NEWS FROM THE YEAR 2001
by Dave Thomas : nmsrdaveATswcp.com (Help fight SPAM! Please replace the AT with an @ )
CAUTION: Several of the links below have Expired. Sorry! But the Internet is a transient event! I'm leaving the stories here as a record of what was said when...
NASA: SOME METEORITES NOT SUGAR-FREE...
NASA reports on Dec. 19th that "A discovery by a NASA scientist of sugar and several related organic compounds in two carbonaceous meteorites provides the first evidence that another fundamental building block of life on Earth may have come from outer space. A carbonaceous meteorite contains carbon as one of its important constituents...."
Yeast Genes quickly surveyed by function insread of sequence...
Johns Hopkins reports on Dec. 27th that "Combining a decade of research advances, scientists have implemented a new method that essentially searches the entire yeast genome in an instant, looking for what the genes do rather than what they look like, say the researchers from Johns Hopkins and Rosetta Inpharmatics, Inc. The scientists mixed more than 4,600 yeast mutants, each lacking a different gene, and put the pooled mutants in an environment that tested their ability to repair DNA. They were then able to sort out how each mutant performed by using microarray technology, according to the report in the Dec. 21 issue of the journal Science...."
Santorum Amendment Stripped from Education Bill...
The NCSE reports on Dec. 21st that "The Elementary and Secondary Education Authorization Act which is headed for the President's signature does not contain the antievolution "Santorum amendment", though there is brief mention of the topic of evolution in explanatory materials appended to the law. The good news for teachers is that they will not have to teach evolution any differently as a result of the new legislation....The bad news is that evolution is again singled out but even here creationists got less than they wanted. Whereas evolution was the only controversial scientific topic in the original Santorum amendment, Item 78 includes evolution as a parenthetical example of a controversial issue ... "
But the Discovery Institute claimed success anyway. Bruce Chapman of the Discovery Institute reports on Dec. 21st that "The education bill just passed by Congress calls for greater openness to the study of current controversies in science, notably including biological evolution.What began as the 'Santorum Amendment', named for its originator, Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), now resides in report language that says 'Where topics are taught that may generate controversy (such as biological evolution), the curriculum should help students to understand the full range of scientific views that exist..' The new bill represents a substantial victory for scientific critics of Darwin's theory and for all who would like science instruction to exercise thoroughness and fairness in teaching about contemporary science controversies. ..."
Alamogordo "Potter" Book Burning gets National Press...
It was picked up by Drudge, who got it from Yahoo: The Dec. 27th Yahoo/Reutoers story says "New Mexico church plans Harry Potter book burning... - A New Mexico church plans to burn Harry Potter books because they are 'an abomination to God,' the church pastor said on Wednesday. Pastor Jack Brock said he would have a 'holy bonfire' on Sunday at the Christ Community Church in Alamogordo in southern New Mexico to torch books about the fictional teen-age wizard who is wildly popular with young people."
Ken Frazier profiled in Albuquerque Journal
In a Dec. 21st article entitled "Mission of Skeptical Inquirer: Debunk Pseudoscience," the Journal's John Fleck writes "Ken Frazier has spent the last 24 years defending reason against tides of muddy thinking. As editor since 1978 of the Skeptical Inquirer magazine, the Albuquerque science writer has faithfully manned the ramparts against quack 'cancer cures,' faces on Mars and other pseudo-scientific mumbo jumbo. Last month, Frazier was honored for that work with the 'In Praise of Reason' award from the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal, known simply as 'CSICOP.' ..."
Anthrax blowing in the wind?
Debora MacKenzie of New Scientist reports on 14 December that "The two 'mystery' cases of anthrax in the US may have been caused by spores blown on the wind from Trenton, New Jersey where anthrax-laced letters were processed in October. If true, the fear that anthrax was carried widely across North America by contaminated mail may be unfounded...."
Did astrologers predict the WTC attacks?...
YES, says Chris Wright of the Boston Phoenix, dated Dec. 20th 2001..."Jihad terrorists surprised America on September 11, but apparently more than one astrologer saw it coming..."
GET REAL, says Chris Mooney of the American Prospect on Dec. 18th. "The evidence presented in the article, however, actually seems to prove exactly the opposite -- that astrologers didn't have a clue about September 11 before it happened. But don't tell that to Wright, whose loving citations of vague astrological predictions, without a single skeptical voice to serve as a counterbalance, may represent a new low in journalistic credulousness -- at least among outlets that don't aspire to supermarket tabloid status...."
NY Times's Anthony Lewis bids "Hail and Farewell," takes parting shot at creationists...
In the December 15 farewell editorial, Lewis writes "...after Sept. 11. Islamic fundamentalism, rejecting the rational processes of modernity, menaces the peace and security of many societies. But the phenomenon of religious fundamentalism is not to be found in Islam alone. Fundamentalist Christians in America, believing that the Bible's story of creation is the literal truth, question not only Darwin but the scientific method that has made contemporary civilization possible. Religion and extreme nationalism have formed deadly combinations in these decades, impervious to reason. Serbs in the grip of religion and mystical nationalist history killed thousands and expelled millions in their 'ethnic cleansing' of Bosnia. Fundamentalist Judaism and extreme Israeli nationalism have fed the movement to plant settlements in Palestinian territory, fueling Islamic militancy among Palestinians. Faith in reason was the foundation stone of the United States. ... Intricate checks and balances, they reasoned,would prevent the abuses of power that tempt all politicians. They put their faith not in men but in law: the law of the Constitution. ..."
Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2001/12/15/opinion/15LEWI.html (registration required)
Chronicle of Higher Education takes on Creationism, Intelligent Design...
Two excellent articles on creationism and intelligent design, plus a public forum, are featured in the Dec. 21st issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education.
Beth McMurtrie writes "When John L. Omdahl teaches a course on biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of New Mexico, he sets aside a portion of his last lecture to explain why he disagrees with a central tenet of evolutionary science: that Darwin's theories of random mutation and natural selection offer a reliable framework for understanding how life developed...."
Richard Monastersky writes "...And if intelligent design is going to win broader support, it must out-compete standard evolutionary theory in the hostile realm of scientific discourse -- where ideas are judged not by their popularity but by their explanatory power. In that world, only the fittest concepts survive."
Wandering Hotspots? Oh my!
Hot spots, such as the one that has produced the Hawaiian Islands, are thought to stay put as continental plates move over them. Not so fast, says one researcher...In the 18 December New Scientist, Betsy Mason writes "But a new study by Robert Duncan of Oregon State University in Corvallis and his colleagues shows that the Hawaiian hot spot has probably shifted....The finding challenges ideas about how the plates have shifted in the past. For example, a prominent bend in the Hawaiian-Emperor seamount chain that occurred 43 million years ago was thought to have been caused when the Pacific plate suddenly changed direction. Now some geologists are throwing that idea overboard in favour of a moving hot spot...."
A Better Lie Detector?
ABC News reports on Dec. 16th about new proposals for using Brain Scans to detect lies. " 'I suspect that it may be much harder to manipulate brain blood flow,' [as opposed to conventional devices based on skin resistance, heartbeat, etc.] says Dr. Daniel Langleben, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School."
Porno sites grabbing up expired site names from churches, more...
ABC News writes on Dec. 17th that "You won't find any Bible scripture on the Brooklyn diocese website. Instead, visitors will get links to plenty of skin from a pornography operator in Europe. ..." The more popular the expired sites were, the more they are desired by the porn-hustlers...
Weird Squid is photographed at last...
ABC News writes on Dec. 20th that "Researchers Discover Huge, Unusual Squid at Deep Ocean Bottom...It's more than 20 feet long, has 10 limbs that drape from its crown like puppet strings and swims by flapping two huge fins above its head...."
The Man Who Made Dinosaurs
The Idaho State University web site has photographs of the opening of a museum exhibit about my late father, David A. Thomas, titled "Dave Thomas: The Man Who Made Dinosaurs" on-line at
Where does Navel Lint Originate?
Garry Barker of the Age (Australia) writes on December 10th that "America may lead the world in IT and Germany show the way in heavy engineering, but when it comes to the careful, scientific study of belly-button lint, Australia is on its own. Our scientists have discovered that lint mostly moves up from the underwear rather than down from the upper body and believe that a pierced navel will not collect fluff. This, they suggest, may be because pierced navels tend to be exposed.... 'Most people have belly-button lint and they want to know why it collects in the navel, what it is composed of and why it is almost always blue,' Dr Kruszelnicki said."
Area 51 guards go on strike...
It wasn't the aliens or time machines that caused the flap, either. It's all the overtime because of new security restrictions since the September 11th terrorist attacks. Keith Rogers of the Las Vegas Review-Journal writes on Dec. 11th that "A group of 70 security guards known as the 'camo dudes' walked off their jobs Monday in Las Vegas and at the covert military installation known as Area 51, a place they said they can't talk about."
Cloned monkey embryos are a "gallery of horrors" ...
Sylvia Pagán Westphal of New Scienctist writes on Dec. 12th that "A high percentage of cloned monkey embryos that look healthy are really a 'gallery of horrors' deep within, says a researcher at Advanced Cell Technology, the company that last month published the first paper on cloned human embryos. ... To try and figure out what was going wrong, Dominko looked at 265 cloned rhesus macaque embryos created by nuclear transfer - plucking out an egg's nucleus and then adding a nucleus from a donor cell. She followed development of the embryos through several divisions, from the two-cell stage until the 32-cell stage. Though they appeared superficially healthy, the cells in the vast majority of Dominko's embryos did not form distinct nuclei containing all the chromosomes. Instead, the chromosomes were scattered unevenly throughout the cells...."
2.5-year jail sentence given for psychic scam...
Mike Anderson of the Waco Tribune-Herald writes on Dec. 5th that "A Woodway woman who pleaded guilty to taking about $300,000 from callers nationwide in a psychic hot line scam was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in federal prison Tuesday."
"The Mothman Prophecies" are Coming? Is Coming? Help!
In this Dec. 6th story, IGN FilmForce talks with cryptozoologist Loren Coleman about the spooky true-life events that inspired the upcoming Richard Gere film called "The Mothman Prophecies." And what is a Mothman? "On November 15, 1966, four individuals two married couples were at what was essentially a lovers lane in Point Pleasant, West Virginia," explains Coleman, who has been researching so-called 'Fortean Phenomena' (from Charles Fort) since 1960. 'These two couples saw two giant red eyes, and it very much scared them...they didn't know what to make of it.' This, then, was the first reported sighting of the 'Mothman,' which Coleman goes on to say 'was described as 6-to-7 feet tall with red eyes and no head, as if the eyes were in the breast area, and with huge wings.'... While Coleman reports that the account was 'ridiculed in the local press,' something very strange began to happen: 'More and more people started seeing this creature. For the next thirteen months, over 200 individuals had some interaction with some strange phenomena'... "
FTC fines herbal supplement company over false claims ...
The Associated Press writes on Dec. 6th that "Comfrey will not cure what ails you, and a Utah herbal supplement company will have to pay $100,000 for claiming otherwise. Christopher Enterprises, of Springville, sold a diet supplement containing the herb comfrey - which government officials say can cause liver damage if ingested...."
Mayo study puts prayer to the test...
Josephine Marcotty of the Star Tribune writes on Dec. 11 that "Some Mayo Clinic researchers believe that prayer helps patients, but their scientific study into the power of prayer didn't prove it. Cardiologist Dr. Stephen Kopecky and other researchers followed 799 Mayo Clinic heart disease patients. Half of whom were prayed for by others, although they didn't know it, and half of whom were not. After six months, researchers found no significant differences between the two groups in the number of deaths, heart attacks, hospitalizations or strokes. The research is published today in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, a journal published by the Mayo Clinic. The findings drew immediate criticism as an attempt to measure God's will. Prayer and faith are deeply personal and the health benefits of prayer depend on the patient knowing about or participating in the prayers, said Dr. Greg Plotnikoff medical director of the Center for Spirituality and Healing at the University of Minnesota. 'I don't think we can randomize God,' he said. 'I don't believe we can truly understand God's will. And I don't think that prayer is another pharmaceutical agent.'..."
Turns out that the 'Red-faced female' WAS an NMSR member...
Margaret Mavretich writes
Dear Dave: As I read this month's NMSR reports, I noticed on page 7 under Problem #2 you stated that "only one member of NMSR asked a question at Monday's talk" - yourself, and that "the red-faced female and others are not NMSR members." Just so you are not accused of being untruthful, you should be aware that my husband and I (both of us are NMSR members) were in attendance at the Monday night presentation, and I believe I was the alleged "red-faced female". Based on the comments by Massimo Pigliucci regarding Dembski's arguments, we went there to listen and maybe learn somthing, if there was something to learn. We were there for our own edification, not as representatives of NMSR. And, we weren't hankering for a fight, but because of the length of the presentation, we were hankering for a late dinner! I did ask the second to the last question, and because of my complexion, I do turn red easily. But did I as Dembski alleges? I don't know and neither does Bob; the room was dimly lit, and Bob says he didn't notice a color change. In my question I noted that since information theory, as derived from the work of Wiener, and Shannon and Weaver was used in robotics (machines), might it not make more sense to use neural nets or some other discovery procedure that would be more consistent with evolution (in organic systems). I said I thought that it sounded like he (Dembski) was saying that God had created different kinds of robots. I was not shy about using the G word (even though Dembski seemed to be) because as a Catholic graduate, I know that when you talk about design in the universe, a Creator can be inferred whether it is by Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, or whomever. I did not let his statement that my question was a nonsequitor stand unchallenged because I have seen rhetorical devices used elsewhere to silence people asking legitimate questions. If Mr. Dembski thought that my question was unclear he might have asked for me to re-state it. Neither I nor my husband represented ouselves as members of NMSR. We would not and could not represent the group. I was asking the question for my own information. My delivery may have seemed strident; but, I sometimes come across that way. What happened after Mr. Dembski finished his presentation was interesting. As Bob and I rose to leave (we were very hungry!), three young men rapidly approached us from the aisle, and one of them announced that "I (Margaret) was confused." I replied "No I'm not." Two of the individuals then scattered behind us, while one confronted me again. He said "I believe the earth was created in six days." It seemed that he was looking for a confrontation (for myself, I just really wanted dinner!). I replied that it was wonderful that he believed that, and in fact, anything that brought him closer to his Creator was wonderful. As long as he didn't mix religion with science, whatever brought him closer to his Creator was wonderful. I shared with him that I was a Roman Catholic and though I read the Bible differently from him, that was not a problem. After we exchanged a few more similar comments, he tried to get our names and addresses to send us references for a book on Neanderthals, which we refused.to do. I was somewhat uneasy about the three young men who were so determined to tell me that I was confused, but then never told me why. I wonder, however, if both the attack against NMSR by Mr. Dembski, and this incident with the three young men were intended to discourage questions that might challenge any of Mr. Dembski's basic assumptions. In summary, some people may have been looking for a fight, but it wasn't us. We just wanted to go to dinner. Sincerely, Margaret Mavretich
Editor's Comment: Oh well, live and learn. I still think the important thing to focus on is ideas, or (in this case) Dembski's LACK of ideas and compelling arguments. That is more important than who said what to whom. We do thank Margaret for setting us right, and for her writeup of her encounters at the talk.
Phillip Johnson responds to NMSR on "hostile demeanor" at Dembski talk...
In his November 27th, 2001 Weekly Update, Berkeley law professor Phillip Johnson responds to NMSR's "Hot News" article of Nov. 21st. Johnson writes "Dave Thomas of the local New Mexico skeptics group has protested that his group was not involved in any of the disrespecful behavior that was described in the report, and I am happy to accept his disclaimer. It would be helpful if he would go further, and make a positive statement similar to Kauffmann's. I am sure this would have a positive effect on the behavior of New Mexico audience members, some of whom seem to have formed the impression that they should be discourteous to anyone who questions Darwinism or materialism."
I have no problem encouraging supporters of evolution and science to be courteous in their comments, even to those who question "Darwinism" or "materialism."
I now call on Phillip Johnson and William Dembski to stop being so pre-occupied with who is being courteous and who is being hostile, and to actually deal with the scientific questions at hand. The issues are not personalities - the issues are evidence and data. For example, Dembski 's claim that genetic algorithms don't demonstrate that reproduction, selection, and mutation can develop "specified complexity" is obviously absurd to anyone who has used or written genetic algorithms. This powerful technique does indeed produce marvelously complex structures, with the only direction from the programmer typically being in the form of fitness functions such as "antennas that radiate uniformly are preferred" or "networks of shorter length are better." Dembski claims that the "designs" are implicit in these fitness functions, and are being snuck in via that route. But it's clear that the "designs" are NOT specified in the fitness function in most applications. Claiming that they are is as ridiculous as claiming that the design of a bird's wing is implicitly hidden in the Designer's specification of "the Sky."
Phillip Johnson accuses NMSR of "hostile demeanor" at Dembski talk...
In his November 19th, 2001 Weekly Update, Berkeley law professor Phillip Johnson discusses the recent appearances of "Intelligent Design" author William Dembski in Albuquerque on November 12th and 13th. Johnson had this to say about New Mexicans for Science and Reason (NMSR): "One extended footnote is worth adding in conclusion. Dembski also spoke at the University of New Mexico the Monday night before his [Tuesday] encounter with Kauffman. ... In attendance at both talks were individuals from the local skeptics group, New Mexicans for Science and Reason (NMSR). During the Monday night presentation, members of this group asked standard questions about imperfect design, vestigial organs, and possible gradual routes to irreducible complexity. Their questions were perfectly legitimate, but the demeanor of those who asked them Monday night was hostile. They laughed and giggled during the talk and gave airs that said that they did not consider Dembski's work to be science. There were other questions such as "who designed the designer" by a person who was clearly agitated during the entire lecture. He kept grumbling under his breath and slapping his notebook as Dembski spoke. Many in the audience were not happy about Dembski's Monday lecture and one person even turned red. Dembski told her that her question was a non sequitur, which she did not like that at all, and those sitting with her were ready for a fight. The difference in the attitudes of the audiences between Dembski's Monday night seminar and the Tuesday Kauffman-Dembski encounter was therefore quite striking. On Tuesday, the NMSR folks were still there in numbers, but they were completely silent during the Q&A. This time the audience was not grumbling but was politely listening to both sides. The questions were very even for the most part and dealt mostly with the theories themselves. What was the crucial difference? I submit the difference was this: Stuart Kauffman went out of his way to state that what Dembski is doing is legitimate science (although Kauffman doesn't agree with it's [sic] application to biology). This set the tone for the audience and forced them to be respectful during the Tuesday encounter. Soon those participating in the hostility against ID will begin to look foolish, even to their own members."
Readers of this passage will definitely get the impression that many NMSR members asked hostile questions, giggled, grumbled, gave airs and turned red-faced at Dembski's Monday talk, but that NMSR members were strangely silent at Tuesday's debate, shocked into submission by Stuart Kauffman's comment that "design" can be the subject of scientific inquiry. As usual, there are a few problems with Johnson's comments; these provide a microcosm of problems with "Intelligent Design" in general..
PROBLEM #1: QUESTIONERS DID NOT GIVE THEIR AFFILIATIONS AT EITHER TALK. While several individuals did indeed ask Dembski questions on both Monday and Tuesday, and while many of the questioners obviously did not agree with Dembski's ideas, no questioners identified themselves by naming the groups they belonged to. One can only wonder how Johnson, who did not attend, learned of the questioners' affiliations.
PROBLEM #2: THERE WAS NO FLOOD OF HOSTILE QUESTIONS FROM NMSR MEMBERS AT MONDAY'S TALK. The truth of the matter: only ONE member of NMSR asked a question at Monday's talk. That was me, David E. Thomas, asking about "junk" DNA as reflected in the broken genetic sequence for ascorbic acid shared by humans, chimps, and gorillas. (Incidentally, I asked Dembski why this wasn't good evidence for common descent of humans and apes, and Dembski acknowledged that humans and apes might share common ancestry!) While NMSR appreciates Johnson's recognition of our status as one of New Mexico's premier science advocacy groups, it turns out there are a lot more people interested in evolution than belong to NMSR. The notebook banger, the red-faced female and others are not NMSR members. While Johnson does not explicity say that all of the "hostile" questions came from NMSR members, that is clearly the desired impression, delivered with the confidence of a well-practiced attorney.
PROBLEM #3: NMSR WAS NOT "COMPLETELY SILENT" DURING TUESDAY'S Q&A. Indeed, exactly the same number of NMSR members asked questions Tuesday as on Monday - ONE. The NMSR member who spoke up Tuesday, Marshall Berman, did not identify himself as a member of NMSR, nor as president of the New Mexico Academy of Science, nor as founder of the Coalition for Excellence in Science and Math Education, nor as a member of the State Board of Education. All of those affiliations could have been legitimately claimed, but were not. Like all the other questioners, Marshall was just asking his own question, and was not acting not on behalf of any single group. Incidentally, his question was about what ID would be used for if it in fact turns out to be valid. How would you use ID to study AIDS, for example? Dembski completely missed the point of this question, and sidetracked into a discussion of "evil" as a theological question.
