NEWS FROM EARLIER IN THE YEAR 2002
This page was last updated on January 3rd, 2003.
by Dave Thomas : nmsrdaveATswcp.com (Help fight SPAM! Please replace the AT with an @ )
Attack of the CLONES...
The Washington Post/Reuters (and just about everybody else!) reported on Dec. 27th that "A company associated with a group that believes extraterrestrials created mankind claimed Friday that it had produced the first clone of a human being. The company, Clonaid, announced it had created a healthy baby girl who was a clone of the 31-year-old American woman who gave birth to her. No proof was provided for the claim. ...Clonaid is viewed skeptically by most scientists, who doubt the group's technical ability to clone a human being. A Clonaid spokeswoman said an independent expert will confirm the baby is a clone through DNA testing. Clonaid is linked to a sect called the Raelians, whose founder, Claude Vorihon,describes himself as a prophet and calls himself Rael. The group believes cloning could extend human life for hundreds of years. Cattle, mice, sheep and other animals have been cloned with mixed success. Some animals have displayed defects later in life and scientists fear the same could happen with cloned humans...."
The Albuquerque Journal's John Fleck has posted several of the reasons that this is a really, really BAD idea on his weblog. Fleck provides a nice overall (and brief) introduction to the topic, and mentions some of the concerns, such as those of Massachusetts Institute of Technology biologist Rudy Jaenisch :"In normal development ... reprogramming has to occur. It occurs during egg maturation and sperm maturation. These are very complex processes, which takes years or months in humans. Now what happens in clones? In clones, this nucleus comes in and now has to reprogram its genome probably with minutes, at most hours, because the egg has to divide. And that's where things go wrong. Most clones die. ..."
Have the Raelians really cloned a human? Skeptics are waiting for more definitive proof. Sadly, the word is that the responsibility for this proof will go to Michael Guillen, formerly a science correspondent on ABC. Bob Park of the American Physical Society said on Dec. 27th that "There are no details on how the supposed cloning of Eve was achieved, but physicist Michael Guillen, PhD Cornell, has been selected by Clonaid to verify the claim. Guillen has just the credentials Clonaid needs. In 1997 as the science correspondent for ABC Good Morning America, Guillen did a three-part series, 'Fringe or Frontier.' Of precognition he concluded 'these guys are not flakes'; on astrology, 'I think were just going to have to suspend judgement'; on psychokinesis, 'you have to take it seriously' (WN 3 Oct 97). Indeed, Guillen covered everything from James Pattersons cold fusion cell to Kirlian photographs of the human aura with the same credulity. A PhD in physics, after all, is not an inoculation against foolishness. We called ABC, but were told emphatically that their relationship with Guillen ended nearly a year ago...."
This would be an inopportune time to fail to remind everyone that these same Raelians have also endorsed Intelligent Design, as reported previously in NMSR's news log.
Moon Hoax Redux...
CNN reported on Dec. 22nd on the latest re the alleged "Hoaxed Moon Landings." CNN asks "Is that the moon or a studio in the Nevada desert? How can the flag flutter when there's no wind on the moon? Why can't we see stars in the moon-landing pictures? For three decades, NASA has taken the high road, ignoring those who claimed the Apollo moon landings were faked and part of a colossal government conspiracy. ... a few months ago, the space agency budgeted $15,000 to hire a former rocket scientist and author to produce a small book refuting the disbelievers' claims. It would be written primarily with teachers and students in mind. The idea backfired, however, embarrassing the space agency for responding to ignorance, and the book deal was chucked. 'The issue of trying to do a targeted response to this is just lending credibility to something that is, on its face, asinine,' NASA chief Sean O'Keefe said in late November after the dust settled. So it's back to square one -- ignoring the hoaxers. That's troubling to some scientific experts who contend that someone needs to lead the fight against scientific illiteracy and the growing belief in pseudoscience like aliens and astrology. Someone like NASA. 'If they don't speak out, who will?' asks Melissa Pollak, a senior analyst at the National Science Foundation. Author James Oberg will. The former space shuttle flight controller plans to write the book NASA commissioned from him even though the agency pulled the plug. He's seeking money elsewhere. His working title: 'A Pall Over Apollo.' Tom Hanks will speak out, too. ..."
Survival of the Fittest... Religions, That Is...
Natalie Angier of the New York Times writes on Dec. 24th that "In a world overwhelmed by religious conflict, where no faith seems secure from the wrath of competing creeds, humanity's religious impulse can look like a decidedly mixed blessing, a source of violent intolerance as much as a prescription for upstanding and altruistic behavior. How can a force that transforms convicted murderers into placid samaritans, and that has given the world Handel's 'Messiah,' the mosaics of Ravenna and Borobudur Temple also have spawned the Salem witch hunts, Osama bin Laden and columnists who snarl that America should invade Muslim countries, 'kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity'? What sort of Jekyll-and-Hydra-headed beast is this thing called religious faith? In the view of Dr. David Sloan Wilson of Binghamton University in upstate New York, a very natural and very powerful beast indeed, and one that helps explain humanity's rise to global dominance. Dr. Wilson, a renowned evolutionary biologist, proposes that religion with all its institutional, emotional and prescriptive trappings ranks as a kind of mega-adaptation: a trait that evolved because it conferred advantages on those who bore it. But whereas evolutionary biologists traditionally view an adaptation as the outcome of a struggle between unevenly matched individuals say, between one polar bear with a cleanly cloaking white coat, and another with a slightly less effective form of camouflage Dr. Wilson sees religion as the product of group selection at work. ..."
Santa Fe "Chemtrails" Speaker Goes to Durango...
The Durango Herald reported on November 19th that "Scientists and aviation officials say there is nothing dangerous about the white jet streams from aircraft that a New Mexico scientist and some Durango-area residents say are causing sickness and drought around the country. The authorities dismiss suspicions about so-called 'chemtrails,' or chemical trails, as unfounded. In interviews Monday, some atmospheric scientists and aviation officials spoke with derision about proponents of chemtrail conspiracy theories. 'I have looked at those (chemtrail) Web sites a couple of times, and theyre right up there with the UFO folks,' said Paul Newman, a physicist with the Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Branch of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration near Washington, D.C. 'Theres nothing odd in what you find in those plumes, besides what you would expect out of the tail of an aircraft.' Clifford Carnicom, a geophysicist and mathematician from Santa Fe, spoke at Storehouse Baptist Church south of Durango on Saturday night. Carnicom told about 50 residents that he believes a national or global organization is placing harmful particulates in jet emissions, which he calls 'aerosol trails.' Carnicom said none of the statements refute his theory or address the evidence he presented Saturday night. Carnicom presented videos and photographs he said showed suspicious aerosol trails that stayed suspended in the sky longer than normal. However, Charles Knight, a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, said that under certain weather conditions contrails can stay suspended in the sky for days. 'These pictures of the spectacular linear clouds that these people are calling chemtrails, we simply call them contrails,' Knight said. The Federal Aviation Administration says that jet emissions are composed of carbon monoxide, nitrogen and hydrocarbon oxides and smoke. In high levels of the atmosphere, including the skies over Durango, these jet emissions easily produce ice crystals, he said....The FAA measures and regulates jet emissions to ensure they comply with the Clean Air Act of 1970, which regulates the emissions of pollutants from aircraft to ensure they meet government safety standards. Brian Toon of the University of Colorado at Boulders Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics said jets fly too high above the ground to drop harmful particulates on a specific target, as many chemtrail theorists believe. He, too, called contrails harmless. 'If you are afraid of contrails, I would recommend you never open your freezer, because theres ice in your freezer and thats whats in contrails,' Toon said. Allen Kenitzer, a spokesman for the FAA, said the agency has never found any evidence that harmful substances are being added to contrails. 'We dont have an official position on this, because we dont feel we need to have one,' Kenitzer said from Seattle. 'A couple of years ago we were getting swamped with calls about this. All of these reports turned out to be nothing.' ..."
Carnicom's Website (http://www.carnicom.com/contrails.htm) has copious comments about the treacherous Durango Herald, but I had to go to Google to see what the Herald actually said. However, you can see the Herald's editorial cartoon on the "trails" at Carnicom's site:
As for me, I'm still waiting for a chemtrail enthusiast to explain to me the practicality of "dusting" at 35,000 fett up...
Electric Pickles - the "Weird Science" of Christmas...
In my never-ending quest for weird science news, I decided to see what resulted from searching for "weird science" on Google's new News Search engine. And this is what I found:
The Wichita Eagle reported on Dec. 24 2002 on odd Christmas traditions. The Eagle noted that "then there's that Gherkinbaum tradition. It's sort of a combination of an old German tradition about pickle-shaped ornaments for the Tannenbaum, combined with weird science that says a dill pickle plugged into a wall outlet will glow like a 40-watt light bulb. Gerald Graves decided to try the science for himself, using an old electric cord, some nails and a jar of gherkins. It worked. A few years later, the novelty had worn off, so he went back to the workshop to decorate the pickle like a Christmas tree. 'That was about 15 years ago. The modern Gherkinbaum sits atop a base of Styrofoam snow, surrounded by tiny presents, and is topped with a Christmas star. ... With myself wearing a lab coat, safety glasses and a Santa hat while performing the lighting ceremony, it has become a staple' of Christmas celebrations...."
Not too shabby!
HAVE A GREAT NEW YEAR!!
Weinberg on Wolfram...
Nobel laureate and physicist Steven Weinberg reviews "A New Kind of Science" by Stephen Wolfram in the Oct. 24th New York Times Review of Books. Weinberg writes "Usually I put books that make claims like these on the crackpot shelf of my office bookcase. In the case of Wolfram's book, that would be a mistake. Wolfram is smart, winner of a MacArthur Fellowship at age twenty-two, and the progenitor of the invaluable Mathematica, and he has lots of stimulating things to say about computers and science. I don't think that his book comes close to meeting his goals or justifying his claims, but if it is a failure it is an interesting one. ..."
Penn and Teller go after Aliens and Creationists on TV...
PRNewswire reported on Dec. 16th that "On January 24 at 11:00 PM ET/PT SHOWTIME will present the controversial new series PENN & TELLER: BULLSHIT! Master showmen Penn & Teller promise an aggressive, irreverent expose of taboo topics using the duo's trademark humor, knowledge of carnival tricks and con-artistry, as well as hidden cameras and blatant confrontation. ... Using undercover operatives, scrupulous research and a healthy dose of skepticism, the Vegas headliners and world-famous magicians blow the lid off popular notions about alien abductions, Ouija boards and end of the world predictions. They expose the bogus science behind such widely accepted canards as creationism, the purity of bottled water,global warming, miracle-workers and religious cults...."
Florida Prosecutor drops case against "Dr. Dino" ...
Escambia County reported on Dec. 9th that the prosecutor
in the felony assault case against Kent "Dr. Dino" Hovind, the
Marjoe-style creation evangelist, has filed a "NOLLE
PROSEQUI" motion. Translation: "An entry made on the
record, by which the prosecutor or plaintiff declares that he will
proceed no further." Charges on the battery and burglary charges
were nolle prosequied also. Hovind's web site is
Echinacea for Colds? How about a Sugar Pill instead?...
YAHOO reported on Dec. 16th that "People looking to shorten a bout with the common cold or reduce their symptoms by popping capsules of echinacea (news - web sites) may not find relief, new study findings suggest. Echinacea, derived from the purple coneflower, is an herb sold over the counter as an immune-system strengthener and cold remedy. Despite a few studies that found the herb made a difference for cold sufferers, "there is no clear consensus about whether echinacea can benefit human health," lead author Dr. Bruce P. Barrett and colleagues write in the December 17th issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine...."
Abducted by Aliens? Harvard is looking for YOU...
The NY Times reported on Dec. 18th that "When Susan Clancy, a psychologist at Harvard University, wanted to study people with memories of events that had never happened, she cast her net wide. So wide it reached galaxies far, far away. Have you ever been 'contacted or abducted by space aliens?' the newspaper ads she ran read. Researchers at Harvard, the ads said,were seeking subjects 'to participate in a memory study.'..."
Miss Cleo gets off, Speaks her mind...
The Click10 TV station in Florida reported on Dec. 18th that "Just before Thanksgiving, fraud charges against television psychic Miss Cleo were dropped in Florida, and now Youree del Harris, the real woman behind the crystal ball, has broken her silence. On camera, Harris (pictured) told Channel 10 News that despite what prosecutors say, she is the real thing and does have psychic abilities, which she calls the 'gift of sight.' 'Everything that I said on the TV that were my words, was real,' Harris said. 'Call me now was something required by contract to say. When I'd encounter people on the street and they said,'Cleo we tried to call.' And I said, 'Don't call that number dear.'" The commercials are off the air, and the company, which produced them, Access Resource Services, has settled with the state. ..."
San Fran to Regulate Psychics...
The San Francisco Gate reported on Dec. 20th that "The future looked cloudy for dozens of fortune-tellers and psychics in San Francisco on Thursday after legislation was proposed to require them to obtain permits, post their rates and stop tricking their clients. Under the law, the first of its kind for a major U.S. city, fortune-tellers would no longer be allowed to perform such classic curse removals as the knot in the thread, the blood in the glass, or the hair in the grapefruit. The bury-the-money trick would be outlawed, too. 'Everyone is going to think this is a little bit hokey,' said Supervisor Aaron Peskin, introducing his ordinance at the Hall of Justice. 'But it's not hokey if it's your money that's being taken,' chimed in District Attorney Terence Hallinan, who is backing the proposal. ..."
The Guardian poo-poohs the "Bible Code" and the "Rendlesham UFO"...
Simon Hoggart of the Guardian (UK) discussed the British tabloid "The Daily Mail" on Dec. 7th , writing "But why should anyone believe what's in the Daily Mail in the first place? This week they have returned to The Bible Code, that piece of paranormal nonsense which was very ably dismantled on Thursday by my colleague Catherine Bennett. Like all similar folderol, the code assembles vast amounts of data, which is then selectively plucked to prove whatever the writer wants to prove, in this case a coming nuclear Armageddon. With a lot of time and a half-decent computer, you could without a doubt prove that Chaucer secretly forecast the story about Cherie Blair and the conman in The Canterbury Tales. It's junk. ... Yesterday the Mail returned to the grand old Rendlesham Forest UFO story of 1980. I won't bore you with the details, except to say that the whole scenario has been very adequately explained many times - a lighthouse shining through the trees, a meteor over southern England - and the marks of the alleged three-legged landing gear in the soft soil were plainly rabbit diggings. They weren't even symmetrical. To be fair the Mail includes some of these points, only to bury them in a morass of fake mystery. We're supposed to believe that space aliens crossed from another solar system in a sort of inter-galactic go-kart, then having landed, disappeared again without even leaving a note. ..."
Oldest Rocks on the EARTH...
The BBC reported on Dec. 5th that "The oldest volcanic rocks in the world have been discovered by geologists in Canada. The rocks date back almost four billion years and were discovered in northern Quebec. By studying the rocks the scientists hope to find out more about how life began on Earth. And by comparing these rocks with similar ones found in Greenland, the researchers can learn more about the first billion years of the planet's evolution. ... By calculating the radioactive decay in the rocks' minerals, the scientists estimated their samples to be 3.825 billion years old - give or take 16 million years. ... But the rocks just discovered are very similar to others from the so-called Isua sequence in Greenland. ... Much research has already been carried out on these basaltic rocks, and scientists believe they may have found carbon compounds in them that were produced by biological activity. The Canadian and Greenland rocks can now be looked at together. Professor Stevenson said: 'These rocks give us a comparison that wasn't there before.' ..."
Stan Miller is Back...
One of creationist Jonathan Wells's attacks on evolution is his book Icons of Evolution is the work Stanley Miller did on pre-biotic atmospheres of the ancient earth. In Wells' "Ten questions to ask your biology teacher about evolution.," his first question is "Why do textbooks claim that the 1953 Miller-Urey experiment shows how life's building blocks may have formed on the early Earth -- when conditions on the early Earth were probably nothing like those used in the experiment, and the origin of life remains a mystery?" Wells argues that the early atmosphere was not strongly reducing, and would thus have not permitted the formation of biological molecules like amino acids.
But Stan Miller is still at it, and his latest research on early atmospheres appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, Vol. 99, Issue 23, 14628-14631, November 12, 2002. Miller notes that "Most models of the primitive atmosphere around the time life originated suggest that the atmosphere was dominated by carbon dioxide, largely based on the notion that the atmosphere was derived via volcanic outgassing, and that those gases were similar to those found in modern volcanic effluent. These models tend to downplay the possibility of a strongly reducing atmosphere, which had been thought to be important for prebiotic synthesis and thus the origin of life. However, there is no definitive geologic evidence for the oxidation state of the early atmosphere and bioorganic compounds are not efficiently synthesized from CO2 atmospheres. In the present study, it was shown that a CO-CO2-N2-H2O atmosphere can give a variety of bioorganic compounds with yields comparable to those obtained from a strongly reducing atmosphere. Atmospheres containing carbon monoxide might therefore have been conducive to prebiotic synthesis and perhaps the origin of life. CO-dominant atmospheres could have existed if the production rate of CO from impacts of extraterrestrial materials were high or if the upper mantle had been more reduced than today. ..."
NMSR's Wells Pages:
Using Genetic Engineering to Save Endangered Species...
MSN Australia reported on Dec. 8th that "Chinese scientists have cloned the giant panda's reproductive hormone gene, and hope this can help the endangered species improve its ability to breed in captivity....The cloning of the hormone gene can be used to modulate egg production and build up the panda's enthusiasm for mating, improving breeding ability, Zhang said. China has begun experiments to clone one of the black and white creatures, of which only a handful remain...."
Another Beneficial Mutation Discovered...
