon codes explaining how a human being can develop from a small set

of genes through regulation, alternative splicing and post-transcriptional modifications. The proliferation of codes is inversely proportional to the credibility of 02/10/20 105 Darwinism. Intelligence Is Not a Quotient Can your intelligence be reduced to a number on a linear scale? That would be highly misleading, a research study concluded. Neuroscientists from the University of Western Ontario conducted the largest online intelligence study on record, including over 100,000 participants joining in a suite of 12 cognitive tests on their computers. In their press release, Western-led research debunks

the IQ myth, a short video clip explains how the results contradict the idea that human beings can be ranked based on a single number one single factor or property on a linear scale that qualifies as 02/10/20 106 intelligence. Intelligence Is Not a Quotient Intelligence is made up of several parts, Adrian Owen of The Brain and Mind Institute explains on a short video clip in the press release. John Hampshire of the Institute described how the researchers imaged the brains of some participants with MRI while they completed the 12item test. Different parts of the brain lit up when participants performed tests of memory, reasoning, attention and planning abilities. Owen claims that theyve shown categorically that you cannot sum up the difference between people

in terms of one number. 02/10/20 107 Intelligence Is Not a Quotient The experiments did seem to reduce intelligence to three components, shortterm memory, reasoning and a verbal component. If scoring intelligence is desirable, there will need to be new methods to assess it. Further complicating any results are considerations of age, gender and familiarity with computer games. Even lifestyle choices like smoking can influence the results, they found. 02/10/20 108 Intelligence Is Not a Quotient

If you want to try your mind on their latest version of the intelligence test, go to The IQ Challenge on Cambridge Brain Sciences. Actually, our brain similarities may be more profound than the differences. Science Daily discussed the way the brain can manage categorizing thousands of objects. Theres not one spot for each category, authors at UC Berkeley found. The results demonstrate that the brain efficiently represents the diversity of categories in a compact space. Instead of having a distinct brain area devoted to each category, as previous work had identified, for some but not all types of stimuli, the researchers uncovered that brain activity is organized by the relationship between categories. You dont even have to consciously do the sorting; your brain is equipped to do that automatically. In Nature last month, Phillip Ball further reported research that shows that the brains reading centers are culturally universal. His article said, Whether you are reading in Chinese or French, the same brain areas light up.

02/10/20 109 Intelligence Is Not a Quotient Did you take an IQ test in school? Sorry to deflate your pride if you scored well, but the number is meaningless. Think about it. Intelligence is a composite skill; you can be good at verbal, but poor at short-term memory. You can be good at computation or planning, but weak in expressing yourself. You might be smarter (or dumber) than you think, depending on what is being tested. Think of an auto mechanic who would be all thumbs on a computer, but has tacit knowledge (savvy) looking under the hood of a car that would leave the computer geek baffled. Is it fair to rank either of them on the same linear scale? 02/10/20

110 Intelligence Is Not a Quotient Then there are all the factors that might influence the score when taking the test: how hungry you are, your age, your sex, your mood, what distractions are around, your degree of education. How can anyone consider IQ as the number that characterizes their intelligence? And who knows the extent to which these skills can vary with practice? Critics of intelligence tests have often pointed to cultural or racist factors in standardized tests, arguing that the tests are designed to make certain ethnic groups score low. That criticism remains valid, but this study goes further. It shows that its not even possible in principle to describe intelligence by a single number. 02/10/20

111 Intelligence Is Not a Quotient Lets say that further research would allow these scientists to create a composite score: a score for short-term memory, a score for reasoning, and a score for verbal skills. Our human tendency would be to combine those somehow into an overall scoreanother IQ fallacy. Who would have the omniscience to know what weight to assign to each skill? The result would be a value judgment based on someones subjective opinion. And how do they know that there are only three basic skills? What other skills are being overlooked, merged, or deemed unimportant? 02/10/20 112

Intelligence Is Not a Quotient We all have an intuitive notion that some students are smarter than others. Some race out the door after 20 minutes on a math test while others sweat for the whole allotted time. Some contestants on Jeopardy can recall answers on a vast spread of topics instantly, but cant learn to sing. The fallacy would be to rank these people on a linear scale; on other tests, they might score low. 02/10/20 113 Intelligence Is Not a Quotient

The best way to think of intelligence is to realize everyone is a unique blend of gifts, talents, and abilities. Every human is as unique as a snowflake. It takes a diverse collection of individuals to make the world run. Dont feel bad if youre the one sweating the math test; maybe you have a strong E.Q. (empathy quotient), an ability to comfort those in need. Who could say that is less valuable? In St. Pauls analogy of the church as the body of Christ (I Cor. 12), he explains how God assigns spiritual gifts for the good of the whole. The foot is not more important than the hand; every part is essential. Bible believers can take reassurance that God does not rank us by intelligence. Were so far beneath his standards, were all equally dumb. Heres the test He wants everyone to pass: He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you, but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk 02/10/20 114 humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8).