CONCLUSION: Phillip Johnson used hearsay evidence from events he did not attend; this "evidence" was supplied by someone who clearly lacked good information. Johnson's effort to portray NMSR as "hostile" on Monday and "silent" on Tuesday does not correspond to real facts or evidence, but is clearly and simply political spin-doctoring employed for political purposes. His article gives other examples of spin-doctoring, such as labeling statements by Kaufmann that he liked as "admissions." (Think about it - the statement "He said he has a dog" doesn't have the negative connotations of the similar statement "He admitted he has a dog.") These examples of spin-doctoring and politicized manipulation of "facts" fall right in line with the rest of attorney Johnson's attacks on evolutionary science. We shouldn't be surprised. After all, what would you expect from a lawyer?
P.S. Many attendees of Tuesday's debate agreed that Kauffman "cleaned Dembski's clock." It wasn't even much of a contest. Stu Kauffman will be talking to NMSR at our February 13th, 2002 meeting.
Did Adam have a belly button? NO, says creationist group...
Gary Parker of Answers in Genesis writes recently "Did Adam have a belly-button? I believe we really have an answer to that, and we can say, No Adam didn't. Neither did Eve. Why? Because your bellybutton (navel), or tummy-button as it's sometimes called, is a sign that you were once attached to your mother. You depended on that life-line the umbilical cord for your nourishment from her body as you developed inside her. But our first parents, Adam and Eve, didn't develop that way. I believe that God would not have planted on them a false indication that they had developed in a mothers womb...."
Answers in Genesis is coming to Albuquerque on April 25th-26th, 2002
Global Warming? On MARS? ...
AP's Paul Recer and YAHOO report on Dec. 6th that "Vast fields of carbon dioxide ice are eroding from the poles of Mars, suggesting that the climate of the Red Planet is warming and the atmosphere is becoming slightly more dense...."
Dec. 1st Fireballs were from Russian Proton rocket...
NASA reports on Dec. 3rd in detail on the fireballs from the weekend before. Lots of pictures, information. (Thanks to Ken Frazier for the referral).
New Institute at West Virginia U. pushes Junk Science?
Former Albuquerque Journal reporter Scott Smallwood writes in the Dec. 7th Chronicle of Higher Education that "Mind, thought, and consciousness are the cornerstones of the Sydney Banks Institute for Innate Health, a year-old project at this public university's Health Sciences Center that has drawn the ire of many professors and the skepticism of some outsiders. ... 'We might as well establish the Mary Baker Eddy Institute for Christian Science Healing,' says one professor, asking to remain anonymous. ..." (Thanks to John Fleck for the referral)
Cloning Scientist is Reformed Creationist...
Joannie Fischer, of U.S. News and World Report, reports on the scientist who made stunning progress on cloning human cells. She writes on December 3rd that "Michael West, by his own admission, is 'an absolute obsessive-compulsive' who views life as a mission. A self-described political conservative, he was in his early years a creationist, and he trained as a paleontologist with the goal of proving the Bible's account of God's design. But as he studied the fossil record, instead of finding God's divine plan, he found an endless account of disease and suffering. Out of that bleak vision he developed a new spiritual fervor: 'If God is about love and life,' he says now, 'then we should do everything we can to end suffering and death.' So in his early 20s, West knew his holy grail: to conquer aging and death - a goal so stunning in its scope that many colleagues over the years have discounted him as a quixotic dreamer. 'When I talk about ending aging, I'm not talking about some vain fountain of youth,' he explains. 'I'm talking about ending the suffering of aging: macular degeneration, cancer, Alzheimer's, heart disease.'... "
Did the great masters TRACE? http://abcnews.go.com/sections/scitech/DailyNews/art_clues011204.html
Can robots be made to smell underwater, like lobsters? http://abcnews.go.com/sections/scitech/DyeHard/dyehard.html
Can you HEAR Leonid Meteors? Well, YES, sort of...
This NASA article of November 26th explains how we can apparently "hear" something at the very instant it's whizzing by many miles overhead. The phenomenon is called "electrophonics." NASA writes "Colin Keay, a physicist at the University of Newcastle in Australia, not only believes in electrophonic meteors, he's also figured out what causes them. According to Keay, glowing meteor trails give off not only visible light, but also very low frequency (VLF) radio signals. Such radio waves, which oscillate at audio frequencies between a few kHz and 30 kHz, travel to the ground at the speed of light -- solving the vexing problem of simultaneity. Of course, human ears can't directly sense radio signals. If Keay is right, something on the ground -- a "transducer" -- must be converting radio waves into sound waves. In laboratory tests, Keay finds that suitable transducers are surprisingly common. Simple materials like aluminum foil, thin wires, pine needles -- even dry or frizzy hair -- can intercept and respond to a VLF field."
Thanks for Ken Frazier for the tip!
Osama bin Laden got his atom bomb plans... from the Journal of Irreproducible Results!
That's right! The A-bomb plans discovered at one of the terrorist's abandoned Afghan hideouts turned out to be taken directly from the famous comedy science journal. Lycos reports on Nov. 20th that "In a Nov. 15 article in the Times of London, journalist Anthony Loyd writes that next to 'physics and chemistry manuals devoted to molecular matter,' he discovered this document, much of which had him confused: 'The vernacular quickly spun out of my comprehension,' he wrote. But some of it even Loyd could comprehend: 'There were phrases through the mass of chemical symbols and physics jargon that anyone could understand, including notes on how the detonation of TNT compresses plutonium into a critical mass producing a nuclear chain reaction and eventually a thermonuclear reaction.'" That last phrase links the information in bin Laden's hideout to the Journal of Irreproducible Results joke A-bomb article from 1979, which states "The device basically works when the detonated TNT compresses the Plutonium into a critical mass. The critical mass then produces a nuclear chain reaction similar to the domino chain reaction (discussed in this column, 'Dominos on the March,' March 1968). The chain reaction then promptly produces a big thermonuclear reaction. And there you have it, a 10-megaton explosion!"
http://www.nytimes.com/2001/11/17/international/asia/17SPOO.html?searchpv=nytToday (registration required)
http://winn.com/bs/atombomb.html (This is the actual JIR article!)
Article pans "remote viewers" taking advantage of 9-11 attacks...
Lionel Van Deerlin of the San Diego Union Tribune writes on Nov. 28 that "No government agency seems willing to admit dabbling in the occult. But self-identified remote viewers who say they conjured visions for the CIA a quarter-century ago insist they are being used again...."
Scientists Use Hubble to Detect Atmosphere of Distant Planet...
ABC News reports on Nov. 28th that "In a method that could someday be used to detect life on distant planets, scientists have analyzed the atmosphere of a planet at least 150 light-years away...."
NCSE examines Discovery Institute's list of "100 Scientists opposing Darwinism"...
The Nov. 29th article by NCSE's Skip Evans examines how the Discovery Institute slyly misrepresents scientists who think there may be more to evolution than simply Darwinian Natural Selection as being opposed to "evolution" itself.
Dennis Lee loses court battle...
"GEET" is a technology promoted by "Free Electricity" huckster Dennis Lee on this year's tour; GEET supposedly allows you to run your car on 80% water and 20% gasoline. GEET probably doesn't work; but, the original promoter, Paul Pantone, has successfully sued Lee to stop him from peddling GEET classes himself.
Collapses of WTC buildings were like small earthquakes...
YAHOO and the AP reported on November 15th that "The collapse of the twin towers of the World Trade Center caused ground shaking similar to a pair of small earthquakes. The collapse of the South Tower at 9:59 a.m., Sept. 11, generated shaking of a magnitude of 2.1. When the North Tower fell at 10:28 a.m. the shaking reached a magnitude of 2.3, according to researchers at Columbia University. The vibrations were similar to those generated by a small earthquake that occurred beneath the east side of Manhattan on January 17. Earthquakes of this magnitude can be felt but rarely cause damage to structures. The researchers, reporting in Eos, the weekly journal of the American Geophysical Union, said the collapse of nearby buildings was probably not caused by the shaking that resulted from the fall of the towers after they were struck by hijacked airliners. Instead, damage to other buildings was most likely caused by falling material from the towers striking them and by the great blast of air pressure and debris that burst outwards when the towers fell, according to the research team at Columbia's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, N.Y. The collapse of the towers was measured by several seismographs, one 266 miles away in Lisbon, N.H., according to the 12-member research team, led by Won-Young Kim, Lynn Sykes, Klaus Jacob, Paul Richards and Arthur Lerner-Lam."
US intelligence agencies recruiting psychics to help find Osama Bin Laden...
The Sunday Times (UK) reports on Nov. 11th that "US intelligence agencies are recruiting psychics to help predict future attacks and to find Osama Bin Laden. The recruits, known as "remote viewers", claim to be able to visualise happenings in distant places by using paranormal powers. The US government established a remote viewing programme, known as Stargate,in the 1970s in an attempt to utilise the skills claimed by psychics to combat communism. The programme, at the Stanford Research Institute in California, was shut down in 1995 after the end of the cold war. Now, however, US intelligence agencies are reactivating some of their old paranormal spies. Prudence Calabrese, whose Transdimensional Systems employs 14 remote viewers, confirmed that the FBI had asked the company to predict likely targets of future terrorist attacks. 'Our reports suggest a sports stadium could be a likely target,' she said."
Our own Bill Fienning has commented that "This is amazing. I would never thought that a sports stadium filled with 50000 people would be a target for terrorists. Obviously, these remote viewers must be psychic."
Evangelists Say Harry Potter Books Are Evil...
YAHOO and Reuters report on Nov. 15th that "A group of Taiwanese Evangelists said on Thursday that the Harry Potter books were evil and warned parents not to let their children read the adventures of the boy wizard. The Ling-Leung Church posted an essay on its Web site, warning its 7,000 followers off the books.`The Harry Potter books are evil. They teach sorcery and run counter to the Bible' ..."
Answers in Genesis: "The Earth is ROUND!"
An article by Danny Faulkner of the young-earth creationist group Answers in Genesis attacks Geocentrist creationists: "Some creationists believe that the scientific assault on the Bible did not begin with biological evolution, but with the acceptance of the heliocentric (or more properly, geokinetic) theory centuries ago. These people believe that the Bible clearly states that the Earth does not move, and hence the only acceptable Biblical cosmology is a geocentric one. Modern geocentrists use both Biblical and scientific arguments for their case. We examine these arguments, and find them poorly founded. ..."
Artificial Liver developed...
In a Time report on inventions of the year for 2001, the magazine states "The Bio-Artificial Liver developed by Dr. Kenneth Matsumura has a two-part chamberpatient's blood on one side, live rabbit cells suspended in a solution on the otherwith a semipermeable membrane in between. As toxins from the blood pass through the membrane, the rabbit cells metabolize them and send the resulting proteins and other good things back to the other side. Because the rabbit cells never come into direct contact with human blood, the chances of infection or rejection are minimized...."
(Yes, Kenneth Matsumura is indeed married to NCSE's stalwart supporter Molleen Matsumura!)
Don't want the kiddos to watch MTV? Send them to MSTV (Math and Science Television) instead...
This fascinating series of math/science vignettes has been developed at Marshall Berman's GetSmarter web site. Check it out!
Leonids to put on best show in DECADES...
Yes, it's time for Earth's annual trek through the dust of comet Tempel-Tuttle. But this year, conditions are promising for one of the best meteor shows in many years. The peak time here in New Mexico is slated for the wee hours of Sunday, November 18th, around 3:00 AM. Start watching late Saturday night, and stay up for the show! There could be thousands of shooting stars per hour at the peak.
http://www.abqjournal.com/news/508057news11-16-01.htm (subscription required)
Albuquerque, New Mexico estimates:
New form of matter? Standard model violated?
The Washington Post reports on November 9th that "An experiment that involved smashing together certain subatomic particles at great speeds produced an unexpected result, prompting physicists yesterday to announce that they might be on the verge of finding a new form of matter or energy. ... 'It could be a very big deal,' said Kevin McFarland, an assistant professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Rochester in New York who helped conduct the research. 'It would be very exciting if we find another force.' The scientists, who are associated with the Department of Energy's Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory near Chicago, are conducting follow-up experiments with a high-energy particle accelerator to verify and explain the result. ... "
Saturday Night Live tromps on John Edward...(he sees Dead People...)
Will Ferrell played the popular medium on the Oct. 13th show, while Drew Barrymore played "Fran's Friend" and Maya Rudolph played "Fran."
Here's a sample:
John Edwards: [ sighs ] Okay. I see him working.. with something.. his hands are holding.. a thing.. a.. a lantern.. [ quickly ] No, no, no! I take it back, that was dumb! That was dumb! He did hold a thing.. he did a hold a thing..
Fran's Friend: Yes! He held a book, he was a teacher!
Fran: This is incredible!
John Edwards: A teacher. Okay, he was a teacher.. he was a teacher.. and, for some reason, I'm getting a school. Does that mean anything?
Fran: Yes! He taught at a school!
John Edwards: Yes. Yes, he taught hi-i-i-i.. s-s-s-sc.. he taught.. he was a teacher of f-f-f-.. Physics.
Fran's Friend: No.
John Edwards: Phys Ed?
Fran's Friend: No.
John Edwards: Physiology?
Fran's Friend: No, he taught -
John Edwards: Sshhh! Ssshhh! Sshhhh! Finance? [ no response ] Phonics? [ no response ] Phy-philosophy! Philosophy! [ no response ] He taught people?
Fran's Friend: Yes, he did. He taught a fishing course at the Learning Annex. ....
Biologists Naive About Terror Threat - Expert ....
ABC and Reuters reported on Nov. 6th that "A scientific adviser to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld warned biologists Tuesday they should become less naive to prevent the risk of their work being abused for terrorist purposes. 'Our colleagues in the physics community have long understood the application of physics in weaponry,' Dr. George Poste said in an interview during a pharmaceutical conference. Poste, a member of the U.S. Defense Science Board of scientists and industrialists which advises Rumsfeld on scientific developments, said biology should 'lose its innocence.' ..."
Move Over, Polygraph... here comes Voice Stress Testing!
Newhouse News Service reports that "Police departments across the country are buying the controversial Computer Voice Stress Analyzer, which its manufacturer claims can tell when a person is lying merely by the sound of his voice. When a suspect speaks, a computer program 'listens' for minute vocal shifts that, in theory, indicate stress. The technology's critics, citing government and university research, say the CVSA is little more than an electronic Ouija board with accuracy rates to match. At best, they say, voice stress analysis scares suspects into confessions; at worst, it can incriminate the innocent. CVSA results aren't admissible in most courts, under the same Supreme Court decisions that generally bar polygraph evidence. ..."
Creationists drop some flawed arguments!!!!
This could be a First! The Answers in Genesis crew has published a list of "evidences" that sould NOT be used; "some are definitely fallacious, while others are merely doubtful or unsubstantiated."
A partial list:
"Which arguments should definitely not be used?
Darwin recanted on his deathbed. This is almost certainly not true, and there is no corroboration from those who were closest to him. It would also prove nothing about the truth or falsity of evolution.
Moon-Dust argument proves a young moon. The early estimatesby evolutionistsof the influx of moon dust were wrong, so the evidence is inconclusive either way. See also Moon Dust and the Age of the Solar System (Technical).
NASA computers proved Joshuas long day. Not promoted by major creationist organizations, but an urban myth in wide circulation, especially on the Internet. ...
Woolly mammoths were snap frozen during the Flood catastrophe. This is contradicted by their geological setting. ...
The Castenedolo and Calaveras human remains in old strata invalidate the geologic column. These are not sound examplesthe Castenedolo skeletal material shows evidence of being an intrusive burial ....
Dubois renounced Java man as a missing link and claimed it was just a giant gibbon...."
Killer Asteroid Odds Lowered...
ABC News reported on Nov. 8th that "Scientists say there's at least one thing people can worry less about these days: a giant asteroid obliterating Earth. According to data gleaned from the [New Mexican] Sloan Digital Sky Survey <http://www.sdss.org/>, the chance of a catastrophic collision with an asteroid over the next 100 years is about one in 5,000. That's a much sunnier prospect than previous estimates that concluded the chances were a third greater, or about one in 1,500. ..."
Seen one sheep, seen 'em all? NOT IF YOU'RE A SHEEP!
ABC News reported on Nov. 7th that "Some furry faces are unforgettable at least to other sheep. It turns out the animals use similar neural networks as humans to both recognize and remember each other's faces. ..."
Nature reports on Nov. 5th that " ... there is no denying it - the patterns in a mixture of chemicals reported by two researchers spell out the letters of the Roman alphabet. Is this a spooky message that our alphabet is a natural phenomenon rather than an arbitrary invention? No. It is simply a demonstration that the patterns that can arise spontaneously in nature have an almost limitless variation. In other words, we can find almost any picture if we try hard enough. ..."
DID ASTROLOGERS PREDICT WTC ATTACKS?
Well, ur, um, uh, No!
Check this prediction out!
"Monthly Global Predictions for September 2001
Date Posted: August 31, 2001
Compared to August the month of September is likely to be relatively a lot less stressful for most of the world, especially from natural and man-made accidents, terrorism, and violence standpoints. Also, after the first week of September, expect some relief to the volatile region of Israel and Palestine. ..."
An excellent article on "Anthrax Quackery" by Daniel R. Barnett appears on the Texas skeptics' web site.
The article covers colloidal silver, homepathic, and other "remedies."
"Websites targeted for illegal Cipro sales," BBC, 30 October
MEDIUM JOHN EDWARDS WAS SLATED TO TALK TO WTC FATALITIES; SHOW SCRUBBED
Apparently, the prospect of a medium trying to communicate with those killed in the terror attacks was too much, even for sleazy cable TV networks...
In THE STARR REPORT, Michael Starr wrote on October 25, 2001 "Crossing Over' taps into Sept. 11 tragedy ... Broadcasting & Cable magazine is reporting that 'Crossing Over' host John Edward 'will feature attempts to communicate with victims of the Sept. 11 attacks' in several episodes airing next month during November sweeps."
But by the next day, the idea had been scrapped. Lisa de Moraes of the Washington Post wrote on Friday, October 26, 2001 that "John Edward, the medium who hosts the chat-with-the-dead show 'Crossing Over,' has taped segments in which he purports to contact victims of the World Trade Center attacks. But America may never get to hear what they have to say because yesterday afternoon production house Studios USA axed the whole idea after reporters and station execs -- the two least queasy segments of society -- actually cringed. Studios USA Domestic Television President Steve Rosenberg says they scrapped the idea after getting a whiff of the negative reaction."
HAVE A GOOD IDEA TO FIGHT TERRORISM? GET IT SUBMITTED TODAY!
Yahoo reports on October 25 that "Pentagon Seeks a Few Good Ideas to Fight Terrorism ...WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Pentagon appealed to Americans on Thursday to send in bright ideas on thwarting terrorism, announcing an unusual, open competition to speed the winners into use. The Defense Department said it was looking for help in ''defeating difficult targets, conducting protracted operations in remote areas and developing countermeasures to weapons of mass destruction.''
SCIENCE GAINS ON CURE FOR ANTHRAX?
Steve Connor, Science Editor for the UK Independent, writes on 24 October 2001 "Scientists have made two breakthroughs in anthrax research that could lead to a cure for the disease. Anthrax can be easily treated with antibiotics if it is caught early enough, but often it is not. The most deadly form is caused by victims inhaling the bacterial spores. A team of researchers has identified the critical molecule on human cells that allows the anthrax toxin to lock on to and destroy the body's vital tissues. A second team of scientists has revealed the three-dimensional structure of the anthrax toxin. The finds open the way to designing new drugs that can block the poison before it has a chance to kill. Both studies, which were to appear in the scientific journal Nature next month, have been published early on the internet because of the importance that the work will have in developing effective countermeasures against anthrax attacks. A spokesman for Nature said a deeper understanding of the anthrax toxin would point the way to better treatments and vaccines.
ICR responds to the PBS Evolution series on their web site:
It's official. The piece, by Ken Cumming, compares "Darwinists" to the terrorists who hit the WTC. A sample:
"...It was about 10 a.m. in the morning of September 11, 2001 when Barbara Olson called her husband Tom from a cell phone on board American Airlines flight 77 to tell him, "We've been hijacked!" Tom told her in turn that he saw on TV along with millions of others that two airliners already had crashed into the World Trade Center an hour earlier. In one grand wakeup call, America heard the cry for "help" from thousands of civilians victimized by Osama bin Laden's god-squad."
"Only 13 days later on Public Broadcasting Stations, a seven-part, eight-hour event of grave importance was also witnessed by millions of Americans, but the pall of New York City, the Pentagon, and the Pennsylvania airline crashes overshadowed all other news. PBS with the aid of WGBH in Boston and Clear Blue Sky Productions televised one of the boldest assaults yet against our public schools and the millions of innocent victims - our school children."
