New controls found for gene expression – an epigenetic “gold rush”?

From Cassandra Willyard at Nature: At the time, biologists were getting excited about the epigenome — the broad array of chemical marks that decorate DNA and its protein scaffold. These marks act like a chemical notation, telling the cell which genes to express and which to keep silent. As such, the epigenome helps to explain […]

Video: Why Evolution is Different

While preparing a talk for May I created a video which I would like to share. The first 13 minutes are based more or less on an ENV post Why Should Evolutionary Biology be so Different? and the second part is based on Why Similarities Do Not Prove the Absence of Design. This is a […]

You Keep Using That Word

The March for Science is billing itself as “nonpartisan.”  Here’s the first sentence of the second paragraph of their website: We are scientists and science enthusiasts. We come from all races, all religions, all gender identities, all sexual orientations, all abilities, all socioeconomic backgrounds, all political perspectives, and all nationalities. Yeah, that could have been […]

Thomas Nagel: Daniel Dennett “maintaining a thesis at all costs” in Bacteria to Bach and Back

Non-naturalist atheist philosopher Thomas Nagel, author of Mind and Cosmos, reviewing naturalist atheist philosopher Daniel Dennett’s Bacteria to Bach and Back at New York Review of Books: For fifty years the philosopher Daniel Dennett has been engaged in a grand project of disenchantment of the human world, using science to free us from what he […]

AM-Nat Biology Abstracts Posted

Just wanted to let everyone know that we have posted the abstracts for this weekend’s Alternatives to Methodological Naturalism in Biology conference online.

Human evolution: Climate change made us smart

From Adrian Barnett at New Scientist, reviewing Mark Maslin’s All this allows Maslin to buttress his central contention, that human evolution as we know it wouldn’t have occurred without the uplift of the Tibetan plateau and the formation of the Great Rift valley. These events, and the cycling between salt flats and shallow sea that […]

Crisis in cosmology: Universe expanding too fast?

From Dennis Overbye at New York Times: There is a crisis brewing in the cosmos, or perhaps in the community of cosmologists. The universe seems to be expanding too fast, some astronomers say. Recent measurements of the distances and velocities of faraway galaxies don’t agree with a hard-won “standard model” of the cosmos that has […]

Origin of life researchers: Two simple prebiotic hairpin molecules could cooperate

“Prebiotic” chemistry means the development and demonstration of theories about how chemicals washed together and somehow formed the immensely complex structures of life. There is no shortage of single-event scenarios. A hairpin loop is “an unpaired loop of messenger RNA (mRNA) that is created when an mRNA strand folds and forms base pairs with another […]

It’s amazing how much good science started out as mistakes…

Says Eric Scerri at Los Angeles Times: Detailed case studies on the history of chemistry and physics show that the role of genius in advancing those fields — and even the role of rationality — is overstated. Rather than a hyper-intellectual, alien activity practiced by a remote priesthood, science is hit and miss, the ever-changing […]

Origin of life: Do L-form bacteria hint at origin of primordial cells?

From Suzan Mazur at Huffington Post, a chat with molecular biologist Jeffrey Errington about L-form bacteria, which lack a strong cell wall: Jeffery Errington: I became interested in the problem because I was aware of L-forms from the scientific literature of the 1950s and 60s. Curiously, however, right around the end of the 1970s or […]

Marchin,’ marchin’: Most scientists can’t replicate peers’ studies?

From Tom Feilden at at BBC: From his lab at the University of Virginia’s Centre for Open Science, immunologist Dr Tim Errington runs The Reproducibility Project, which attempted to repeat the findings reported in five landmark cancer studies. … After meticulous research involving painstaking attention to detail over several years (the project was launched in […]

Rob Sheldon: Are the seven new planets, three “habitable,” just hype? Read the fine print.

Yesterday, NASA reported a record-breaking discovery of seven new Earth-size planets around a single star, three in the habitable zone: The discovery sets a new record for greatest number of habitable-zone planets found around a single star outside our solar system [TRAPPIST-1]. All of these seven planets could have liquid water – key to life […]

Vid: Tom Bethell on authoritarian science

From David Klinghoffer at Evolution News and Views: We’re looking forward to the March for Science this coming April 22, planned for Washington, DC, and with satellite marches across the country. If you’ve read about it, it promises to be a screechy and politicized protest against questioning orthodox scientific views or criticizing scientists. Scientists, as […]

Darwin fans: We censor in order to oppose censorship

Of course. What other motive could there be? Re the South Dakota academic freedom bill, David Klinghoffer offers at Evolution News & Views : In a surreal move, a group called the National Coalition Against Censorship has plunged into the South Dakota situation to demand continued restraints on teachers and their academic freedom — in […]

Winston Churchill on possible alien civilizations

The original Nature article is here. From Sarah Lewin at LiveScience: Winston Churchill was known for his leadership during World War II, but a newfound essay on alien life reveals another side of him, one that was deeply curious about the universe. “I, for one, am not so immensely impressed by the success we are […]

[Off Topic] The Shack, a Review

UPDATE:  Dear readers, the movie version of The Shack will be out soon, so I thought it might be a good time to dust off my December 2009 review of the book. The Shack by William P. Young is an unlikely publishing phenomenon.  The book was first conceived as a private gift to the author’s […]

But it can’t really be Fake Physics because humans did not evolve to perceive reality

Peter Woit comments at Not Even Wrong on his review (paywall; no paywall) at Wall Street Journal of A Big Bang in a Little Room: The Quest to Create New Universes by Zeeya Merali: My concern about the topic of the book is that it’s Fake Physics, not that religion is motivating the author (and likely […]

Multiverse explains why progress in fundamental physics is slow?

Further to “Atheist cosmologist warns “deeply religious” people not to put their faith in “apparent” fine-tuning” (Nature), Columbia mathematician and string theory skeptic Peter Woit (of Not Even Wrong) offers a review at Wall Street Journal of the same book, A Big Bang in a Little Room: The Quest to Create New Universes by Zeeya […]

New evidence for the universe as a hologram?

From astrophysicist Brian Koberlein at Nautilus: New Evidence for the Strange Idea that the Universe Is a Hologram One of the great mysteries of modern cosmology is how our universe can be so thermally uniform—the vast cosmos is filled with the lingering heat of the Big Bang. Over time, it has cooled to a few […]

Atheist cosmologist warns “deeply religious” people not to put their faith in “apparent” fine-tuning

In “Physics: A cosmos in the lab,” a review of A Big Bang in a Little Room: The Quest to Create New Universes by Zeeya Merali, cosmologist Andreas Albrecht writes at Nature, The question of cosmic origins, and the possibility that humans might create new universes, can connect with religious concerns. These form a substantial […]

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