Titan Is as Titan Does Saturns giant moon Titan keeps revealing mysterious dynamics in the here and now, leaving interpretation to fallible scientists who sometimes predicted otherwise. Going the second Nile: A river valley rivaling Earths Nile has been found flowing into Kraken Mare, one of Titans large north polar seas. Live Sciences article includes a video trip along its 250-mile length as revealed by orbital radar. Its blackness suggests it flows with liquid methane that rains down and flows through tributaries. New Scientist claims the river is the longest ever found outside Earth. Scientists believe the river tracks a fault line, even though they dont believe Titan has plate tectonics. 02/10/20 115

Titan Is as Titan Does Icier than thought: Thoughts can be warm or icy, but when PhysOrg says Titan, Saturns largest moon, icier than thought they undoubtedly mean scientists were surprised (again). Indeed, A new analysis of topographic and gravity data from Titan, the largest of Saturns moons, indicates that Titans icy outer crust is twice as thick as has generally been thought. They didnt specify the generals that thought that. Orbital dynamics shows either that Titan is misbehaving, or its human trainers were caught unprepared: From measurements of the observed gravitational field of Titan, one can compute what the shape of Titan ought to be. But the new data show that Titans shape is much more distorted than would be predicted by a simple gravitational model. That discrepancy means the internal structure of Titan isnt quite 02/10/20

116 so simple. Titan Is as Titan Does Crater survey: Of many Titan conundrums (if the moon is as old as claimed) is its remarkable lack of craters. Either most have been covered by geological processes or there never were many impactshard to believe for the moon with the most gravitational pull. A new paper on Icarus found that most craters on Titan are shallower by hundreds of meters than similar ones on Ganymede, a comparably-sized moon at Jupiter. They proposed aeolian infilling (wind-blown particles) as the mechanism a hypothesis subject to critique by the rates of crater formation, wind speed, and distribution of atmospheric movement. It might seem plausible, for instance, that if large craters formed in steadystate over billions of years, some would be deep and others shallow. 02/10/20

117 Titan Is as Titan Does Rate expectations: As Titan moves into Saturnian autumn, dramatic changes can be seen in the atmosphere. A press release from University of Bristol reported that the CIRS (Composite InfraRed Spectrometer) team observed an enormous increase in Titans exotic trace gases over the south pole within a relatively short time. The trace gases are formed by sunlight hitting Titans upper atmosphere, converting the methane into ions that recombine into complex gases like benzene and hydrogen cyanide. [W]e did not expect such a large and rapid change: some gas concentrations increased more than a thousand times within only a few months, one team member said. Also surprising was that this was happening at altitudes above 450 km, much higher than initially anticipated. 02/10/20

118 Titan Is as Titan Does Circulation models did not predict activity so high. This calls into question our current understanding of how Titans atmosphere works and suggests new avenues to explore. Needless to say, understanding that is called into question ceases to qualify as understanding. Any replacement model will also have to explain how this erosive process could have been sustained over Titans presumed billions of years, assuming we are not observing it under unique circumstances. Is it surprising that Space.coms coverage of this news began with the L-word? Saturns cloudy moon Titan has a middle atmosphere containing organic compounds that could hold the potential for 02/10/20 119

life. Titan Is as Titan Does The surface methane age problem: New papers come out occasionally trying to retrofit the data to falsified predictions that Titan would be found with a global ocean (it wasnt). One such attempt in Icarus presented a new model for the atmospheric and surface liquid concentrations. They calculated that surface liquids should be dominated by ethane (56%) over methane (32%), with much lower concentrations at the poles. This seems to run counter to the observational evidence, where the only lakes found are at the poles, but the model appears to only discuss ratios, not bulk quantities. Another paper in Icarus proposed a wavelength-dependent model for methane photolysis, 02/10/20 120 but more data is needed, they said.