The Age (Australia) reported on Dec. 9th that "Melbourne scientists have found that a genetic resistance to malaria has evolved in people from Melanesia, a discovery that is a vital step in the development of a vaccine for the disease. The malaria parasite works by invading and occupying red blood cells before bursting out and releasing a small explosion of toxin every 48 hours, causing inflammation, fever and chills. In a study reported today in the journal Nature Medicine, Alan Cowman and Alexander Maier, from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, concluded that a gene mutation common to Melanesians thwarts the parasite's attacks on red blood cells. 'When you have the mutation . . . the parasite cannot invade as well,' Dr Cowman said...."
Another METEOR SHOWER this weekend...
YAHOO reported on Dec. 6th that "Less than a month after the Leonid meteor shower, another excellent display is just around the corner. The reliable, annual Geminid meteor shower is scheduled to reach its peak during the pre-dawn hours of Saturday, Dec. 14. The Geminids should produce a fine display of 1-2 meteor every minute for North American observers with dark skies, weather permitting. Brief bursts of activity could produce even higher rates. The nights and mornings surrounding the peak activity should prove rewarding, too. ..."
It's Been A Bad Week for Creationists, Intelligent Design Theorists...
First it was Ohio. ID supporters have been clamoring for inclusion of "Intelligent Design" in Ohio's school science standards for a year or so. The Ohio Board rewarded these efforts by tacking on a provision to the new standards specifically blocking the teaching and testing of "Intelligent Design" concepts. The Cincinatti Inquirer reported on Dec. 11th that "Greater Cincinnati science teachers say they are relieved that the Ohio State Board of Education on Tuesday did not stress teaching "intelligent design" as part of the state's new science standards. Teachers interviewed say intelligent design - the concept that changes in species are guided by a higher intelligent power - should not be taught alongside evolution in science curricula because it's not science. ... The state school board unanimously approved science standards Tuesday that take a stronger stance on evolution and allow students to critique its legitimacy. ... Under the standards, evolution will be the only life concept covered on the tests, meaning that schools that currently avoid teaching evolution or only briefly cover the theory would risk putting their students at a disadvantage. ... The new science standards emphasize evolution but allow critical analysis of the theory. However, the board added an amendment saying the standards do not mandate the teaching or testing of intelligent design. ..."
And in Lousiana, ID supporters wanted that state to adopt an "Evolution is Just a Theory" disclaimer like the one in Alabama (and a little like the one used in New Mexico in the 1970's; see http://www.nmsr.org/nmevhist.htm for the details). Their efforts were not successful. The Advocate News reported on Dec. 13th that "The state's top school board rejected a move Thursday to add a disclaimer to high school biology textbooks that said evolution is only a theory. The vote was 7-3. A committee of the board endorsed the disclaimer Tuesday, modeled after one adopted in Alabama. Louisiana and Alabama would have been the only two states with such a provision if the plan had won approval. ..."
It's Ba-a-ack! The Bible Code II...
\Michael Drosnin's sequel to the Bible Code, called the Bible Code II, was released in November 2002. The new book is all about the portents of the September 11th terror attacks Drosnin has since found "encoded" in Torah. Amazon.com has kindly placed an excerpt from the new book on the internet. I applied the "Bible Code" technique to this excerpt (a mere 6,966 characters, for 1,617 words), and found this AMAZING secret message, encoded in Drosnin's very own words:
This entire (and rather large) puzzle can be seen on the web, at http://www.nmsr.org/biblecod.htm, along with further commentary.
Scientists will get to study THIS new "Kennewick Man"...
Jeordan Legon of CNN wrote on December 3rd that "Researchers said it may be the oldest skull ever found in the Americas: an elongated-faced woman who died about 13,000 years ago. But perhaps more significant than the bones' age, researchers said, is that they were found while digging a well near Mexico City International Airport. Because the remains were discovered outside the United States, scientists will be able to study the DNA and structure of the skeleton without the objection of Native American groups, who can claim and rebury ancestral remains under a 1990 U.S. law. ..."
Chris Mooney on Intelligent Design...
Here's an interesting article on creationism in the American Prospect:
Of Mice and Men: Genetic Code Secrets Revealed...
NewScientist.com news service reported on Dec. 2nd that "The first high quality draft of the mouse genome has been greeted by geneticists as a `Rosetta stone' that will help unravel the secrets of our own genes. With 99 per cent of our DNA now confirmed to match that of Mus musculus, geneticists can find out how human genes work with experiments on their favourite lab animal. ... `For the first time we have an opportunity to see ourselves in an evolutionary mirror,' says Eric Lander, director of the Whitehead/MIT Center for Genome Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Studies comparing the mouse and human sequences that accompany the mouse genome in the journal Nature suggest it provides plenty of new leads in biology and disease. ... One new puzzle that will have biologists scratching their heads for years to come is the function of mysterious "non-coding" chunks of DNA. These are not genes but must have an important role because evolution has left them virtually unchanged in both humans and mice since our evolutionary paths parted about 75 million years ago. ..."
Governor Richardson Meets Roswell...
Steve Terrell of the Santa Fe New Mexican said this on Nov. 28th about the Sci Fi channel's "Roswell: Smoking Gun" documentary: "Stranger than (science) fiction: Last week the Sci-Fi channel ran a special documentary about the celebrated Roswell UFO incident - the alleged flying saucer crash in 1947. Among those interviewed by Bryant Gumbel was our own Bill Richardson. What was surprising about the interview was the fact that Gumbel referred to Richardson as the governor of New Mexico. The way we understand it, even though he's got a temporary office on the fourth floor of the Roundhouse and just about everyone is calling him `governor,' Richardson doesn't get sworn in until Jan. 1. Was Gumbel merely mistaken? Or does he possess the secret of time travel? Although reopening the Roswell case was one of the few campaign promises he didn't make, Richardson - or was it the future Richardson? - told Gumbel he does not believe all the truth about the Roswell incident has come out. ..."
Bigfoot is Dead at 84...
Scott Martelle of the Los Angeles Times writes on Dec. 6th that "There wasn't enough room in Ray Wallace's grave for him and his hoax, so now the truth is out: Bigfoot didn't exist. Or at least not the Bigfoot that Wallace helped make famous. Wallace, a former logger, converted the imaginary into celebrity in 1958 when news reports surfaced about large, mysterious footprints found in a logging camp where Wallace worked in Bluff Creek, part of Humboldt County in Northern California. Then Wallace began milking it. He reported Bigfoot sightings. He recorded Bigfoot sounds. He played the faithful like a violin and giggled behind his hand the whole time, said son Michael Wallace. `He was a prankster, but never malicious,' the son said Thursday. `He just liked playing jokes.'... `He made a lot of people laugh,' Wallace said. `It was a fun family to grow up in.' Serious students of Bigfoot long suspected Wallace was faking it, so the family's admission wasn't much of a surprise and does not discredit what they see as other evidence that Bigfoot exists. ..."
This is BIG: Neutrinos have Mass...
We don't yet know what the miniscule neutrino's mass is, but we now know that it's non-zero, thanks to measurements of differences between oscillating neutrinos. Here's the report from Science Blog posted on Dec. 6th: "Results from the first six months of experiments at KamLAND, an underground neutrino detector in central Japan, show that anti-neutrinos emanating from nearby nuclear reactors are `disappearing,' which indicates they have mass and can oscillate or change from one type to another. As anti-neutrinos are the anti-matter counterpart to neutrinos, these results provide independent confirmation of earlier studies involving solar neutrinos and show that the Standard Model of Particle Physics, which has successfully explained fundamental physics since the 1970's, is in need of updating. The results also point the way to the first direct measurements of the total radioactivity of the earth. ..."
Dogs...Out of Asia?
The New York Times reported on Nov. 22nd on new studies indicating that virtually all dogs, even pre-Columbian dogs from North America (since vanished, and accessible only via ancient remains), descended from a few lines of wolves from east Asia. Nicholas Wade writes "Dr. Wayne and another colleague, Dr. Jennifer Leonard, analyzed the DNA of New World dogs, expecting to find that they had been domesticated by American Indians from local wolves. To exclude dogs brought from Europe, Dr. Leonard gathered pre-Columbian dog bones from archaeological sites and extracted their DNA. The samples matched that of Eurasian dogs, not American wolves, showing that dogs, of at least five lineages, must have been brought from the Old World to the New by pre-Columbian settlers. ..."
Intermittent Island Re-surfacing, International Wrangling Resumes...
ABC News reported on Nov. 25th that "A volcanic island submerged off the coast of Sicily for the last 170 years could reappear in the coming weeks if furious seismic rumblings continue, Italy's chief seismologist said Monday. ... Formed by the tip of a submerged volcano, the island last popped up in 1831, sparking a diplomatic spat among several nations, before it sank beneath the Mediterranean waves six months later. ... Over the centuries, the island has emerged four times, with underwater volcanic eruptions first recorded during the first Punic War of 264-241 BC. The last emergence on July 2, 1831, caused months of international wrangling with four nations making territorial claims including Britain, Spain and the Bourbon court of Sicily. ... "
Roses are Red, Violets are Blue, Tinker DNA, Get Blue Roses Too?
MSNBC reported on Nov. 25th that "Breakthroughs in biotechnology may finally resolve the quest for the elusive blue rose, which alas does not exist because roses lack the corresponding pigment genes.Technology also promises to restore sweet smells to the rose and other flowers. Generations of commercial breeding has led to beautiful but bland-smelling roses. Their colors are stunning and vase lives long, but theyve little fragrance.Genetic engineers are also busy bringing science to bear on diseases and pests that affect the worlds 120 different rose species, which have blossomed into a $10 billion-a-year business worldwide. Still, its the blue rose that remains the biggest prize. ..."
Bilirubin, cause of the "Yellow" in Jaundice, May Be Beneficial...
Newsday reported on Nov. 26th that "The molecule responsible for turning some newborn skin the color of bright yellow autumn leaves - a signal of jaundice - may have a benefit after all. Scientists have shown that the bilirubin molecule is a potent antioxidant that could one day be harnessed as a treatment for cardiovascular disease and other conditions caused by cell damage, according to scientists at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore. Oxidative stress is a major cause of cell injury and death, and substances that block this destructive process are called antioxidants. 'This is a very powerful antioxidant,' said Dr. Solomon Snyder, director of neuroscience at Hopkins and a co-author of the bilirubin study published yesterday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. ..."
Elisabeth Targ, M. D., studied Prayer and Healing, but the Prayers of her Admirers couldn't prevent her death from a Brain Tumor...
Po Bronson of Wired.com reported in the December 2002 issue on the recent death of Elisabeth Targ. Targ had studued the effects of prayer on healin in the late 90's, and her controversial study, published in the Western Journal of Medicine, "showed that the subjects who were not prayed for spent 600 percent more days in the hospital. They contracted 300 percent as many AIDS-related illnesses. That's a pretty sensationalistic way of saying those who were prayed for were a lot less sick. Here's the somewhat less-sensational way of framing the results: The control group spent a total of 68 days in the hospital receiving treatment for 35 AIDS-related illnesses. The treatment group spent only 10 days in the hospital for a mere 13 illnesses...." When Targ herself developed a brain tumor, "Her bedroom turned into a circus. Healers from everywhere showed up wanting to help. It was rarely peaceful and quiet. There was Phillip Scott, a Lakota sun dancer who burned sage; Nicolai Levashov, a Russian psychic who waved his hands; Harriet Bienfield, an acupuncturist with rare Chinese herbs; Desda Zuckerman, an energy worker who used techniques inspired by the ancient methods of the Miwok peoples. The reverend Rosalyn Bruyere phoned often, trying to get on Targ's schedule. And, of course, there was her father, Russell, urging her to meditate, calm her mind, go to that place. ..." The prayers didn't prolong Targ's life, and she died two weeks before her 41st birthday. Bronson's article also looks back at flaws in Targ's celebrated study. "...her study had been unblinded and then 'reblinded' to scour for data that confirmed the thesis - and the Western Journal of Medicine did not know this fact when it decided to publish. Her famous study was not, as its reputation suggests, designed to measure the number of AIDS-related illnesses. Targ and Fred Sicher had targeted their study to measure mortality but were caught off-guard by triple-drug anti-retroviral therapy, which became common practice one month into the six-month trial. When biostatistician Dan Moore broke the randomization code to unblind the data, it told them nothing - since only one patient had died, the data was meaningless. ..."
Evolution: Predictable, Reproducible...
The NSF reported on Nov. 15th that "NSF-supported researchers at the University of California at San Diego have created a computer model that accurately predicts how E. coli metabolic systems adapt and evolve when the bacteria are placed under environmental constraints. Bernhard Palsson, Rafael Ibarra (now at GenVault Corporation in Carlsbad, California) and Jeremy Edwards (now at the University of Delaware at Newark) report their findings in the November 14 issue of Nature. ..."
Noah's Ark Spotted?
Space.com reported on Nov. 19th that "Satellite sleuth Porcher Taylor has his fingers crossed. Later this week, the government is set to release oodles of old Keyhole spysat imagery. In the batch may be KH-9 imagery taken in 1973 showing what Taylor calls the "Ararat Anomaly" in Turkey - perhaps the remains of Noah's Ark, or just a very strange rock outcropping. ..."
Black Hole Duet Dazzles...
The Miami Herald reported on Nov. 19th that "For the first time, astronomers have discovered a nearby galaxy with not one but two enormous black holes gobbling up stars. Eventually, they say, these monstrous objects will collide, unleashing a tidal wave of radiation and shaking the very fabric of space. ... The black holes are rapidly spiraling around each other, drawing closer and closer, and will collapse into a single supermassive object in several hundred million years ... The collision will create ripples in space, known as gravitational waves, that will spread across the universe, Centrella said. She compared the effect to the motion of leaves floating on a pond when a stone is dropped in. Because of the great distance, the effects of the cosmic smashup won't be felt in our neighborhood for more than half a billion years. When the ripples reach Earth, they will be so faint that only extremely sensitive instruments can detect them. ..."
"Raptor" Parts Identified...
National Geographic News reported on November 20 "The principal part of a famously fabricated dinosaur fossil is an ancient fish-eating bird, scientists report. The Archaeoraptor fossil was introduced in 1999 and hailed as the missing evolutionary link between carnivorous dinosaurs and modern birds. It was fairly quickly exposed as bogus, a composite containing the head and body of a primitive bird and the tail and hind limbs of a dromaeosaur dinosaur, glued together by a Chinese farmer. Initial CT scans suggested that the fossil might have been made up of anywhere from two to five specimens of two or more species. Chinese and American scientists now report that the fabricated fossil is made up of two species...."
Formation of Feathers? Molecular Details Are Confirmed...
Nature reported on Nov. 21st about a new "developmental approach to analyse molecular mechanisms in feather-branching morphogenesis." The abstract notes that "Our analyses identify the molecular pathways underlying the topological transformation of feathers from cylindrical epithelia to the hierarchical branched structures, and provide insights on the possible developmental mechanisms in the evolution of feather forms. ..."
Raelians Annouce Support for ID...
The Raelian Movement announced on Nov. 15th that "The Raelian Movement supports the Intelligent Design Movement and their attempt to promote the teaching of ID theory within science classes. For the past 29 years, the International Raelian Movement has been actively involved in spreading the revolutionary idea that life originated from an Extraterrestrial intelligence. Not God, not evolution, but a 3rd and much more plausible theory. Indeed, since RAEL's physical encounter with the Elohim (extraterrestrial humans from another planet - see www.rael.org) in 1973, he has been traveling the world trying to educate people about the clear and concise message that he received from this civilization. More and more scientists are supporting this theory.....29 years later...."
Stalin - Roswell was a UFO...
Pravda reported on Nov. 19th that "Almost simultaneously with the USA, in the middle of the 20th century, the USSR tabooed everything connected with UFO crashes. Immediately, the next day after one of the first UFO crashes, in Roswell (the state of New Mexico, U.S.A.), on June 2, 1947, General Roger Romay [sic], commander of the 8th American Air Brigade, declared that the incident was a mere crash of a weather balloon. That was the very beginning of a campaign of mass disinformation. Your average American citizen believed the generals statement for several dozens of years, as they considered it really incredible that an UFO might really have crashed. However, the Soviet leadership headed by Joseph Stalin didnt believe Romays lies at all. The USSR believed that the story about a weather balloon crashing was just an attempt to hide the truth. ...In 1948, on Stalins order, the first sample of an UFO was brought to the Moscow region. Famous Soviet archeologist and artist and journalist Sukhoveyev described the events that preceded this event. ... Archeologist Khvoika told himself that the 'discovered ancient space rocket' was a sign of an ancient civilization. ..."
Sci Fi Roswell Special ... Much Ado About Nothing?
In the end, the Sci Fi channel's much bally-hooed "Smoking Gun" in the Nov. 22nd airng of "The Roswell Crash: Startling New Evidence" relied not at all on on the UNM archaeologists who excavated the Roswell "crash site." No, the "big surprises" found by the UNM team included merely a ten-year old weather balloon, an old furrow that aerial photographs show was already there by 1946, and a second "furrow" that might turn out to be a simple gopher hole. John Fleck of the Albuquerque Journal wrote on Nov. 23rd that "It might be a furrow in the earth from the crash of an alien spacecraft. Or it might be a coyote burrow. The strange furrow and some bags of dirt locked away for further study are all the SCI FI Channel has to show for 10 days of excavation at one of the most bizarre sites in American archaeology. ...The most dramatic 'smoking gun' in Friday's show came in the form of a piece of paper in an Army officer's hand in a 1947 photo. A UFO researcher, David Rudiak, claims a computer enhancement of the photo allowed him to read about 'victims' and a crashed disk in the old memo. Critics say Rudiak's analysis, published first on the Internet at least a year ago, is little more than fuzzy blobs in the blown-up images interpreted to suit his preconceived notions about Roswell. 'It's totally subjective,' said Dave Thomas, a Peralta physicist and longtime Roswell crash skeptic. 'The 'smoking gun' is just suggestive wishful thinking.' ..."