"Both events have much in common. The public was unaware of the deliberate preparation that was schemed over the past few years to lead to these events. And while the public now understands from President Bush that 'We're at War' with religious fanatics around the world, they don't have a clue that America is being attacked from within through its public schools by a militant religious movement called Darwinists."
Mike Keefe of the Denver Post, 2001-10-12, on Bible/Koran "Codes" and Terrorism...
Go to http://www.intoon.com/cartoon.php
and from left column, click on "Message"
Mormon confesses to WTC attacks...
ROBERT KIRBY of the Salt Lake Tribune writes on September 29, 2001 "Now seems like a good time to confess the part I played in the World Trade Center attack. I am guilty. Come and get me. I offer as proof the fact that I am a Mormon. According to Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, the deaths of thousands of Americans was God's way of getting even with such evil groups. Groups specifically mentioned were homosexuals, Pagans, the ACLU, People for the American Way and feminists. God, who apparently needs to work on his marksmanship, killed more than 6,500 innocent bystanders to make this point. Pat and Jerry didn't come right out and say Mormons were responsible, but since we aren't mainstream Christian enough for them, I thought I might help out by calling in a tip on myself. Falwell has since recanted his list of suspects, saying that he was wrong to pin the cause of the attack on well-dressed men, wood nymphs, and working women, instead of on, well, the people who actually did it. Good idea. If God really wanted to target evil behavior, he might start whacking the proud. And if I recall my New Testament correctly, Christ's severest judgment was reserved for the arrogant religious elite. NOTE TO JERRY AND PAT: Helmets, guys. ..."
Terror-Related Hoaxes and Images Hit the Net...
ABC News reporter Paul Eng writes on Sept. 28 "The image is chilling: A man stands atop the World Trade Center while in the background an American Airlines jet is seen speeding towards his tower, just moments away as he smiles for the camera. The only problem is it's a fraud, one of the many that have been launched into cyberspace along with the flood of other messages about the Sept. 11 terror attacks...."
See the image at: http://abcnews.go.com/sections/scitech/DailyNews/WTC_nethoaxes010928.html
This man is getting around, and appears in dozens of images now flowing through the Net...
Speaking of Internet Images, that may be how the terrorists encoded secret messages...
Brian Ross af ABC News reports on Oct. 4th that "The terrorists responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks may have communicated over the Internet using a computer version of invisible ink that allows secret messages to be concealed in image and music files...."
Discovery Institute releases list of 100 Scientists who "Challenge Darwinism."
It's on-line at http://www.reviewevolution.com/press/pressRelease_100Scientists.php . The fairly bland statement reads "I am skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged."
Before you get too alarmed, however, consider the following: "...After the war, Einstein wanted to rebuild international contact. This decision did not make him very popular either. After a while, people set up an anti-Einstein clan, and a book entitled: "100 Authors against Einstein" was published. His reaction to this was: 'If I am incorrect, one author would have been enough.'..."
Phil Johnson cites Albuquerque Tribune... and shows creationism IS the force behind the Santorum Amendment!
Top Intelligent Designist Phillip Johnson, recovering from his stroke, says "Determined to preserve its power to promote philosophy as science, and unwilling to concede that there is anything controversial about 'evolution,' the scientific elite is resisting the move towards candor in education with all its might. An editorial in the Albuquerque Tribune for September 5, 2001, attacking the Santorum Amendment, concluded that 'Evolution isn't controversial among scientists, and it isn't just about biology and human origins. It's fundamental to our entire universe and how we see ourselves within it.'
Here's another source showing creationist support for the Santorum amendment:
NCSE posts answers to Discovery Institute attacks on PBS Evolution Series ...
An excellent series of articles counters creationist rebuttals of the PBS/WGBH series. Be sure to check out Ken Millers article entitled "0 for 3", The Discovery Institute Strikes Out ," which shows how the Discovery Institute's most severe charges against evolution don't hold up.
Has a "Language Gene" been found?
ABC News reports on Oct. 3rd that "Scientists say they have discovered the first gene tied to a language and speech disorder a find that may bring the genetics revolution closer to identifying the biological roots of conscious thought and defining what it means to be human. The gene, FOXP2, is not specifically a gene that enables us to talk. Instead, it is responsible for a protein that enables the brain's language circuitry to function. ..."
Dinosaur Embryo Skin Found Inside Fossilized Eggs...
Reuters reports on Sept. 30 that "The remains of dinosaur embryo skin were found inside fossilized eggs discovered in the south of Argentina, paleontologists have said. `If the discovery of these eggs is a rarity, then finding skin is a bombshell because it's the first time that embryonic skin has been preserved in a fossil,' paleontologist Rodolfo Coria said on Friday...."
Sequel to "The Omega Code" is panned...
The "Omega Code" featured the Bible Code mixed with the apocalyptic end of the world on Y2K. That movie was the worst I've seen; the multiple plot threads weren't even tied up, they were simply abandoned as the Rapture enveloped the earth at New Year's Eve of 1999. But now there's a sequel, and Cody Clark of Mr. Showbiz. notes "Megiddo: The Omega Code 2.... The new millennial thriller is not a sequel to the 1999 film, as its title suggests, but something more akin to a big-budget remake. ... And when Beelzebub finally reveals himself (shortly before being banished to a sidesplittingly literal hell in the fiery bowels of the earth) he looks like a CGI insert lifted straight out of Doom or Quake.(The voice of MTV's Butt-head rang out in my mind's ear, scoffing, 'That's the wussiest Satan ever!') About 10 minutes north of the closing credits, [American President] Biehn rolls his eyes heavenward and implores, "Why me, Lord?" He's not the only one who was asking...."
On the Mr. Showbiz rating scale (From the best of 5 "Be first in line" down to 2 "Wait for the video"), "Megiddo" gets an awful 1: "Not even on a plane."
MORE TERROR ATTACK RUMORS & REACTIONS
Remote Viewers claim to be watching the terrorists...
Kate Nelson of the Trib writes on Sept. 22nd that "Internuts need to get off their butts and do something proactive. If one more person includes me in a mass e-forwarding of 'An Afghani-American Speaks,' I will heave my computer through the nearest window. The same goes for any more malark-E on Nostradamus' 'prediction' of a terrorist attack, any more e-mail petitions for peace, any more e-copies of a 28-year-old Canadian editorial, and any more e-pictures of Satan in the smoke...."
FlashBack: Remember when John McCain accused Jerry Falwell of "intolerance"?
The headlines read "McCain and Bush clash over Revs. Robertson, Falwell"
On February 29, 2000, Joel Connelly and Ed Offley of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer wrote "The Republican presidential contest erupted into factional warfare yesterday, as Sen. John McCain labeled several Christian conservative leaders as 'agents of intolerance' and Gov. George W. Bush accused his rival of 'needless name calling.'... "
See also: http://abcnews.go.com/sections/politics/DailyNews/bush_bobjones000228.html
And this: "Falwell debuts the new John McCain voodoo doll."
http://www.robearly.com/EarlyNews/FwllDoll.htm (tongue firmly in cheek for this one..)
PBS "Evolution" Special -- reactions are all over the map.
Judging by the attacks from both the right and the left, it seems PBS's show may have been balanced, after all...
Here is a poorly-written Washington Times editorial by Jonathan Wells slamming the PBS Evolution series:
Here is a sympathetic yet critical review of the PBS Evolution series by Roger Downey of The Seattle Weekly http://www.seattleweekly.com/features/0138/news-downey.shtml
And Slate.com has slammed the series as "an exercise in Creationist appeasement."
Finally, the PBS show has resulted in the intellectuals at Seattle's Discovery Institute calling their creationist colleagues at Answers in Genesis "guitar-playing hillbillies." On September 26, Matt Carter, Tri-Valley Herald (San Francisco area) wrote "...'We wanted to talk about science, and they wanted us to do Sunday school,' said Mark Edwards, a spokesman for the Discovery Institute. 'The final episode paints a picture that the only critics of Darwinian theory are these guitar-strumming hillbillies in Kentucky who are creationists, and that's just not true. We're glad we're not part of that stereotype.' "
Summer warm, but not a record...
NATURE slams "paranormal" stamps...
NATURE calls Nobel Laureate Brian Josephson to task for suggesting that quantum physics could help to explain the paranormal. In Nature 413, 339 (2001), ERICA KLARREICH writes about a new stamp packet issued by the Royal Mail, with words by Josephson suggesting that QM can explain telepathy and other paranormal phemonena. "But few physicists accept that telepathy even exists, says Andrew Steane, a quantum physicist at the University of Oxford. Robert Evans, a physicist at the University of Bristol, says he is 'very uneasy about something from the Royal Mail saying quantum physics has something to do with telepathy,' he says."
TERROR ATTACK RUMORS & REACTIONS
CSICOP SETS UP RUMORS WEB PAGE
In the interest of public service, the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal has created the HoaxWatch Web page at http://www.csicop.org/hoaxwatch .
This is a source for factual information that debunks much of the claptrap circulating in e-mails, the Internet and elsewhere.
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Even the National Review is appalled at Robertson's and Falwell's comments blaming the terror attacks on the ACLU, gays, etc. Rod Dreher, columnist, New York Post, writes " Jerry, Pat, you heartless bastards, your timing is awful."
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Rob Beeston of the Central Iowa Skeptics has added a page to his site, which is another source for the public and media regarding skeptical issues surrounding the attacks.
It's located at http://www.dangerousideas.net/infowatch.asp
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Kate Nelson of the Trib has sent a long another site at which "More voodoo-babble is debunked."
PBS "EVOLUTION" SERIES AIRS ...
Check the NCSE (National Center for Science Education) website,http://www.natcenscied.org/ , for many resources on the upcoming series to show on PBS the week of Sept. 24th, 2001.
From this page, you can link to the PBS site, a Congregational Study Guide for Evolution (a valuable resource for religious congregations wishing to discuss the PBS series), and to a press release entitled
"CREATIONISTS WRONG AGAIN".
"Once again, the creationists have blundered when it comes to science, this time presenting misinformation about the universality of the genetic code. ..."
The press release can be gotten directly at
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CREATIONIST REACTION TO PBS SERIES ALREADY ON THE WEB
for what colleague Wesley Elsberry describes as "Stomach-turning spin from John Mark Reynolds concerning the PBS Evolution series."
WHALE EVOLUTION: FOSSILS CATCH UP TO MOLECULES
Paleontologists and molecular biologists have been arguing for years over the ancestry of whales. Many paleontologists thought the whales evolved from mesonychians, an extinct group of land-based carnivores, but the molecular folks have long contended that DNA comparisons show that whales are more closely related to artiodactyls -- cows, pigs, and especially hippopotami. New fossils from Pakistan have convinced the paleontologists that they were wrong, and the molecular people had it right.
Reuters reporter Patricia Reaney writes on Sept. 19 that "Fossils recently unearthed in Pakistan show that whales evolved from land animals related to sheep and pigs, and that hippos could be their closest living kin, scientists said on Wednesday.... paleontologists have discovered 50-million-year-old fossils of early whales that lived on land, and ankle and skull bones from primitive aquatic whales that fill in the gaps. 'With these new discoveries the whale fossil record is now so complete,' Hans Thewissen, of Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine, said. 'It shows us so well how whales became aquatic that it is probably the best, or one of the best, examples of evolution where these major changes are documented with fossils,' he added in a telephone interview. Thewissen and his colleagues uncovered fossils of a fox-size mammal called Ichthyolestes, and Pakicetus which resembled a wolf. The research is reported in the science journal Nature. The ankle bones are seen only in a group of animals known as artiodactyls such as cows, pigs and hippos. But the heads of the creatures have whale-like features. ...
In a separate report in the journal Science, Professor Philip Gingerich, of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor described a skeleton of a later aquatic whale that included both ankle and skull bones that he and his colleagues discovered in a different part of Pakistan. The ankle bone was also of an artiodactyl. 'Now I even admit the possibility that hippos are a side line of artiodactyls that might be closer to the whales than any other living animals,' Gingerich said in a statement.
'The paleontologists, and I am one of them, were wrong,' Gingerich said.
Christian de Muizon of the Museum of Natural History in Paris described the discovery of the land whales as one of the most important events in the past century of vertebrate paleontology."
REVIEWS OF C/E BOOKS IN NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS
The New York Review of Books for October 4, 2001 has an article entitled "Saving Us from Darwin" by Frederick C. Crews. Crews reviews creationist/Intelligent Design books by Phillip E. Johnson, Jonathan Wells, Michael J. Behe, and William A. Dembski, as well as pro-science/evolution books by Robert T. Pennock and Kenneth R. Miller.
Falwell and Robertson say ACLU, pagans, others at fault in Sept. 11th Terror Attacks...
The Washington Post reports on Sept. 14th that "Television evangelists Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, two of the most prominent voices of the religious right, said liberal civil liberties groups, feminists, homosexuals and abortion rights supporters bear partial responsibility for Tuesday's terrorist attacks because their actions have turned God's anger against America. ... Falwell said the American Civil Liberties Union has 'got to take a lot of blame for this,' again winning Robertson's agreement: 'Well, yes.' Then Falwell broadened his blast to include the federal courts and others who he said were 'throwing God out of the public square.' He added: 'The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. ... I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way -- all of them who have tried to secularize America -- I point the finger in their face and say, 'You helped this happen.' ..."
Did Nostradamus predict Terror Attacks?
Not a chance.
Do atmospheric electromagnetic pulses cause Headaches?...
Karla Gale of Reuters reports on Sept. 11th that "Researchers in Germany propose that a small minority of headache patients are susceptible to atmospheric electromagnetic pulses. The pulses, called 'sferics,' are of very short duration and low intensity and frequency. According to a team led by Dr. Harald Walach, of Uniklinikum Freiburg Institut fur Umweltmedizin und Krankenhaushygiene in Freiburg, sferics are generated by electric discharges, such as lightning, during meteorological events...."
Bad case of Tooth Decay shows Neanderthals were caring folk...
ABC News reports on Sept. 11th that "New evidence suggests an early Neanderthal living about 175,000 years ago in France had a mouthful of infection. Hollow pockets in its fossilized lower jaw show where severe abscesses ate into the bone. And exposed, worn tips of tooth roots suggest the individual had gummed food, despite feeling what must have been excruciating pain. 'It makes my jaw hurt just to look at it,' said Erik Trinkaus, an anthropologist at Washington University in St. Louis and co-author of a new study on the specimen in today's issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The jaw fragment shows the individual had been missing teeth for some time before death in his or her late 40s. And this suggests that pre-Neanderthals may have been a somewhat caring bunch...."
Exorcisms on rise in USA...
ABC News reports on Sept. 11th that "Some methods involve tying people to chairs and trying to scream the demons out of them; others involve holy water and crucifixes. It's a practice many consider archaic but exorcism is thriving in America...."
Nasa asks public for help in stamping out "Boring Acronyms"...
A NASA/JPL press release from Sept. 5th says "To move away from cryptic acronyms, our nation's space agency is asking your help to find a user-friendly name for a new space-based observatory. It is currently called the Space Infrared Telescope Facility, or SIRTF for short. The observatory will allow scientists to study objects from within our solar system to the distant reaches of the universe. It will see these objects by looking for the heat they radiate in the infrared wavelength. For example, the mission will look for dusty discs around other stars where planets might be forming. 'We are hoping to tap the creativity of the public to find a name suitable for this important mission that will help enrich our knowledge of the universe.' said Doris Daou, an education and public outreach representative for the mission...."
Source: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/releases/2001/release_2001_183.html (Thanks to John Fleck)
British Scientists insist "End of the World is Nigh..."
The Guardian (UK) reports on Sept. 7th that "The end of the world really could be at hand, scientists warned yesterday, and there are a number of ways it could happen, the British Association science festival in Glasgow heard yesterday. A strange subatomic particle produced in an atom-smashing experiment could, in theory at least, tumble to the centre of the planet and start eating the globe from the inside out. Or a random quantum fluctuation in distant space could switch off the machinery that makes matter massive, a step which would trigger off a bubble of destruction that would advance at the speed of light, shutting down all creation in its path. Or a 1km wide asteroid could sweep in from the southern skies, hit Australia at 20kms a second and gouge out a crater 10km across, throwing huge lumps of rock into orbit. Forty-five minutes later, blazing fragments of Australia would begin to reduce Britain to ashes. ..."
Life on Mars?
Reuters reports from Budapest on Sept. 7th that "Hungarian scientists claimed on Friday to have found evidence of living organisms on Mars after analyzing 60,000 photographs taken by the Mars Global Surveyor probe. The three-man team said the pictures showed evidence of thousands of dark dune spots, similar to organisms found near Earth's South Pole, in craters in Mars' snowy southern polar region...."
"Altered States" conference coming to Albuquerque in November...
The "Altered States of Consciousness Conference" is slated for November 2-7, 2001, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and is billed as "An exploration of Enlightenment, Entheogens, Shamanism and Peak Experiences....Awakening Awareness through Sacred Technologies." You can tell where this conference is headed just by looking over the speaker list. One of the keynote speakers is Victor Sanchez, a self-described "anti-anthropologist from Mexico," and author of The Teachings of Don Carlos and The Toltec Path of Recapitulation: Healing Your Past to Free Your Soul. Other speakers include Russell Targ, former senior research physicist,Stanford Research Institute, who is giving a workshop on "Remote Viewing, Spiritual Healing and Expanded Awareness." You can attend the whole conference for a mere $745.00! My Inner Skeptic is telling me that that's just too much dough...
"Free Electricity" Tour headed to Albuquerque Sept. 17th...
You can catch Dennis Lee's Barnum-style show in just a few weeks. Lee claims to have devices that put out more power than is needed to run them, but it seems he only shows pieces of the device, never a complete standalone generator that needs no wall outlet or gasoline tank. Check out the NMSR page on Dennis Lee at http://www.nmsr.org/denislee.htm. The NMSR page has reviews of Lee's last two stops in Albuquerque, and links to other Lee pages. Check out a recent article about his Spokane visit at
Humphreys joins ICR - read about it in Acts and Facts...
As mentioned last week, Sandia physicist and prominent creationist Russell Humphreys is retiring from Sandia, and is joining the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) full-time. You can download the PDF file of ICR's Acts and Facts August newsletter on Humphreys by clicking this link:
This is NOT a regular Web page; you need to have a PDF file-reader like Adobe Acrobat to open the file. The newest Acts and Facts has an article on how ICR has joined with Answers in Genesis to pass out creation literature at a big NEA conference. Check it out at
New Age Creationists Ready to Clone Humans...
You've probably heard about the Raelian movement. They are targeting Manhattan now, as you can read in the Village Voice of August 29 - September 4, 2001. In an article titled "Clone Ranger," Rebecca Segall writes that "Dr. Brigitte Boissellier, a former biochemistry professor at Hamilton College in upstate New York, brought the Raelians much notoriety last month, insisting that despite heavy opposition to the idea of human cloning among bioethicists and throughout the scientific community, she will persevere in her attempts to clone human beings. Like all Raelians, Dr. Boissellier believes that advanced methods of human cloning will lead to immortality. After all, the Elohimaliens who created all life on earthbecame immortal this way.... As for the scientific community, Dr. Boissellier finds it easy to explain Raelianism's appeal. 'The more scientists look at the human genome and the more we see how sophisticated it is, the harder it becomes to believe that it all happened by chance through evolution,' she explains. 'So evolutionary theory is considered less and less viable among scientists, and more and more are joining the Raelians.' "
Read about the Raelian Account of Creation at:
Bigfoot is Back!
Two articles highlight the return of our favorite abominable snowman. The August 29th PRAVDA declares "BIGFOOTS FOOTPRINTS FOUND IN KYRGYZIA REPUBLIC," and notes that "The frontier guard of the mountainous Aktalinsky district of the republic of Kyrgyzia found the footprints of the unknown man-like creature...."
But wait, there's more! "Down to Earth" humorists Gavin Chafin and Steve Wood note on August 31st that "The mystery of Sasquatch may finally been solved thanks to a [Myrtle Beach,] South Carolina man who claims he is in possession of a Bigfoot corpse...."
Sharks attacks not really on increase this year...
The BBC reported on August 20th that "George Burgess, director of the International Shark Attack Files at the University of Florida, said that the number of attacks this year is actually nothing unusual - if anything, the overall yearly figure is likely to be lower than last year. Instead, he said that two highly publicised cases have fuelled interest in shark attacks, and since then almost every incident, however minor, has been reported. On 6 July, eight-year-old Jessie Arbogast had his arm bitten off by a bull shark in knee-deep water in the Gulf of Mexico. He remains in a coma. And earlier this month, two New York bankers were attacked in the Bahamas, with one, Krishna Thompson, losing his leg. But the other recent incidents have been fairly minor, and while Mr Burgess was quick to extend his sympathy to the victims, he said that according to the statistics, this year is nothing special. 'It's a media frenzy not a feeding frenzy,' he said."