Titan Is as Titan Does The atmospheric escape age problem: Another paper in Icarus discussed the rate of thermal escape of hydrogen from Titans upper atmosphere, caused by solar wind bombardment of methane. They found that dissipation of hydrogen and methane is similar to Jeans escape, meaning that molecules escape the atmosphere based on their kinetic energy derived from temperature. Jeans escape is also a function of the mass of the molecule, atmospheric density and mass of the planetary body. While the summary did not appear to discuss age issues, the authors said, A global and temporal description is required to model Titans upper atmosphere. 02/10/20 121 Titan Is as Titan Does

Does Titan ice float? A curious paper in Icarus asked whether ice would float in Titans polar seas. The answer: maybe. Under certain assumptions of porosity and density, methane and ethane ice chunks should float, but then again, they might alternately float and sink. Maybe this will fuel dreams of an epic movie, The Titanic. 02/10/20 122 Titan Is as Titan Does It glows: We close with a factoid to amuse your friends: Titan glows in the dark. Thats what Astrobiology Magazine and Live Science claim, at least. When

charged particles hit the atmosphere, the nitrogen gas lights up like a fluorescent tube. At a millionth of a watt, though, you couldnt see it, even if floating in a balloon with a very thick Christmas sweater. Contrary to expectations, some of this airglow comes from deep down in the atmospheretoo deep to be caused by solar radiation or magnetic fields. Cosmic rays? Chemical reactions? Imaging scientist Robert West remarked, It tells us that we dont know all there is to know about Titan and makes it even more 02/10/20 123 mysterious. Titan Is as Titan Does Titan remains a fascinating and enigmatic world, illustrating two common principles of planetary science: (1) Scientists never predict what they find, and (2) Data do not

cooperate with long-age assumptions. Everyone can agree that having raw data is much better than listening to groundless speculation. 02/10/20 124 Carol of the Birds Can birds make you happy? Some scientists think so, but why? There seems to be a connection between seeing birds in their natural habitat and a persons sense of well-being, reported Science Daily. Whether that is true may be a function of the setting and species of bird (buzzards, ostriches probably not rating as high as

cardinals in the snow), but Natalie Clark of the University of Reading is convinced: 02/10/20 125 Carol of the Birds Most of us say we enjoy seeing wild birds in our local environments every day, be that the friendly robin visiting our garden each Christmas or ducks swimming in the local pond. But we have little idea of how much we value their presence and how theyre contributing to our overall wellbeing. 02/10/20 126 Carol of the Birds

The idea is reinforced by the number of people who place bird baths or hummingbird feeders in their gardens, beyond the avid bird watchers themselves. Without the sweet songs of birds, their visible beauty and their amazing powers of flight, the world would be an impoverished place. 02/10/20 127 Carol of the Birds There have been several Christmas songs titled Carol of the Birds. The oldest and best known is probably this traditional Catalonian carol

whose lyrics are reproduced atHymnsAndCarolsOfChristmas.com. Its hauntingly beautiful melody can be heard on YouTube sung by Victoria de Los Angeles, accompanied by cellist Luis Claret, as performed at the closing ceremony of the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. 02/10/20 128 Carol of the Birds A little bird tweeted a tip that Illustra Media is working on a full-length documentary on birds, to be released in Spring 2013. If its anything like their latest film Metamorphosis about butterflies, you know it will be a keeper. 02/10/20

129 Skin Uses Master Control It would be hard to see how evolution would deal with a story about skin development. Maybe thats why it was barely mentioned. The story on Medical Xpress begins, The surface of your skin, called the epidermis, is a complex mixture of many different cell typeseach with a very specific job. The production, or differentiation, of such a sophisticated tissue requires an immense amount of coordination at the cellular level, and glitches in the process can have disastrous consequences. Now, researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have identified a master regulator of this differentiation process.

02/10/20 130 Skin Uses Master Control Dr. Paul Khavari at Stanford described TINCR, the master regulator, as a traffic copy directing precursor cells to their proper developmental fates like a traffic cop directing cars to parking spaces in a crowded lot. In this entirely unique system, the molecule is not a protein but a long, noncoding RNA (lncRNA). It works by stabilizing messenger RNA transcripts to fine-tune gene expression. The article said, In this way TINCR may serve as a scaffold for many mRNAs involved in epidermal differentiation. The only mention of evolution was near the end:131

02/10/20 Skin Uses Master Control This effect is quite specific for epidermal tissue, said Khavari, and it suggests that nature has evolved a simple mechanism to control the tissue-specific expression of a large number of genes. Needless to say, such a statement merely assumes evolution instead of explaining how a finely-tuned master control could have arisen by a blind, unguided process. 02/10/20 132 Skin Uses Master Control