You can browse Rudiak's phuzzy photo's here:
And read UFO author Kevin Randle's analysis here:
Randle's conclusion: "Jim Houran, at the School of Medicine at Southern Illinois University and I conducted an experiment to find out how much of the memo can be read and how much of what people see in the memo is the result of priming (that is, having already heard what is in the memo, they see those same things). The results of the experiment have been published in the Journal of Scientific Exploration. Interestingly, not one of the people saw the word 'victims' in the memo. There was agreement on many of the words such as Fort Worth, Texas, and balloons. But no one saw victims and we were careful not to set up a situation so that the subjects knew what we were wanting. What we did find was that the interpretation of the message was based, in part, on the conditions in which it was given to the subjects. Most interesting was that those who were told that the message was related to atomic testing found other words in the message such as flash. Their interpretation was consistent with what they believed about the context of the message. ... The real point here, however, is that the word 'Victims' is not clearly legible to those who have not been told that it appears in the memo, or told where to look. - KRandle"
Evolution in Motor City...
The Detroit Free Press reported on Nov. 12th, 2002 that "A 40-year-old Detroit area woman had endured painfully infected foot sores for more than a year. Doctors gave her numerous antibiotics, but nothing worked. Finally, last April, they amputated one of her toes -- and made a frightening discovery. Her sores were infected with a virulent new strain of the bacterium staphylococcus aureus, or staph aureus. By stealing genetic material from another bug, the new strain became totally resistant to vancomycin, the longtime drug of last defense against it. ... The infection was the first of its kind in the world and a landmark defeat for doctors and public health officials in the fight against growing antibiotic resistance. It also was evidence that the Detroit area has become an incubator for resistant strains. ..."
Miss Cleo says "Goodbye" to Ill-Gotten $500,000,000...
ABC News reported on Nov. 14th that "The operators of Miss Cleo's psychic hot line agreed Thursday to cancel $500 million in customer bills to settle federal charges that the service fleeced callers while promising mystical insights into love and money. The settlement requires Access Resource Services Inc. and Psychic Readers Network Inc. to stop using pay-per-call numbers to sell their soothsaying services, the Federal Trade Commission said. The two Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based companies, which promoted a national network of 'psychic readers' on television and the Internet, also must pay the FTC a $5 million fine. 'I'm no psychic but I can foresee this: If you make deceptive claims, there is an FTC action in your future,' said Howard Beales, director of the FTC's consumer protection bureau. ..."
Roswell meets UNM meets Bryant Gumbel...
The Sci Fi channel announced on Nov. 8th that "At 8 p.m., Bryant Gumbel hosts The Roswell Crash: Startling New Evidence, a two-hour documentary about the 1947 event that includes new eyewitness interviews and never-before-seen footage. The documentary includes an excavation of the alleged Roswell crash site by archaeologists from the University of New Mexico in partnership with SCI FI. ..."
Dembski Debates Orr...
The October/November 2002 issue of Boston Review featured a debate between ID theorist William Dembski and biologist H. Allen Orr. Orr's conclusion: "Dembski, Behe and associates may in the end prove a thorn in the side of not only biologists but also the devout. By promising devastating objections to evolution but delivering half-baked technobabble that disintegrates upon close inspection, they subject certain religious persons to unnecessary and traumatic cycles of expectation and dashed hope. ..."
Anti-Evolutionist Tom Delay to be House Majority Leader...
ABC News reported on Nov.13th that "Soon to take over the House majority leader's office, Republican Tom DeLay is moving up to a position where his hard-nosed, take-no-hostages approach to politics may not fit his job title. ...Back home in Texas last April, DeLay drew some criticism for advising an audience in a speech at a Baptist Church not to send their children to Baylor or Texas A&M. A spokesman said the advice pertained to parents who want children to be taught creationism. It was later revealed that DeLay had been kicked out of Baylor for his own college behavior. DeLay, who earned his degree in biology from the University of Houston in 1970, remains popular in his Houston suburban district, winning 63 percent of the vote in last week's election. 'In some parts of the country, including my own, it is not a pleaser that the guy who is running the House of Representatives doesn't believe in evolution,' said Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif. 'He has run this House for quite some time. He selected the speaker and he calls the shots and having that known in the country is a good thing.'..."
Scientists: Turin Shroud IS Medieval After All...
The Discovery Channel reported on Nov. 15th that "... in April this year, a pair of scientists, Anatoliy Fesenko, a forensic expert at the Russian Federal Security Service, and Alexander Belyakov, director of the Russian Center for the Turin Shroud, said the 1988 study had been skewed. They pointed to evidence that in the 16th century, the Shroud had been wiped with fresh vegetable oil olive oil, linseed oil or nut oil in order to remove surface grime. This, they contended, had left traces of oil in the fabric that had distorted the carbon dating, making the relic younger by some 1,300 years. But, according to another Russian team, Fesenko and Belyakov got their calculations wrong. The pair did not account for different ratios between two isotopes, carbon 14 and carbon 12, in the vegetable oil, according to the new study. As a result, this meant that the oil contamination would only change the 1260-1390 timeframe very marginally, by four decades at the most. The new research is published by Dmitry Voronov from the Institute for Problems of Information Transfer at the Russian Academy of Sciences and Vladimir Surdin from the Shternberg State Astronomy Institute. ..."
Surprise! Mickey Mouse is Medieval Too!
The BBC reported on Nov. 15th that "A 700-year-old fresco bearing an uncanny resemblance to Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse has been discovered in Austria. The mouse figure was unearthed by an art historian working on the church in the southern village of Malta. The figure bears an enormous resemblance to Walt Disney's famous mouse... It has the same upturned nose and large, rounded ears. ... Historians say the creature may in fact be a weasel, which in medieval times was believed to give birth through its ears. ..."
Click here to see an image of the fresco :
Harry Potter, Book-Burners Return...
It's almost winter, and that means that Harry Potter is returning to movie theatres, and that books about the young wizard are returning to fundamentalist bonfires. The Boston Globe reported on Nov. 15th that "in the headquarters of the Oneness Pentecostal Church, the Rev. Douglas Taylor sees the hand of the devil in the appeal of the Harry Potter books and films. A public 'book-cutting' took place at which Taylor and five other pastors tore a copy of the J. K. Rowling book, on which the film is based, to shreds last night before a clapping audience of 100 people at a local hotel. ... In Alamogordo, N.M., last year, members of the Christ Community Church sang 'Amazing Grace' as they tossed Harry Potter and other books into an outdoors fire. Jack Brock, the church's pastor, branded the books as 'a masterpiece of satanic deception.' Warner Brothers officials declined to comment, but local reaction to Taylor's book-cutting ranges from politely mixed to head-shaking incredulous. ..."
Be Afraid... Be VERY Afraid...
Kim Johnson has submitted this week's Wacky Web Site candidate. This one could be the winner for the whole year!
Creationist Hovind lawyers up...
Barnstorming creationist Kent "Dr. Dino" Hovind has been charged with felony assault in Escambia County, Florida. He originally was defending himself, but has since gotten a lawyer, Michael Rollo. Jury selection is set for Dec. 9, 2002.
AAAS STATES POSITION ON ID...
From the AAAS Website: "The AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) Board recently passed a resolution urging policymakers to oppose teaching "Intelligent Design Theory" within science classrooms, but rather, to keep it separate, in the same way that creationism and other religious teachings are currently handled. ... The Ohio State Education Board is inviting further public comment through November. In December, board members will vote to conclusively determine whether alternatives to evolution should be included in new guidelines that spell out what students need to know about science at different grade levels. Meanwhile, ID theorists have reportedly been active in Missouri, Kansas, New Mexico, New Jersey, and other states, as well Ohio and Georgia...."
And from the AAAS Board Resolution itself:
"The contemporary theory of biological evolution is one of the most robust products of scientific inquiry. It is the foundation for research in many areas of biology as well as an essential element of science education. To become informed and responsible citizens in our contemporary technological world, students need to study the theories and empirical evidence central to current scientific understanding.
Over the past several years proponents of so-called "intelligent design theory," also known as ID, have challenged the accepted scientific theory of biological evolution. As part of this effort they have sought to introduce the teaching of "intelligent design theory" into the science curricula of the public schools. The movement presents "intelligent design theory" to the public as a theoretical innovation, supported by scientific evidence, that offers a more adequate explanation for the origin of the diversity of living organisms than the current scientifically accepted theory of evolution. In response to this effort, individual scientists and philosophers of science have provided substantive critiques of "intelligent design," demonstrating significant conceptual flaws in its formulation, a lack of credible scientific evidence, and misrepresentations of scientific facts. ... "
UNM Supporting Sci-Fi Channel's "Gee Whiz" show on New Roswell Discoveries...
In a story published on Nov. 5th, 2002, Albuquerque Journal reporter John Fleck wrote "A University of New Mexico-led team of archaeologists, working under "top secret conditions," excavated the alleged Roswell UFO crash site in September and found "something." "We found something there that totally surprised us and made me say, 'Gee whiz,' '' said Bill Doleman, the UNM archaeologist who led the dig. Was it a fragment of the alien spacecraft alleged to have crashed near Corona 55 years ago? Perhaps the bones of a little green man? To find out, mark your calendars for the evening of Nov. 22. Doleman is bound to secrecy by a contract between UNM and the television network that funded the dig. The contract even bars him from telling "non-terrestrial entities" what he found. ..."
I've seen a copy of the "Archaeological Testing And Remote Sensing Study Plan for Foster Ranch Impact Site," and it looks very discouraging. For one thing, the "Technical Advisors" for the project are Don Schmitt and Tom Carey, whom UNM Principal Investigator William Doleman called "recognized Roswell Incident researchers" in his test plan. But, Schmitt is a very poorly-regarded UFO researcher. He is the author of two Roswell books with Kevin Randle, but Randle broke off his partnership with Schmitt when he found that Schmitt had lied to him about his college degrees, about working as a medical illustrator, and about being in the witness protection program. Schmitt told Randle he was not a postman (on tape!), but it turned out he was a postman after all. Our July speaker James Moseley's Saucer Smear described Schmitt in May of 2000 as follows: "The International UFO Museum & Research Center at Roswell, New Mexico, has announced the appointment of four prominent researchers to be Advisors to their esteemed Board of Directors. They are Stanton Friedman, Linda Moulton Howe, George Fawcett and (eeek!) Donald Schmitt. With "objective" advisors like these on the loose, how can they possibly go wrong?"
And in July of 1999 a letter writer told Smear "I do agree with you about that pathetic 'Roswell Revival' attempt by Tom Carey & Don Schmitt. That they could be considering to examine 'rodent holes' in the desert, after half a century, is laughable. The same goes for that other equally pathetic effort - namely the so-called 'computer analysis' of the memo in General Ramey's hand in the Fort Worth photos. The Roswell diehards will never give up, and their fantasies will likely continue forever... "
The team looked for several things - a furrow left by the extraterrestrial craft, any debris from the craft itself, Native American artifacts, and so forth. However, they were not bothering to look for, oh, say, debris from Army Air Force physics experiments (Mogul balloon trains) thought by many non-true-believers to be the real source of the Roswell Incident.
Has definitive proof of life on other planets been found at last? Or is this just another over-hyped event like Geraldo's opening of Al Capone's vault? Will UNM be at the center of the most ground-breaking story of the millennium, or will UNM's integrity as a scientific research institution be co-opted by sleazy network executives out for a fast buck? Will there be a name change to the UNM College of Arts and Science Fictions? Maybe we'll find out November 22nd.
What does former colleague Kevin Randle think about Don Schmitt? It ain't pretty!
The Creation Science Fellowship of New Mexico (CSFNM, http://www.swcp.com/creation/ ) has many celebrated New Mexican creationists as members, including Russ Humphreys, internationally-known "creation physicist." Like NMSR, CSFNM has a monthly newsletter. Our two groups squared off for a newsletter/web debate a couple of years ago (http://www.nmsr.org/debate.htm).
Thus it was with interest I read a letter from a correspondent in Lousiana, who stumbled onto a CSFNM Blooper while he was surfing the web. It seems the January 2002 CSFNM newsletter (Volume 13, Number 1), at:
had this item:
"A Problem With Long Ages.
An example of polystrate trees is found in the Tennessee coal beds. One of the coal beds is 1,000 feet thick and supposedly took 100 million years, from the Ordovician to the Pennsylvanian periods, to form. Pennsylvanian Coal Bed 1,000 feet thick Ordivician Ordivician [sic] This coal bed contains many polystrate fossil trees positioned at many different levels in the coal bed. Era Period - for reference, not for real Cenozoic Quaternary Tertiary Mesozoic Cretaceous Jurassic Triassic Paleozoic Permian Pennsylvanian Mississipian Devonian Silurian Ordovician Cambrian."
My Louisiana correspondent, Paul, said "The original source of this very imaginative statement was a homeschool course subtitled "Fossil Trees in Coal Beds":
This site, under the banner of the venerable Institute for Creation Research (ICR), is no longer accessible, but here are some of the things once displayed there.
Why is this a blooper, you might ask? Sure, there are coal beds in Tennessee, and coal beds run for hundreds of miles in Appalachian regions. But even the best beds are (at most!) only 13 to 15 feet thick, and often much thinner. And they certainly aren't considered to have taken a hundred million years to form! It's more like a few thousand years.
Check it out for yourself! The variation in thickness of a typical Tennessee coal bed can be found at:
And thus the blooper traveled, from the ICR, down to CSFNM. I guess it's Trickle-Down Pseudoscience.
It's Official...Dec. 28th "Free Electricity" Demo is CANCELLED...
Dennis Lee, promotor of "Free Electricity," has pulled yet another vanishing act, pulling out of his pledge to demonstrate his "over-unity" power generators at 100 locations across America onDec. 28, 2002. This is right in line with NMSR's Bold Prediction: "There will be NO demonstration of Free Electricity on December 28th, 2002. There will NEVER be such a demonstration. EVER." Lee's latest estimate for the demo: March or July of 2003. As Bart would say, "Yeah. Right."
Creationist sues Los Alamos Nat'l Lab for Big Bang Censorship...
The Young Earth Creation Club has announced that "In September of 2002, Dr. Gentry filed a lawsuit against the National Science Foundation, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Cornell University and others because of alleged censorship of his ten scientific papers that he believes falsifies the Big Bang theory..."
Sources: http://www.creationists.org/Robert_Gentry.html and http://www.creationists.org/gentrypressrelease.html
Of interest is the fact that the most aggressive young-earth creationist organization, Answers in Genesis, has recently published an article critical of Gentry's theories on polonium radiohaloes, one of his premier arguments for a young Earth. Tas Walker of AiG writes "Polonium halos have been found abundantly in granites, and minerals from some 22 localities have so far been reported to contain polonium radiohalos. Because polonium isotopes have very short half-lives, it has been argued that granites with Po halos, regardless of their "geological age" are primordial rocks, created supernaturally and instantaneously during the Creation week. Indeed it has been contended that such granites cannot be duplicated by natural processes. This conclusion has been disputed because of the geological relationships of the rocks in which polonium halos have been found. For example, some samples containing radiohalos were from dikes cross-cutting host rocks which thus must be older. Rather than primordial, it has been suggested that the parent material of the radiohalo was part of a conventional uranium or thorium decay series segregated by some geological process...."
The Geoscience Research Institute, the research arm of the Seventh Day Adventists, has also published an article critical of fellow young-earth creationist Gentry. In a 1988 article, Brown et. al. write "[Gentry's book] Creation's Tiny Mystery represents an interesting approach at a synthesis of science and the Bible; however, the argumentation presented has some serious problems. These include: *The inconsistent use of radioactive disintegration rates; *The fact that polonium halos appear to be derived from uranium; *The evidence for the origin of polonium halos by aqueous transport; and *The fact that polonium halos are found in secondary rocks. Because of these and other problems, readers of Creation's Tiny Mystery should be cautious in accepting its argumentation and claims of evidence for ex nihilo creation. ..."
Speaking of AiG, their influence is growing...
The Kentucky Post had an article on Answers in Genesis on Oct. 26th, noting "Using the Internet, a daily radio broadcast, a newsletter and books, the Boone County-based group says it is sending the creationist message to more than a million people each day, and its popularity is growing. The number of listeners and newsletter subscribers has more than doubled since 1996, and a sequel to its popular "Refuting Evolution" book came out this week. ..."
Time for Atheists to Show Some Pride, says the Infidel Guy ...
ABCNews.com reported on Halloween that "The Infidel Guy, whose real name is Reginald Finley, is one of a considerable number of nonbelievers who feel they are dismissed as an insignificant group on the fringes of society. 'I believed for a long time that atheists were evil people,' says Finley, who hosts a series of 'Infidel Guy' Internet radio shows about atheism. Spurred on in part by controversy over the Pledge of Allegiance, the religious tone of 9/11 remembrance services, some atheists appear ready to speak out. ..."
See Also: http://www.infidelguy.com/
UFO Poll: 72% think Government Holding Out On Secrets...
Space.com reported on Oct. 25th that "...a new poll released this week says a majority of Americans think the truth about unidentified flying objects (UFOs) is out there, yet the government is concealing it from them. ... This week, calls for the U.S. government to be more forthcoming on what it knows about UFOs increased following the release of the poll results. That RoperASW study, sponsored by the SCI FI Channel, shows that 72% of Americans believe the government is not telling the public everything it knows about UFO activity..."
Strange Attractors, Snipers, and Internet Attacks...
Michael Malone of ABCNews.com reported on Oct. 29th that "Every so often an unsual juxtaposition of events opens a brief window into the world we now live in and the future we are about to encounter. Last week was, I think, one of those times. The two events were the capture, and disclosure of identity, of the Washington, D.C.-area sniper; and the attempted destruction, via hacking, of the Internet. Most of us were so busy following the first that we barely noticed the second. But we should pay very close attention, because the two are intimately connected, and their combined implications are terrifying. ... What we do know is that both crimes relied for their impact upon 'network effects.' That is, they were designed to be very precise in their targets in order to produce the maximum secondary results. ... One of the most compelling new scientific theories is that of chaos, the sudden and explosive appearance of large random effects emanating from apparent normalcy. At the heart of chaos theory is the notion of the 'strange attractor,' the evocative title for the notion of a single event that acts as the instigator of all the madness that follows. ..."
