Could the Neanderthals have “won”?

Well, how could they lose? Just recently, they turned up again with documents. From Gaia Vince at Digg: But by 39,000 years ago, Neanderthals were struggling. Genetically they had low diversity because of inbreeding and they were reduced to very low numbers, partly because an extreme and rapid change of climate was pushing them out […]

Are there really “laws of life”? Maybe, but…

But what are they? From Charles Cockell at Physics Today: Look at the menagerie of life—for example, as depicted by Jan Brueghel the Elder in the painting to the left. The casual viewer could easily conclude that life is limitless in its scope, that its forms and shapes are constrained only by the imagination. But however […]

Free live interactive webinar Saturday with fine-tuning astrophysicist Luke Barnes

Jonathan McLatchie kindly writes to say, This coming Saturday, at the usual time of 8pm GMT / 3pm EST / 2pm CST /12noon PST, I am going to be hosting another edition of the *Apologetics Academy* live interactive webinar. This week, our guest is astrophysicist Dr. Luke Barnes of the University of Sydney. Dr. Barnes […]

Horizontal gene transfer in bacteria: Numbers surprise researchers

From ScienceDaily: Gene transfers are particularly common in the antibiotic-resistance genes of Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria. When mammals breed, the genome of the offspring is a combination of the parents’ genomes. Bacteria, by contrast, reproduce through cell division. In theory, this means that the genomes of the offspring are copies of the parent genome. However, the […]

Oldest life forms: Extraterrestrial origin or design? Self-organization?

From Nature: (paywall) Although it is not known when or where life on Earth began, some of the earliest habitable environments may have been submarine-hydrothermal vents. Here we describe putative fossilized microorganisms that are at least 3,770 million and possibly 4,280 million years old in ferruginous sedimentary rocks, interpreted as seafloor-hydrothermal vent-related precipitates, from the […]

Scott Minnich: Reinterpreting long-term evolution experiments

From Jonathan McLatchie, who writes, Saturday’s webinar with Scott Minnich (U Idaho) was really excellent. He talked about his recent work on long-term evolution experiments with *E. coli *and responded to the various criticisms from Lenski & Blount. See also: Why microbiologist Scott Minnich acknowledges design in nature and Iowa State did it to Gonzalez, Now U of […]

“Tully Monster” mystery, from 300 mya, is far from solved?

As recently reported. Worse luck, most of us probably didn’t even know about the Tully Monster. Well, … from ScienceDaily: Last year, news headlines declared that a decades-old paleontological mystery had been solved. The ‘Tully monster,’ an ancient animal that had long defied classification, was in fact a vertebrate, two groups of scientists claimed. Specifically, […]

Cod gene puzzle: At least no one is claiming it is “junk DNA”

From ScienceDaily: Researchers at the University of Oslo (UiO) keep discovering surprises in the Atlantic cod genome. The most recent study has revealed an unusual amount of short and identical DNA sequences, which might give cod an evolutionary advantage. Or else it is something the cod could live with or else it makes no difference […]

Darwin’s Doubt Webinar with Steve Meyer 6:00 pm London time

Steve Meyer is the author of Darwin’s Doubt. Your time here. To join, go here.

English philosopher Roger Scruton battles the “humans are not special” folk

At New York Times: Almost all people believe that it is a crime to kill an innocent human, but not to kill an innocent tapeworm. And almost all people regard tapeworms as incapable of innocence in any case — not because they are always guilty, but because the distinction between innocent and guilty does not […]

Blinkers Award goes to… Tom Nichols at Scientific American! On why Americans “hate science”

To him it’s all  real simple: It happens because some people reject expert information when it goes against their personal values … For its part, the American public is in the grip of a sullen, almost paranoid, narcissism about science and experts. This is not a function of education; the anti-vaccine movement, for example, is […]

Neuroscience: We are told: Brains have owners

From Ed Yong at the Atlantic: Five neuroscientists argue that fancy new technologies have led the field astray. John Krakaeur, a neuroscientist at Johns Hopkins Hospital, has been asked to BRAIN Initiative meetings before, and describes it like “Maleficent being invited to Sleeping Beauty’s birthday.” That’s because he and four like-minded friends have become increasingly […]

Is dark matter all just a big mistake?

Asks Anil Ananthaswamy at Nautilus: For his theory of emergent gravity, Verlinde takes the bold leap that the entropy of spacetime has an additional component that scales with volume. His thinking is that our universe, which approximates a spatiotemporal geometry called de Sitter space, is expanding at an accelerated rate, and so has a cosmological […]

Evidence suggests that there were no separate early human lineages?

From Charles Q. Quoi at LiveScience: Fossils unearthed in China appeared to be strange patchworks of extinct and modern human lineages, with the large brains of modern humans; the low, broad skulls of earlier humans; and the inner ears of Neanderthals, a new study reported. These new fossils suggest that far-flung groups of ancient humans […]

Can information such as movies be stuffed into DNA?

Well, there are some limitations: From John Timmer at Ars Technica: Nothing about DNA is 100 percent accurate or even as close to the accuracy we’ve come to expect from our electronic bit storage media. Simply synthesizing DNA of a desired sequence will sometimes result in an error, as will amplifying it or decoding it […]

Habitable zone much smaller than the hype-able zone?

From Hugh Ross, author of Improbable Planet, at the Reason to Believe: For plants, animals, and advanced life to possibly exist, the liquid water and ultraviolet habitable zones must sustain their region of overlap for at least a few billion years. This longevity requirement creates a problem for all stars more massive than the Sun. […]

Science philosopher Massimo Pigliucci on his distance from the official “skeptical” movement

From 2015, but curiously relevant, at his blog Scientia Salon: The Harris-Chomsky exchange, in my mind, summarizes a lot of what I find unpleasant about SAM (skeptic and atheist movements): a community who worships celebrities who are often intellectual dilettantes, or at the very least have a tendency to talk about things of which they […]

Lysenko: The risks of politicizing science

Debate rages about whether scientists should get political. This story crossed the desk, and it might be food for thought: From Ian Goodwin and Yuri Trusov at the Conversation: By the late 1920s, as director of the Lenin All-Union Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Vavilov soon amassed the largest seed collection on the planet. He worked […]

Discovery of 7 times higher complexity of protein folding!

Can protein folding complexity be formed by stochastic processes? With 14 intermediate steps? JILA Team Discovers Many New Twists in Protein Folding Biophysicists at JILA have measured protein folding in more detail than ever before, revealing behavior that is surprisingly more complex than previously known. . . . They fold into three-dimensional shapes that determine […]

Maybe the speed of light isn’t constant?

From Stuart Clark at New Scientist: The universe’s ultimate speed limit seems set in stone. But there’s good reason to believe it might once have been faster – and may still be changing now Light’s constant, finite speed is a brake on our ambitions of interstellar colonisation. Our galaxy is 100,000 light years across, and […]

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