Evolutionists, please tell us how Darwinian ideology helps in any way explain this phenomenon. Dr. Khavari appears to have been more intrigued by the complex, orderly process that looks designed: it involves sophisticated parts, it requires an immense amount of coordination, and it usually works wellotherwise there would be disastrous consequences. Assuming a purpose and finding it provides a better approach to biology than weaving imaginary tales about an assumed unobservable past. 02/10/20 133 Eugenics in Space

To keep evolution on a favorable track, space faring humans may want to cull bad genes, a futurist says. Enter chief speculator, Cameron Smith of Portland State University, whose day job is teaching evolution. In Elizabeth Howells post on Live Science, Will Humans Keep Evolving on Ultra-Long Space Voyages?, Smith was given free rein to fantasize about starship populations transporting human wretchedness across the light-years, to pollute other worlds some distant day. One of the factors that he thinks cant be overlooked is evolution. A teacher of evolution at the university, Smith feels evolution will continue on starships despite the best attempts to limit it. 02/10/20 134 Eugenics in Space

I believe that new pressure, breathing-gas compositions, gravity and radiation environments will act on the early stages of embryo and fetus development; this will be natural selection of new selective agents on the genome, Smith told SPACE.com in an email after stating his views in a recent Scientific American podcast. Precisely what new characteristics will be selected for or against, and spread or be deleted from the population, is very hard to predict, however. 02/10/20 135 Eugenics in Space It might seem odd that a teacher of evolution equates natural selection with inheritance of acquired characteristics

(Lamarckism) in the embryo, but Howell didnt stop him right there. Instead, she let him launch into unfettered prediction about what is very hard to predict, and to advise politicians he will never see about how to keep evolution on a favorable track 02/10/20 136 Eugenics in Space To keep evolution on a favorable track, the early space colonists should be screened as much as possible for genetic problems, Smith said. His advice primarily wobbled around the founder effect of a new population and the minimum

population size to avert inbreeding, though he correctly noted that the single-gene disease notion is melting away under new discoveries of polygenic disease and epigenetics. Interfering with evolution raises ominous thoughts about eugenics, so he wanted to make it clear he is not one of them 02/10/20 137 Eugenics in Space He stressed that he doesnt mean breeding a super-race of humans, which would open moral issues. But if evolution is as evolution does, and if evolution

brought humans to existence, what are morals? Where did they evolve from? Wouldnt the rigors of space require a super-race of space travelers, with evolutionary biologists advising tyrannical captains and an ample supply of obedient peasants to do the work? Its unclear why Smith preferred the happy, cooperative Star Trek crew, when evolution produces anything that gets the job done. Maybe thats just his 02/10/20 138 personal preference. Eugenics in Space If Smith is feeling some sense of moral obligation, it might be described as a mutation interfering with the inexorable random track of evolution. If natural selection produces a batch of obese slackers on the ship, as depicted in the Disney movie

Wall-E (mentioned by Howell as some kind of bad outcome), whos he to complain? Why would anyone offer best attempts to limit it? Evolve or perish; evolve and perish; 02/10/20 139 nobody cares. Eugenics in Space Question: what do you get when you subject embryos to new pressure, breathing-gas compositions, gravity and radiation environments? You can find out with experiments on fruit flies in the space station. Do you get new selective agents in the genome? No; you get dead embryos. But even for any that survive, they will not pass on their genes unless the selection occurs in the gametes. A mutation in the embryo is too late; its phenotype is an evolutionary dead end.

Here we see a professor of evolution presenting Lamarckism as an example of how Darwinian 02/10/20 140 evolution works. Astonishing. Eugenics in Space No, were not advocating a super race, Smith says. We just want to keep the unfit from breeding. Sound familiar? Sometimes you just have to stand back and let the illogic of these people implode. If it were that simple, everyone would see it, but the fact that Space.com and Live Science still put this illogic out there means we have to keep pointing it out until they fear the inevitable backlash from informed citizens. Cameron Smith is defeating his own premise by desiring to guide evolution on moral grounds. The key point of Darwinian evolution is that it is unguided. If Smith wants to guide it to

keep evolution on a favorable track, hes promoting artificial selection a form of intelligent design on human beings, which is eugenics. But the spectre of its dark past scares him, so he quickly backpedals, stressing that he doesnt mean breeding a super-race, which would open moral issues. 02/10/20 141 Whose moral issues? His? Eugenics in Space If Smith is feeling a moral obligation to prevent the horrors of breeding a super race, thats more than a personal preference. Thats his conscience speaking. If he were a consistent evolutionist, he would dismiss his moral feelings as irrelevant fluff. But he cant. Deep down, he wants to see love, fairness, beauty and health continue on in a population maintaining genuine human nature. He