It's Halloween...was the Amityville Horror Really that Horrible?
ABCNews.com reported on Halloween that "[George] Lutz admits that some of the scenes in the book and the movie such as the green slime were an embellishment. But he insists the book and the movie are based on events that actually happened during the family's 28-day stay in the house....Joe Nickell, a professional skeptic who has made a career out of challenging claims of paranormal activity, believes there is no scientific basis for any of the claims, from Holzer, the Lutzes or anyone else: 'The bottom line is that ... it was a hoax, or is, simply, at best, a matter that's not proven. And that's not very good for America's most famous haunted house.'... "
Answers in Genesis Blasts Kent Hovind...
Talk about a "wedge" - the staunch young earth creationists of Answers in Genesis have leveled a salvo at fellow YEC Kent Hovind (see http://www.nmsr.org/hovind.htm for details on Kent H). Here's a snippet: "Maintaining Creationist Integrity: A response to Kent Hovind, by Carl Wieland, Ken Ham and Jonathan Sarfati, 11 October 2002. ...Unfortunately, Hovinds document repeatedly misrepresents or misunderstands not only our article, but the issues themselves. Our article was not aimed at any individual, but we plead with all creationist lone wolf popularizers to familiarize themselves with the immense amount of good science being done by qualified (though fallible) creationist researchers, most of them not even associated with our own ministry. These are people who have shown that they are willing to be corrected, and to interact with their critics formally in peer-reviewed fashion...."
Oldest Link to Jesus ?
The AP reported on Oct. 21st that "A burial box that was recently discovered in Israel and dates to the first century could be the oldest archaeological link to Jesus Christ, according to a French scholar whose findings were published Monday. An inscription in the Aramaic language 'James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus' appears on an empty ossuary, a limestone burial box for bones. ... The Rev. Joseph Fitzmyer, a Bible professor at Catholic University who studied photos of the box, agrees with Lemaire that the writing style 'fits perfectly' with other first century examples. The joint appearance of these three famous names is 'striking,' he said. 'But the big problem is, you have to show me the Jesus in this text is Jesus of Nazareth, and nobody can show that,' Fitzmyer said. ..."
Sandia hosts ASK, Adventures in Science & Knowledge website...
"Sandia National Laboratories and Lockheed Martin welcome you to the Adventures in Science & Knowledge website. This is the place for information about our exciting education outreach programs. We invite you to look around. Something is sure to catch you eye. A.S.K. is designed for students, teachers, volunteers, and anyone else excited about science. ..."
Some neat stuff there!
Big Crunch...the End is Near (say, 15 Billion Years?)
The BBC reported on Oct. 22nd "Forget the idea that we live in a youthful universe. If two American professors are correct, the cosmos is middle-aged. And it has not got an old age to look forward to. Despite what recent observations suggest,Professor Andrei Linde from Stanford University and his wife Professor Renata Kallosh say the universe will stop expanding and collapse in the relatively near future. New insights into the mysterious "dark energy" that appears to be pushing the universe apart suggest it may eventually lose its power...."
The Internet was ZAPPED...
The Albuquerque Tribune and AP reported on Oct. 23rd that "Nine of the 13 computer servers that manage global Internet traffic were crippled by a powerful electronic attack this week, officials said. But most Internet users didn't notice, because the attack lasted only an hour. Its origin was not known, and the FBI and White House were investigating. ..."
Art Bell Retires (again)...
Yahoo reported on Oct. 23rd that "Radio host Art Bell, famed for his lengthy discussions on creepy conspiracy theories, will announce his retirement on air in the wee hours of Thursday, his syndicator Premiere Radio Networks Inc. said on Wednesday. Plagued with ongoing back problems, Bell, 57, will name guest host George Noory, 52, as his successor during his overnight radio show, 'Coast to Coast AM.'..."
Gee, and here I thought that all that HGH (human growth hormone) Art pumps on his talk show was supposed to help him feel years younger!?!?
Cost of Deceptive Trade
Practice Settlement: $1.9 Million...
...The Look on Miss Cleo's Face: Priceless!
Yahoo reported on Oct. 23rd that "Two companies that hosted psychic hot line queen Miss Cleo's late night infomercials will pay $1.9 million to Connecticut residents under a settlement with the state over a deceptive trade practice claim...."
Humphreys responds to criticism of helium Closure Temperatures...
Russ Humphreys has responded to Internet discussions on his helium closure arguments. (See http://www.nmsr.org/humphrey.htm for the details.) Humphreys, addressing his response to geologist Joe Meert, claims:
"...You have made three profound errors, assuming:
1. That my 196ºC below zero is a closure temperature,
2. That closure temperatures are relevant to this situation, and
3. That creationist scientists who researched this subject for years are blind enough to miss something you thought you could spot immediately after reading a short laymans summary of the work...."
Joe Meert responds to Humphreys's critique
"...Having said that, I fully understand the concept of closure temperature in zircon and biotite as applied to radiogenic systems. However, despite Humpreys claims that these are problematic for an old earth and that 'some helium problem' exists, there is simply no empirical or experimental data to support his claim...."
Clinton Staffer goes after Pentagon re UFO's...
CNN reported on Oct. 22nd that "...a former White House chief of staff and an international investigative journalist want to know what the Pentagon knows, calling on it to release classified files about that and other incidents involving unidentified flying objects, or UFOs. 'It is time for the government to declassify records that are more than 25 years old and to provide scientists with data that will assist in determining the real nature of this phenomenon,' ex-Clinton aide John Podesta said Tuesday. ..."
Cell Phone Cancer Scares...On Again, Off Again...
New Scientist reported on Oct. 24th that "The safety of cellphones has been brought into question once again by research that suggests radio waves from the devices could promote the growth of tumours. Paradoxically, the study suggests that the radiation makes tumours grow more aggressively by initially killing off cancer cells....."
Tired of NM Politics?... Be Glad you're not in Indiana!
Jack Reynolds is running as a Republican write-in candidate in the Indiana Congressional District 7 race. There's already a Republican who won the primary, but Jack is hoping to get votes from the "Evolution is a Big Lie" voters.
More Toumai Debates ...
National Geographic reported on Oct. 9th that "A six to seven million year old skull from northern Chad that shook the world when its discovery was announced this July may not be what its discoverers' believe it to be: the oldest known member of the human family. 'It is an ape and not a human ancestor,' said Milford Wolpoff, an anthropologist at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. But the lead scientist who discovered the skull, Michel Brunet of the University of Poitiers in France, stands by his theory that the fossil is a hominid. Both sides of the debate are published in the October 10 issue of the journal Nature. ..."
UFOlogical Maryland Congress Candidate Finally gets a Media Interview ... in Pravda!
Stephen Bassett's third-party campaign for the 8th Congressional District of Maryland is dubbed "Disclosure2003." He has dedicated his campaign to the memory of the late Congressman Steve Schiff of New Mexico. The Candidate's Keynote Statement begins with "For the past five decades the human race has been caught between two worlds, two paradigms. While millions of people worldwide have come to understand they are not alone in the universe, that an extraterrestrial presence has become manifest about the planet, the governments of the world, frozen in place by fear and indecision, have been unable to publicly engage this new reality. This cannot continue. It is time for the United States of America, a nation which views itself as a leader of nations, to formally acknowledge this extraterrestrial presence. ..."
But Mr. Bassett is having trouble getting any attention for his race. For example, the Washington Times said on Oct. 3rd that "The poll, sponsored by the Baltimore Sun and the Gazette newspapers, showed Mr. Van Hollen [Democratic state Sen. Christopher Van Hollen] leading Mrs. Morella [Republican Rep. Constance A. Morella] 43 percent to 40 percent, with 17 percent undecided and a 3.5 point margin of error. It was based on 803 interviews conducted between Sept. 25 and 28...."
Bassett has also been stiffed by the Washington Post and the Bethesda Gazette, to name just a few.
Thus, he was probably quite tickled to get some international attention. Pravda interviewed him (again) on Sept. 25th. Here's a snippet:
PRAVDA: It seems that there is quite a bit of interest regarding UFOs throughout the world. For instance, many PRAVDA.Ru articles dealing covering UFOs and/or aliens are often very popular. Do you feel that interest in this subject is growing, or has it always been at such a high level?
BASSETT: Interest in UFO/ET phenomena and the Politics of Disclosure has never been higher. This is due to many factors. These include: * The airing and re-airing of an expanding library of documentaries at the Learning, History, Discovery, Fox and A&E cable channels. * The work of a growing cadre of excellent documentary producers and directors such as Tim Coleman, James Fox, Kevin Barry, William Gazecki, Christopher Toussaint and many others. * Important new books which are providing summary understanding of the key issues such as Missing Times by Terry Hansen, UFOs and the National Security State by Richard Dolan, and The UFO/FBI Connection by Dr. Bruce Maccabee. * The groundbreaking work of the Disclosure Project to present the testimony of dozens of government and agency employees collectively confirming an extraterrestrial presence. * The never ending output from Hollywood of relevant entertainment such as Contact, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, ET, 2001: Space Odyssey, 2010: The Year We Make Contact, Communion, and of particular note, Steven Spielbergs upcoming, massive, 20-hour mini-series, Taken, which begins in December of this year. ...
PRAVDA: Is there anything else you would like to add?
BASSETT: Sure, how much disk space have you got? Just kidding. How about some info on upcoming speaking engagements your readers might like to attend? ...
Will Bassett get any media attention before the election? Will Dudley rescue Nell before the train arrives? Stay tuned!
Summary Judgement against Dennis Lee in Spokane, Washington...
Robert Park reports on the Oct. 4th, 2002 edition of the "What's New" page of the American Physical Society that "...Armed with an affidavit by a physicist familiar with Lee's free energy scams, the State sought a summary judgement. Lee made no attempt to counter the scientific arguments, objecting to the State's motion only on procedural grounds. Last Friday [September 27th, 2002], the judge granted the summary judgement against Lee, denying Lee a chance to bamboozle scientifically innocent jurors."
Darwin was Respected, but it took a Century for his Ideas to Triumph ...
In John Tooby's Oct. 6th New York Times review of CHARLES DARWIN, The Power of Place: Volume II of a Biography by Janet Browne, Tooby notes that "For many years before his death, he was seen as Britain's foremost scientist, and he became his era's premier example of the scientist as celebrity. When he died in 1882, he was buried in Westminster Abbey, close to Newton. He was viewed, The Pall Mall Gazette said, as the ''greatest Englishman since Newton,'' the Times adding that no one had ''wielded a power over men and their intelligences more complete.'' But while Darwin levitated, Darwinism fell into scientific disrepute, eclipsed, incredibly, by feeble rivals, from a resuscitated Lamarckianism to teleological doctrines of predetermined progress. ... Darwin succeeded in persuading only one of his close scientific allies, the botanist Joseph Hooker, that selection was the chief engine of evolution. ..."
800-Mile-Wide "Object" Found in Solar System...
The National Geographic reported on Oct. 7th that "Astronomers announced today the discovery of the largest object in the solar system since Pluto was named the ninth planet in 1930. The object is half the size of Pluto, composed primarily of rock and ice, and circles the sun once every 288 years. Named Quaoar (pronounced KWAH-o-ar), the object resides in the Kuiper belt, a region of the sky beyond the orbit of Pluto and about 4 billion miles (6.5 billion kilometers) from Earth. The Kuiper belt is chock full of remnants from the planet-formation era of the solar system...."
Miss Cleo Sentenced ... Who Knew?
The Miami Herald reported on Oct.3rd that "Two Florida cousins and their companies behind the hot lines for television psychic 'Miss Cleo' have been sentenced to probation and fines, resolving illegal-merchandising felonies in Missouri over the supposed clairvoyant...."
You find the weirdest stuff surfing around the internet. Here's a site with a neat Courier-type image of Mahatma Ghandhi:
(It does have Some Assembly Required. You'll need to Copy, Paste, change font to Courier, and SELECT.)
CERN - A Whole Lotta Anti-Matter Going On...
Nature reported on Oct. 4th that "Two groups of experimenters - ATHENA and ATRAP - have been competing for several years in a race to efficiently produce slow antihydrogen at CERN's antiproton facility, the Antiproton Decelerator. The ATHENA group now report that they have made at least 50,000 atoms of antihydrogen. This consequent availability of antihydrogen in larger quantities will open up new areas of research, and its behaviour in comparison to hydrogen itself will be a good test of the Standard Model of elementary particle physics...."
Source: http://www.nature.com/nlink/v419/n6906/full/419439a_fs.html (FREE online!)
Gene Transfer... from Bacteria to Beetle?
Nature reported on Sept. 27th that "Researchers think they have caught a set of bacterial genes that jumped ship and relocated to the genome of a Japanese beetle. They could be the first to witness natural horizontal gene transfer between a bacterium and an animal. Although many researchers suspect this sort of gene movement occurs, no one had stumbled across evidence as direct as this before...."
Prayers Fail, Girl Dies...
ABC News reported on Oct. 3rd that "When doctors told Jacqueline Crank to get her daughter to a hospital for the tumor that was growing on her shoulder, the Tennessee woman turned to God instead. Now the woman could face murder charges on top of the aggravated child abuse and neglect charges that she and the girl's "spiritual father," Ariel Ben Sherman, already face. The 15-year-old girl, Jessica Crank, died on Sept. 15 from a rare form of bone cancer. One last attempt at using faith to help the girl was attempted at her funeral on Sept. 18, when Sherman asked a group of members of his New Life Ministries to pray over the girl's open casket for her resurrection...."
Scientists Discover World's Funniest Joke...
ABC News reported on Oct. 3rd that "After a year of painstaking scientific research, the world's funniest joke was revealed today.In a project described as the largest-ever scientific study into humor, the British Association for the Advancement of Science asked Internet users around the world to submit their favorite jokes and rate the funniness of other people's offerings. More than 40,000 jokes from 70 countries and 2 million critiques later, this is it: 'Two hunters are out in the woods when one of them collapses. He doesn't seem to be breathing and his eyes are glazed. The other man pulls out his phone and calls emergency services. He gasps to the operator: "My friend is dead! What can I do?" The operator in a calm, soothing voice replies: "Take it easy. I can help. First, let's make sure he's dead." There is a silence, then a shot is heard. Back on the phone, the hunter says,"OK, now what?" ..."
The article also lists regional favorites.
Ex-Astronaut Aldrin Not to Face Charges in Punching...
On Sep 21st, Reuters reported "Apollo 11 astronaut Edwin 'Buzz' Aldrin escaped criminal prosecution on Friday for punching a conspiracy theorist who wanted him to swear on a Bible that he really did walk on the moon in 1969. Los Angeles County prosecutors declined to file a misdemeanor battery charge against the 72-year-old ex-astronaut, who said he was defending himself and his stepdaughter when he clocked 37-year-old Bart Winfield Sibrel outside a Beverly Hills hotel on Sept. 9. ..."
Study: Humans, Chimps More Different...
The Associated Press reported on Sept. 23 "There are more differences between a chimpanzee and a human being than once believed, according to a new genetic study. Biologists have long held that the genes of chimps and humans are about 98.5 percent identical. But Roy Britten, a biologist at the California Institute of Technology, said in a study published this week that a new way of comparing the genes shows that the human and chimp genetic similarity is only about 95 percent. ..."
Tough Earth bug may be from Mars...
The September 02 New Scientist Print Edition notes "A hardy microbe that can withstand huge doses of radiation could have evolved this ability on Mars. That is the conclusion of Russian scientists who say it would take far longer than life has existed here for the bug to evolve that ability in Earth's clement conditions. They suggest the harsher environment of Mars makes it a more likely birthplace. The hardy bugs could have travelled to Earth on pieces of rock that were blasted into space by an impacting asteroid and fell to Earth as meteorites. David Morrison of NASA's Astrobiology Institute is sceptical that einococcus came from Mars, pointing out that its genome looks similar to those of other Earthly bacteria. But he admits that there's still no obvious explanation for the bug's resistance to radiation. 'It is certainly a mystery how this trait has developed and why it persists,' he says...."
Acidic clouds of Venus could harbour life...
The 26 September 02 New Scientist Print Edition reports "The acidic clouds of Venus could in fact be hiding life. Unlikely as it sounds, the presence of microbes could neatly explain several mysterious observations of the planet's atmosphere. Venus is usually written off as a potential haven for life because of its hellishly hot and acidic surface. But conditions in the atmosphere at an altitude of around 50 kilometres are relatively hospitable: the temperature is about 70 ?C, with a pressure of about one atmosphere. To look for possible signs of life, Schulze-Makuch and his colleague Louis Irwin looked at existing data on Venus from the Russian Venera space missions and the US Pioneer Venus and Magellan probes. They noticed some peculiar things about the chemical composition of Venus's atmosphere. They also found hydrogen sulphide and sulphur dioxide. These twogases react with each other, and so are never normally found together unless something is producing them. Even more mysterious is the presence of carbonyl sulphide. This gas is so difficult to produce inorganically that it is sometimes considered an unambiguous indicator of biological activity...."
Site of the Week:..
Feynman on "Cargo Cult Science."
"... I think the educational and psychological studies I mentioned are examples of what I would like to call cargo cult science. In the South Seas there is a cargo cult of people. During the war they saw airplanes with lots of good materials, and they want the same thing to happen now. So they've arranged to make things like runways, to put fires along the sides of the runways, to make a wooden hut for a man to sit in, with two wooden pieces on his head to headphones and bars of bamboo sticking out like antennas--he's the controller--and they wait for the airplanes to land. They're doing everything right. The form is perfect. It looks exactly the way it looked before. But it doesn't work. No airplanes land. So I call these things cargo cult science, because they follow all the apparent precepts and forms of scientific investigation, but they're missing something essential, because the planes don't land. ..."
Latest on Hovind Charges...
