Wayne Rossiter: Darwin and the Pope

Concluding our religion News coverage for the week, From Wayne Rossiter, author of Shadow of Oz: Theistic Evolution and the Absent God: at his book blog: Over the weekend, I had a friend ask me about this story, in which Pope Francis has seemingly cast in with Darwinian evolution. Now, I have learned from previous […]

Ethan Siegel tackles fine-tuning at Forbes

Having rehearsed it all, he asks: 3.) If we don’t find life in the places and under the conditions where we expect it, can that prove the existence of God? Certainly, there are people that will argue that it does. But to me, that’s a terrible way to place your faith. Consider this: Do you […]

Design Disquisitions: Giving the Critics a Fair Hearing

This is a short post explaining a little feature I’ll be doing on my blog called ‘Critic’s Corner’. Hopefully it will turn out to be a useful resource. It goes without saying that ID isn’t the most popular idea in the world. Since its development and increased prominence in western culture, it has been widely […]

Astrophysicist: “White holes” seem to be mathematical fiction, so wormholes won’t work

Good sci fi, but … From astrophysicist Paul Sutter at Space.com: The concept of wormholes got its start when physicist Ludwig Flamm, and later Albert Einstein and Nathan Rosen, realized that black holes can be “extended.” When one goes about solving the fantastically complicated equations of general relativity, the machinery that predicts a black hole […]

You mean, there WAS a universe before the Big Bang?

In “What Was Our Universe Like Before the Big Bang?”, Ryan F. Mandlebaum offers some thoughts at Gizmodo: To be perfectly clear, we can’t definitively answer this question—but we can speculate wildly, with the help of theoretical physicist Sean Carroll from the California Institute of Technology. Carroll gave a talk last month at the bi-annual […]

More secular apocalypses… six cosmic catastrophes for Earth

As science culture tries to remake itself a the religion of naturalism, we can expect much more of this stuff. From Daniel Brown at LiveScience: 6. Moving stars Meanwhile, a wandering star on its path through the Milky Way might come so close to our sun that it would interact with the rocky “Oort cloud” […]

“Evolution of genetic code” article illustrates fundamental problem

In Biological Theory (2015): There are currently three major theories on the origin and evolution of the genetic code: the stereochemical theory, the coevolution theory, and the error-minimization theory. The first two assume that the genetic code originated respectively from chemical affinities and from metabolic relationships between codons and amino acids. The error-minimization theory maintains […]

No coherent “narrative” for transposable elements (jumping genes)?

Transposable elements (transposons, jumping genes) From Genome Biology and Evolution: At the most basic level of inquiry, the percent of a genome derived from TEs, vertebrate genomes can vary from 6 to 60%. If one takes into account aspects of TE diversity, accumulation histories, and even variation in repeat annotations themselves, it becomes difficult to […]

Darwin’s wastebasket: Time perception, evolutionary psychology, and Donald Trump

No, look, we are just passing this on, on our way out to do chores.* From Angela Chen at The Verge: Donald Trump has only been president for two weeks, but if you’re not happy about the new administration, those 14 days might feel more like 14 years. That’s normal: our brains really do distort […]

In the March for Science, what hats will Darwin’s fans wear?

We learn from Tracy Vence at The Scientist that evolutionary biologist Patricia Princehouse, interviewed, is organizing a March for Science in Cleveland: Patricia Princehouse: I never expected to be an activist of any kind, but when the creationists tried to take over the public school science curricula in Ohio, I had to say something. At […]

Researchers: Last common Precambrian ancestor had complex adrenergic signaling

From BioMedCentral: Given that all six receptor families (two each for octopamine, tyramine, and norepinephrine) can be found in representatives of the two major clades of Bilateria, the protostomes and the deuterostomes, all six receptors must have coexisted in the last common ancestor of the protostomes and deuterostomes.” Based on the presumption of common ancestry, […]

Extinction: Can New Zealand extirpate invasive species?

Except where dinosaurs or media-friendly modern species are in play, extinction barely rates a yawn. But here is an interesting item by Veronika Meduna at New Scientist, on a plan to return an ecosystem to a previous time: We are inside the old water reservoir for New Zealand’s capital, Wellington. Over the past two decades, […]

Universe refuses to discuss whether it is a hologram

Further to “Substantial evidence” claimed for universe as a hologram: From phyicist Chris Lee at Ars Technica: Universe neither confirms nor denies its holographic nature The standard approach makes use of quantum field theory, which, when simplified to the point of predictions, results in a range of “cold dark matter plus inflation” models. These models […]

“Substantial evidence” claimed for universe as a hologram

From ScienceDaily: A holographic universe, an idea first suggested in the 1990s, is one where all the information, which makes up our 3D ‘reality’ (plus time) is contained in a 2D surface on its boundaries. Professor Kostas Skenderis of Mathematical Sciences at the University of Southampton explains: “Imagine that everything you see, feel and hear […]

Human mind: “Dead Horse” Dennett kicks Darwin’s nag again

From Dan Jones, reviewing naturalist philosopher Daniel Dennett’s Bacteria to Bach and Back: The Evolution of Minds at Nature: Dennett reprises his long-held counter-intuitive idea that consciousness is a ‘user illusion’ similar to the interface of an app, through which people interact with the program without understanding how it works. Memetic apps in our brains, […]

Wall Street Journal cranks up the Universal DarwinatorTM

From Michael D. Lemonick, author of The Perpetual Now: A Story of Amnesia, Memory, and Love (2017), at Wall Street Journal: Our ‘flashbulb memories’ of shocking events like the Challenger disaster or 9/11 seem sharp but are almost always inaccurate Scientists have long known that memory is unreliable. It isn’t like a video recorder, storing […]

Oceanographer on the crisis of trust in science

Further to: Geologist on why a scientists’ march on Washington is a bad idea, oceanographer Helen Czerski writes at Guardian: Now, in the age of Google, the frontiers of knowledge are misleadingly comprehensible rather than inaccessible. Their very accessibility means that we may not see the complex context before arriving at each nugget of information […]

Geologist on why a scientists’ march on Washington is a bad idea

From coastal geologist Robert S. Youngjan at New York Times: Talk is growing about a March for Science on Washington, similar to the Women’s March the day after President Trump’s inauguration. It is a terrible idea. Among scientists, understandably, there is growing fear that fact-based decision making is losing its seat at the policy-making table. […]

An eyewitness report on the 44th annual March for Life

. . . being, an example of an actual, genuine grassroots-based movement of conscience and reformation in a civilisation giving itself over to ruinous marches of folly driven by toxic agit prop. (It also follows up from the recent post on the three marches, here; and the updated live streaming of the march, here.) Thanks […]

The tale of how the panda’s thumb evolved—twice

From Jane Qiu at Nature: Giant pandas and the distantly related red pandas may have independently evolved an extra ‘digit’ — a false thumb — through changes to the same genes. The two species share a common ancestor that lived more than 40 million years ago. Giant pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) are distant relatives of other […]

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