Astrology gets Accreditation in Arizona...
A CSICOP press release from August 30th gives the details...
Amherst, NY (August 30, 2001)-Is the Astrological Institute in Scottsdale, Arizona, a Leo or a Virgo? The school received its new nationwide accreditation from the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT) earlier this month-an apparent first in astrology.
The institute's founder, Joyce Jensen, is elated; science organizations like the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP), however, see the recognition as a blow to the integrity of higher education.
The Astrological Institute offers full degrees in this ancient Babylonian art of divination, which is based on the premise that the positions of stars and planets affect people's personalities and fates. Belief in the practice persists despite the lack of any reliable scientific evidence that it actually works, according to Andrew Fraknoi, who is a CSICOP fellow and chair of the astronomy department at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, California. "Although astrologers like to pretend such evidence does exist," says Fraknoi, "astrology has in fact been tested in dozens of excellent scientific trials, and it has consistently failed them. There's simply no evidence that astrology works-that it predicts anything or categorizes people in any way that can be used to help them."
Commenting on the Astrological Institute's accreditation in a recent Associated Press story, Judith Eaton, who heads the Council for Higher Education Accreditation in Washington, DC, said that the accreditation does not validate astrology, but only recognizes that the school fulfills its promises to students. ... The nationwide accreditation of the institute takes astrology out of the realm of evening workshops at the local high school and "entertainment" horoscopes. In practical terms, as Dr. Fraknoi fears, the recognition elevates the subject to the same level as any other program at any other college or university. Accreditation will open the doors to student financial aid and grants paid for by federal tax dollars. It will also professionalize a lucrative business where, according to Jensen, astrologers charge clients between $100 and $150 per visit. By seeking the stamp of approval for the teaching of a vocation, the Astrology Institute has deftly shifted the question away from the qualifications of astrology to the qualifications of the astrologer.
Source: CSICOP Announcement <CSICOP-ANNOUNCE@LISTSERV.AOL.COM>
We have more genes than was recently announced...
Figures of a mere 30,000 genes in the human genome may be a little shy. Read about it at Nature,
http://www.nature.com/nsu/010830/010830-4.html, and in the Washington Post,
City/County sued over "carcinogenic electromagnetic fields"...
Former City Councilor Sam Bregman is suing Albuquerque and Bernalillo county because he says they are responsible for his clients' cancers. The alleged culprit? "Electromagnetic Fields" (EMF's).
Read the Albuquerque Tribune's story on Bregman and
Then read NMSR's new feature article on this story:
The Bottom Line: This could be the plot for the re-make of Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing."
Doubts plague "Miracle" credited to the late Mother Theresa...
The Observer reported on August 19th that "Until recently she was not even a Christian, let alone a Catholic. She cannot read, does not know her precise age, and comes from one of India's most backward, miserable and downtrodden communities. But Monika Besra - a tribal woman from West Bengal and mother of five - is about to play a starring role in the most compelling posthumous inquiry to hit the Vatican in decades, if not centuries."
University of Massachusetts scientists develop HIGH-RESOLUTION dating method...
The University Of Massachusetts At Amherst (http://www.umass.edu/) said on August 8th that "A team of University of Massachusetts geologists is exploring a new way to determine the ages of ancient rocks, and refining our understanding of the timing and rates of the geologic events that have shaped the planet. The new method offers greater efficiency, and access to a much more detailed geologic record than current dating methods, the scientists say. ... The new techniques, dubbed 'high-resolution age mapping and microprobe dating,' involve the analysis of monazite, a mineral that is present in many rocks but typically in such small quantities that it is rarely noticed in geologic studies. It is widely used in radiometric dating because it contains significant amounts of the elements thorium and uranium, which decay to the element lead at a known rate. 'Monazite essentially provides us with a stopwatch, for timing geologic events in different areas of rocks,' Williams said. One of the projects major breakthroughs is the recognition that even single crystals of monazite, as small as several hundredths of a millimeter, can grow in increments over time, adding new material when mineral-forming events occur in the Earths crust. Using the electron microprobe, the age of each layer can be determined and interpreted in terms of the samples history."
Were visions at the Oracle of Delphi caused by gases?
The Geological Society Of America (http://www.geosociety.org/) reports on August 7th that "De Boer and colleagues found ethane, methane, and ethylene in spring water near the Oracle. The euphoric effects of ethylene, which had been used as anesthesia in the last century, jibe very well with Plutarch's description of the gas the Pythia inhaled..."
Saucer Smear covers Socorro UFO, Doty "Falcon" denial...
NMSR president Dave Thomas appears not once but twice in the latest Saucer Smear (Aug. 4th, 2001), in articles and letters regarding the Surveyor explanation for the 1964 Socorro UFO incident, and Richard Doty's denial that he is the mysterious "Falcon." Hats off to Commander James Moseley!
Conservative Front Page Magazine's Robert Locke endorses the Evolution Deniers...
Locke reviews Michael Dentons Evolution: A Theory in Crisis and Michael J. Behes Darwins Black Box, and finds that "Evolution is not a fraud being perpetrated upon the public, but it is a theory that has far too many problems to be treated as something that everyone is obliged to believe in on pain of being classified as a fool, as if it were the claim that the earth goes around the sun. Its credibility will continue to wane (or wax) with additional developments in biology over the coming years..."
Has the Taos Hum left New Mexico, and moved to Germany?
Yahoo Asia reports on August 22nd that "Hundreds of people in Germany's southwest are being driven to distraction by a mysterious nocturnal buzzing noise -- seriously enough for the local authorities to decide to investigate the matter scientifically..."
"Piltdown Man" and "Shroud of Turin" Debunker Dies at 77...
The AP reported on August 21st that "E.T. Hall, the Oxford University professor who exposed the hoax of Piltdown Man and joined an international effort to date the Shroud of Turin, died Aug. 11. He was age 77."
Has the CIA found Noah's Ark? Are they covering it up?
Alien Zoo happily reported on August 24th that "the CIA has de-classified what it terms 'an interim release of documents' concerning 'the possible remains of Noah's Ark on Mt. Ararat, Turkey'."
Fred Hoyle, who coined the term "Big Bang" but didn't accept it, is dead...
Reuters reported on August 21st that "Fred Hoyle, the English astronomer credited with coining the phrase 'Big Bang' to describe academic theory on the creation of the cosmos, has died, British newspapers reported Wednesday. He was 86....He challenged the belief that a huge explosion 12,000 million years ago caused the cosmos, ironically giving the theory a name which would last, the 'Big Bang.' "
Physicists create "doubly strange" matter...
The BBC reports on August 22nd that "Physicists created atomic nuclei containing two strange quarks at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in the United States. Since the 1960s, only a handful of such particles have been detected and then only in small quantities."
Just for Fun...USA TODAY declares Canada and Mexico to be "Overseas" from the United States!
But the original Aug. 22nd graphic has been changed, alas! Perhaps USA Today didn't enjoy being skewered by www.fark.com on August 23rd. The original graphic clearly implied that Canadians and Mexicans live "overseas" from the U.S.A., but now the only evidence is in the URL (link address) itself. I will be archiving the next gaffe like this that comes along before they take it away...
Jupiter-sized planet found orbiting a faint nearby star similar to our Sun...
And it's got a circular orbit too, as does another planet in the same system. (orbiting the star 47 Ursae Majoris in the Big Dipper, also known as Ursa Major or the Big Bear). "For the first time we have detected two planets in nearly circular orbits around the same star," said team member Debra Fischer of the University of California at Berkeley.
List of extrasolar planets on the Web: http://www.exoplanets.org
Anti-Gravity and Superconductors at Los Alamos?
A new abstract at the LANL archive site describes an "Impulse Gravity Generator," and says "The observed phenomenon appears to be absolutely new and unprecedented in the literature. It cannot be understood in the framework of general relativity. A theory is proposed which combines a quantum gravity approach with anomalous vacuum fluctuations."
CBN rallies troops against upcoming Nova/PBS Evolution special...
Paul Strand of the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), home to Pat Robertson's 700 Club, commented on August 15th that "next month PBS presents an eight-part series on evolution that reportedly presents it as hard fact without any time given to any alternative viewpoint. That peeves one sidewalk critic, who resents his tax dollars going to propagate the evolution-doctrine. 'I pay for PBS and, you know, evolution is not a fact. You know, you can't have scientific fact about the distant past. It's impossible. So that bothers me when they spend my money... or when I go to a museum or zoo, and they just present it as fact. That bothers me,' he said. "
"Intelligent Design" leader Phillip Johnson suffers a stroke....
Access Research Network reports that "On Friday, July 13, 2001, Phil Johnson suffered a stroke. He is currently undergoing rehabilitation therapy, and hopes to return to his normal activities soon."
Pro "Intelligent Design" teacher Rodney LeVake may appeal his case to the U.S. Supreme Court...
World Magazine reports in their Aug. 18th issue that LeVake "said school administrators pulled him from the class mid-semester after questioning him about his Christian faitheven though he repeatedly told them he would not teach creationism. The Minnesota State Supreme Court refused his appeal, and his next stop may be the U.S. Supreme Court. "This is about whether a Christian can teach biology and whether Darwinism can be criticized."
UFO's get Political...
The AP reported on Aug. 11th that Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura recently commented on UFO's, saying "You look at the vast array of stars up there and we're to believe we're the only life?'' Gov. Jesse Ventura said Friday. ``I don't think so. ... There's got to be somebody else out there.''
Not to outdone by Jesse "The Body" Ventura, conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh waded into the fray with comments. As reported on Aug. 8th by Billy Cox of Florida Today, "$120 million gasbag Rush Limbaugh decided that no attack on the Bush clan - not even those related to UFOs - should get a free pass. Limbaugh drew a bead on Daniel Sheehan,chief counsel for the Disclosure Project, a group of former government, military and corporate types who gathered in Washington, D.C., on May 9 to lobby Congress for open hearings on the UFO phenomenon. ... Media coverage of the witness testimony was scant and yawning. Three months after the press conference, letter-writing campaigns haven't generated many blips on political radar screens. Senate heavies like Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) brush off constituents with form-letter replies referring all queries to the long-dead Project Blue Book archives. Lesser-known rubber stamps like Sen. James Imhofe (R-Okla.), who support pouring billions of dollars into National Missile Defense, write that 'it would be irresponsible to spend taxpayer money on hearings and legislation related to such phenomena.' So, obviously, if you're just another brick in the wall, the smart thing to do is let this Disclosure Project thing die a slow, natural death. But then, along comes Limbaugh - you know, the guy with talent on loan from God? With half his brain tied behind his back? On the cutting edge of societal revolution? Limbaugh makes an issue of Sheehan's charge that President-elect Carter's attempts to honor a campaign pledge to declassify UFOs were stymied by then-CIA director George Bush in 1976. 'So let me get this straight,' Limbaugh says. 'The Bushes are at the heart of the vast right-wing conspiracy to keep the oil companies rich by hiding extraterrestrial solar panels or super-warm sweaters or whatever it is they showed Jimmy Carter....' "
The Dark and Light Sides of Home Schooling...
Dean Schabner of ABCNews.com reports on Aug. 10th that "Five youngsters are drowned by their mother in their bathtub. Three teenagers are killed in a murder-suicide. A 14-year-old runner-up from a previous year wins a national spelling bee. A Web search for 'home schooling' would have turned up all of these stories. ... Home schooling, which has boomed in popularity over the last decade, is still the subject of debate among educators and psychologists. ..."
Russell Humphreys will be joining ICR full-time in October....
As reported in a recent Acts and Facts (a publication of the Institute for Creation Research, ICR), Dr. Russell Humphreys will be retiring from Sandia National Labs, and taking a full-time position with the ICR. NMSR representatives Dave Thomas and Kim Johnson met with the local creationist group Humphreys belongs to, CSFNM, on Tuesday, Aug. 14th, and learned from CSFNM reps Mark Burton and Jerry Corryell that Humphreys will remain in Albuquerque, and will also still be active with Answers in Genesis.
Source: Post-Debate Lunch at Applebee's, 8-14-2001
Kent Hovind proclaims himself to be the "Hulk Hogan" of Creationists...
NOT FOR THE TIMID!! Click on these links at the risk of your very sanity!
Translate your dogs barks (?!?) ...
I don't know how they validated that the system works, but that's not stopping sales in Japan...
Gore's Earth-Observing Satellite Grounded ...
ABC and the AP reported on Aug. 9th that "Al Gore's Earth-observing satellite will go into mothballs while waiting for a lift into space, officials say..."
Are UFO's Turkeys? Or just seen there?
ABC reports on August 8th that UFO's have been seen flying over the Aegean Sea.
Miss Cleo gets Fined...
The Washington Post and AP reported on August 8th that "A television psychic hot line has been ordered to pay a $75,000 fine for violating Missouri's no-call law, the state attorney general said Wednesday."
Full story: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/aponline/20010808/aponline134638_000.htm
Lightning Bolts enhance Lateral Gene Transfer.. may accelerate evolution!
If you eat a hamburger, chances are you won't grow horns and start mooing. Not so for tiny bacteria, which can actually incorporate the genes of their lunch. This "Lateral Gene Transfer" is pretty interesting stuff. It is accelerated by good old Lightning Bolts from the Blue, according to the 1 August Nature.
NMSR Meeting, Aug. 8th speaker Karl Pflock make the News...
Our next speaker, Karl Pflock, is already making waves with his new book, "Roswell: Inconvenient Facts and the Will to Believe" (Prometheus Books). Copies of the book will be available for $25 at the Aug. 8th meeting. In the meantime, check out some of the coverage Karl is receiving in the media...
http://www.abqjournal.com/roswell/roswell07-31-01.htm (John Fleck, Albuquerque Journal)
http://www.abqtrib.com/archives/news01/080201_news_nelson.shtml (Kate Nelson, Albuquerque Tribune)
(Valencia County News-Bulletin)
http://news-bulletin.com/section/letters/story/3154 (Valencia County News-Bulletin)
Plus, Karl is slated to appear on NBC's Today Show on Monday, Aug. 6th, 8:00 AM!
Senators Domenici and Bingaman trying to reduce Polygraph testing by DOE...
Maria Cranor of the Albuquerque Tribune wrote on August 1st that "U.S. Sens. Pete Domenici and Jeff Bingaman have introduced legislation to reform current Department of Energy polygraphing practices at the agency's national laboratories. Domenici was a vocal opponent of Congress' decision to expand polygraph testing in the DOE's nuclear weapons labs last year. The expanded program, introduced to strengthen security at the labs, will require administering the tests to 5,000 or more DOE employees. In the aftermath of that decision, critics inside and outside the labs have increasingly questioned the scientific validity of the tests. 'Morale within the DOE nuclear laboratories and plants is declining, in part because of the implementation of the polygraph policy,' Domenici, an Albuquerque Republican, said. 'These tests are simply not viewed as scientifically credible by many lab employees.' "
Sen. Bingaman's Press release:
http://www.senate.gov/~bingaman/Press_Files/press_files.html then click "View All News by Date"
Dinosaurs get a Nose Job..
It's the cover story of the Aug. 3rd issue of Science. Seems their noses weren't perched near the top of their heads after all....
John Allen Paulos takes on Placebo Effect and Politics...
Paulos muses over the recent report critical of the "placebo effect," and about its relation to politics, especially in the areas of "curing" homosexuals, global warming, missile defense, and good ol' creationism. Paulos writes "There are many other examples, most notably the opposition between evolutionary theory and so-called creation science and the topical issues that umm stem from this opposition. Many people believe in creation science so much that they would force its inclusion in high school biology curricula. Oddly enough, these proponents of creationism also cite 'the incomplete state of scientific knowledge,' which increasingly seems to be a prelude to a willful ignoring of accepted science. Some of the resistance to stem cell research is of this deliberate know-nothing variety. Despite the enormous complexity of these varied issues, one lesson should be clear. Although science is tentative, scientific facts are stubborn (and nonpartisan), and believing that one can will what these facts should be is the height of hubris. Placebos work about as well in politics as they do in healthcare."
President Bush finds error in Fermilab's calculation of Tau Lepton Paths...
Don't take my word for it - read the article!
(Thanks to John Fleck for the tip!)
God-Man Sai Baba caught pulling pants down...
A July 25th articls by Salon's Michelle Goldberg discusses India's Sai Baba, "One of the most powerful holy men in India." Goldberg notes that "Somewhere between 10 million and 50 million people worship Sai Baba as God incarnate, and they stream into Puttaparthi from six continents, sleeping in one of the ashram's 10,000 beds or at one of the town's many guesthouses. Meanwhile, the growing number of ex-devotees who decry their former master as a sexual harasser, a fraud and even a pedophile has hardly put a dent in his following, though their voices are getting louder. ... In an online essay called 'Sai Baba and Sex: A Clear View,' an American devotee named Ram Das Awle says, 'First of all, I believe that Sathya Sai Baba is an Avatar, a full incarnation of God ... AND, from what I've read and heard, I'm inclined to think some of the allegations about Baba are probably true: It appears likely to me that He has occasionally had sexually intimate interactions with devotees.' After several rambling paragraphs, the essay concludes that Sai Baba touches men to awaken their 'kundalini' energy or to remove previous bad sexual karma, and that 'any sexual contact Baba has had with devotees -- of whatever kind -- has actually been only a potent blessing, given to awaken the spiritual power within those souls. Who can call that 'wrong'? Surely to call such contact 'molestation' is perversity itself.' "
Holocaust Denier David Irving loses appeal...
Yahoo reported from London on July 20th that "Historian David Irving, who questioned the extent of the Holocaust, on Friday lost his bid to challenge an earlier ruling that branded him an anti-Semitic racist and an apologist for Hitler. Irving now faces bankruptcy if he does not quickly pay the first installment in a legal bill estimated at close to $3 million. Three judges at the Court of Appeal ruled that High Court judge Charles Gray was justified in labeling Irving a Holocaust denier 15 months ago."
Why didn't Psychic Miss Cleo know she was going to be sued?
USA Today reported on July 25th that "Missouri's attorney general has filed lawsuits against a television psychic hot line for allegedly violating the state's no-call law and consumer fraud. 'Miss Cleo should have seen this coming,' Attorney General Jay Nixon said. 'It doesn't take a crystal ball to realize that ripping off consumers isn't without consequences.' ... Speaking with a Caribbean accent, Miss Cleo appears in national television commercials promising insights into love, money and other personal matters. ....Nixon said Missourians were billed for free services and that the company misrepresented reduced rates and waiver fees. For example, customers spent three minutes on the phone providing information including a name, address and phone number then were charged for time spent on hold waiting to speak with a psychic. Missouri residents who never requested the service, including deceased people, have received bills for Miss Cleo's services, Nixon said. [Miss Cleo's lawyer Sean] Moynihan said telephone companies are responsible for billing, not the company."
Big Bolide seen on East Coast
Big metoeors called bolides come a-calling on Planet Earth two to three times a month, but most are not seen by many people. That was not the case on July 23rd, when a large chunk of stuff produced a huge light show from New York to Virginia. ABC News reported on the bolide on July 24th. In that article, U.S. Naval Observatory spokesman Geoff Chester says "This is a random piece of rock that happened to have the misfortune of being in the same part of space occupied by the Earth at the same time," Chester said. "In this particular case, the Earth won."
see also http://dailynews.yahoo.com/htx/nm/20010723/sc/life_sightings_dc_3.html
Galapagos sea lions slaughtered!
The BBC reported on July 19th that "Environmental authorities are outraged after discovering the bodies of at least 35 sea lions on Ecuador's Galapagos Islands which had their genitals and teeth removed - apparently to make aphrodisiacs. The dead sea lions were found along the beaches of San Cristobal Island, where hunting and fishing is prohibited in order to preserve Galapagos' ecosystem. All of the animals had fractured skulls and were missing teeth. The males' sexual organs had been removed."
Special Powder sucks the water right out of a storm...
Amanda Riddle of the Associated Press reports on July 19th that "A powder touted as a potential way to weaken hurricanes sucked the moisture out of a thunderstorm Thursday in its latest test. An airplane dropped $40,000 worth of the Dyn-O-Gel granules into a cloud 10 miles offshore. A television station's weather radar confirmed the cloud then lost moisture. 'The people in the tower visually confirmed that there was a tall buildup and the next moment it was gone,' said Kevin Sullivan, control tower supervisor at the Palm Beach International Airport. The granules, made by a company called Dyn-O-Mat, fell into the ocean as a gel-like substance that dissolves in salt water."
Flares or UFO? Move over Phoenix... here comes New Jersey!