cannot escape the image his Creator implanted in him. 02/10/20 142 Nose Has Gain Control Sound engineers know how to use gain control to avoid redlining or saturating the signal while amplifying weak but important signals. Your nose knows that trick, too. The sense of smell is complex because of the tremendous variety of odorant molecules that must be interpreted. Molecules that trigger signals in the initial neurons trigger a cascade of responses that pass through a chain of olfactory organs and neurons before reaching the brain. Some of these organs format the signal for the brain, explained Harvard Professor Venkatesh Murthy in a Harvard press release, Sniff mechanics, posted also

on Science Daily. Murthys team achieved a new level of precision to identify the functions in the olfactory pathway. 02/10/20 143 Nose Has Gain Control Reaching that level of precision was critical, Murthy explained, because while the olfactory bulb contains many principal neurons that are responsible for sending signals to other the parts of the brain, it is also packed with interneurons, which appear to play a role in formatting olfactory information as it comes into the brain. But the complexity doesnt stop there. Theres not only formatting, but feedback:

02/10/20 144 Nose Has Gain Control The image of the brain as a linear processor is a convenient one, but almost all brains, and certainly mammalian brains, do not rely on that kind of pure feed-forward system, Murthy said. On the contrary, it now appears that the higher regions of the brain, which are responsible for interpreting olfactory information, are communicating with lower parts of the brain on a near-constant basis. Using advanced techniques, Murthys team identified that the interneurons receive messages back from the brain feedback. This feedback serves as a method of gain control:

02/10/20 145 Nose Has Gain Control If you make a system that is very good at detecting weak signals, it becomes saturated as the signal gets stronger, and eventually its impossible to differentiate between strong signals, Murthy said. To avoid that problem, brain circuits use a process called gain control. By inhibiting certain neurons, it ensures that you stay within the detection range, so you dont miss the weak things, but you dont miss the very strong things either. 02/10/20

146 Nose Has Gain Control The brain can effectively turn down the gain knob on certain neurons, like a sound engineer at a mixing console subduing an input that is too loud, while simultaneously turning up the gain for inputs that are too weak. The brain can say, I heard you to one input while switching attention to weaker signals. Other senses use gain control, but the extent of the olfactory feedback was surprising, the press release said. Theres also gain control at the receiving end. The olfactory bulb can turn up the gain for weak but important signals: 02/10/20

147 Nose Has Gain Control Even more surprising, Murthy said, was evidence that the olfactory bulbs principal neurons were also receiving feedback signals albeit weak ones that appeared to prime them for incoming signals. These weak connections help the principal neuron get over the top when its listening to weak inputs, Murthy said. If theres a weak smell coming in, but its not able to drive the principal neuron over the threshold to signal the rest of the brain, but say youre in an environment where youre primed to smell that weak smell we believe this feedback from this higher area of the brain is sort of tickling these principal neurons, so when theres a weak input youre able to smell it.

02/10/20 148 Nose Has Gain Control Murthy recognized that the sense of smell is very important for many animals. A weak smell may signal danger, but it must not be overpowered by other strong odors in the environment. Thats where gain control is essential, Murthy explained: We are hypothesizing that this mechanism, where the cortex is talking back to the olfactory bulb and suppressing neurons, through this feedback they may be able to detect that weak signal. 02/10/20

149 Nose Has Gain Control Isnt it wonderful what the blind, impersonal forces of nature evolved. Without any foresight, millions of mutations brought forth a finely-tuned mechanism, like a mixing console, and a brain to operate it. In the imagination of the evolutionist, all things are possible. Close your eyes and speculate. Something about that mindset has a foul odor. It must be Darwin of the Gaps. 02/10/20 150 Nose Has Gain Control

Fortunately, in this press release there was no mention of evolution. Hats off to Murthy for sparing us the foul odor and giving us another wonder of the human body that has the sweet smell of intelligent design, even without the sight of those words in print. 02/10/20 151 Astronomy Grab Bag

For years end, heres a clean-out of astronomy articlesfrom planetary science to cosmologyto motivate further inquiry. Venus volcanoes: Science Daily asked, Have Venusian Volcanoes Been Caught in the Act? but spent most of the article talking about how difficult it is to find a smoking gun. Night lights: A beautiful set of 39 images of the Earth at night was posted on Space.com. The images were taken by the Suomi NPP satellite in April and October 2012. The data was mapped over NASAs Blue Marble images of Earth to provide a realistic view of 02/10/20 152 the planet. Astronomy Grab Bag

A moon is born: With the triumphant title, The Origin of the Moon, Science Magazine merely updated the ongoing rounds of computer models that try to account for Earths unique large and life-enabling moon, each with its suite of misfits to observations. Highlighting the latest 3 models, Alex Halliday remarked, Distinguishing among these three models is going to involve further simulation and debate. Martian floods: An article on PhysOrg has an intriguing headline for a dry planet unable to sustain liquid water: Vast systems of ancient caverns on Mars may have captured enormous floodwaters. Moons from rings: A new bottom-up theory of moon formation from ring systems was tried in Science Magazine Nov. 30 by Crida and Charnoz, Formation of Regular Satellites from 02/10/20 153 Ancient Massive Rings in the Solar System.