Here is the latest (Sept. 21st 2002) on the Felony Charges against well-known young-earth creationist Kent "Dr. Dino" Hovind. It's still not clear exactly what will happen, but it looks like arraignment will be Oct. 4th, and the trial on November 26th. Hovind will represent himself.
9/5/02 DEFT TO REPRESENT SELF
9/12/02 WAIVED ARRAIG. PLED NOT GUILTY SET FOR JURY TRIAL:12/9/2002, DD 11/26/2002-9:00
9/13/02 COURT EVENT SET Event: DOCKET DAY Date: 11/26/2002 Time: 9:00 am Judge: TERRELL, TERRY D Location: M.C. BLANCHARD JUDICIAL BUILDING
9/13/02 COURT EVENT SET Event: ARRAIGNMENTS Date: 10/04/2002 Time: 9:00 am Judge: TERRELL, TERRY D Location: M.C. BLANCHARD JUDICIAL BUILDING
Physics Scandal at Bell Labs...
Salon.com reported on Sept. 16th that "In February 2000, a promising young physicist named Jan Hendrik Schön published some startling experimental results. Schön and his partners had started with molecules that don't ordinarily conduct electricity, and claimed they had succeeded in making them behave like semiconductors, the circuits that make computers work. The researchers reported their findings in Science, one of the flagship scientific journals. ...Less than five years after finishing graduate school, Jan Hendrik Schön was in contention for the Nobel prize. Then the wunderkind fell to earth. In April, a small group of researchers at Bell Labs contacted Princeton physics professor Lydia Sohn and whispered that all was not right with Schön's data. Sohn recalls that she and Cornell University's Paul McEuen stayed up late one night and found some disturbing coincidences in Schön's results: The same graphs were being used to illustrate the outcomes of completely different experiments. 'You would expect differences,' she said, 'but the figures were identical. It was a smoking gun.'... The duplicated graphs are not the only smoking gun. There's also the serious problem that despite numerous attempts, no other physicist has repeated Schön's results. ..."
New weapon against soil contamination... Evolution!
The Albuquerque Tribune reported on Sept. 16th that "New Mexico Tech has found a weapon against gasoline-contaminated soil and water - evolution. It turns out rapidly evolving native bacteria in about 175 contaminated sites in New Mexico have genetically changed, on their own, to eat the contamination. And Tech is trying to find out exactly how they did it. 'The organisms have adapted to the pollution,' said Rebecca Reiss, a biology professor at Tech. 'This is kind of the flip side to problems we're seeing with antibiotic-resistant bacteria. In this case, rapid evolution has adapted bacteria for a good purpose - environmental cleanup.' ..."
Did Earth once have Saturn-like Rings?
Space.com reported on Sept. 17th that "Earth may once have been surrounded by temporary rings of debris, much like Saturn, according to a new computer model that finds the rings might have cast parts of the planet into a twilight glow all day long. The idea is not new, but the fresh modeling adds weight to the plausibility of an asteroid impact kicking up a sea of orbiting debris, and it considers how the rings would have cooled Earth's climate. The new model, based on Saturns B-ring scaled down to Earth-size, was produced by Peter Fawcett of the University of New Mexico and Mark Boslough of the U.S. Department of Energys Sandia National Laboratories. It is based on climate models that had already been developed. The scientists said a ring might form with a glancing blow, in which a space rock and the debris it carves from the planet ricochet into the atmosphere...."
New Type of Black Hole?
The Washington Post reported on Sept. 17th that "Astronomers say they have found a new type of black hole and now believe those mysterious celestial objects exist in a variety of sizes, from small to supermassive. Two teams of astronomers, using the Hubble Space Telescope and other instruments, have found evidence for a type of medium-sized black hole, a class of the objects that has never before been seen...."
Percival Lowell's "Venusian Spokes" Explained...as an Image of Lowell's Retina!
The New York Times reported on Sept. 10th that "another Lowell observation that has been even more controversial [than his reports of Martian "Canals"] the wheel-like "spokes" radiating from a 'hub' on Venus has finally been explained. ... Intrigued by the enigma of the spokes, which is scantily treated in most stories about Lowell, Dr. Bill Sheehan and Tom Dobbins, amateur astronomers and contributing editors of Sky & Telescope, published a detailed article called 'Lowell and the Spokes of Venus' in its July issue. Their article included a little-known fact: to reduce the glare from Venus, the brightest object other than the Moon in the night sky, and to steady the image, Lowell had narrowed the aperture of his 24-inch telescope to only 3 inches or even less.With this information, the authors had unwittingly provided the key to the puzzle of the spokes. ... the setup was the equivalent of placing a card with a pinhole in front of Lowell's eye and shining a bright light through it. The discerning readers concluded that the telescope was actually mimicking an ophthalmoscope, an instrument used to examine the interior of the eye.What Lowell saw as spokes were actually shadows of the blood vessels and other structures in his own retina...."
Why does 'fact' TV keeps trotting out Bigfoot ?
The Dallas Morning News reported on Sept. 16th that "A continent called Atlantis sank beneath the waves of the eastern Atlantic long ago and rose again in the Andes Mountains more than 5,000 miles away. The hairy hominid Bigfoot scares campers in the forests of the Pacific Northwest. A mysterious 'energy vortex field' suspends gravity in Oregon. Dogs and dolphins can detect cancer in humans. These extravagant, scientifically suspect claims are the stuff of supermarket tabloids. But they also pepper the schedules of cable television's 'educational' outlets, such as the Discovery, Learning and History channels and A&E. They appear, the networks say, because commercial TV even channels that focus on fact over fiction needs to entertain and to attract viewers with a wide variety of programming. Some scientists view the programs as not only ludicrous but harmful. A misinformed public, inundated by dramatic but dubious reports about UFOs, psychic phenomena and supernatural beings, is as worrisome as an uninformed public, they say. ..."
Brain Responsible for 'Out-of-Body' Claims?
The Washington Post reported on Sept. 18th that "...Hospital patients resuscitated on the operating table speak of being drawn toward a brilliant light, or looking down on their own bodies and the doctors working feverishly to save their lives. What induces these brief, haunting images? A new study suggests these 'out-of-body' and 'near-death' experiences may be influenced by a portion of the brain misfiring under stress.... The researchers point to a processing center in the brain known as the angular gyrus. The angular gyrus is thought to play an important role in the way the brain analyzes sensory information to give us a perception of our own bodies. When it misfires, they speculate, the result can be visions of floating outside of ourselves. The findings were published in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature...."
Ehhh ... What's Up, Doc? Mesozoic-Style...
ABC News reported on Sept. 18th that "A bucktoothed, rabbit-like dinosaur related to Tyrannosaurus Rex and other predators lived in China 128 million years ago, researchers report. The fossil of the unusual Incisivosaurus was found in the Yixian formation near Beipiao City in northeast China, an area that has already produced many unusual fossils, including dinosaurs with feathers. ... Instead of having a beak, Incisivosaurus has a long skull and jaws filled with teeth for grinding. However, in its most unusual characteristic, it sports two large buck teeth at the front of its jaw similar to those used by rodents for gnawing...."
Wacky Sites Watch...
Our readers suggest numerous wacky and or oddball web sites. This week's sampling:
Pet Psychic Sonya Harding: http://www.sonyafitzpatrick.com/
"Intelligent Grappling" as alternative to "Theory of
"A Georgia group calling itself Teachers for Equal Time has asked that stickers be placed in all new physics textbooks which note that mutual attraction and relativity are not the only theories available to explain gravity and should not be taken as fact. Teachers for Equal Time hopes that the addition of the warning stickers will pave the way for the teaching of its alternative theory, Intelligent Grappling, the theory that certain intelligent and conscious agents "push" things together...."
And you won't want to miss this one: http://zapatopi.net/afdb.html. It explains how to make your very own "Aluminum Foil Deflector Beanie, An Effective, Low-Cost Solution To Combating Mind-Control." Important Note: "It can't be stressed enough how important it is to have the shiny side pointing out. This is needed because the shiny side is most reflective to psychotronic radiation, while the dull side can actually, in certain environmental conditions, absorb it. ..."
Latest on Hovind Charges...
Here is the latest (Sept. 13 2002) on the Felony Charges against well-known young-earth creationist Kent "Dr. Dino" Hovind. It's not clear exactly what will happen, but it looks like the trial could occur in November. Hovind will represent himself.
09/04/2002 INFORMATION AND DEMAND FOR NOTICE OF ALIBI FILED
7 09/05/2002 JUDGE TERRELL
8 09/05/2002 DEFT TO REPRESENT SELF
9 09/05/2002 DEFENDANT PRESENT
10 09/05/2002 WAIVED ARRAIG. PLED NOT GUILTY SET FOR JURY TRIAL: 11/8/2002, DD 11/12/2002 @ 8:30 AM
11 09/05/2002 FARETTA HEARING 9/12/2002 @ 9:00 AM W/ARRAIGNMENTS. NOTIFY JUDGE - NOTIFIED MARYW/DIVISION F BY TELEPHONE
12 09/10/2002 COURT EVENT SET Event: ARRAIGNMENTS Date: 09/12/2002 Time: 9:00 am Judge: SHACKELFORD, JAN Location: M.C. BLANCHARD JUDICIAL BUILDING
13 09/10/2002 FILE ORDER OF RECUSAL. REASSIGNED TO DIV K
14 09/10/2002 LEAVE SET FOR 9/12/2002 ARRAIGNMENTS TO BE RESET IN DIV K & RESET HEARING
Pilgrims flock to 'divine potato'...
Ananova reported on September 4th that "Pilgrims are flocking to a house in Bombay where they believe that Elephant headed Hindu Lord Ganesha has appeared in the shape of a potato. ... The potato is said to be shaped like the Lord Ganesha and people are offering money and gifts to seek the blessing of the 'divine vegetable' ...".
Check out Ananova's photo; it's simply divine!
Explorers close to proving Yeti existed?
The apparently overly-credulous BBC News reported on 4 September that "A group of British explorers is on the verge of proving the existence of a 'Yeti-like" creature.' ...Sanderson, Adam Davies and Keith Towley spent three weeks in the rainforests of Sumatra tracking the mythological creature. ... Hans Brunner, an associate of Deakin University in Melbourne, offered to analyse two hairs found by the team. ... [Brunner :] 'So far I have found that the two hairs which I have are different from any species which I have compared them with. ... If nothing comes which looks like the same I would have to say there could be an animal that we do not yet know about.' [Davies:] 'All eye witness reports are that it walks like a man. ... This has all sorts of anthropological ramifications because there is great speculation about how man has developed. ... This could be living proof of how man evolved.' ... Next year, the trio plan a trip to the Gobi Desert in search of the Mongolian Death Worm, a 7ft snake which is reputed among natives to cut a person dead with one look. ..."
Kennewick Man... Putting the Pieces Together
The Olympian, [Olympia Washington] and the AP reported on Sept. 5 that "Scientists might try to piece together Kennewick Man's skeleton to determine what secrets the ancient bones hold.... A group of eight scientists and their colleagues is starting to prepare a plan to study Kennewick Man after a judge overturned a federal agency's decision blocking independent study of the 9,000-year-old skeleton. Kennewick Man is about 350 bones and fragments discovered in July 1996 on the Columbia River shoreline in Kennewick. ... The find constituted one of the oldest and most complete skeletons found in North America and touched off debate about whether they were an ancestor of American Indians, or an early visitor from another continent. ... The scientists sued for access to the bones after the Interior Department backed Indian claims that the remains should be reburied without further studies..."
Top 10 9/11 Myths Debunked...
Enda Curran of The Observer [UK] wrote on Sept. 8 about several urban legends that have appeared in the year since the terrorist attacks. Every single claim is False. They are:
Claim: Osama bin Laden has been sighted in Utah.
Claim: Israel was behind the World Trade Centre attacks and Jews were warned not to turn up for work
Claim: Several internet domain names related to the attack had been registered beforehand.
Claim: Osama bin Laden owns Snapple.
Claim: A thankful stranger has alerted people to lurking dangers
Claim: Osama bin Laden owns Citibank, one of the world's largest financial institutions.
Claim: The US itself staged the air attack on the Pentagon.
Claim: Hospitals were to see a sharp increase in births nine months after 11 September.
Claim: A freed Arab terrorist was responsible for the 9/11 attacks.
Claim: The victims' fund is being channelled to terrorists.
The Buzz about Buzz...
The Sacramento Bee reported on Sept. 10 that "Buzz Aldrin was defending himself when he swung at a man who asked him to swear on a Bible that he had been to the moon, Aldrin's publicist said Tuesday. ..."
CNN added this on Sept. 12: " 'The man had him up against a wall and was not letting him pass. All Buzz was doing was trying to get away from him. On the videotape of the incident, you can hear Buzz asking for police to be called,' his lawyer, Robert O'Brien, told Reuters in an interview. ...'The claim that the moon landing is a hoax is completely crackpot. It's just crazy. The scientific evidence is overwhelming,' a spokesman for The Skeptical Inquirer Magazine told the Los Angeles Times...."
Some Juicy Dirt on "Lunar Landing Hoax" promoter Sibrel: http://www.clavius.org/bibsibrel.html
If lunar landing doubters don't believe the government, will they believe industry? Probably not. They'll get a chance, however, as the BBC reported on 10 Sept that "The first private Moon landing has finally been given the green light by the US Government. TransOrbital of California has become the first private company in the history of spaceflight to gain approval from the US authorities to explore, photograph and land on the Moon. ..."
Big Week for Penises..
Yes, the male reproductive organ stood tall in this week's science news. On Sept. 11th, New Scientist reported that "In a remarkable feat of tissue engineering, major parts of the penises of several rabbits have been replaced with segments grown in a lab from their own cells. The animals were able to use the reconstructed organs to mate. ..."
And on Sept. 13th, New Scientist noted "A perfectly preserved shellfish fossil over 100 million years old has revealed a surprising feature - the oldest penis in the world. The fossil, a one millimetre-wide crustacean called an ostracod, was found in Brazil and examined by David Siveter at the University of Leicester. It was preserved with its shell open displayed another surprise - not one but two penises. ..."
Journal's John Fleck has a Web Log...
In addition to reporter Fleck's many New Mexico science stories in the Albuquerque Journal, he has a humorous and frequently-updated compilation of miscellaneous news bits at the Journal's web site. For example, on Sept. 13, Fleck noted that "Microsoft researcher Mike Jones and Scott Fahlman at Carnegie Mellon have unearthed what is apparently the first use of ':-)'. One imagines a new field, computer archaeology, being born here. ..."
Thomas vs. Thomas in the Journal...
Dave Thomas's letter on Cal Thomas and his pro-creationism article appeared in the Friday, Sept. 6th Albuquerque Journal.
Real Motive: Closing Schools
RE: "LET CREATION Theory Into Schools" column by Cal Thomas. The conservative columnist stated, "What do evolutionists fear? If scientific evidence for creation is academically unsound and outrageously untrue, why not present the evidence and allow students to decide which view makes more sense?"
Surely, this is not the same Thomas who calls for schools to get back to math and science basics, and to stop wasting students' time on "trendy subjects" like "sex-ed, environmental-ed and homosexual-ed." This couldn't be the same Cal Thomas who warns against taking your daughters to see the Spice Girls, and rails against televised liquor ads.
Gee, Cal, shouldn't these students and daughters and TV viewers also be allowed to "decide which view makes more sense?" Thomas' most egregious error was his repeated implication that one must choose between evolution and God. This is a crock. Many religious groups have no problem accepting modern science, including evolution.
Just two months ago, the 214th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) agreed that "there is no contradiction between an evolutionary theory of human origins and the doctrine of God as creator."
But creationists like Thomas want special treatment for their special interest group (fundamentalist evangelical) and want their peculiar vision of God (a pigeonholed deity who would never stoop to using natural selection) to be taught in our children's science classes.
Thomas says both evolution and creation cannot be tested scientifically because "neither model can be observed or repeated." Poppycock! Had the recent discovery of the primitive hominid "Toumai" been made in the Rio Puerco valley, where sediments date from the Cretaceous period (over 60 million years old), evolutionary theory would have been scandalized.
Likewise, if the Human Genome Project had found that human genes are unrelated to those of lower creatures, evolution would have been rejected on the spot. But, just as fingerprints and DNA can implicate a killer without benefit of observation or repetition of the crime, so can fossils and DNA be used to test evolutionary hypotheses.
Is Thomas' real motive for wanting creationism back in public schools a desire to further his goal of getting them all shut down in favor of religious and home schools?
DAVID E. THOMAS
Source: http://www.abqjournal.com/opinion/letters/LET09-06.HTM (subscription required)
Patient comes down with multiple strains of HIV ...
Anaova.com reported on Sept. 5th that "Swiss researchers have found a rare case of a patient contracting HIV twice. The patient picked up a different strain of the virus over two years after the first infection. Doctors once assumed that patients' natural immunity would keep them from getting the virus more than once. Researchers say the new case highlights the importance of safe sex even between HIV-infected partners...."
It's EASY to Alter Memory...
Lee Dye of ABCNews.com reported on June 27th that "[psychologists] Pickrell and Loftus lined up a group of 120 persons and told them they were going to participate in an advertising evaluation program, one of those group meetings where you're supposed to sit around and tell what works and why. All of the participants had visited either Disneyland or Disney World. ...The participants were divided into four groups, and asked to read a printed ad for Disneyland. The first group read an ad about the theme park that made no mention of cartoon characters. The second group read the same ad, but a 4-foot-tall cardboard cutout of Bugs Bunny was placed in the room. The third group, which the researchers refer to as the 'Bugs Group,' read a fake Disneyland ad featuring Bugs Bunny. The fourth group got a double whammy: both the Bugs ad and the cardboard cutout. After reading through the ad, which featured a picture of Bugs just outside the Magic Kingdom, the participants were asked whether they had met Bugs while on a visit to the theme park, and whether they had shaken his hand. About one-third of the participants who had read the phony ad featuring Bugs said they either remembered, or at least knew, they had indeed met Bugs at Disneyland and shaken his hand. ... But here's the rub. Bugs Bunny wouldn't be caught dead at Disneyland. He belongs to Warner Brothers. ..."