Dean Schabner of ABCNews.com reports on July 19th that "A set of golden lights hovering silently in the night sky in a 'V' formation stopped traffic on the New Jersey Turnpike, but were the drivers seeing visitors from outer space or just a set of military flares flaming out? ... To some, the description sounded very much like the so-called Phoenix Lights, another V formation that appeared in the sky near Phoenix in March 1997. Like the apparition in New Jersey, the Phoenix lights were caught on videotape."
California EMF Study: EMF's are "Bad." They're BAD!
The Mercury News reported on July 13th that "In a move that could reopen the debate over the possible health risks of electromagnetic fields, California public health officials issued a report Friday saying such fields may put people at slightly higher risk for miscarriages and other health problems. The study, by the state Department of Health Services, is preliminary, and researchers stressed that findings are not conclusive. But the analysis carries a stronger warning of possible health risks than many other earlier studies into electromagnetic fields (EMFs). ... the public shouldn't panic or avoid electrical sources, said Thomas McKone, a professor in the department of public health at the University of California-Berkeley, who was one of the scientists to review the report. 'It's very hard to determine low-level risk,' he said. 'If something has an effect like one-in-a-million rate, it's really hard to figure out.'"
NM is the only state that allows polygraphs in court!
The www.howstuffworks.com website reports that "Polygraphs are rarely admissible in court. New Mexico is the only state in the United States that allows for open admissibility of polygraph exam results. Every other state requires some type of stipulation to be met prior to admitting polygraph exams into record. In most cases, both sides of a legal case have to agree prior to the trial that they will allow polygraphs to be admitted. On the federal level, the admissibility criteria are much more vague and admission typically depends on the approval of the judge."
Why Barry Bonds won't break the homer record, and Placebos Too!
Jordan Ellenberg of Slate.com reports on July 12th that "... Barry Bonds isn't going to hit 72 home runs for the same reason that there might be no such thing as the placebo effect. ... What happens to the untreated patients in clinical trials, and what's going to happen to Barry Bonds, is a phenomenon called "regression to the mean," and it's been a basic principle of observational statistics ever since Francis Galton noticed in 1877 that the offspring of sweet peas tended to be closer to average size than their parents were. "
Thanks to John Fleck for the referral.
Matter / Antimatter differences confirmed for largest particles yet...
A Stanford University press release from July 13th notes that "An international collaboration of physicists conducting experiments at the Department of Energy's Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) has discovered a second fundamental difference between the behavior of matter and that of antimatter. They observed this intriguing phenomenon -- known as charge-parity (CP) violation and first seen decades ago in experiments with another [much smaller] particle -- in disintegrations of heavy, short-lived subatomic particles called B mesons. The collaboration reported its result in a paper submitted July 5 for publication in Physical Review Letters, a leading scientific journal. ... The mysterious phenomenon of CP violation was first discovered in a 1964 experiment ... [involving] subatomic particles called K mesons, which are about one tenth as heavy as B mesons and live much longer ... Several observations of CP violation have since occurred in experiments with K mesons. But until the recent BABAR discovery, no other subatomic particles had clearly exhibited this exceedingly rare phenomenon. Having this second striking example of CP violation should aid theorists trying to understand what causes it."
Fastest Clock Yet!
Does your boss rattle your cage if you're two seconds late to work? What if he or she could measure down to millionths of billionths of a second? A cutting edge atomic clock, based on atomic vibrations of a single mercury atom, could make that feasible. You shouldn't worry too much yet -- the new clock built at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (http://www.nist.gov/) in Boulder, Colo takes up a whole room, and probably costs a little more than even the nicest Rolex. The new clock loses a second in about 30 billion years, as reported on July 12th by ABC News.
There's Water in Them Thar Stellar Systems....
AP Science Writer Paul Recer writes on July 12th that "In a glimpse of the ultimate fate of the solar system,astronomers have found that the blazing death of a distant star is melting its orbiting icy comets and creating a cloud of water vapor. Astronomers at a news conference Wednesday said that the finding, by an orbiting observatory, strengthens the theory that there may be life-supporting planets elsewhere in the universe. ... Melnick said the discovery marks the first time a solar-system type of water cloud has been found around a star other than the sun."
PS: Hmmm... seems I recall former State Board of Education member, and Sandia physicist Roger X. Lenard, saying that "...the Big Bang model cannot explain the ubiquity of water as a consequence of post Bang nucleosynthesis." See http://www.swcp.com/creation/essay2a.htm for all the details. Hmmm...
Alan Hale returns from Eclipse/Comet trip to Africa...
Astronomer Alan Hale (of Comet Hale-Bopp fame) has returned from his trip to Africa. He says "I've got reports, comments, and photographs posted at http://www.swisr.org/africa_ast.html (astronomical photographs and CCD images) and at http://www.swisr.org/africa_nonast.html (non-astronomical photographs). Alternately, you can go to my main site at http://www.swisr.org and click on the appropriate links. You'll note on my astronomical photo page that I managed to get a decent photograph of Comet LINEAR, which has been a relatively decent object for the past few weeks -- although not as decent as a certain comet that was around, say, a little over four years ago." However, attemps to photograph comets during the eclipse itself were not successful, due to a dearth of comets.
5-million-year-old hominid ancestor?
Willow Lawson of ABCNews.com reported on July 11th that "Teeth and bone fragments from the oldest fossil ever found in the human family tree reveal that our ancestors walked on two legs more than 5 million years ago and perhaps even millions of years earlier, a team of international scientists announced today. ... Fossilized remnants of the animal, classified as Ardipithecus ramidus kadabba, indicate it was about the size of a modern chimpanzee, says Yohannes Haile-Selassie, a graduate student from the University of California, Berkeley that made the find along with colleagues."
Herbal Supplements may Impair Surgery...
ABC News reported on July 10th that " In a report in Wednesday's Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers warn that commonly used herbal medications may cause serious problems in patients during surgery and that more doctors need to know what herbal medications their patients are taking before the operation. ... 'Many of these herbs can interfere with bodily functions and can cause complications, even death,' says University of Chicago researcher Jonathan Moss, one of the study's authors. The study, a review of 35 years of published research, shows how: gingko biloba, ginseng and garlic, which thin the blood, may cause internal bleeding during and after surgery; ephedra, often used for weight loss, may disrupt heart rate and blood pressure during an operation; kava and valerian, taken as tranquilizers, may prolong the effects of anesthesia; St. John's wort, used as an antidepressant, may weaken the effects of surgical drugs."
See Also http://jama.ama-assn.org/issues/current/abs/jrv10013.html
NM Dinosaurs in the News!
New dinosaur species from New Mexico's Zuni Basin have been making international news. See the reports below for more.
Amateur Egyptologist Maureen Clemmons floats new theory on building of Pyramids...
David Wright of ABCNews reports on June 24th that " It's one of the world's greatest mysteries how did the ancient Egyptians build the pyramids? It's as vexing as the riddle of the Sphinx. And the truth is, no one really knows. But amateur Egyptologist Maureen Clemmons has a theory. She thinks the Egyptians may have used kites. 'If you look at the top center of every monument, you see wings,' Clemmons said. 'I think the Egyptians have been trying to tell us in pictures for 3,000 years that this is how they built the pyramids.'...Cal Tech students have been working at lifting heavy objects with kites and pulleys. "We're using one kite in 15-mile-per-hour winds to lift up a three-and-a-half ton block," said Caltech student Emilio Castano. But skeptics of the new theory say otherwise. "There's absolutely no evidence for kites in ancient Egypt," said Professor Carol Redmount of the University of California at Berkeley. "There's no evidence of pulleys as we know them today."
Missing Solar Neutrinos Explained!
Queen's University (http://www.queensu.ca) reported on June 18th that "Physicists from Canada, the U.K. and the U.S. are today announcing that their first results provide a solution to a 30-year old mystery -- the puzzle of the missing solar neutrinos. The Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO) finds that the solution lies not with the Sun, but with the neutrinos, which change as they travel from the core of the Sun to the Earth. 'We now have high confidence that the discrepancy is not caused by problems with the models of the Sun but by changes in the neutrinos themselves as they travel from the core of the Sun to the earth,' says Dr. Art McDonald, SNO Project Director and Professor of Physics at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario."
Ancient Gene May Be Involved In Male Infertility...
The University Of California, San Francisco (http://www.ucsf.edu/) reported on June 20th that "UCSF researchers have discovered a human gene that can be traced back through the mouse to the fly, illuminating a molecular nugget from ancient times that may play a crucial role in male fertility - and infertility. The researchers suspect that the gene, known as BOULE,participates in the creation of sperm at a stage of development known as meiosis (which occurs only in the development of sperm and egg). When the like gene is deleted in the fly, a process similar to meiotic function is disrupted, preventing sperm development, and thereby causing male infertility...."
Researchers Find The "North Pole" Of The Molecular World
The University Of Rochester (http://www.rochester.edu) reported on June 22nd that "Researchers have devised a method to determine the alignment of a molecule's axis, the 'poles' that govern how a molecule will interact with others. The advancement will help scientists and engineers predict the ways that atoms and molecules exchange energy, possibly enhancing solar energy devices or helping biochemists better understand proteins. The research, appearing in the June 4 issue of Physical Review Letters, shows how a tightly-focused laser employing a new kind of polarization can produce valuable images of individual molecules in three dimensions. The new method takes a snapshot of a phenomenon called the 'molecular dipole moment.' ..."
Mobile Phone Companies Patent 'Brain Shields'
The BBC reported on 11 June that "Mobile phone companies have been developing their own devices to reduce the amount of radiation absorbed by the brain. The industry's official line is that there is no proven link between mobile phones and health problems. However, patents unearthed by US campaigners suggest that the biggest companies - Nokia, Ericsson and Motorola, have been working on 'protective' devices for a large part of the last decade."
Want to Play with Anagrams?
Phil Plait has done a great job of chronicling the foibles and follies of FOX TV's silly Moon Landing Hoax show at his internet site, http://www.badastronomy.com/. Now Phil has stumbled upon a very neat anagram site, which promptly showed him the letters in "The Bad Astronomer" could be rearranged to form "MOON TRASH DEBATER." I plugged in "New Mexicans Science Reason" (there's a 26-letter limit), and quickly found the comical rearrangment "CAINE CREW MESS NIXON SEANCE." Try it out!
source : http://www.wordsmith.org/anagram/advanced.html
Mobile phones may foil stealth bombers...
The news came out on June 14th in the states, but it's been news for a week or so elsewhere....the upshot is that powerful computers can process signals so fast, that they can be used to analyze signals already in the air (say, from cell telephone transmitters), and detect objects moving through the waves, such as aircraft... even stealth aircraft. It's safe to say the Pentagon is more than a little nervous about this one...
source : http://www.smh.com.au/news/0106/12/world/world2.html (June 12, Sydney Morning Herald)
Lots of Vitamin C may not be nice for your DNA...
AP Science Writer Paul Recer writes on June 14th that "In a test tube experiment analyzing the action of vitamin C, University of Pennsylvania researchers found that the nutrient can act as a catalyst to help make a toxin that wounds DNA, the body's genetic code. The study appears Friday in the journal Science."
source : http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/aponline/20010614/aponline140111_000.htm
Oxford Dictionary honors Homer Simpson...
Yes, it's official. Homer Simpson's trademark "DOH!" is now officially part of the English Language, at least for those who go by the Oxford English Dictionary. Some other news terms have been added, including "FULL MONTY."
source : http://abcnews.go.com/sections/us/DailyNews/dictionary010614.html, June 14th.
Scientists using dark side of moon to measure global warming...
Lee Dye of ABC News reports on .June 14th that Cal Tech has teamed with the New Jersey Institute of Technology to make sensitive measurements of the energy reflected from the earth, using the dark side of the moon as their collector. Dye notes that "Right out of the barrel, the experiment produced some surprising results. 'We have found surprisingly large up to 20 percent seasonal variations in Earths reflectance,' says Philip R. Goode, leader of the New Jersey team and director of the Big Bear Solar Observatory. Everyone expected some seasonal variation, because the amount of ice, snow and cloud cover changes with the seasons, but Koonin says the variation was four or five times larger than had been expected."
source : http://abcnews.go.com/sections/scitech/DyeHard/Dyehard.html
He's BAAAAAACK.... Dennis Lee to Return to Albuquerque on 17 September, 2001
"Free Electricity" promoter Dennis Lee still hasn't installed any "Over-Unity" electric generators anywhere, but that's not stopping him from organizing another tour of the country to enlist financial backers for his products. The Albuquerque stop is scheduled for Monday, 17 September 2001.
source : http://www.jeffry.com/technology/bwt/free_electricity/tour.htm
NMSR's page on Dennis Lee's previous tours: http://www.nmsr.org/denislee.htm
Mammoths and other Large Mammals were Hunted to Extinction...
The University of California at Santa Barbara reported on 7 June that "Woolly mammoths, giant armadillos and three species of camels were among more than 30 mammals that were hunted to extinction by North American humans 13,000 to 12,000 years ago, according to the most realistic, sophisticated computer model to date. The news is reported in the June 8 issue of the journal Science."
source : http://www.eurekalert.org/releases/ucsb-hhm060701.html
Number of Observed Asteroid Belts Doubles?
Science Daily reported on 8 June that "UCLA astronomers have found evidence of a massive asteroid belt around a nearby star - findings that could indicate that planets are forming there or have already formed. The observations, reported June 4 at the annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society by UCLA graduate student Christine Chen and her advisor, Michael Jura, reveal that a star identified as zeta Leporis (HR 1998) is enveloped by swirling dust in quantities and at temperatures that indicate a massive asteroid belt could surround the star."
source : http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/06/010605074903.htm
Bob Park takes ABC News to Task over Albuquerque Breast Cancer Cluster...
The 8 June edition of Park's "What's New" column (American Physical Society) states "Three older men, working in the same office in Albuquerque, NM, came down with breast cancer. Male breast cancer is a fairly rare disease, suggesting a possible environmental cause. Monday, they appeared on ABC Good Morning America, with their lawyers, to discuss what Diane Sawyer called a "chilling medical mystery." Guess what? They solved the mystery. It had to be the electromagnetic fields from a power vault next to their office. Never mind that other offices have power vaults and no male breast cancer. There was no statistician on the show to discuss clustering, no cancer researcher to discuss the results of epidemiological studies (WN 4 Jul 97) and no scientist to explain why EMF at power line frequencies cannot create mutant strands of DNA."
source : http://www.aps.org/WN/WN01/wn060801.html
Gallup Poll shows Belief in Paranormal is On the Rise...
The 8 June poll shows that "half or more of Americans believe in two of the issues: psychic or spiritual healing, and extrasensory perception (ESP), and a third or more believe in such things as haunted houses, possession by the devil, ghosts, telepathy, extraterrestrial beings having visited earth, and clairvoyance." Belief in extraterrestrial visitation rose from 27% to 33%.
source : http://www.gallup.com/poll/releases/pr010608.asp
Are 400 French Sociologists Wrong about Astrology?
Probably not! They have signed a petition urging inquiry into the pending doctoral degree for sociologist Elizabeth Teissier, whose thesis defends astrology. The 2 June report in the New York Times notes that "According to her critics, Ms. Teissier's thesis is simply not social science. 'I've read the whole thing,' said Dominique Desjeux, a sociologist at the Sorbonne. 'It's the testimony of somebody who is a well-known astrologer and writes about her experiences. She cites letters from ordinary people as well as testimony from Mitterrand. There is no sociology.' Bernard Lahire, a sociologist at the École Normale Supérieure de Lettres et Sciences Humaines in Lyon and director of the group charged with reviewing the thesis, agreed. 'There is no trace of empirical fact or research method,' he wrote via e-mail. 'The idea hammered home from beginning to end of the document is that astrology is the victim of domination. That science, which is renamed `official science' or `monolithic thought,' oppresses astrology.' "
source : http://www.nytimes.com/2001/06/02/arts/02ASTR.html
And It's Been a Bad Week for the Royal Astrologer in Nepal, too...
The Sydney Morning Herald reported on 7 June that "A Nepalese royal astrologer has confessed that the massacre of the royal family in a hail of bullets had been unforeseen. 'No-one expected it,' the court astrologer, Mangal Raj Joshi, said. 'I am not able to explain what happened, but it is terrible. Heavenly planets control the situation on the ground and sometimes we are unable to explain them adequately.' "
source : http://www.smh.com.au/news/0106/07/world/world9.html
Big Dead Dino makes the News
The AAAS announced on 1 June that "The partial skeleton of a massive sauropod dinosaur, unearthed at an Egyptian site that its discoverers call "dinosaur heaven," makes its debut in the 1 June issue of the international journal Science. Dubbed Paralititan stromeri, the dinosaur is one of the largest ever discovered from the Cretaceous period (about 146 to 65 million years ago) in Africa, and may be the second most massive dinosaur ever found."
source : http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/06/010601081848.htm
John Allen Paulos takes on the Law of Averages
The 1 June column by Paulos, on the ABC News site, begins by saying " Education statistics are a hot topic and, as usual, they are being spun left and right." Paulos examines the Sex Discrimination Paradox and Course Load Paradox in detail, noting a "closer look at charges of sex discrimination revealed a misunderstanding about the proportion of women admitted to a university's graduate schools."
source : http://abcnews.go.com/sections/scitech/WhosCounting/whoscounting.html
Evolution is Faster than you Think!
A 1 June news release from Louisiana State University notes "By studying genetic data and fossil records of a common California snail, biologists from Louisiana State University and the University of California, San Diego have found that a change in a species' territory can bring on rapid morphological, or structural, evolutionary changes. Assistant professor Michael Hellberg of LSU's Department of Biological Sciences and Kaustuv Roy and Deborah Balch of UCSD will have their findings published in the June 1 issue of Science, one of the world's premier scientific journals."
source : http://www.eurekalert.org/releases/lsu-esp060101.html
More on the "Face" (on Mars)...
The APOD site (Astronomy Picture of the Day) described viewing the "Face" with these words, in its picture for 28 May: "Wouldn't it be fun if clouds were turtles? Wouldn't it be fun if the laundry on the bedroom chair was a friendly monster? Wouldn't it be fun if rock mesas on Mars were faces or interplanetary monuments? Clouds, though, are small water droplets, floating on air. Laundry is cotton, wool, or plastic, woven into garments. Famous Martian rock mesas known by names like the Face on Mars appear quite natural when seen more clearly, as the above recently released photo shows. Is reality boring? Nobody knows how clouds make lightning. Nobody knows the geological history of Mars. Nobody knows why the laundry on the bedroom chair smells like root beer. Understanding reality brings more questions. Mystery and adventure are never far behind. Perhaps fun and discovery are just beginning."
source : http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap010528.html
But the True Believers are in FDM (Full Denial Mode), as shown by this entry from
http://www.webpan.com/dsinclair/face.html, which states "Scientific Method Employed By NASA proves that Skeptic Martin Gardner Has No Eyes, Mouth or Nose!" This page notes that NASA also used laser altimetry data to image the "Face," with a vertical resolution of 20-30 cm (less than a foot), and a horizontal resolution of 150 meters (about 500 feet), and portrays an image of Martin Gardner obtained by what they claim is the same technique. They also show what the 150-m resolution would do to the "Face" itself. Trouble is, their simulation of the "Face" using what they are modeling for "Laser Altimetry" looks nothing like what NASA developed using its MOLA Laser altimeter; see
http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/solarsystem/mars_face_010525-2.html for the actual MOLA images, and a close-up at http://www.space.com/php/multimedia/imagedisplay/img_display.php?pic=h_marsface_3D_010525_02.jpg
NASA: "Unmasking the Face on Mars"
The 24 May NASA release says it all: "New high-resolution images and 3D altimetry from NASA's Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft reveal the Face on Mars for what it really is: a mesa." NASA also had this to say: "Some people think the Face is bona fide evidence of life on Mars -- evidence that NASA would rather hide, say conspiracy theorists. Meanwhile, defenders of the NASA budget wish there was an ancient civilization on Mars." The new image (8 April, 2001) has excellent resolution -- "Each pixel in the 2001 image spans 1.56 meters, compared to 43 meters per pixel in the best 1976 Viking photo." The new images are definitely worth the download!
source 2: http://www.msss.com/mars_images/moc/extended_may2001/face/index.html
Placebo Effect "Only a Myth" ?
The 23 May piece by Gina Kolata of the New York Times states " two... investigators, Dr. Asbjorn Hrobjartsson and Dr. Peter C. Gotzsche analyzed 114 published studies involving about 7,500 patients with 40 different conditions. They found no support for the common notion that about a third of patients will improve if they are given a dummy pill and told it is real. Their paper appears today in the New England Journal of Medicine."
source: http://www.nytimes.com/2001/05/23/health/23CND-PLAC.html (registration required)
Leukemia victim gets sympathy on web until the tale turned out to be a hoax!