Astronomy Grab Bag Kuiper belt comets: Nature claimed (Dec. 20) that small Kuiper belt objects (objects beyond Neptune) are abundant enough to be a source for short-period comets. Tidal heating: Icarus has a paper entitled Spatial patterns of tidal heating, with models showing the heat is not evenly dispersed. Mikhael Beuthe claims his model works for Europa, Io and Titan, but the abstract did not mention if it would work for Enceladus. 02/10/20

154 Astronomy Grab Bag Europa geysers: The prominent flanking ridges on Europa are examined in another paper on Icarus. Dombard and team rule out causes other than a cryovolcanic model in which the growing ridge is underlain by a cryomagmatic sill that locally heats and thins the lithosphere. Pac-man and pac-woman: Another pac-man-like shape of heat distribution has been found on a Saturnian moon. Mimas was the first, and now Tethys has one. Joking away the mystery for the BBC News reporter, Carly Howett of Southwest Research Institute remarked, The Saturn system and even the Jupiter

system could turn out to be a veritable arcade of these characters. Oort cloud: Fouchard and team began a series in Icarus about the Oort Cloud. Part 1 deals with planetary perturbations. 02/10/20 155 Astronomy Grab Bag From dust to dust: Astrobiology Magazine touted dust grains as the progenitors of planets (again). Its not clear how astronomers could tell from a star light years away that these dust grains are colliding with and adhering to each other, a process that will lead to their eventual formation

into planets. They might want to revisit the stickiness problem (dust grains dont stick to each other) and realize that dust clumps lack the gravity to grow. Anyway, the reporter joyfully triumphed that The researchers were fortunate to witness dust particles at a critical phase in their path to becoming a fully-grown planet in the protoplanetary disk. Star birth: On Dec. 6, Nature announced A truly embryonic star, claiming The discovery of what may be the best example yet of a forming star caught in the moments just before birth. One wonders what took so long. 02/10/20 156 Astronomy Grab Bag Dark matters: The headline on Space.com says, Dark Matter Mystery May Soon Be Solved, but the

body of the article is less sanguine. One astronomer says, If we dont find it in this next round of experiments, I think everyone will be a bit discouraged. The last part of the article is subtitled, Keeping the dark matter hope alive. 02/10/20 157 Astronomy Grab Bag Dark energies: Is dark energy static or dynamic? Who cares? PhysOrg assumes somebody does, even though the hypothetical entity continues to defy description. If dynamic, whatever it is could evolve, the article posits. While hypothesized dark energy

can explain observations of the universe expanding at an accelerating rate, the specific properties of dark energy are still an enigma. In another article on Science Daily, the BOSS survey looked at 48,000 quasars for its effects, whatever it is. Hopefully they cleaned all the known artifacts and distortions out of the signals. No one knows if they got the unknown ones out. 02/10/20 158 Astronomy Grab Bag Galaxy upset: The title Giant Black Hole Could Upset Galaxy Evolution Models on a Science Daily article begs the question that the model was standing up in the first place. As for the record-setting black

hole, At 17 billion times the mass of the Sun, its mass is much greater than current models predict in particular since the surrounding galaxy is comparatively small, the article worried. 02/10/20 159 Astronomy Grab Bag Early supernovae: In Nature last month (Nov. 6), Stephen Smartt said, The discovery of two superluminous supernovae at large distances from Earth pushes the frontier of supernova studies to just 1.5 billion years after the Big Bang, and suggests that they may be common in the young Universe.