Creationist Kent Hovind... charged with Felony Assault!
The Pensacola News Journal reported on August 15th this item : "Felony Arrests, ESCAMBIA COUNTY: Kent E. Hovind, 49, 400 block of Schubert Drive, assault, battery, burglary. ..."
There's more at
The charges include ASSAULT , BATTERY-TOUCH OR STRIKE , and BURGL - OCCUPIED CONVEYANCE AND UNARMED.
Hovind's Creationism Evangelism site is http://www.drdino.com/.
The NMSR Hovind page is http://www.nmsr.org/hovind.htm .
As Arte Johnson used to say, "Velly intellestink!"
New tests on Turin Shroud...
Discovery News reported on Aug. 23rd that "New tests on the Shroud of Turin are being carried out this summer in a secret experiment in the Turin Cathedral's new sacristy. In an effort to solve the mystery shrouding one of the most controversial relics in Christendom, the Vatican confirmed that thirty triangular patches had been removed from the Shroud. The patches were carefully sewn onto the cloth by nuns in 1534, after a fire had blackened parts of it. ...Their study has been supported by the research of Ray Rogers, a retired chemist from Los Alamos National Laboratories and former member of the STURP team of American scientists that examined the Shroud in 1978. 'There seems to be ample evidence that an anomalous area was sampled for the radiocarbon analysis. The reported age is almost certainly invalid for the date the cloth was produced,' he writes in a scientific review of the methods applied to the Shroud. ..."
Commentary on Skeptical Inquirer article on the Shroud, by
"NewHeavenNewEarth (NHNE)" :
Some Skeptical Inquirer articles on the Shroud:
Another Gene in the News...
Yahoo/Reuters reported on Aug. 23rd that "A gene that separates humans from the apes and all other animals seems to have disappeared from humans up to three million years ago, just before they first stood upright, researchers said on Monday. Most animals have the gene but people do not -- and it may be somehow involved in the expansion of the brain, the international team of researchers said. The gene controls production of a sialic acid -- a kind of sugar -- called Neu5Gc, the researchers write in an advance online issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences...The team included anthropologist Meave Leakey of the Leakey Foundation in Nairobi, Kenya, an expert in early humans, and Svante Paabo of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, who helped study the first Neanderthal DNA. Earlier this month Paabo's team reported that the had found mutations in a gene called FOXP2 that seems to be involved in the face and jaw movements necessary for speech. A relatively small change makes the human version of the gene different from the version found in apes, the researchers found. ..."
Scientist Says Sandia Tried to Silence Polygraph Criticism...
The Albuquerque Journal reported on Aug. 22nd that "Senior executives from Sandia and the Department of Energy the agency that funds Sandia asked Sandia scientist Al Zelicoff not to publish an opinion piece he had written for the Post, Zelicoff said Wednesday. A Sandia official acknowledged asking Zelicoff not to publish the piece. An Energy Department spokeswoman declined comment. The dust-up happened when Zelicoff, a senior Sandia bio-weapons expert, wrote an opinion piece criticizing Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., for Shelby's stand on polygraphs. Zelicoff has been a leader among lab scientists objecting to the use of polygraph tests to hunt spies within the labs. ..."
The Journal printed Zelicoff's editorial, from the Washington
Post, on August 24, 2002. Here is the address for the editorial:
Cal Thomas : Making Monkeys Out Of Evolutionists?...
A Cal Thomas editorial titled "Making Monkeys Out Of Evolutionists" appeared in several venues, including the August 28th Albuquerque Journal. Thomas makes the usual creationist claims that evolution is essentially atheism, that neither creation nor evolution can be tested, and so forth. Amazingly, the befuddled columnist appears to be unaware that creationists are hiding under the rubric of "Intelligent Design" these days. Say Thomas: "There are only two models for the origin of humans: evolution and creation. If creation occurred, it did so just once and there will be no "second acts." If evolution occurs, it does so too slowly to be observed. Both theories are accepted on faith by those who believe in them. Neither theory can be tested scientifically because neither model can be observed or repeated. ..." As yet, the top Intelligent Design websites, The Discovery Institute (http://www.discovery.org/crsc/) and Access Research Network (http://www.arn.org/arn2.htm), which dutifully post every single editorial supporting ID, have avoided any mention of the Thomas piece.
IDNet establishes New Mexico chapter...
The Intelligent Design network, inc., which has been actively supporting Intelligent Design education in Kansas and Ohio, has established a third chapter right here in New Mexico. With recent visits by Phillip Johnson, William Dembski, and Michael Behe, it appears the ID movement is making plans to cobble science education in the Land of Enchantment.
IDNet Press Release: http://www.intelligentdesignnetwork.org/PressReleaseNewMexico.htm
Um, about the Asteroid that's going to collide with Earth on Feb. 1, 2019 ...(not...)
It seems much of the hoopla in July about an asteroid on a possible collision course with earth was exaggerated, especially by the British media. In a Space.com report by Robert Roy Britt on July 27th, Britt comments "A small asteroid threat hyped to gloom-and-doom proportions by British media last week has left several U.S. scientists frustrated and fuming over what they call misleading and unethical stories that frightened readers unnecessarily. Meanwhile, a British reporter defends the stories, a British astronomer wonders what all the fuss is about and another suggests American scientists are too complacent about the danger. The whole affair, over an asteroid that is almost certainly harmless, illustrates the stylistic ocean that separates American and British media and scientists' tactics in dealing with them. ....."
Are Satanists Atheists? Secular Humanists say "No."
The New York Times reported on August 17th that "Everyone has boundary problems, it seems, even atheists. The Council for Secular Humanism has questioned the qualifications of two groups backing the Godless Americans March on Washington scheduled for Nov. 2. American Atheists, the New Jersey-based organizers of the march, has invited 'all groups and individuals who sincerely declare themselves to be `Godless Americans' ' to be listed as endorsers of the march, a protest against a long list of actions and attitudes considered prejudicial to nonbelievers. Two of the many groups that responded, the Order of Perdition and the United Satanic Convenire, describe themselves as satanist; and satanists, in the view of the Council for Secular Humanism, are insufficiently godless. 'Satanism is a religion, with supernatural beliefs and a belief in the occult,' said Tom Flynn, the editor of Free Inquiry, published by the council. 'They should not qualify as endorsers of an event for Godless Americans.'..."
India calls in X-Files agents to unmask face-scratching alien...
The Times (UK) reported on August 20th that "A mysterious flying object said to attack sleeping villagers has sparked mass hysteria and rioting across the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. ...The Times of India reported that the national intelligence bureau was sufficiently concerned to send its own agents, like Mulder and Scully from televisions X-Files, to investigate the 'alien' invasion. ... At 1.05am they were rewarded with a flash of light 'like a photocopier,' which repeated three times. A videotape was said to show a flash of light passing across the screen. The agents concluded that the villagers were right and that they were indeed experiencing an extra-terrestrial invasion. Local doctors, however, have dismissed the phenomenon as mass hysteria, saying that most of the injuries have been self-inflicted by panicked villagers, evoking memories of the monkey man hysteria in Delhi last year. ..."
New website addresses "What's the Harm?" question...
Dangerous Ideas is a new website from the Central Iowa Skeptics on the costs in money and lives that were due to paranormal and superstitious thinking. It is designed as an easy reference to give as an answer to that question.
Creationism in Cobb County, Georgia?...
The New York Times reported on August 23rd on a creationism flare-up in Georgia. Kate Zernike's article was titled "Georgia School Board Requires Balance of Evolution and Bible."
BUT, NCSE's Eric Meikle writes "We at NCSE have been following the situation in Cobb closely and working with local supporters of good science education. The Times story has some MAJOR inaccuracies. Please do not forward the Times story to others or use it as a reference for current events there. More accurate reporting can be found in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution or Marietta Daily Journal at these url's:
There are some potential problems in Cobb County, but the school board has definitely not voted to require "...Balance of Evolution and Bible", as the Times headline has it...."
Did chimps survive an ancient HIV epidemic?...
Yahoo News/Reuters reported on YYY that "Chimpanzees may have survived a catastrophic virus epidemic similar to HIV some two million years ago, which could explain why they are now immune to AIDS. Scientists from the Biomedical Primate Research Center in the Netherlands and the University of California, San Diego, in the United States found that chimpanzees have only half as many variations of certain anti-virus immune system genes as humans. Chimps normally have about five times as much variation in their genes as people, so the fewer variations in the MHC I virus-fighting genes suggests chimps may have been attacked by a virus that killed all but those with the right genes. ..."
"They Always Look Better at Closing Time"... Scientific Proof!
ABC News reported on August 19th that "British scientists have found even modest amounts of alcohol will make the opposite sex appear better-looking. 'We have carried out experiments which show that what is known in the trade as the 'beer-goggle effect' does actually exist,' Barry Jones, professor of psychology at Glasgow University, told Reuters Monday...."
Country Song Title Reference: http://www.dullmen.com/getting.htm
(Dull Men's Club)
Visualization of the Effects of Alcohol on Beauty: http://www.dullmen.com/images/MADDGIRL.jpg
Mouse Genome completed...
ABC News reported on August 4th that "An international team has completed the most comprehensive map ever of the genetic code of the mouse, an accomplishment that will make the laboratory animal more useful to scientists studying human health and disease. ... Humans and mice last shared a common ancestor probably a small rodentlike mammal roughly 100 million years ago, but today retain similar-sized genomes and many of the same genes. That makes mice ideal stand-ins for humans in genetic studies...."
Did a UFO cause the Air Show Crash?
News.com of Australia reported on August 6th that "A previously unidentified flying object may have caused the deadly crash of a Ukrainian fighter into an air show crowd a week ago, the Russian NTV television company reported. Slow-motion videotape of the July 27 accident show a dark object rising in an arc from a wood near the Lviv airfield close the flight path of the Su-27, which went on to crash into the crowd. It was not clear what exactly the object was, or whether it struck the aircraft. ..."
Yup, Contrails affect Weather...
The BBC reported on August 8th that "The vapour trails left in the atmosphere by jet aircraft have a significant impact on the weather, according to new research. Scientists in the United States used the grounding of planes following last year's terrorist attacks to show how temperatures changed when flights were at a standstill. ...Their findings, reported in the journal Nature, show that the gap between daytime and night time temperatures was more than one degree Celsius larger than normal when flights were at a standstill. ... However, the effect is almost certainly outweighed by the global warming influence of greenhouse gases, created by the burning of fuel including emissions from jet engines. ..."
Gadzooks! A Flying Snake!...
ABC News reported on August 7th that "...an Asian paradise tree snake ... knows nothing about aerodynamics but it can leap from heights and glide through the air by simply flattening and undulating its body. 'It is doing something that no other flyer, either natural or man-made does, which is moving side-to-side while going forward,' said Jake Socha, a biologist at the University of Chicago. ..."
Speed of Light Changing? Here we go again...
ABC News reported on August 7th that "A team of Australian scientists has proposed that the speed of light may not be a constant, a revolutionary idea that could unseat one of the most cherished laws of modern physics -- Einstein's theory of relativity. The team, led by theoretical physicist Paul Davies of Sydney's Macquarie University, say it is possible that the speed of light has slowed over billions of years. ... The suggestion that the speed of light can change is based on data collected by UNSW astronomer John Webb, who posed a conundrum when he found that light from a distant quasar, a star-like object, had absorbed the wrong type of photons from interstellar clouds on its 12 billion year journey to earth. ... The discrepancy could only be explained if either the electron charge, or the speed of light, had changed. ... 'But two of the cherished laws of the universe are the law that electron charge shall not change and that the speed of light shall not change, so whichever way you look at it we're in trouble,' Davies said ...".
It didn't take long for creationists to jump on the story. Carl Wieland of Answers in Genesis writes on August 9th that "Headlines in several newspapers around the world have publicized a paper in Nature by a team of scientists (including the famous physicist Paul Davies) who (according to these reports) claim that light has been slowing down since the creation of the universe. ... Well over a decade ago, AiGs Creation magazine published very supportive articles concerning a theory by South Australian creationist Barry Setterfield, that the speed of light (c) had slowed down or decayed progressively since creation. ... Since most nuclear processes are mathematically related to the speed of light, a faster c might well mean a faster rate of radioactive decay, thus explaining much of the evidence used to justify the billions of years of geological hypothesizing. ..."
Language Gene Found?...
The NY Times reported on August 15th that "A study of the genomes of people and chimpanzees has yielded a deep insight into the origin of language, one of the most distinctive human attributes and a critical step in human evolution. The analysis indicates that language, on the evolutionary time scale, is a very recent development, having evolved only in the last 100,000 years or so. ... The gene came to light through studies of a large London family, well known to linguists, 14 of whose 29 members are incapable of articulate speech but are otherwise mostly normal. A team of molecular biologists led by Dr. Anthony P. Monaco of the University of Oxford last year identified the gene [FOXP2] that was causing the family's problems. ...Dr. Paabo's team has studied the evolutionary history of the FOXP2 gene by decoding the sequence of DNA letters in the versions of the gene possessed by mice, chimpanzees and other primates, and people. In a report being published online today by the journal Nature, Dr. Paabo says the FOXP2 gene has remained largely unaltered during the evolution of mammals, but suddenly changed in humans after the hominid line had split off from the chimpanzee line of descent. ..."
The Nature PDF file with the report is at
More at ABC News: http://abcnews.go.com/sections/scitech/DailyNews/language020815.html
Tentative plans for an October NMSR meeting about this topic are already underway.
What are the Odds of THAT?...
Lisa Belkin of the NY Times Magazine wrote a long, interesting article published on August 11th, called "The Odds of That." The article discusses the mysterious deaths last year of several men involved with bioterror and germ warfare. Belkin plumbs the mysteries, and has many good points on coincidences and the human need to find patterns in our data. A fascinating read!
Berkeley pondering legislative action on Aristotle's First Law of Logic..
The San Francisco Chronicle reported on August 13th that "Berkeley, the first city to ban Styrofoam and wood-fired pizza ovens, could become the first to enact Aristotle's ancient law of logic -- that every entity is equal to itself. In a philosophical effort to come up with a city law that no one could ever break, conceptual artist Jonathon Keats wants Berkeley to legally acknowledge Aristotle's law, commonly expressed as A=A. More plainly put, it means a table is a table. A blade of grass is a blade of grass. The mayor is the mayor. Mayor Shirley Dean was dumbfounded...."
The Trib's Kate Nelson has told NMSR that she'd "like to be there when the cop tries to write the ticket!"
To Your Binoculars & Telescopes! An Asteroid's swinging by on Saturday, August 17th...
The Society for Popular Astronomy (UK) (http://www.popastro.com/home.htm) reports that "Amateur astronomers will get a rare chance to watch an asteroid glide past Earth on Saturday night and Sunday morning. The object will be visible using small telescopes as it passes only 530 000 km from the Earth -- only slightly farther away than the Moon. This is a near miss in astronomical terms. The asteroid, named 2002 NY40, will be 100 times fainter than the naked eye can see, but it should be easily visible using a good small telescope by anyone who knows the stars well enough to find its position. Any telescope with an aperture 10 cm (4 inches) or larger should show the asteroid easily, and expert observers may even be able to pick it up using binoculars. ..."
According to SPA, the asteroid will pass Vega, the brightest star in summer skies, at 3:30 am (the time zone is unlabeled, but I'm presuming it's Greenwich time, which is 9:30 PM Saturday night for Mountain Daylight Time (MDT). Vega is close to the constellation Cygnus (the Swan).
Space.com also has a chart of the asteroid's flyby. This one indicates closest approach by Vega at about 1:00 AM Eastern Daylight Time, or 11:00 PM MDT Saturday night.
My plan is to "scope out" the action near Vega between 9:30 and 11:00 Saturday night.
More news links:
Reaction to U.S. News & World Report on Evolution...
As mentioned last week, the U.S. World & News Report of
July 29th, 2002 had an excellent series of articles on evolution, and
one on "design":
It seems that the young-earth creationists at Answers in Genesis didn't like the articles at all. Not one bit! Nosirree! In an article titled "U.S. News and World Report joins in the evolution onslaught," Don Batten writes "The usual evolutionist hand-waving and bait-and-switch tactics were employed in a grand piece of propaganda. " The article contains the full text of the USWNR piece, but each sentence or phrase is dissected in place. For example, when USNWR wrote "Now, as the science of evolution moves beyond guesswork, ..." Batten followed this fragment with "So, is this meant to imply that it has actually been all guesswork up until now? But we have been told for generations that evolution is a fact! Only the gullible would believe that suddenly the story has moved beyond guesswork. It is still story telling, wishful thinking and guesswork, as we shall see. ..."
And so it goes!
Grand Canyon Younger Than Thought?
Speaking of Answers in Genesis, they will surely be delighted to read Lee Dye's ABCNews.com report titled "Baby Grand- New Research Suggests the Grand Canyon May Still Be Growing." Dye writes "The evidence suggests that large sections of the canyon are much younger than had been thought, and some of the most dramatic features may be no more than 600,000 years old, making the canyon a geological infant. And although scientists had thought the cutting of the canyon by the mighty Colorado River was pretty well wrapped up more than a million years ago, the most recent research suggests it is still going on...." Expect the folks at Answers in Genesis to pick up on mention of "Sudden, Violent Floods," and declare that this means everything we thought we knew was all wrong, Noah's flood happened, and the earth must be 6,000 years old as a result. It won't matter that the features in question are 100 TIMES older than AiG's Young Earth. Those folks are used to being off by factors of thousands or millions!
The Inn at Loretto - Explained!...