The 23 May report by By Bob Sullivan of MSNBC begins with this..."At least hundreds, if not thousands of Webloggers and other Netizens spent the past year rooting for 19-year-old Kaycee Nicole, who was battling leukemia and chronicling her incredible efforts online. They sent hats when her hair fell out. They sent Amazon gift certificates so she had reading material. They even sent money when mom lost her job to be at Kaycees bedside. There was a worldwide groan May 14 when Kaycees passing was announced, followed by an online wake. Only one problem: There was no Kaycee Nicole."
Mammalian Roots: Tiny Mammal found from Early Jurassic...
A 24 May press release from the Carnegie Museum of Natural History states that "An international team of researchers led by Carnegie Museum of Natural History Vertebrate Paleontologist Dr. Zhe-Xi Luo has discovered a 195-million-year-old fossil mammal. The new mammal is the smallest known for the Mesozoic Era and represents a new branch on the mammalian family tree. In an article published today in the prestigious journal Science, the team of American and Chinese scientists described this new mammal as having a precociously large brain and the middle ear of modern mammals. It suggests that these two features may have evolved together. Previously, these important mammalian traits could only be traced to the late Jurassic (approximately 150 million years ago). This discovery pushes back their origins by some 45 million years to the Early Jurassic."
Cosmiverse reports on "Time Travel - How it Can Happen?"
The 17 May report from Cosmiverse states "Professor Ronald Mallett believes he has found a practical way to make a time machine. While the idea sounds crazy, it should work in theory: none of the known laws of physics forbids time travel, and shunting matter back and forth through time shouldn't be that difficult to do. Unfortunately, ideas like these usually work in theory only. ..."
Comet Linear's Demise provides Insights into Solar System...
The AAAS and ScienceDaily.com reported on 18 May that "Comet's Spectacular Death May Illuminate Birth Of Solar System ...Astronomers from the United States, France, and elsewhere may have seen a snippet of the solar system's formation in reverse, while taking the first-ever detailed look inside the disintegrating heart of Comet C/1999 S4 (LINEAR) or 'Comet C/LINEAR.' A special collection of reports in the 18 May issue of the international journal, Science reveals that the comet, which exploded while at its prime viewing distance from Earth last summer, had a number of unexpected quirks that should improve scientists' understanding of how comets are born, how they live, and how they die."
Secret of Matter Discovered?
The BBC reported on 14 May that "Scientists have unravelled one of nature's best-kept secrets and, in so doing, helped to explain why we are all here. It all comes down to something called direct Charge Parity (CP) violation and the subtle effect is crucial to nature's preference for matter over antimatter. ... The first experiments took place at the Cern laboratory in Switzerland and at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) in the US. But the initial results, published in 1993, were not precise enough to confirm that direct CP-violation was a real effect. More accurate measurements were clearly needed. Both teams have now measured the effect with several times greater precision than their predecessors and both results conclude that direct CP violation exists. ... Now they have a precise measurement of CP violation and the difference between matter and antimatter, scientists are a step closer to understanding how it was all made in the first place."
New Mexico Tech maps Geochronology to Biblical Time Scale
Russell Seitz 's analysis is posted on the New Mexico Tech website. It was performed because, the author argues, "... it may be prudent to amend geochronology to fit a Biblically Correct 6,000-year format, at least for the fiscal year to come."
A sample: "794 B.C.: Jonah swallowed by Carcharas megalodon. "
Great Pics/Articles of Feathered Dinosaur to show your "No Transitional Form" Friends!
The story is a few months old, but the articles and pictures are worth the wait! Check out
Louisiana Governor calls Darwin "Racism" Bill "Weird"
Before Rep. Broome's measure went out to the full Louisiana House, Governor Foster weighed in, calling the meaure "weird." Laura Maggi of The Times-Picayune reported on 5 May that Louisiana's governor said " I think most people wish it hadn't gotten out of committee," quoting Foster's remarks at a meeting of the Louisiana Association of Broadcasters in Lafayette. "My guess is that nothing is going to happen with it," the governor said. Maggi also noted that " ... the governor believes the resolution could be bad for Louisiana's image, said spokeswoman Marsanne Golsby, particularly as the state tries to recruit out-of-state businesses. ... The resolution brands Darwin's books as racist, as well as denouncing the use of evolutionary biology to support white supremacist ideologies. Biologists who testified before the committee complained that the resolution misrepresents Darwin's ideas, saying he was actually an abolitionist who thought his theory of evolution would prove the unity of mankind despite superficial differences between races."
PS: The measure did pass the Louisiana house, but only after the anti-"Darwinism" statements were removed...
For an interesting take on how creationists themselves view racism, check out these words from Henry M. Morris, founder of the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) :
From Morris's The Beginning of the World (1991), pp. 147-148:
"The descendants of Ham were marked especially for secular service to mankind. ... These include all nations which are neither Semitic nor Japhetic. Thus, all of the earth's 'colored' races,--yellow, red, brown, and black--essentially the Afro-Asian group of peoples, including the American Indians--are possibly Hamitic in origin and included within the scope of the Canaanitic prophecy, as well as the Egyptians, Sumerians, Hittites, and Phoenicians of antiquity. ... Somehow they [Hamites] have only gone so far and no farther. The Japhethites and Semites have, sooner or later, taken over their territories, and their inventions, and then developed them and utilized them for their own enlargement. Often the Hamites, especially the Negroes, have become actual personal servants or even slaves to the others. Possessed of a genetic character concerned mainly with mundane matters, they have eventually been displaced by the intellectual and philosophical acumen of the Japhethites and the religious zeal of the Semites."
Phillip Johnson identifies the "Intelligent Designer" at last!
Was it Zeus? Odin? A bug-eyed alien? No, says Phillip Johnson, Berkeley law professor and acknowledged leader of the "Intelligent Design Movement." In a 7 May article by Steve Maynard of the Tacoma News Tribune (and also posted on the Discovery Institute's web site), regarding a speech by Johnson in April at Pacific Lutheran University, Maynard states "Johnson said he and most others in the intelligent design movement believe the designer is the God of the Bible." Maynard also writes that "...a University of Washington psychology professor said intelligent design proponents are only rehashing the old arguments of biblical literalists. 'As far as I can tell, it's an effort to dress up the old Creationist argument in what appears to be new clothes,' said David Barash, an evolutionary psychologist who has a doctorate in zoology. 'But in fact,it's the same old clothes. Intelligent design implies an intelligent designer, and that's God.' "
Press Conference calls for "Disclosure" on Aliens
A well-promoted press conference was held at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. on 9 May to announce "The Disclosure Project." What is this project? According to their website, "The Disclosure Project is a nonprofit research project working to fully disclose the facts about UFOs, extraterrestrial intelligence, and classified advanced energy and propulsion systems. The disclosure of the truth will have far-reaching implications for our society -- new technologies to end pollution and global warming, long-term solution to the energy crisis, and the beginning of an era of peaceful relations with other civilizations in space." Here is a brief message from project leader Steven Greer about the conference (Caps and mistakes preserved for ambience):
"OVER 250,000 PEOPLE WERE LINED UP TO GO ON LINE AS THE NATIONAL PRESS CLUB EVENT BEGAN AT 9 AM - THE LARGEST WEBCAST AUDIENCE IN THE HISTORY OF THE NATIONAL PRESS CLUB IN WASHINGTON DC. TO DATE, APPOXIMATELY 1 BILLION PEOPLE WORLD WIDE HAVE HEARD OF THE EVENT AND SUPPORT IS GROWING FOR HEARINGS. [OUR] TEAM HAS MET WITH OVER 2 DOZEN SENATE AND HOUSE MEMBERS AND STAFF WITH WITNESSES PRESENT. URGENT THAT ALL CONCERNED WRITE THEIR 2 SENATORS AND THEIR HOUSE REPRESENTATIVE AND ASK FOR IMMEDIATE OPEN HEARINGS ON THE UFO MATTER. INFORM THEM THAT WE NEED LEGISLATION TO BAN SPACE WEAPONS AND A RELEASE OF ADVANCED ENERGY AND PROPULSION SYSTEMS THAT WILL SOLVE THE ENERGY CRISIS AND END GLOBAL WARMING AND POLLUTION. SEE HTTP://WWW.DISCLOSUREPROJECT.ORG FOLLOW UP FAX LETTER WITH PERSONAL CALL TO YOUR SENATORS AND REP. MORE TO FOLLOW. STEVEN M. GREER MD, DIRECTOR, THE DISCLOSURE PROJECT"
One of the attendees was Joel Achenbach, who wrote about the briefing for the Washington Post in their Thursday, May 10 edition, page C01 (and also at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A6968-2001May9.html ). Achenbach's piece was entitled "UFO Believers Sighted Here!"
He writes "A group of people who believe in UFOs held a news conference yesterday morning that established beyond the shadow of a doubt -- that reached levels of credibility so high as to constitute actual proof -- that there really do exist people who believe in UFOs. This was the big day for the Disclosure Project, an attempt to incite the government to admit that unidentified flying objects are piloted by creatures from another world. The organizer, Steven Greer, a Charlottesville emergency room physician, announced that this was a moment of historic, indeed planetary, significance: 'This is the end of the childhood of the human race. It is time for us to become mature adults among the cosmic civilizations that are out there.' He arranged an impressive venue, the main ballroom of the National Press Club. Upward of a hundred people were here, along with more than a dozen TV cameras. At a long table up front sat 20 witnesses, most of them gray-haired men who'd served in the military. As they took turns at the microphone, it quickly became apparent that this was a rather old-fashioned event --a return to the fundamentals of ufology, the discussion of aerial anomalies. At one point a witness flashed two black-and-white photos of a saucer-shaped craft. The tales were set, for the most part, in the '40s, '50s and '60s; there was no talk of alien abductions, or an alien-human hybridization program, or the implantation of alien fetuses, or any of those extremely intimate Close Encounters that have dominated the UFO mythology in recent years. These guys were from the hardware wing of the movement. They'd seen things in the sky they couldn't explain and that suggested, to their minds, extraterrestrial visitors. They'd seen objects. Lights. Radar blips moving at extraordinary speed. What they didn't see, in almost every case, were any actual aliens. Only one witness, Clifford Stone, a retired Army sergeant, told of having directly seen aliens. He'd seen them both dead and alive at the scenes of crashed saucers. Asked if he could describe their appearance, he said, "I could, but it would probably take a whole lot of time." He did stipulate that there are 57 alien species, including three types of "grays." Many aliens are humanoid, and, indeed, are indistinguishable from members of our own species. Some can touch an object in a dark room and tell its color. ... There was nothing presented at the news conference that could be considered forensic evidence. Instead, the audience heard what is known as the Argument from Authority. The evidence on the table was essentially in the form of résumés. The witnesses vouched for their credibility and said they'd like to tell their stories to Congress. Maybe that's not as impressive as someone coming forward with an actual alien tentacle, but you have to start somewhere.... The bad guys are everywhere. We live in a world of lies. (Are you sure the Apollo astronauts really went to the moon, and not just to a Hollywood back lot?) Scientists who work on 'exobiology' endure the stigma of being experts in a field with no known subject matter. They'd be thrilled beyond words to find a tiny fragment of alien life. They'd like to know if extraterrestrial life is carbon-based, if it uses oxygen in its metabolism, if it stores genetic information in the form of the DNA molecule. They'd like to know the evolutionary history of an alien biosphere, so they could compare it to the history of life on Earth. Now we hear that all the scientists need to do is start poking around in government freezers.
When the news conference was over, rational observers were faced with two scenarios:
Intelligent creatures have piloted spaceships across trillions of miles to visit our planet. They have the ability to elude detection by scientific investigators and mainstream news organizations, but have also been seen by thousands of people. Secret forces within our government have masterfully covered up the alien presence for half a century, although sometimes the coverup is imperfect, which is why, at Safeway, you can buy Chef Boy-ar-dee Flying Saucers & Aliens canned pasta. People like Steven Greer, the crusading emergency room physician, have seen through the lies and are going to help us enter the era of cosmic brotherhood.
Some people believe in things that aren't true.
Bob Park of the American Physical Society had this to say in his "What's New" column of 11 May:
UFOS: IT TAKES A LOT OF ENERGY TO GET HERE FROM ANDROMEDA.
The news in Washington is not always depressing. This week, for example, Project Disclosure held a press conference at the National Press Club to expose the government's cover-up of the truth about UFOs. This could have important benefits; Steven Greer, director of the project, explained that aliens have a source of energy that could supply our energy needs, save the environment and lead to world peace. (A lot of humans make the same claim.) What wasn't explained is why aliens travel this far just to grope the genitals of Iowa farmers, or steal socks from the dryer. The "hard evidence" that was promised turned out to be things like a pencil drawing on cardboard of an alien spacecraft. Some 20 retired government and military were witnesses at the press conference, and dozens of other expert witnesses are listed in Project Disclosure's web site, http://www.disclosureproject.org . Alas, actual names are not always used, perhaps to shield these brave souls from government harassment, but it's pretty thin cover. "Dr. KKK," for example, is described as "the editor of Infinite Energy."
Comparisons of Brains yield Evolutionary Insights : http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/05/010510071941.htm
Supposed "Alien" bacteria found in asteroid meteorite: http://dsc.discovery.com/news/briefs/20010507/bacteria.html (I'm betting this is probably earthly contamination rather than a real bonafide alien, as it hasn't been front-page news on every paper in the world...)
Weird Whirlpool near San Diego...Alien UFO or Cross-Currents? http://www.kfmb.com/special_assignment/archive/2001/04/weird.php (I'm gonna hang with Scripps and the currents explanation... see the site for real video!)
History of Plate Tectonics pushed back to 2.5 BILLION years! http://www.eurekalert.org/releases/wusl-slu050901.html
Triassic/Jurassic Mass extinction documented: http://www.eurekalert.org/releases/uow-cos050701.html
"Stratigraphic Plane Analysis" yields insights on short-term climatic events in remote past: http://news.uns.purdue.edu/html4ever/0105.Zinsmeister.analysis.html
Louisiana House Committee passes "Darwin=Racism" Bill...
A May 4 story by Salon.com's Fiona Morgan gives the Big Picture behind the latest assault on science in the schools. Morgan writes "According to a measure before the Louisiana Legislature, one of the towering figures of modern science is also responsible for the racist ideologies of the late 19th century and for Adolf Hitler's persecution of Jews. Louisiana state Rep. Sharon Broome, D-Baton Rouge, who sponsored the resolution condemning Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, said it would 'shine a light on the history of racism.' 'Be it resolved that the Legislature of Louisiana does hereby deplore all instances and ideologies of racism, and does hereby reject the core concepts of Darwinist ideology that certain races and classes of humans are inherently superior to others,' reads the Legislature's statement, which was approved 9-5 Tuesday by the state's House Education Committee. It will soon go before the full House. Among Broome's pet peeves, according to the Baton Rouge Advocate, are that Darwin 'teaches that some humans have evolved further than others.' That he 'holds that people of color are 'savages,' ' and that in doing so he has 'provided the main rationale for modern racism.' The resolution, which does not rise to the level of law and would not necessarily change the curriculum of public schools, nonetheless urges the state's education system 'to address the commonalties of people groups and the weaknesses of Darwinian racism.' Sponsors say their next step will be to press for evolution disclaimers in textbooks. Critics say the race card is only another ploy by creationists to remove evolution from public education and replace it with the religious concept of divine creation. ... At the turn of the century there were a number of individuals who glommed on to evolution for rather nefarious purposes. The eugenicists, the free-market capitalists, then later on in the 20th century, Marxism and Hitler. Now if you think about this, there's something fishy here. A single scientific idea cannot simultaneously be the inspiration for laissez-faire capitalism and Marxism, and then you toss in Nazism and you really have different systems, all claiming to grow from evolution. What you have here is a very powerful intellectual idea that is being seized upon by ideologues for their own purposes. ... The really sad thing is that, by passing the resolution, they make it less likely that evolution is going to be taught in Louisiana, because any time you make evolution controversial, teachers just quietly stop teaching it. If evolution is taught less frequently, you really are taking away one of the greatest weapons you have against racism. If people understand modern biology, and the modern genetically based theory of evolution, racism becomes impossible -- or at least scientifically indefensible. Given what we know about heredity, about population structure, about the way genes pass from one group to another group -- which is essential to understanding the process of evolution -- we know that there are no human populations that are older than others or more advanced than others, that are superior or inferior to others. That whole notion of being able to rank races goes out the window if you understand genetics and evolution. ..."
Scripps Institute creates "Unnatural" Proteins!
In a press release on April 20, 2001, the Scripps Institute made this stunning announcement: "Scientists at The Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), have published two separate papers in the current issue of the journal Science in which they describe two different ways of engineering bacterial cells to encode 'unnatural' proteins. These proteins differ from those produced by other living organisms because they incorporate novel amino acids, the subunit molecules of which proteins are composed. Both of these methods could provide powerful new mechanisms for studying protein and cellular functions, because they are proof-of-principal that bacterial strains can be made to incorporate novel amino acids into proteins. In addition, they could enable scientists to envision the possibility of engineering completely new proteins."
Far Flung Pioneer Phones Home...
NASA reported on 3 May that "On April 28th, a Deep Space Network antenna in Madrid detected a curious radio transmission from the constellation Taurus. The feeble signal registered little more than a billionth of a trillionth of a watt --nonetheless, it had a powerful effect on scientists. The signal was intelligent and it came from an interstellar spacecraft about twice as far from the Sun as Pluto. It was Pioneer 10!" The weak signals include information about cosmic rays recored by the craft's Geiger Tube Telescope; the analysis of these readings is being assisted by none other than James van Allen himself, still active after all these years. Chaos theory is being employed to help decode the faint signals.
Source for Chaos Analysis: http://www.chaotic.com/
(Visit this site and watch your cursor as you move your mouse! This is some cool Java!)
Another Feathered Dinosaur Fossil - a Beaut! - from China!
And this one is no hoax, unlike the specimen snapped up a while ago by National Geographic, before peer review. John Noble Wilford reported in the New York Times on 25 April that "Paleontologists have discovered in China a fossil dinosaur with clear traces of feathers from head to tail, the most persuasive evidence so far, scientists said, that feathers predated the origin of birds and that modern birds are descendants of dinosaurs. ... Other dinosaur remains with apparent featherlike traces have been unearthed in recent years, but nothing as complete as this specimen, paleontologists said. Etched in the rock like a filigree decoration surrounding the skeleton are imprints of where the down and feathers appear to have been. The 130-million-year-old fossils were found a year ago by farmers in the Liaoning Province of northeastern China. After a careful analysis by Chinese and American researchers, the fossil animal was identified as a dromaeosaur, a small, fast-running dinosaur related to Velociraptor. These dinosaurs belong to a group of two-legged predators known as advanced theropods. The findings are described today in the journal Nature by the discovery team led by Dr. Ji Qiang, director of the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences in Beijing, and Dr. Mark A. Norell, chairman of paleontology at the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan. The specimen, on loan from China, went on public display at the museum today. 'This is the specimen we've been waiting for,' Dr. Norell said in a museum statement. 'It makes it indisputable that a body covering similar to feathers was present in non-avian dinosaurs. ... A few dissenters, however, particularly among ornithologists, continue to dispute the theory. They argue that birds evolved from some earlier, yet undiscovered, reptile. They said that previously found fossils associating featherlike traces with dinosaur skeletons were too mixed-up to determine if the feathers belonged to the dinosaur and not to a primitive bird buried at about the same time. But the Chinese and American researchers said the new discovery enabled them to see with microscopes how the feathers and downy fluff were attached to the dinosaur's body...."
Here's a Cool Way to Set your Watch!
It's nice to know the accurate standard time for looking at satellites and space stations, or even for mundane tasks like getting to work or school on time. Check out this cool web site, which not only displays the exact time (to less than a second), but shows you where it's Day and Night on the globe. It's a great way to set your watch!
Lack of Flying Saucers shuts down British Flying Saucer Bureau
The Sydney Morning Herald reported on 23 April that "The British Flying Saucer Bureau, which has been hunting for extra-terrestrial activity for half a century, has closed its doors because of a dearth of unidentified flying objects (UFOs). The bureau,which at one time boasted 1,500 members worldwide, has over the years received weekly reports listing up to 30 UFO sightings. These days there are rarely any such reports, and the bureau's monthly meetings have now been scrapped because of a lack of participants. ... Denis Plunkett, who was a co-founder of the bureau in 1953, says UFO sightings are in the middle of a long trough. He says there are not enough sightings to warrant continuing."
Massage works better than Acupuncture!
Robin Eisner of ABCNews.com reports on 23 April that "A study in the current issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine says therapeutic massage is the most effective treatment for chronic lower back pain, compared to acupuncture and self-help remedies. ... In the study, researchers from the Group Health Center in Seattle put 262 patients aged 20 to 70 years old into three treatment groups: traditional Chinese acupuncture, therapeutic massage or self-care educational materials. ... The researchers found therapeutic massage was the most effective treatment, apparently providing long-lasting benefits. Acupuncture was relatively ineffective."