In fact, galaxies are found just 500 million years after the Big Bang, highlighting the problem of getting dense, clumpy structures from an expanding cloud of gasthe only thing the Big Bang could deliver comparatively quickly in cosmological time. Astronomers thrive in unexplored territory, Smartt remarked. 02/10/20 160 Astronomy Grab Bag Grand goal or grand claim: A Science Magazine article (Embers of the Distant Past, Nov. 30) begins, Modern cosmology has come a long way in fulfilling its grand goal of reconstructing the entire history of the universe. Skeptics might want to compare

this claim with the critical analysis in Dismantling the Big Bang by Williams and Hartnett, who find multiple imaginary leaps over insurmountable problems at every major step. 02/10/20 161 Astronomy Grab Bag All for one: One thing cosmologists dont lack is chutzpah. Penn State astronomers titled a press release last month (see also Science Daily), The Beginning of Everything: New Paradigm Shift for the Infant Universe. (Note: any paradigm shift implies the former paradigm is obsolete.) The press release features a new fad

called loop quantum cosmology. The Penn State astronomers claim to take scientific knowledge even before the Planck era, all the way to the beginning often claimed impossible 02/10/20 162 by other astronomers. Astronomy Grab Bag Before the beginning: Speaking of chutzpah, Marcus Chown at New Scientist took readers where no man has gone before: before the beginning. In Before the big bang: something or nothing (Dec. 3, subscription required), his imagination danced where angels had never tread. After a brief survey of modern cosmology, concluding that the universe had a beginning,

Chown entertained that the universe popped into existence with a quantum fluctuation. He seemed to sense, though, that the theologians would be at the doorstep, so he ended, 02/10/20 163 Astronomy Grab Bag So the next question is surely: where did the laws of quantum theory come from? We do not know, admits [Alex] Vilenkin. I consider that an entirely different question. When it comes to the beginning of the universe, in many ways were still at the beginning.

Thats one way to escape the Kalam Cosmological Argument.* Just say We do not know. *Kalam: Everything that begins to exist has a cause. The universe began to exist. Therefore, the universe had a cause. Corollary: Since the Cause brought time, space and matter into existence, the Cause had to be eternal and exist outside of those entities. (See series of objections to the Kalam by William Lane Craig on YouTube.) 02/10/20 164 Astronomy Grab Bag Marcus, we have a better position than ignorance. Its called knowledge. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. This answers to all the

observations and gives purpose and meaning to existence. Whats your problem? If youre more comfortable with ignorance emanating from people who admit they do not know, so be it. Human observation can only take one so far. It cannot in principle go before the beginning. Secular astronomy is therefore stuck with ignorance. The cause that was there before the beginning had to be without beginning. He is the only possible source of knowledge. Jesus, the Logos, who was in the beginning with God (John 1:13), said, You shall know the truth, and the truth will make you free. Ignorance is not 02/10/20 165 bliss. Choose truth; choose freedom. Red Blood Cells Are Frisbees, Tanks and Wheels

Cells as commonplace as red blood cells still keep researchers wondering how they perform their job so well. Red blood cells (RBCs), also called erythrocytes, are unique for their biconcave shape, lack of a nucleus, and high concentration of hemoglobin. Their main task is to deliver nutrients and oxygen (picked up in the lungs) to all the cells of the body. To accomplish this task, they need to negotiate all the blood vessels, from the superhighways of main arteries to the singlefile capillaries. Their unique biconcave shape enables them to do this but its more than shape. 02/10/20 166 Red Blood Cells Are Frisbees, Tanks and Wheels

In a new paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS, Dec. 3 issue), Dupire, Socol and Viallat said that the deformation state of the RBC is not known, nor is its stability. They observed the dynamics of RBCs in a dextrose solution with video cameras at 25 frames per second to watch that happens. Individual cells transition from a rolling state to a Frisbee-like spinning state to a tank-treading state in free flow, depending on the shear rate. The cells transition into these modes that are more efficient than flipping or tumbling against the current. 167 02/10/20 Red Blood Cells Are Frisbees, Tanks and Wheels

In all cases, the cells have shape memory that pops the cell back into its biconcave shape when a deforming force is removed. This appears to be the most natural, low-energy state. The biconcave shape is more deformable than a sphere. The shape memory depends on rheological properties of the cell, including the viscosity of the interior fluid, the membrane, and the internal cytoskeleton. In free flowing blood, RBCs can sometimes stack like coins. Their dynamical behavior affects the viscosity of flowing blood. Even with their observations and videos, the 02/10/20 168 researchers realize there is still much to learn: Red Blood Cells Are Frisbees, Tanks and Wheels

Our results raise new questions about the behavior of viscoelastic particles in a viscous fluid at very low Reynolds number. Future models and simulations on RBCs should consider that the axis of revolution of the cell does not necessarily lie in the shear plane. Whether the observed orientational behavior can be explained by the minimum energy dissipation, as speculated by Jeffery, is still an open question, and we hope our work will stimulate new theoretical numerical studies. We also hope it will generate works on the strain energy of tank-treading buckled shapes of elastic capsules, starting from a quasi-spherical spheroid stress-free shape. Finally, the high stability of the biconcave RBC shape makes analytical shape preserving models (AFV, SS) very attractive. Their work thus represents an incremental step in a complex subject regarding fluid dynamics, shape dynamics and shape memory. 02/10/20 169