Kate Nelson of the Albuquerque Tribune reported on the "mysterious" staircase at the Inn of Loretto in Santa Fe on July 27th, in a piece titled "Staircase mystery may be solved, but the miracle remains." Nelson wrote "Only here, in the City of Holy Faith, could the notion of a miracle wrought by a mysterious angel thrive against evidence to the contrary. ... [In 1878,] The nuns decided on a novena - nine days of prayer seeking a heavenly favor [for a needed staircase]. On the ninth day, a carpenter appeared. Silently, he created the spiral staircase using only a hammer, a saw and tubs of water to bend a type of wood found nowhere else in New Mexico. Was the mysterious man really St. Joseph, patron saint of carpenters? That's the legend, the romance, the miracle. But wait a minute, says historian Mary J. Straw Cook in the newly revised edition of her 1984 book,'Loretto: The Sisters and Their Santa Fe Chapel.' The carpenter was Francois-Jean Rochas, a member of les compagnon, a French guild of celibate and secretive craftsmen. And he was far from saintly. Reclusive and irascible, he ended up dead in his Dog Canyon cabin, a victim of either suicide or assassination. ..."
A great read!
Defeat Jet Lag by shining Light on your Knees?... Um, nope!
Yahoo/Reuters reported on July 25th "In 1998 it was widely reported that shining bright light on the back of the knees may help re-set the body's internal clock, sparking hope not only for jet-lagged travelers but also for those suffering wintertime blues. Now, two researchers at Harvard University may have pulled the plug on the much-ballyhooed finding. ..."
More on 2nd Law "Violation"...
BBC News reported on July 18th that "One of the most important principles of physics, that disorder, or entropy, always increases, has been shown to be untrue. Scientists at the Australian National University (ANU) have carried out an experiment involving lasers and microscopic beads that disobeys the so-called Second Law of Thermodynamics, something many scientists had considered impossible. The finding has implications for nanotechnology - the design and construction of molecular machines. They may not work as expected. It may also help scientists better understand DNA and proteins, molecules that form the basis of life and whose behaviour in some circumstances is not fully explained. ..."
Bob Park of the APS added another perspective on the matter in his July 26th, 2002 APS "What's New" Column: "ENTROPY: THE SECOND LAW OF THERMODYNAMICS STILL HOLDS. Claims that the Second Law of Thermodynamics has been violated are often found in fringe journals. This one is in Physical Review Letters http://link.aps.org/abstract/PRL/v89/e050601. The title: "Experimental Demonstration of Violations of the Second Law of Thermodynamics in Small Systems and Short Timescales," says it all. The authors discovered that when statistical laws are applied to systems that aren't statistically significant, they don't work. ..."
U.S. News & World Report looks at Evolution...
The U.S. World & News Report of July 29th, 2002 has an excellent series of articles on evolution, and one on "design":
How evolution really works, and why it matters more than ever
Species: Life's mystery packages
Evolution timeline: An idea's brilliant career
A new breed of anti-evolutionists credits life's grand design to
an unnamed intelligence
Dembski Does the Dance...
In response to an article titled "Guest Viewpoint: 'Intelligent design' not accepted by most scientists" by the NCSE's Eugenie C. Scott and Glenn Branch, which appeared in the July 2nd edition of School Board News (see http://nsba.org/sbn/02-jul/070202-8.htm ), William Dembski has made some interesting comments: "ID is not an interventionist theory. It's only commitment is that the design in the world be empirically detectable. All the design could therefore have emerged through a cosmic evolutionary process that started with the Big Bang. What's more, the designer need not be a deity. It could be an extraterrestrial or a telic process inherent in the universe. ID has no doctrine of creation. Scott and Branch at best could argue that many of the ID proponents are religious believers in a deity, but that has no bearing on the content of the theory. ...The most prominent design theorist, Michael Behe, is on record to holding to common descent (the evolutionary interrelatedness of all organisms back to a common ancestor). No design theorist I know wants to teach that evolution didn't happen. ... As for there being no evidence for ID, what counts as evidence is always assessed against a backdrop of assumptions about how inquiry (the process of revising our beliefs) ought to proceed. The bacterial flagellum, its irreducible and specified complexity, from the vantage of ID provides overwhelming evidence for its design. ... All it will take is a few school boards and individuals to stand up against this pressure, and in short order we'll see a Taliban-style collapse of the Darwinian stranglehold over public education. ..."
If you're standing on Feb. 1, 2019...DUCK!!
The BBC News reported on July 24th that "An asteroid discovered just weeks ago has become the most threatening object yet detected in space. A preliminary orbit suggests that 2002 NT7 is on an impact course with Earth and could strike the planet on 1 February, 2019 - although the uncertainties are large. ..."
Does brain chemistry determine whether we believe in the paranormal?...
New Scientist reported on July 2nd that "Whether or not you believe in the paranormal may depend entirely on your brain chemistry. People with high levels of dopamine are more likely to find significance in coincidences, and pick out meaning and patterns where there are none. ... Believers were much more likely than sceptics to see a word or face when there was not one, [Peter] Brugger [a neurologist from the University Hospital in Zurich, Switzerland] revealed last week at a meeting of the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies in Paris. However, sceptics were more likely to miss real faces and words when they appeared on the screen. The researchers then gave the volunteers a drug called L-dopa, which is usually used to relieve the symptoms of Parkinson's disease by increasing levels of dopamine in the brain. Both groups made more mistakes under the influence of the drug, but the sceptics became more likely to interpret scrambled words or faces as the real thing. That suggests that paranormal thoughts are associated with high levels of dopamine in the brain, and the L-dopa makes sceptics less sceptical. 'Dopamine seems to help people see patterns,' says Brugger. ... "
"Toumai" Fallout Begins...
YAHOO/Reuters reported on July 12th that "A prehistoric skull touted as the oldest human remains ever found is probably not the head of the earliest member of the human family but of an ancient female gorilla, a French scientist said on Friday. ... A self-confessed heretic amid the hoop-la over the skull, which dates back six or seven million years, [Brigitte] Senut [of the Natural History Museum in Paris] said its short face and small canines merely pointed to a female and were not conclusive evidence that it was a hominid. ...But no one contests the significance of the discovery. 'Even if it is a big monkey, it's even more interesting,' [Yves] Coppens [of the College of France] said. ..."
And here's a typical creationist response, from Focus on the Family (July 15th "Family News in Focus") : " 'Despite evolutionist claims to the contrary, this discovery actually adds to the mounting evidence that Darwin's theory is a fatally flawed. Mark Edwards, a spokesman for the Seattle-based Discovery Institute, said there is very little hard evidence to bolster the theory. 'The evidence for human evolution is relatively thin, and it's merely assumed that humans have evolved because evolution is accepted already,' Edwards said."
Kansas Conservatives planning a Comeback...
The Kansas City Star reported on July 15th that "...They may be very quiet about it, but I believe it is clearly the situation that the far-right groups are trying to take back control of the state board," said Craig Grant, a lobbyist with the Kansas National Education Association. Five of 10 seats are up for grabs, two of them in the Kansas City area. ..."
"Spark of Life" identified?
The Times (UK) reported on July 18th that "BRITISH scientists have discovered the gene that provides the spark of life, when an egg is fertilised by a sperm, in research that promises dramatic advances in fertility treatment and stem cell experiments. A ten-year study has revealed that the gene in sperm triggers the crucial process by which an egg starts dividing to form an embryo, solving a mystery that has confounded medical science for two centuries. ..."
See also: http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99992568
2nd Law Violated? Only for a Limited Time! (And on a small scale!)
The American Institute of Physics "Physics News Update" reported on July 17th that "Australian researchers have experimentally shown that microscopic systems (a nano-machine) may spontaneously become more orderly for short periods of time--a development that would be tantamount to violating the second law of thermodynamics, if it happened in a larger system. Don't worry, nature still rigorously enforces the venerable second law in macroscopic systems, but engineers will want to keep limits to the second law in mind when designing nanoscale machines. The new experiment also potentially has important ramifications for an understanding of the mechanics of life on the scale of microbes and cells. ..."
Amino Acid confirmed in Space...
New Scientist reported on July 18th that "An amino acid, one of the building blocks of life, has been spotted in deep space. If the find stands up to scrutiny, it means that the sorts of chemistry needed to create life are not unique to Earth verifying one of astrobiology's cherished theories. ... Back in 1994, a team led by astronomer Lewis Snyder of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign announced preliminary evidence of the simplest type of amino acid, glycine, but the finding did not stand up to closer examination (New Scientist magazine, 11 June 1994, p 4). Now Snyder and Yi-Jehng Kuan of the National Taiwan Normal University say they really have found glycine. "We're more confident [this time]," says Kuan. "We have strong evidence that glycine exists in interstellar space. ..."
"Toumai" is BIG!..."It's the most important find in living memory" - Henry Gee, Nature
Nature reported on 11 July 2002 that "At between 6 and 7 million years old, this skull is the earliest known record of the human family. Discovered in Chad in Central Africa, the new find, nicknamed 'Toumaï', comes from the crucial yet little-known interval when the human lineage was becoming distinct from that of chimpanzees. Because of this, the new find will galvanize the field of human origins like no other in living memory perhaps not since 1925, when Raymond Dart described the first 'ape-man', Australopithecus africanus, transforming our ideas about human origins forever...."
See also: http://abcnews.go.com/sections/scitech/DailyNews/hominid020710.html
Speaking of BIG... howsabout Life from a Test Tube?!?!?
Reuters/YAHOO reported on July 11th that "Using only a genetic map as a guide, U.S. researchers said on Thursday they had built a polio virus from scratch and used it to infect and paralyze lab mice. It is the closest anyone has yet come to creating life in a test tube -- although scientists deny a virus, which is not a living cell but which can replicate itself, is alive in the same way a bacterium, a plant, or a human being is. ..."
See also: http://abcnews.go.com/sections/scitech/DailyNews/manmadevirus020712.html
But WAIT, there's MORE!!... a new fish-to-amphibian transitional from "Romer's Gap" ...
Nature reported on July 4th on a new fossil discovery that fills in gaps in the evolution of amphibians from fish. Nature comments on Jenny Clack's spectacular find: "...Pederpes is the earliest-known tetrapod to show the beginnings of terrestrial locomotion and was at least functionally pentadactyl. With its later American sister-genus, Whatcheeria, it represents the next most primitive tetrapod clade after those of the Late Devonian, bridging the temporal, morphological and phylogenetic gaps that have hitherto separated Late Devonian and mid-Carboniferous tetrapod faunas. ..."
See Also: http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/sci/tech/newsid_2089000/2089873.stm
Coyne blasts "Of Moths and Men"...
Jerry Coyne reviews Judith Hooper's new book "Moths and Men: Intrigue, Tragedy and the Peppered Moth" in the July 4th Nature (418, 19-20). His conclusion: "The biggest shortcoming, however, is Hooper's failure to emphasize that, despite arguments about the precise mechanism of selection, industrial melanism still represents a splendid example of evolution in action. The dramatic rise and fall of the frequency of melanism in Biston betularia, occurring in parallel on two continents, is a compelling case of evolution by natural selection. No force other than selection could have caused such striking and directional change. Hooper's grudging admission of this fact occupies but one sentence: 'It is reasonable to assume that natural selection operates in the evolution of the peppered moth.' This issue matters, at least in the United States, because creationists have promoted the problems with Biston as a refutation of evolution itself. Even my own brief critique of the story (Nature 396, 35-36; 1998) has become grist for the creationists' mill. By peddling innuendo and failing to distinguish clearly the undeniable fact of selection from the contested agent of selection, Hooper has done the scientific community a disservice. ..."
A NEW Spill in the Galapagos...
ABC News and Reuters reported on July 5th that "A fresh fuel spill in Ecuador's pristine Galapagos islands spared the archipelago's exotic wildlife in the short term, but scientists on Friday said it was too soon to tell its long-term effects. It is the second time in 18 months a boat has spilled fuel into the Pacific Ocean waters of the 'enchanted isles,' which helped inspire 19th century British naturalist Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection. ..."
Jefferson told Lewis and Clark to bring back a Mastodon...ALIVE!
This ABC News report discusses the effects that discoveries of mastodon bones and tusks had on the Founding Fathers. An interesting report! A snippet: "...A French naturalist named George Buffon had claimed the new continent was a degenerate place and that everything here was inferior, including the animals. Across the Atlantic, this was taken as an attack on American manhood. Thomas Jefferson was outraged. When he sent Lewis and Clark into the West in 1804, he told them to search for the American monster and if they found one, to bring it back alive. 'Thomas Jefferson never believed the animal was extinct,' says Semonin. 'He still believed that it would be found in the western wilderness.' ..."
"Good evidence makes science we can live with" ...
Chet Raymo writes in the July 9th Boston Globe that "Critics often complain that science is a closed shop, blindly committed to defending established 'dogmas,' and unwilling to entertain ideas that fall outside accepted paradigms. Scientists will circle the wagons around accepted theories like evolution by natural selection, say the critics, and dismiss out-of-hand unorthodox ideas like creationism or homeopathy. Are the complaints valid? Several recent episodes show that science is more open to new ideas and to self-criticism than the critics suppose. ..."
Hold On to your Butts - here comes the Blind Psychic!
YAHOO/Reuters reported on July 9th that "...A blind German psychic claimed Tuesday he could read people's futures by feeling their naked buttocks. Clairvoyant Ulf Buck, 39, claims that people's backsides have lines like those on the palm of the hand, which can be read to reveal much about their character and destiny. 'The bottom is much more intense -- it has a much stronger power of expression than the hand in my experience,' Buck told Reuters. 'It goes on developing throughout your life.' ..."
Photons trying to escape a Black Hole... "I think I can, I think I can..."
NASA reported on June 26th that "Scientists have found new evidence that light emanating from near a black hole loses energy climbing out of a gravitational well created by the black hole, a key prediction of Einstein's theory of general relativity. ..."
"Do we have a Quorum?" - asked the Bacterium...
ScienceDaily.com reported on June 27th that "A decade after microbiologists began to suspect that many groups of bacteria can communicate -- by releasing and detecting chemical pheromones to gauge their population density -- the molecular structure of a key protein in this interbacterial communication has been solved. This discovery could be the first step toward human intervention in these signaling pathways, a phenomenon known as quorum sensing, either by thwarting activities of harmful bacteria or facilitating activities of helpful ones. ..."
NMSR Prediction: it's only a matter of time before Bacteria will have to abide by the Open Meetings Act.
NAS says we better get serious about counter-terrorism ...
ABCNews.com reported on June 25th that "The United States needs to establish an in-depth counterterrorism program to protect essential services, from energy delivery to information systems to emergency medicine, according to an analysis by a scientific panel. The National Academy of Sciences report, released Monday, provides a blueprint for using science and technology to prevent or reduce the damage from terrorist attacks, said Lewis M. Branscomb of Harvard University, co-chairman of the committee that prepared the study. ..."
Is she really a Jamaican? Telephone "Psychic" Miss Cleo takes the 5th...
The South Central Florida Sun-sentinel.com News reported on June 27th that "Miss Cleo repeatedly invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination on Wednesday as government lawyers asked her about a birth certificate that indicates she was born in Los Angeles to American parents and threatens to shatter her image as a mystical Jamaican. She also hinted that her signature accent that was in place Wednesday might be adopted. .."
Earth Recovered Quickly From Ancient Asteroid Impact ...
ABCNews.com reported on June 27th that "Scientists digging south of Denver say they have uncovered evidence of a lush and vibrant rainforest that emerged surprisingly soon after the asteroid collision that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. The fossils of more than 100 kinds of towering conifer trees, huge ferns and blooming flowers challenge scientists' long-held assumption that a desolate Earth took about 10 million years to recover from the catastrophe and sprouted only a few dreary plant varieties for a long time. ..."
Meetings...We Got Meetings!
MEET CHINESE SKEPTICS - CANCELLED
Leaders of the Chinese equivalent of CSICOP were to be in Albuquerque on June 29th, and were scheduled to attend an informal dinner and "meeting of the minds" at JB's Family Restaurant, 6PM-9PM Saturday, June 29th. However, their travel plans changed, and they are not able to be in Albuquerque on that date. This event has been CANCELLED.
NMSR's "Onyate Man" goes Internacional...
This site - http://www.sindioses.com/humor/onyate.html - is the first authorized Translation of the Onyate Man Saga!
And see what the Brasilians are laughing at here: http://www.humornaciencia.hpg.ig.com.br/biologia/dinossauros.htm
Anatomy of a Creationist Tall Tale...
Jeffrey Shallit of the University of Waterloo has analyzed the oft-quoted ID claim that "The Smithsonian Institution has a collection of obviously designed human artifacts, concerning the purposes of which no one has a clue."
Physics Today takes on Intelligent Design...
From "Intelligent Design Is Creationism in a Cheap Tuxedo," by Adrian L. Melott, U. Kansas:
"My deliberately provocative title is borrowed from Leonard Krishtalka, who directs the Natural History Museum at the University of Kansas. Hired-gun "design theorists" in cheap tuxedos have met with some success in getting close to their target: public science education. I hope to convince you that this threat is worth paying attention to. As I write, intelligent design (ID) is a hot issue in the states of Washington and Ohio (see Physics Today, May 2002, page 31*). Evolutionary biology is ID's primary target, but geology and physics are within its blast zone. ..."
Biologist and Writer Gould Used Math to Clarify His Arguments...
A eulogy of Stephen Jay Gould by mathematician John Allen Paulos, at the ABC News website.
"Gould's was a wide-ranging and impassioned voice of reason that will be keenly missed. One aspect of his work that particularly appealed to me was his use of simple mathematical observations and analogies to help clarify his multifarious arguments. ..."
Also at ABCNews.com:
What are the hidden meanings of "Um" and "Uh"...
"June 6 - A massive flow of molten rock, bubbling to the surface and spreading more than a mile deep over an area half the size of Australia, may have killed up to 90 percent of all animal species on Earth some 250 million years ago, a study suggests...."
Unidentified Floating Object?
"June 14 - It looked like something from a sci-fi flick: a mysterious silver orb, three feet in diameter, floating in the surf off the South Carolina coast. ..."