DNA pioneer James Watson calls for "ridding society of genetic defects"...
Steve Connor, science editor at the independent.co.uk, writes on 16 April that "James Watson, the 'father' of DNA science,has called for the law to be changed so that scientists can alter the genes of sperm, eggs and embryos and so rid genetic defects from future generations. Dr Watson, who with Francis Crick shared a Nobel prize for the discovery of the DNA double helix in 1953, says that fears over the creation of "designer babies" are misplaced and that the potential benefits of controlling the ultimate engine of human evolution far outweigh the risks.... 'I strongly favour controlling our children's genetic destinies. Working intelligently and wisely to see that good genes dominate as many lives as possible is the truly moral way for us to proceed,' Dr Watson writes." The creationists will certainly try to make hay out of this soundbite!
Slate examines Fathers of the Intelligent Design movement...
The 16 April Slate column by Robert Wright discusses progress made by the Intelligent Design movement, which was recently written up in the New York Times. The article examines Phillip E. Johnson, Michael Behe, and William Dembski. Wright states "The Times says the movement's "manifesto" is Johnson's [Phillip Johnson, law professor] 1991 book Darwin on Trial. If true, this does not bode well for the movement. This book shows Johnson to be suffering from an elementary confusion about Darwinian theory..... the first time I opened Behe's book, I came upon a major confusion about Darwinian theorya confusion on par with, and in fact related to, the confusion of Phillip Johnson's described above. It's no wonder Behe can't imagine how natural selection could create complex things if he hasn't bothered to find out how natural selection is supposed to work in the first place. ... Dembski's argument is just an example of something demonstrated time and again in various disciplines at various accredited universities: If you phrase your argument in mathematical symbolism and technical terms, some people, including other academics, can be counted on to lose track of what the exact connection is between the symbolism and the reality it's supposed to represent. ... The Times piece was a legitimate news story. The 'intelligent design movement' is having impactgetting the attention of school boards, legislators, and, obviously, journalists. And the Times is right to say that intelligent design theorists are 'more sophisticated' than past creationists in the sense that most of them don't believe the Earth was created a few thousand years ago as described in Genesis. Some of them even believe evolution happenedalbeit with divine input. Still, in the movement's critique of Darwinian theory, there is no sign of any new sophisticationat least, not in any positive sense of the word. 'Intelligent design theory' is just a fresh label, a marketing deviceand, evidently, an effective one."
Darwin's "Abominable Mystery" Solved? Oldest Flowering Plants....
NASA reported on 18 April that " 'An abominable mystery' is how nineteenth-century naturalist Charles Darwin referred to the origin of flowering plants, and the puzzle remains as controversial today as ever. Now a team of Stanford geochemists has entered the debate with evidence that flowering plants may have evolved 250 million years ago - long before the first pollen grain appeared in the fossil record. 'Our research indicates that the ancestors of flowering plants may have originated during the Permian period, between 290 and 245 million years ago," says J. Michael Moldowan, research professor of Geological and Environmental Sciences at Stanford."
The Famous "Indian Rope Trick" was a Hoax!
David Brown, of the independent.co.uk, reported on 14 April that "The secret of the Indian rope-trick, which has intrigued generations of scientists and magicians, has been uncovered by a Scottish academic after a five-year investigation. Peter Lamont, a former president of the Magic Circle in Edinburgh and now a researcher at the city's university, revealed the truth at Edinburgh's International Science Festival last night. He has discovered that the trick has NEVER been performed and was invented by an American newspaper as part of a circulation drive 111 years ago."
St. John's Wort Ineffective on Depression
Yahoo and ABC News reported on 18 April that "The popular herbal supplement St. John's wort is no better than a sugar pill in treating depression, a new study says. In a study of 200 depressed patients performed at 11 academic medical centers throughout the country, researchers found St. John's wort provided no advantage over a placebo, or sugar pill, in alleviating symptoms."
Access Research Network: "New Mexico Public Planetarium Promotes Naturalism"
Access Research Network , a leading organization of Intelligent Design proponents, has accused the Lodestar Planetarium at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science of abject naturalism! This assessment was based on an editorial in the Albuquerque Tribune. And what was so offensive to ARN? Perhaps these words from the Trib's editorial..."Without being bombarded with hard-core equations or technical terms, you'll get a firm grounding in the core scientific principle of cosmic evolution without necessarily shattering any spiritual beliefs you might have. In fact, this show might strengthen them." Is it just me, or are these folks a tad too sensitive?
Tribune Article (on ARN site): http://www.arn.org/docs/news/nmplanetarium041001.htm
ARN also posts article on Phillip Johnson/Dave Thomas "debate" at UNM...
The ARN web site has also posted an article by Frank Zoretich of the Albuquerque Tribune on their news page, at http://www.arn.org/newsarchives.htm. The Trib's article was titled "UNM Splits Lecture Halls over How Life Came to Be," and describes how Johnson's talk at UNM on 19 February was followed by my rebuttal lecture at Kiva Auditorium. But ARN, in their never-ending quest to promote Phillip Johnson and other Intelligent Designers, uses this title instead: "Phillip Johnson Speaks to University of New Mexico Crowd Albuquerque Tribune, February 20, 2001." Gee, where is Paul Harvey and the "rest of the story" when you need him?
Tribune article (on Trib site): http://www.abqtrib.com/archives/news01/022001_evo.shtml
Yeti's hair "Defies Analysis?"
The same folks that mis-reported experiments in which the speed of light was supposedly exceeded by a factor of 300 are now reporting on the Abominable Snowman, or Yeti. The (London) Times reported on 2 April that "BRITISH scientists on the trail of the Yeti have found some of the best evidence yet for the existence of the mythical Himalayan creature a sample of hair that has proved impossible to identify. Genetic tests on the hair, which was gathered from a tree in Bhutan, have failed to match its DNA to that of another animal. The findings, which have surprised sceptical researchers, raise the strong possibility that the sample belongs to an as yet undiscovered species."
Zelicoff Blasts Polygraphs!
Al Zelicoff of Sandia took aim on polygraphs in the April 4th Albuquerque Tribune.
He wrote "Protecting secrets is a challenging task. Spies, particularly those operating within the national security establishment, are very difficult to find. But certainly we should not make their task easier with measures like the polygraph that are, in the end, self-defeating. The scientists at the national laboratories are willing to sacrifice some of their constitutional protections for meaningful benefits to security, but they are unwilling to do so for nonsense. It is time to relegate the polygraph -- the fanciful creation of a comic book writer -- to the ash heap of bad ideas and misplaced belief. "
It's an excellent editorial!
Discovery Institute hosts Stephen Hawking
Even though he is no creationist, the folks at the Discovery Institute were more than happy to bask in the publicity garnered by co-hosting Dr. Hawking's appearance in Seattle.
Sandia Scientists REFUSE Polygraphs!
CBS News reports on 29 March that "Scientists at Sandia National Laboratory in Albuqurque, New Mexico, one of three nuclear weapons labs run by the Department of Energy are in revolt, threatening not to take required lie detector tests, because they include personal questions which have nothing to do with protecting secrets...'What has precipitated the crisis within the Department of Energy is that the polygraphers are asking individual subjects what medications they're taking despite their promises not to do so,' explained Sandia employee Al Zelicoff. According to Zelicoff, one of 20,000 people throughout the nuclear weapons complex now required to take periodic lie detector tests, some key technicians have already refused and are now barred from working on nuclear weapons." Zelicoff spoke to NMSR on various topics, including polygraphs, in March of 2000.
NMSR Polygraph Page: http://www.nmsr.org/POLYGRAF.HTM
Arkansas House Bill 2548, an obvious attempt to get creationism back into schools, failed in the House, but may yet be revived by Rep. Jim Holt. The web page detailing the creationist sources of the bill has been modified and improved substantially, and is a good source for updates on the bill's status:
Harry Potter Book Burning...
The Assembly of God Church in Butler County, Pennsylvania recently sponsored an old-time Book Burning. Consigned to flames were "Harry Potter books, Disney videos, rock CDs and literature from other religions," according to an ABC News report on 26 March. "Animated videos such as Pinnochio and Hercules were also among the items thrown in the fire, which also included Pearl Jam and Black Sabbath CDs, and pamphlets from Jehovah's Witnesses."
Leader of Flat Earth Society, Charles Johnson, Dead at 76.
Myrna Oliver of the LA Times reports on 25 March that "Charles K. Johnson, irrepressible advocate and president of the International Flat Earth Society for nearly three decades, has died.... Johnson died March 19 in Lancaster, near Hi Vista, where he had moved the iconoclastic society's headquarters in 1972 after he succeeded the late Samuel Shenton of Dover, England, in the presidency. The ever-quotable Johnson also wrote and published the entertaining if somewhat eccentric Flat Earth News, which once boasted 3,500 subscribers. ... [Flat Earth] Advocates have traditionally used carefully chosen Bible passages to substantiate their assertions, supplemented by purportedly scientific observations of bodies of water."
Have Scientists Finally Glimpsed "Dark Matter" ?
Lisa Onaga of USA Today reported on 27 March that "A team of American and European researchers, including lead author Benjamin R. Oppenheimer, a post-graduate at the University of California-Berkeley, surveyed and analyzed objects in the southern part of the sky and found a population of 38 very old stars dying slowly, like cooling embers. These previously unseen stars account for at least three percent and possibly up to a third of the galaxy's dark matter. It is located largely in the 'Galactic halo,' a roughly spherical concentration of stars and clusters of stars. This halo surrounds the central, flattened, swirl of young stars, gas,and dust that make up the 'Galactic disk.'... Known as 'white dwarfs' for their faint glow, these stars demonstrate that dark matter does not necessarily have to be made of exotic particles with fancy names, such as neutrinos and axions, but it can also be 'baryonic' made up of the same ordinary stuff as humans on Earth and of course, stars: protons, neutrons, and electrons."
Mars Polar Lander...Lost and Found?
Space.com reported on 19 March that "The Mars Polar Lander may have been found -- intact -- by a top-secret spy imagery agency." Leonard David writes that "The National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA) has been quietly scanning Mars pictures, looking for the Mars Polar Lander since early December 1999. According to a source close to the NIMA effort, photographic specialists at NIMA think theyve spotted something. But NASA officials say its too early to tell."
International Space Development Conference 2001
This event will be right here in Albuquerque, on May 24-28 2001, at the Hilton Hotel near the Big I. Apollo 17 astronaut Dr. Harrison H. Schmitt is the Honorary Chairman. Speakers include Keir Dullea ("2001" astronaut Dr. David "Dave" Bowman), Dan Richter (who played Moonwatcher, the apeman), comet discoverer Alan Hale, John Young, commander of the 1st shuttle flight (STS-1), and others. Surf to the WebSite below to see Roger X. Lenard's copyrighted image of an Interstellar Cruiser.
Arkansas Creationism Bill, HB2548, fails in House vote.
Rob Moritz of the News Little Rock Bureau described the Sat., 24 March defeat of a creationism bill in the Arkansas House. The bill needed 51 votes to pass, but only garnered 45. The bill was ostensibly about "using tax dollars to purchase or distribute material that contains, or presents as fact, any information that has been proven false." But, Moritz wrote that "Rep. Jay Bradford, D-White Hall, said anti-evolution is 'implied' throughout the bill. He noted that every example included in HB 2548 as a falsehood or theory taught as fact somehow was related to the age of the earth or creation. He said it cost the state $357,000 in 1981 to fight a lawsuit filed over the creation-science law. 'That's over $600,000 today,' he said."
See http://inia.cls.org/~welsberr/ae/ar_hb2548.html for a much more on the bill, and where its arguments really come from!
NMSR President speaks at AZTEC UFO2001 Conference...
Dave Thomas spoke on Saturday, March 24th , 11 AM - noon, at UFO 2001, at the 4th Annual UFO Symposium in Aztec, New Mexico. Details can be found at http://www.aztecufo.com/ and at http://www.aztecufo.com/symposiu.htm . Other speakers included Stanton Freidman, Ted Loman, Peter Gersten, Dennis Balthaser, and Peter Davenport.
Arkansas Legislative Committee passes Creation Bill
And guess who they brought in to testify? KENT HOVIND!
See http://www.ardemgaz.com/search_week/thu/ark/a01yxgr-evolution22.html for details.
Colleague Wesley Elsberry has compiled a fascinating comparison of certain provisions of the Arkansas bill with Jack Chick's creationist comic-book tracts.
"Arkansas House Bill 2548 is a composite of anti-evolutionary sources"
"A bill proposed in 2001 in the Arkansas legislature by Representative Holt would make it illegal for the state or any of its agencies to use state funds to purchase materials that contain false or fraudulent claims. A list of such claims is provided in the text of House Bill 2548 (HB2548). What makes this so interesting is that much of the text of those examples is either quoted verbatim from anti-evolutionary sources or is a close paraphrase of such materials. The sources include a cartoon booklet published by Jack Chick."
Debate POLL now On-line!
NMSR has added a poll to the web page for the "Great Creation/Evolution Debate."
Who do you think is winning the debate?
Tell your friends! Mail your lists! Post to newsgroups!
Visit: http://www.nmsr.org/DEBATE.HTM (not a scientific poll)
75 Years of Rocket History, thanks to NM Pioneer Robert Goddard
NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day site honors Robert Goddard, who worked on his rockets right here in New Mexico. (Roswell has a Goddard museum in addition to its UFO museums.) On March 16th, 1926 (75 years ago today), Goddard launched the world's first liquid-fueled rocket. The APOD site notes that "During his career Goddard was ridiculed by the press for suggesting that rockets could be flown to the Moon, but he kept up his experiments supported in part by the Smithsonian Institution and championed by Charles Lindbergh. Widely recognized as a gifted experimenter and engineering genius, his rockets were many years ahead of their time. He died in 1945 holding over 200 patents in rocket technology. A liquid fuel rocket constructed on principles developed by Goddard landed humans on the Moon in 1969."
A New Picture EVERY DAY: http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/
NASA Page with photographs on the Rocket's 75th Anniversary and Goddard:
Test your "New Age" IQ!
The Salem New Age Center has posted the "New Age IQ Test ©" on the web. See if YOUR "New Age" knowledge base is up to standards. (Hint: don't answer that the Roswell Incident was balloon debris...)
The Early Universe: "Black Holes, Black Holes, Black Holes"
From Reuters and Yahoo, 13 March: "Astronomers looking back in time reported on Tuesday that the early universe was probably dominated by three things: 'black holes, black holes and black holes.' There may have been as many as 300 billion black holes in the entire sky when the universe was young, scientists said at a briefing at NASA headquarters. Using the orbiting Chandra X-Ray Observatory, astronomers focused on the X-ray glow, a sort of blur in the background of images of galaxies, stars and other cosmic features. ..."
Do you miss the Hale-Bopp Comet? It's still Visible!
That is, IF you have a very good telescope! The La Silla Telescope of the European Southern Observatory (ESO) has taken photographs of Hale-Bopp at a distance of Two Billion Kilometers! Check them out at the link below.
Mutant Bacteria Next Threat From Russia's Mir?
Of course, there have been bacteria and fungi aboard the MIR space station for over a decade. During that time, not only have they been isolated, but they've been bombarded with more than their share of cosmic rays, which can cause mutations. Reuters reports on 6 March that "Yuri Karash, an expert on the Russian space program, said there was a possibility that micro-organisms, which have spent the last 15 years mutating in isolation aboard Mir, could present a threat if they survived the fall to Earth. 'I wouldn't overstate it ... but a realistic problem exists,' Karash told a news conference."
USA Today takes on CHEMTRAILS!
If you see a contrail from a plane, does that mean that the government is again spraying deadly chemicals or biological agents on its citizens? The 7 March article by Traci Watson describes the "chemtrail" phenomenon. She quotes Patrick Minnis of NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, VA, who said "If you try to pin these people down and refute things, it's, 'Well, you're just part of the conspiracy ... Logic is not exactly a real selling point for most of them.'' Watson also writes that "The cloud-forming contrails that conspiracy theorists find so ominous are 'perfectly natural,' Minnis says. The odd grid and parallel-line patterns are easily explained as contrails blown together by the wind, scientists say. "
What does Santa Fe's chemtrail guru Cliff Carnicom think about this latest treason?
See also NMSR's Chemtrails Page: http://www.nmsr.org/chemtrls.htm
Borehole Temps indicate 1.1 C warming since pre-industrial times?
John Derr <email@example.com> has brought an interesting abstract from Geophysical Research Letters, March 1, 2001 Issue (v. 28, no. 5, 747-750), titled "Borehole temperatures show global warming" to my attention.
"Unlike some proxies that are weighted towards a seasonal temperature, borehole temperature profiles respond to the continuous variation of surface ground temperature throughout the year. Harris and Chapman link borehole temperature with meteorological data and construct a reduced temperature-depth profile for the northern hemisphere mid-latitudes. Their analysis suggests a 0.7 oC ground warming between pre-industrial time and the 1961-1990 mean surface air temperatures (SAT) in the northern hemisphere. Since SAT indicate another 0.4 o C of recent warming, the authors posit that the total surface warming in the northern hemisphere from pre-industrial time to the end of the 20th century may be as much as 1.1 o C."
The complete paper is at http://www.agu.org/grl/articles/2000GL012348/GL11683W01.html
Scripps Institute finds Clue to ORIGIN OF LIFE!
This one's hot! Researchers at The Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology, part of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), announced on 15 February a possible answer to one of the most vexing problems regarding the origin of life: why are so many bio-molecules "handed" (they would look different in a mirror, just as a right-handed glove appears to be a left-handed glove when viewed in a mirror)? And how could the first bio-molecules have "chosen" only one type of handedness ("chirality") if molecules of both types of handedness are found in nature? Scripps reports that "Principal Investigator M. Reza Ghadiri, Ph.D., Professor of Chemistry at TSRI, has created a biological polymer that can discriminate between two types of building blocks, taking those that are similar and building a copy of itself with them. The research article [in the current Nature] , 'A Chiroselective Peptide Replicator,' is authored by Alan Saghatelian, Yohei Yokobayashi, Kathy Soltani, and M. Reza Ghadiri. ...Our bodies can only use the L-form of amino acids (left-handed) and the D-form of ribose molecules (right-handed). Since only the correct forms of these building blocks of life can be used, a natural question arises. How did the very first biological molecules assemble out of a presumed mixture of right and left- handed building blocks? To answer this, Ghadiri and his colleagues asked if a molecule that was correctly composed of all right or all left-handed components could replicate itself. They used peptides--short proteins of 32 amino acids--that naturally fold into a long helix and stick to another similar peptide, somewhat like the double barrels of a shotgun. They mixed right and left-handed versions of these peptides together with a mixture of their right and left-hand components. For the 'template' peptides to replicate, the correctly-handed components in the mixture would have to stick to the correct location on the peptides and then link up, forming exact copies of the template molecules, and this is exactly what they observed. The left-handed templates made more left-handed copies and the right-handed templates made right-handed copies from the mixed components. Not only did the results show that the peptides favored the synthesis of correct duplicates, but the duplicates auto-catalyzed the reaction, speeding it up. They further discovered that if they added 'mutant' peptide templates with a single incorrectly handed molecule, these would not make more mutant templates. They would instead correct the mistake and catalyze the formation of new molecules with the correct composition. 'That is astonishing,' says Ghadiri. 'Based on [our] understanding, polypeptides can self-replicate, form complex networks, error correct, form mutual systems,they have all sorts of emergent properties, and they can now do homochiral amplification.' "
Here we go again...more evidence of Life on Mars from Meteorite ALH84001?
The burst of excitement over possible signs of bacterial life in a Martian meteorite that landed in Antarctica a few years ago faded, as the results became more and more dubious. But a new study announced by Nasa Ames on Feb. 26th claims that the same meteorite includes "magnetite crystals embedded in the meteorite are arranged in long chains, which they say could have been formed only by once-living organisms." Bob Park of the American Physical Society has called for a second opinion - on a different chunk of Martian rock, perhaps obtained by a robot probe rather than an expensive manned mission. This one bears watching, but it's probably too early to pop out the champagne bottles just yet.
Was Biblical Macho-Man Samson afflicted with Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD)?
That's what University of California at San Diego researchers concluded from their study, announced on Feb. 21st. "According to Dr. Eric Altschuler, Samson exhibited six out seven criteria for diagnosis of ASPD (as identified by the American Psychiatric Association in its diagnostic bible, the DSM-IV) and a person need only manifest three of the seven criteria to be diagnosed with the disorder."
Creationists still searching for Brontosaurus in Cameroon...
The Concord Monitor reported on the dinosaurian efforts of creationist David Woetzel. The March 2nd report quotes Woetzel as saying "The odds are 75 to 80 percent that these types of creatures exist," but also notes that "For all his slashing and slogging [through African swamps], Woetzel never found the beast."