Red Blood Cells Are Frisbees, Tanks and Wheels In an old (c. 1962) Moody Institute of Science film about blood called Red River of Life, Dr. Irwin Moon used slide rules, calculators and an early IBM computer model to show that the optimum shape to balance volume against surface area was a biconcave shape exactly like a red blood cell (see the episode on YouTube). In a later Moody Institute of Science film series called Wonders of Gods Creation (initially released singly as Distinctively Human in 1987), blood was likened to a system of canals in a city, bringing free goods, food and tools to every home. We should certainly be thankful for this river of life inside us. Here we are in 2013, many years after those films were made, and there is still more to learn. The closer one looks at life, the more amazing it becomes. As Dr. Moon said in that early film, To me, the only adequate explanation is intelligent design. 02/10/20

170 An Unexpected Forest Helper: Mistletoe Long thought a tree-killing bane, parasitic mistletoe appears to do much more good than harm to a forest ecology. David Watson, a researcher at Charles Sturt University in Albury, New South Wales, has been studying mistletoe for years, according to Stephanie Pain at New Scientist, who wrote Marvellous mistletoe: Giving forests the kiss of life. Heres what Watson has concluded from his research: Mistletoes are the key to a rich and healthy forest. They are the engine that drives diversity from the forest floor to the canopy.

02/10/20 171 An Unexpected Forest Helper: Mistletoe Mistletoe gets its water from the host tree, but is able to manufacture its own carbohydrates through photosynthesis. For this reason, mistletoe is called hemiparasitic. Watson found that mistletoe rarely kills a tree. More interesting, though, are the benefits mistletoe brings to the forest: Always assured of water, evergreen mistletoes are a reliable year-round source of food for many forest dwellers, providing nutrient-packed leaves, sugary nectar and juicy, fat-rich berries. The dense clumps offer hideaways and cool places to roost, while the tangle of sturdy stems offers secret nooks for small

birds to nest in and a solid platform for larger ones to 02/10/20 172 build on. An Unexpected Forest Helper: Mistletoe Watson proved these benefits by removing all the mistletoe from a patch of eucalyptus forest in Australia. The reduction in diversity was dramatic, not only among birds and tree-climbing animals, but even in the forest floor. Thats because the fleshy leaves provide a nutritious food source when they drop to the ground. Those leaves are packed with goodies, Watson remarked (though many are poisonous to humans). Soils without the mistletoe are impoverished in good bacteria, insects and invertebrates. Trees without it reduce good spots for nesting and hiding. 02/10/20

173 An Unexpected Forest Helper: Mistletoe Mistletoe is not a single species but a category: What links these plants is not shared ancestry, for mistletoes have evolved at least five times in different groups of plants, but their lifestyle. There are some 1300 species. They live on every continent except Antarctica. Some ecologists consider mistletoe a keystone species, an organism that has a disproportionately pervasive influence over its community (Wikipedia). Stephanie Pain listed animals that use mistletoe, including porcupines and squirrels that hibernate in the clumps. Birds of all sizes, including hummingbirds and hawks benefit from the nutritious leaves and berries. Even gorillas and rhinos browse on mistletoe. 02/10/20

174 An Unexpected Forest Helper: Mistletoe The seeds of some species are spread by birds (see Mistletoes in Australia). They can survive the birds digestive tract, and then stick to twigs with an adhesive coating around the seed. Other species, particularly in the genus Arceuthobium, can launch their seeds like rockets from branch to branch. The fruit pods build up hydrostatic pressure as they mature until the pods rupture, sending the sticky seeds on a ballistic path at 55 mph, landing up to 50 feet away (source: waynesword.palomar.edu; see also American Journal of Botany). 02/10/20 175

An Unexpected Forest Helper: Mistletoe If an athlete gets athletes foot, what does an astronaut get?* We hope you enjoyed this ecology story for year end 2012, as a reminder that things in nature are not always what they seem, and more wonderful the closer one looks. Most people only think of mistletoe at the holidays as an excuse for stealing a kiss. As this entry shows, theres much more to the story. Thank you for reading Creation-Evolution Headlines this year. Resolve to tell your friends! *Missile toe, if you never heard that joke in elementary school. 02/10/20 176

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