Sources: http://www.concordmonitor.com/stories/front0400/dinosaurman.shtml and
NMSR President speaks at UNM (Feb. 19th), and at New Mexico Tech (Feb. 21st) on "Technical Problems with Intelligent Design Theory."
I responded to several of the claims often made by "Intelligent Design" apologist Phillip Johnson, who spoke at UNM on the 19th of February, at NM Tech on Feb. 20th, and elsewhere in New Mexico the same week.
CHECK OUT THESE REPORTS...
The Albuquerque Journal http://www.abqjournal.com/scitech/256112scitech02-20-01.htm
The Albuquerque Tribune http://www.abqtrib.com/news/022001_evo.shtml
The Daily Lobo - Thomas http://www.dailylobo.com/main.cfm?include=detail&storyid=31951
The Daily Lobo - Johnson http://www.dailylobo.com/main.cfm?include=detail&storyid=31952
Word from attendees of Phillip Johnson's talk at Calvary Chapel on Feb. 22nd is that Johnson described NMSR as "New Mexicans for Science and Unreason." Johnson must have based this opinion on published news stories about my talks, since he declined my cordial invitation to attend the lecture I gave at UNM, citing "lack of sleep." Since the published stories couln't really cover most of the details I brought up, it is clear that Johnson is dismissing NMSR's critique solely on the basis that we don't agree with him, rather than what was actually discussed. Thus, when he continues to attack scientists for dismissing "Intelligent Design" without first analyzing the evidence, as I'm sure he will do, we will now know he is just being hypocritical.
Human Genome Project - the Big News is that DARWIN was RIGHT.
Arthur Caplan, Ph.D., in a SPECIAL TO MSNBC Report, writes on 21 Feb. that "The media flubbed the headline for the biggest news event in the past 50 years of science. The reporters and TV talking heads who crammed the Washington, D.C.,press conference on Feb. 12 did understand that the details they were hearing about the human genome offered the story of a lifetime. But, they missed the real headline. Their stories should have simply said, 'Darwin vindicated!' Most reporters ballyhooed the fierce competition between scientists working for the publicly funded Human Genome Project and those employed by the privately funded Celera Genomics Corporation of Rockville, Md., to gain credit for the discovery. ... But none of these headlines capture the most basic, the most important consequence of mapping out all of our genes. The genome reveals, indisputably and beyond any serious doubt, that Darwin was right mankind evolved over a long period of time from primitive animal ancestors. Our genes show that scientific creationism cannot be true. The response to all those who thump their bible and say there is no proof, no test and no evidence in support of evolution is, 'The proof is right here, in our genes.' ... There is, as the scientists who cracked the genome all agreed, no other possible explanation. ... The theory of evolution is the only way to explain the arrangement of the 30,000 genes and three billion letters that constitute our genetic code. The history of humanity is written in our DNA. Those who dismiss evolution as myth, who insist that evolution has no place in biology textbooks and our childrens classrooms, are wrong. The message our genes send is that Charles Darwin was right."
Arthur Caplan, Ph.D., is director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
Source: http://www.msnbc.com/news/534127.asp WARNING - my browser often can't link this page!
Seeds of Life found around other stars.
ABC News and Paul Recer of AP report on Feb. 20th that "Complex carbon molecules and water, which are key ingredients for life, have been found in the dust and gas around distant stars. The findings boost the theory that the cosmic stew of life is common in the universe. ... Astronomers reported Monday that orbiting observatories probing the space around both young and dying stars have found vast waves of water vapor and clear traces of carbon molecules that can play a basic role in organic chemistry. 'This strengthens greatly the possibility of life forming elsewhere,' said Martin F. Kessler, a staff scientist for the European Space Agency. 'It shows that complex carbon chemistry is not unique to Earth. We now see similar chemistry elsewhere in the universe.' The findings don't prove that life exists beyond the Earth, said Martin Harwit, a Cornell University astronomer. 'But it proves that the conditions that led to the formation of life and our solar system are present in lots of places.' "
Patagonia yields the "Jurassic Park" of Dinosaur Fossil Beds...
Simon Gardner of Reuters reports on Yahoo News, Feb. 14th, that "Argentine paleontologists declared on Wednesday that they had found a sprawling ``Jurassic Park'' of dinosaur fossils in the heart of Patagonia they dubbed 'possibly the most significant find ever.' ... The find in the province of Chubut, on an arid plateau some 950 miles south of Buenos Aires, includes four unknown species of dinosaurs from the Jurassic period around 150-160 million years ago, one of the world's oldest known mammals and a host of fossils of reptiles and ancient sea turtles. Experts estimated they had unearthed only around two percent of the contents of the vast fossil deposit, which sprawls over hundreds of square miles in southern Argentina. 'It is a veritable Jurassic park,' said Gerardo Cladera of the Egidio Feruglio Paleontology Museum in Trelew, whose team of experts made the find."
Permian Extinction Event Was Due To Another Danged Asteroid or Comet!
Don't confuse this space-born bringer of mass extinction with the asteroid that probably wiped out the dinosaurs. University of Washington researchers announced on 22 February that "Earth's most severe mass extinction - an event 250 million years ago that wiped out 90 percent of all marine species and 70 percent of land vertebrates - was triggered by a collision with a comet or asteroid, according to new findings by a team led by a University of Washington scientist. The collision wasn't directly responsible for the extinction but rather triggered a series of events, such as massive volcanism and changes in ocean oxygen, sea level and climate. Those in turn led to species extinction on a wholesale level, said Luann Becker, UW acting assistant professor of Earth and Space Sciences. ... The scientists do not know the site of the impact 250 million years ago, when all Earth's land formed a supercontinent called Pangea. However, the space body left a calling card - a much higher level of complex carbon molecules called buckminsterfullerenes, or Buckyballs, with the noble (or chemically nonreactive) gases helium and argon trapped inside their cage structures. Fullerenes, which contain at least 60 carbon atoms and have a structure resembling a soccer ball or a geodesic dome, are named for Buckminster Fuller, who invented the geodesic dome. ... The researchers know these particular Buckyballs are extraterrestrial because the noble gases trapped inside have an unusual ratio of isotopes. For instance, terrestrial helium is mostly helium-4 and contains only a small amount of helium-3, while extraterrestrial helium - the kind found in these fullerenes - is mostly helium-3. 'These things form in carbon stars. That's what's exciting about finding fullerenes as a tracer," Becker said. The extreme temperatures and gas pressures in carbon stars are perhaps the only way extraterrestrial noble gases could be forced inside a fullerene, she said. These gas-laden fullerenes were formed outside the Solar System, and their concentration at the Permian-Triassic boundary means they were delivered by a comet or asteroid."
Kansas restores evolution to state standards.
The Kansas City Star reported on 14 Feb. that "TOPEKA, Kan. -- Evolution was restored today as a central theory in Kansas' science curriculum, ending a debate that subjected the state to international ridicule over the teachings of the origins of man. The State Board of Education voted 7-3 to approve new science standards to be used in developing tests that will be given to students later this spring. The tests will include questions on evolution, which will now be considered one of the unifying concepts of the state's science curriculum."
Letter from Dave Thomas to the Kansas Board:
To: firstname.lastname@example.org (Val DeFever), MSGamble@swbell.net (Mrs. Sue Gamble), email@example.com (Sonny Rundell), firstname.lastname@example.org (Carol Rupe), email@example.com (Bill Wagnon), JWaugh1052@aol.com (Mrs. Janet Waugh), firstname.lastname@example.org (Mr. Bruce Wyatt)
From: Dave Thomas <email@example.com>
Subject: Kansas Board Vote
Dear members of the Kansas State Board of Education,
Thank you all so much for returning good and solid science to the Kansas standards! Here in New Mexico, it took us three years to overturn anti-evolution standards; but it took you Kansans less than two!
I'm sure you'll get lots of negative mail about "fairness" and all that. But your decision is the only truly fair thing to do.
Having a special interest group re-define "science" for Kansas students is unfair to working scientists, who have to do research and get it published and accepted by the scientific community BEFORE it gets put into state curricula requirements.
Defining evolution as "atheist" or "Anti-God" is patently unfair to those adherents of the many faiths who accept evolution as God's method of creation.
Most importantly, it's unfair to the kids to embroil them in the highly emotional and propaganda-laced arguments of the anti-evolution crowd.
You have done well, and the scientists of New Mexico (at least most of the hundreds I work with) are in full support of your decision.
All best regards,
David E. Thomas
President, New Mexicans for Science and Reason P.O. Box 1017
Peralta, NM 87042
Is there a Violation Of the Standard Model Of Particle Physics?
Brookhaven National Laboratory reported on 9 Feb. that "Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory, in collaboration with researchers from 11 institutions in the U.S., Russia, Japan, and Germany, today announced an experimental result that directly confronts the so-called Standard Model of particle physics. ... Scientists at Brookhaven,doing research at an experiment dubbed the muon g-2 (pronounced gee-minus-two), have been collecting data since 1997. Until late last week, they did not know whether their work would confirm the prediction of the Standard Model. "We are now 99 percent sure that the present Standard Model calculations cannot describe our data," says Brookhaven physicist Gerry Bunce, project manager for the experiment."
A C-change in Physics? Does the speed of light depend on FREQUENCY?
Texas A&M University reports on 12 Feb. that "Dimitri Nanopoulos, who holds the rank of Distinguished Professor of Physics at Texas A&M University and heads the Houston Advanced Research Center's Group for Astroparticle Physics, established,along with other physicists, that the speed of light, instead of being the constant value of 186,282 miles per second, might change. ... Nanopoulos and physicists Nikolaos Mavromatos of King's College in London and John Ellis of the European Center for Particle Physics (CERN) in Geneva, discovered a new expression for the speed of light, which depends on its frequency. 'Through our calculations, we found that the speed of light is frequency-dependent,' says Nanopoulos. 'But a change in the usual speed of light value of 186,282 miles per second is noticeable only for light coming from astronomical objects situated very far from Earth, which is why this frequency dependence has not been noticed so far."
Global Warming? Sun getting too Big? No problem - let's change Earth's Orbit!
Check out the Feb. 5th story by Dennis Newman at CNN News! Newman writes "A group of astronomers has come up with a plan they claim will save life on Earth from an early demise. All it takes, they say, is moving the planet into a different orbit. Their deadline is about 3.5 billion years in the future. At that time, the scientists say, the sun will be 40 percent brighter than it is today and the Earth will be too hot to sustain life. Even looking just a billion years down the road, the increased brightness of the sun would cause a "moist greenhouse" effect which will have a catastrophic impact on the planet. ... The scientists' theory is outlined in a paper entitled "Astronomical engineering: A strategy for modifying planetary orbit." The paper has been accepted for publication in the journal 'Astrophysics and Space Science.' The researchers' theory is a twist on the 'gravity-assist' technique used to send spacecraft to the outer planets. The team says that by shooting a large object (such as an asteroid about 62 miles across) past the Earth, the planet could be gradually pulled away from the Sun. It would take thousands of encounters to make a difference. ..."
Thanks to Debbie Thomas for bringing it to my attention.
Have you seen this image of a jet plane breaking the sound barrier?
It's awesome! Thanks to Gary Bennett for bringing it to my attention.
Surf to: http://www.navy.mil/homepages/cv64/soundbarrier/soundbarrier.htm
Oil Spill Threatens Galapagos Islands...
The remote islands that provided Charles Darwin with some of the observations leading to his theory of evolution have been hit with a large refined oil spill. It looks like the worst is over, though. Here are the latest reports:
The Washington Post reports on Jan 24th that "The ecological emergency in the Galapagos Islands appeared to ease today, with trade winds carrying tens of thousands of gallons of refined fuel spilled from a grounded tanker into the open sea and away from the fragile islands' tender shores."
From a Yahoo/Reuters Jan. 26th report : "PUERTO BAQUERIZO MORENO, Ecuador (Reuters) - The Ecuadorean tanker captain whose ship ran aground on the Galapagos islands tearfully took the blame for an oil spill that is threatening the pristine ecosystem described by 19th century British naturalist Charles Darwin as 'enchanted.' ... Tarquino Arevalo, captain of the Ecuadorean-registered Jessica, which last week fouled the Galapagos waters with oil after colliding with rocks, told Reuters he had misjudged his entry into the prophetically named Shipwreck Bay outside the tiny harbor of San Cristobal island. 'The truth is I didn't even know the rock was there. It was over-confidence on my part. I am completely to blame,' the 58-year-old sailor said Thursday in an interview. 'I didn't do it on purpose. This has nothing to do with my crew. It was my fault, not theirs,' he added. The Galapagos are home to iguanas, flightless cormorants, sea lions and the famous Galapagos giant tortoises. The only known damage so far to wildlife has been a pair of dead pelicans and some animals and birds tainted with oil."
Reuters reports on Jan. 26th "Efforts to clear the Ecuadorean tanker aground off the Galapagos Islands were hampered by a lack of equipment on Friday but the threat from the oil spill was fading, experts said."
Global Cooling and Human Evolution...
The Age (Australia) reports on Jan. 23 that "Early human evolution was driven by a sudden and dramatic change in the weather, scientists said today. British researchers have found evidence that the world has become 10 degrees Celsius chillier in the last 3.2 million years. The cooling off is five times greater than experts had previously believed, enough to bring about changes that have sent human evolution into overdrive, it is claimed. Cooling was especially rapid about two million years ago, according to the findings reported in the journal Science. ... The scientists discovered tell-tale signs of the fall in temperature in the molecular fossils of microscopic marine algae. Examining the pattern of deposition of algae sediments revealed evidence of a climate change cycle spanning thousands or even millions of years."
Global Warming has its Skeptics.......
BBC News Online reports on Jan 22nd that "Meeting in Shanghai, China, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said the Earth would warm up in the coming 100 years faster than at any time in the last 10,000 years. And they pointed the finger of blame squarely at human activities, in particular fossil-fuel burning. ...But several scientists outside the IPCC criticised what they described as the 'arrogance' of the UN body, insisting that the evidence for global warming was still far from certain."
Speciation in Action! BBC offers Interesting Science Stories...
The BBC reports on January 18th that "The greenish warbler may provide the evidence Darwin lacked...[By BBC News Online science editor Dr David Whitehouse] Scientists may be witnessing one of the fundamental forces of evolution: the divergence of one species into two. It is the evidence that the originator of the theory of evolution, Charles Darwin, wanted to see but was never able to find. The new data comes from the songs of the greenish warbler, a bird that lives in the foothills of the Himalayas. Researchers have noticed that its song changes gradually throughout its territory. At the extreme ranges of its habitat, the greenish warbler will sing very different songs. This means that although the birds belong to the same species, they will not mate. And eventually, they will become two separate species."
Scientists stop light in its tracks?
The BBC reports on 18 January that "Scientists say they have slowed light to a dead stop, stored it and then let it go again. ... Normally light is the fastest thing there is, travelling at about 297,000 kilometres a second (186,000 miles an hour). But it is slowed slightly when it moves through some materials, such as glass. The researchers have taken this effect to the extreme and say they have effectively made a beam of light stop after it entered a specially designed gas chamber." Shades of that great old SF story Slow Glass!
NM's VLA finds "nothing unusual" at source of 1977 "Wow" signal...
The BBC reports on 17 January that "In August 1977, radio astronomers detected what could have been a signal from intelligent life in space. But it happened only once. Now, two researchers, Robert Grey and Kevin Marvel, have used the VLA to look at the source location with unprecedented sensitivity. They saw nothing strange or anything that could explain the signal."
Apes have Morality...
This story has been out there since 1996, but I didn't come across it till this week. From the Detroit News, May 13, 1996 , "The new evidence suggests morality and a sense of justice may not be uniquely human characteristics. Scientists now have indications that a basic moral code and a crude sense of justice exist in chimpanzees. Such behaviors seem to originate in brain chemicals and structures found in all primates, the animal group that includes humans."
Fingerprints not as Unique as once thought?
From the Nov. 2000 story by Simon Cole of Lingua Franca, " FOR HUNDREDS OF YEARS, the uniqueness of fingerprint patterns has been so widely assumed that it never seemed necessary to prove it. ..." But now this established method has come under fire in some court cases. It's a long, but interesting article.
"Dracula" Ants - possible transitional form linking Wasps and Ants ...
ABC News and Reuters reported on Jan. 10th that "A colony of cannibalistic ants discovered in Madagascar represent an important piece of the puzzle in understanding the evolution and behavior of one of the most successful insect species in the world, scientists said today. ... The fearsome-looking insects, dubbed 'Dracula ants' by their discoverers because they suck nourishment from their own larvae, are believed to be a transitional species bridging the gap between ants and the wasps from which they evolved millions of years ago. ... The Madagascar ants, belonging to the genus Adetomyrma, have just a single connection between their thorax and their abdomen instead of the two or three joints found in 'modern' ant species, Fisher said. 'They have got this wasp waist, if you will,' he said, adding that the single joint was a clear indication of the ants link to earlier wasps."
Bird Fossil close to ancestor of living Birds is announced ...
Yale University reports on Jan. 11th that a new fossil bird discovery "announced this week in the journal Nature, was analyzed by Julia Clarke, a doctoral candidate in vertebrate paleontology atYale University, and Mark Norell, chair and curator of the Division of Paleontology at the American Museum of Natural History. The discovery is particularly important because the new bird comes from a part of the evolutionary tree close to the origin of all living birds and that is not well represented in the fossil record. 'All of the birds living today have a most recent common ancestor that they share,' said Clarke,who is in Yales Department of Geology. 'This fossil is just outside the group or clade that includes the decendants of that common ancestor. It is the best preserved specimen of a fossil from close to the radiation of all living birds discovered in over 100 years.' "
Oldest Rocks Ever! And they show there was H2O on Earth 4.3 BILLION years ago!
The University Of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) reported on Jan. 11th that "Strong evidence for liquid water at or near the Earth's surface 4.3 billion years ago is presented by a team of scientists in the cover story of the Jan. 11 issue of the journal Nature. The scientists from UCLA and Curtin University of Technology in Perth, Australia present research that pushes back our knowledge of the presence of liquid water on Earth some 400 million years."
Pulsar linked to 386 AD Supernova!
From Science Daily, Jan. 11 2001: "New evidence from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory suggests that a known pulsar is the present-day counterpart to a supernova that exploded in 386 AD, a stellar explosion witnessed by Chinese astronomers. If confirmed, this will be only the second known pulsar to be clearly associated with a historic event."
Source: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/01/010110144316.htm (courtesy NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center. )
Tom Manaster dies suddenly, Jan. 4, 2001...more photos, tributes now online...
Art Bell to return to late-night talk radio???
The Drudge Report reported on Jan. 4th that paranormal radio talk-show host Art Bell is negotiating his return to the airwaves.
Sheep bred for sacrifice kills its master...
Sheep get a lot of bad press for being stupid followers and acting like, well, sheep. But an Egyptian sheep had different ideas than his owner, who was preparing to sacrifice the animal for the Muslim feast of sacrifice, Eid al-Adha, in early March. Reuters reported on Jan. 2nd that "Waheeb Hamoudah, 56, who worked in the police tax evasion department, had been feeding the sheep he had tethered on the rooftop when it butted him. Neighbors found Hamoudah lying bleeding and concussed on the ground below, with several broken bones, Monday. He died soon after reaching hospital."
Mysterious Monolith appears in Seattle on Jan. 1, 2001...
The AP reported on Jan. 2nd that "A 9-foot-tall steel monolith mysteriously appeared in a city park, just in time for 2001. Denny Sargent couldn't resist humming the theme to '2001: A Space Odyssey,' when he walked up to touch the imposing object, which stands on a grassy knoll in Magnuson Park like the movie's enigmatic extraterrestrial guardian. ... The unmarked sculpture appears to have been put in place on New Year's Eve. There is no plaque or other clue to the sculptor...."
Verizon Wireless fights back against claims of cancer from cell phones...
Faced with the prospect of large lawsuits, Verizon has addressed the safety issues with a new website, which includes links to recent FDA studies showing no links between use of cell phones and cancer incidence.
News Report: http://news.cnet.com/news/0-1004-200-4301323.html?tag=pt.abc.tech..ne_4301323
Finding Patterns in Random Data...
Mathematician John Allen Paulos writes in his January 2001 ABC News column concerns the "general question of how people can look at nebulous, inconclusive data and draw very different conclusions from it." Paulos states "The fact is that random events can frequently seem to contain significant patterns....uncertain information, coincidences, and statistical ties provide fertile ground for all sorts of theories, narratives, and just-so stories." Some excellent examples are provided in the article.
Y2K Bug KICKS IN in Norway...
ABC News reported on Jan. 2nd that "The Y2K computer glitch hit Norways national railroad company a year later than expected. The bug was discovered when none of the companys new 16 airport express trains or 13 high-speed, long-distance Signatur trains would start early in the morning of Dec. 31."
Kent Hovind wins the P. T. Barnum "One Born Every Minute" Award
And, he REFUSES to debate! Click here for the full story.
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