WTC attacks predicted on $20 bill?...
Here's the website that started this well-reported "prediction" :
I'm hard at work folding other denominations, and expect some new Predictions soon! - Editor
Australian Scientists Say They Can Rebuild Immune System...
"Australian scientists have used stem cells to grow an organ in mice critical to the immune system, saying the technique could be used to restore the human immune system in AIDS-HIV and cancer patients. ..."
NY Times profiles Paul Kurtz...
In a June 19th piece entitled "A Vigorous Skeptic of Everything but Fact," Dinitia Smith writes "These are some of the things that Paul Kurtz, chairman of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal and publisher of the magazine Skeptical Inquirer, does not believe in: parapsychology, holistic cures for animal illnesses, the universal effectiveness of chiropractic, extraterrestrial beings, alternative medicine, Bigfoot and organized religion. ... And he is not above a touch of humor in his crusade. The March-April issue of the Skeptical Inquirer, for instance, gave a special 'Foot in Mouth Disease Award' to the Rev. Jerry Falwell for holding pagans, abortionists and feminists partly responsible for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. And to another minister, Jack Brock, and the Christ Community Church of Alamogordo, N.M., the magazine gave a Pagan Pride Award for sponsoring 'a Harry Potter book burning.' ..."
I don't want to steal Paul's thunder, but these awards were originally bestowed by NMSR. (See http://www.nmsr.org/nmsrbest.htm ) - ed.
According to the young-earth literal creation group Answers in Genesis, evangelist Pat Robertson recently said " 'I sure wish hed get off that 6/24 business, speaking about Michael Farris, founder and president of Patrick Henry College in Virginia (USA), who requires his teachers to believe and teach a six-day Creation...."
The AiG creationists are quite upset with creationist Robertson about this major gaffe, writing "Its sad to see another Christian leader who has failed to recognize that an attack on the six days of Creation is an attack on the authority of the Bible and an attack on Genesis 1 undermines the historical basis for the Gospel that these leaders proclaim! Instead of letting the clear words of the Bible speak for themselves, too many Christians recite worn-out arguments - e.g. a day is as a thousand years, were not sure what day means, the Bible is not a science textbook, Genesis is poetry - that have long been disproved by Bible believers. ..."
Computer Tests Proves Handwriting Analysis Is Legitimate?
Lee Dye of ABC News wrote on June 5 "Is your handwriting so distinctly different from anyone else's that an expert could tell whether you and you alone scrawled a note that you may not even remember writing? Could a computer do the same thing by simply "looking" at a few simple features? The answer is yes, and no one is more surprised than the computer scientist who produced the first scientific evidence that handwriting is individualistic. No one else writes exactly like you. Like your fingerprints, your handwriting is yours and yours alone. And that's a matter of great interest to the courts. ..."
Repaired Space Camera Shows Four-Galaxy Collision ...
Yahoo/Reuters reported on June 5 "ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (Reuters) - A Hubble Space Telescope camera that was broken for more than three years has roared back to life after repairs, peering through cosmic dust to snap a four-galaxy wreck and a golden star-forming ring, scientists said on Wednesday. The repaired camera is 30 percent to 40 percent more sensitive than it was before it broke, and one researcher said it will let astronomers do more science in less time. Astronomers were predictably ecstatic. 'This is really fantastic. ... Studying star and planet formation ... with this new capability is going to revolutionize a very great deal of what we do,' said Anneila Sargent, president of the American Astronomical Society, which is meeting this week in Albuquerque. 'It really is like looking with a different kind of eye.' ..."
Low-Level Oil Spill Kills Galapagos Iguanas ...
Yahoo/Reuters reported on June 5 "When an oil tanker ran aground near the Galapagos islands (news - web sites) last year most of its exotic species escaped without harm but scientists said on Wednesday the near-miss ecological catastrophe had unexpected consequences. Within a year of the accident, 62 percent of iguanas on the nearby island of Santa Fe were dead, proving that even a low-level spill can cause serious damage. ..."
ID Debate on CNN's Crossfire...
The May 29 edition of CNN's Crossfire featured the topic "Are Christian Conservatives Using New Law to Sneak Creationism into Science Class?" The debaters were James Carville and Paul Begala (on the left ), and Robert Novak and Tucker Carlson (on the right). A snippet:
CONNOR: Why -- if the evidence is so strong, why are you willing to censor alternative points of view? Why are you willing to muzzle...
BEGALA: We censor two plus two equals five...
More Stephen Jay Gould Obits...
The AP reported on May 20th that "Stephen Jay Gould, a world-renowned scientist who brought evolutionary theory and paleontology to a broad public audience in dozens of wide-ranging books and essays, died Monday of cancer. He was 60, and died at his home in New York City, according to his assistant, Stephanie Schur. ..."
Gould's battle against racism
Derrick Z. Jackson of the Boston Globe wrote on May 29th "Gould also wrote mightily against punctuated inequality. Twenty years ago, Gould, a Harvard University scientist, published ''The Mismeasure of Man,'' which challenged the historical ranking of people by so-called levels of intelligence. Gould led the reader on a near-comical documentary of the ways the scientists of yesteryear tried to measure skulls, brains, heredity, and even the tattooing on criminals with the primary goal of declaring that western and northern Europeans had higher IQs than Eastern and Southern Europeans and people of color had much lower IQs. One famous example quoted by Gould was Louis Agassiz, the Harvard zoologist of the mid-1800s, who wrote that black people are part of a 'degraded and degenerate race.' ..."
Kurtz on Stephen Jay Gould, 1942-2002
Skeptical inquirers deeply regret the passing of Stephen Jay Gould. He played a unique role in the public square, for he was an eloquent exponent of the scientific outlook. His prolific writings and brilliant lectures at Harvard and universities far and wide on evolutionary paleontology and biology and his forthright criticisms of creationism cast him as a powerful defender of science. At a time when pseudoscientific and fringe claims continue to grow, there are all too few scientists willing to enter into the fray.
Gould's death leaves a void; and it dramatizes anew how important it is to have popularizers of science. This role was played by Carl Sagan and Isaac Asimov, CSICOP Fellows of the past. We need to encourage today new and daring defenders of science, gadflies in the name of critical inquiry; interpreters able to extend the public's understanding of science and its methods. All too few scientists and scholars today are willing to venture beyond their specialties in order to communicate with a wider audience.
Gould offered his own often controversial theories on how evolution occurred--such as his punctuated equilibrium hypothesis--and he suffered criticisms as a result. A veteran polemicist, he stood his ground in many debates with scientific colleagues. Throughout, he demonstrated that science grows by constant questioning, and peer review.
Stephen Jay Gould was a Fellow of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal and a recipient of its highest "In Praise of Reason" award. He was a frequent speaker at our conferences. He will be sorely missed.
Stephen Jay Gould, evolution theorist, dies at 60
By Andrew Buncombe, The Independent [UK]
"Stephen Jay Gould, the outspoken evolutionary biologist whose views on Darwinism made him a bestselling if controversial author, died yesterday aged 60 at his home in New York. He had had cancer for more than 20 years."
Evolution popularizer Stephen Jay Gould dies
By Anne Barnard and Stephen Smith, Boston Globe
"Dr. Stephen Jay Gould, the Harvard paleontologist who brought the science of evolution to a broad new audience, died yesterday of metastasized lung cancer at his home in New York City. He was 60 years old."
Stephen Jay Gould, Evolution Theorist, Dies at 60
By CAROL KAESUK YOON, New York Times
"Stephen Jay Gould, the evolutionary theorist at Harvard University whose research, lectures and prolific output of essays helped to reinvigorate the field of paleontology, died yesterday at his home in Manhattan. He was 60."
Gould, who popularized evolution, dies
By Tim Friend and Dan Vergano, USA TODAY
"Stephen Jay Gould, 60, an evolutionary biologist, prolific author and one of the most publicly visible scientists in the USA, died Monday of cancer."
Acclaimed science writer dies, BBC News
"Stephen Jay Gould, one of the world's best-known palaeontologists and science writers, has died at the age of 60."
Evolutionist Stephen Jay Gould dead, by Keay Davidson, San Francisco Chronicle
"Stephen Jay Gould, a famed paleontologist and popular writer on evolution, died Monday of cancer at his home in New York City."
Evolutionary scientist Stephen Jay Gould dies
By Lisa M. Krieger and Glennda Chui, San Jose Mercury News
"Stephen Jay Gould, one of the most noted evolutionary biologists, paleontologists and essayists of the 20th century, died of cancer on Monday at his home in Manhattan."
Stephen Jay Gould dies
by JOHNE WHITFIELD, Nature
"Stephen Jay Gould, one of the world's most famous evolutionary biologists, died of cancer yesterday aged 60. Gould's accessible and entertaining writing made him the public face of evolution, while his provocative ideas stirred up academic debate."
Stephen Jay Gould, Evolution Scientist, Author, Dies at 60
By Richard Pearson, Washington Post
"Stephen Jay Gould, 60, a Harvard University professor of zoology and geology who became one of the most widely recognized scientists in the world for his graceful, lucid and downright entertaining writings about science, died of lung cancer May 20 at his home in New York."
The Scientist Who Wrote Rings Around The Earth
By Joel Achenbach, Washington Post
"A brilliant scientist who can write beautifully is an unusual creature, almost an evolutionary impossibility. It's like a flying horse, or a talking shark. Nature usually is sparing when it hands out talent and specializations. Stephen Jay Gould -- who died of lung cancer yesterday at the age of 60 -- was a prize example of a very rare breed."
Famed Harvard Biologist Gould Dies
By THEO EMERY, Associated Press
"Stephen Jay Gould was remembered as "paleontology's public intellectual," a scientist with a passion for evolutionary science and a talent for expressing complex theories in creative and accessible ways."
Harvard Paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould Dies
By Tim McLaughlin, Reuters
"Paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould, who unlocked the mysteries of evolution for millions of readers with essays on the panda's extra thumb and helped bring natural history museums to popular audiences, died on Monday at his home in New York after a long battle with cancer."
Stephen Jay Gould - A Tribute
Neil deGrasse Tyson, Vice President of The Planetary Society
I feel lonely without Stephen Jay Gould. Who would have thought, before he landed on the pages of Natural History magazine, that essays on science could be raised to a form of art? The success of his efforts gave me hidden confidence to step onto this landscape with him. From 1995 through 2001 I shared his space, with each of our essays bookending the central articles of the magazine. We wrote, of course, on completely different subjects. But I continually felt a deep kinship of mission--a mission that forces me every month to ask of the universe, "What stories have I yet to tell?" "What turns of phrase will I use to tell it?" "How best can I share with readers this glorious journey of the soul we call science?"
Palevitz on Santorum Amendment...
Barry Palevitz, in the May 27th issue of The Scientist, writes "...Some scientists worry that proponents of intelligent design have even grander plans: they may be setting the stage for a new Supreme Court challenge to evolution. According to Barbara Forrest, a philosopher at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond who tracks the intelligent design movement, 'they have written a legal strategy,' pointing to an article in 2000 published in the Utah Law Review by CSRC fellow DeWolf. DeWolf also wrote a 'legal guidebook' on the subject. 'They foresee that their efforts will precipitate a lawsuit if they can get some board of education to include intelligent design in the curriculum. They believe they can argue that intelligent design qualifies under the 1987 Edwards v. Aquillard ruling as an alternative scientific theory.' Congressional intent would be important in establishing intelligent design's legality. The conference report is important 'because it can be cited, much like any other legislative history, such as debates and speeches found in the Congressional Record, to support varying interpretations of the law,' says O'Grady. Adds Paul, 'as I recently said to someone who thought we did a good job in getting the Santorum amendment reduced to report language, 'litigation to follow.' ' ..."
Source: http://www.the-scientist.com/yr2002/may/palevitz_p25_020527.html (easy, free registration required)
The ID MOvement...EXPOSED!
Kevin Griffis of Creative Loafing (Atlanta, GA) has written a major series of articles on "Intelligent Design" in the Bible Belt.
Sources: http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/2002-05-22/cover.html (Intelligent design?)
http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/2002-05-22/cover2.html (Answering intelligent design )
http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/2002-05-22/cover3.html (The Cobb County statement )
A teaser: "Somewhere in the how-to manual of education, there's got to be a commandment against modeling yourself after Alabama. Cobb County obviously doesn't have that handbook. When children in the Atlanta suburb return to classes in the fall, they'll find disclaimers in their biology textbooks -- just like the ones in the textbooks of Georgia's next-door neighbor --that warn students that evolution is just a theory. ..."
Colson on DeHart...
Charles Colson writes on his Breakpoint column about the new movie Icons of Evolution, and its discussion of teacher Roger DeHart. Colson writes "...But the censorship didn't stop there. DeHart wanted to tell his students about the 'Cambrian Explosion,' the sudden appearance of the major groups of animals about 550 million years ago. The Cambrian Explosion has long been a puzzle for Darwinian evolution. Again DeHart was forbidden to bring in any supplementary materials offering an alternative explanation. It didn't matter that the issue is part of ongoing scientific debate. DeHart's students weren't allowed to see or hear anything challenging textbook orthodoxy. All this, and more, is retold by the participants themselves in the documentary Icons of Evolution. You'll hear from Chinese paleontologists who worked with the Cambrian Explosion fossils and believe that Darwinian evolution fails to explain the data. You'll hear from Roger DeHart himself about his experiences and also from his school's administrators, telling why they wouldn't let him depart from the established curriculum. It's an amazing, even shocking, storyshocking, that is, because most people assume that science ought to be a search for the truth about the natural world. While we may be cynical about advertising, or politics, or the media, science is still supposed to be above it all, pursuing what is really true. ..."
But, Did all Phyla appear in the Cambrian?
Not according to Glenn Morton;
And, not according to UC Berkeley, either...
Tony Blair goes up against "Anti-Science Fashion" ...
The Times (UK) reports on May 20th that "Tony Blair has promised to break down the 'anti- science fashion' in Britain, declaring that the Government will never give way to misguided protesters who stand in the way of medical and economic advance. The Prime Minister said in an interview with The Times that there should be a more mature attitude to science in Britain. 'It is time to speak up for science,' he said in advance of a substantial speech on the subject on Thursday. ..."
Downey reviews "Icons of Evolution" ...
Roger Downey of the Seattle Weekly has reviewed the new film version of Jonathan Wells's book "Icons of Evolution." It's not pretty. Downey writes in the May 16th-22nd edition "... As a threat to Darwinism, it's reminiscent of a woodpecker trying to bring down a sequoia. Since anyone who's actually mastered the material on evolution in a second-year college biology text can refute all this scientific guff without opening the book, what's the point of packaging it to look like an episode of Nova? Because the First Amendment has so far proved impermeable to the religious right's campaign to bring God back into public education. But if you don't mention God and make your guff look like science, you can call any attempt to keep your guff from impressionable minds 'censorship.' And censorship, as we all know, is un-American. ..."
Creation scientists fight back in Britain...
BBC News reported on 10 May that "A group of 27 creationist scientists has written to the education secretary arguing against any narrowing of England's school science curriculum to focus on Darwinian evolution. Their letter is in response to a previous letter from 36 academics, expressing alarm that creationism theory - the Biblical account of the origins of life - was being taught in schools. ..."
Nothing Dangerous About 'Silver' Fillings...
Leon Jaroff writes in the May 8th TIME that "Representative [Diane] Watson is also convinced that the mercury in the 'silver' (really amalgam) fillings used by dentists around the world is hazardous to the health of everyone with such fillings, afflicting them with a wide variety of illnesses. ... The mercury in amalgam, it turns out, is not free, but mixed with silver, tin and copper, metals to which it bonds chemically to form a crystalline metallic and safe alloy. An obvious analogy, says Dr. Robert Baratz, president of the National Council against Health Fraud, can be made with water, a chemical combination of hydrogen, a gas that can explode, and oxygen, which supports combustion. Yet, like those in water, amalgam's components are tightly bonded to each other. 'Saying that amalgam will poison you,' Baratz insists, 'is like saying that drinking water will make you explode and burst into flames.' ..."
FTC says exercize belts are "Rubbish"...
Yahoo and USA Today reported on May 9th that "The Federal Trade Commission has filed false-advertising complaints against the marketers of three electronic exercise belts that promise users 'six pack' abs or toned bodies without breaking a sweat. The FTC said Wednesday that it has started legal action in federal district courts against the marketers of the AB Energizer, AbTronic and Fast Abs to stop some of their ad claims. ..."
Brazil investigating Moonies ...
WorldNetDaily.com reported on May 14th that "Rev. Sun Myung Moon, founder of the Unification Church which owns real estate and other assets in Brazil thought to be worth nearly $250 million is facing a major investigation here for alleged money laundering, tax evasion and abetting illegal immigration. In addition, Moon's massive land acquisitions along national borders have raised concerns about regional security in South America. If prosecutors prove what they suspect is the real purpose of the church's activities there, their investigation could be the beginning of the end for Moon's vision of a new Eden on the continent. ..."
Drug & explosive-sniffing BEES?
The Independent (UK) reports on May 14th that "The Pentagon is preparing a sting operation with a difference training ordinary bees to smell out explosives, drugs and even to help clear minefields. For the past three years government-funded scientists have been doing tests, training bees to detect materials other than pollen. Officials hope that they could be used as apian sniffer dogs, swarming into action when required. In two tests last year, bees were able to detect two trucks tainted with explosives. Scientists say the bees are at least as sensitive to odours as dogs. 'The preliminary results have so far been very encouraging,' said a spokeswoman for the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency, which is funded by the Pentagon. ..."
Onyate Man is Back, in SPANISH...
NMSR's 1999 April Fool's Prank (see http://www.nmsr.org/onyatemn.htm) has been translated into Spanish!
Check it out: http://www.sindioses.com/humor/onyate.html
Vatican Summit clarifies - Priestly Sex with Adolescents is not "Pedophilia"...
USA Today reported on April 24th about the conclusions reached at the Vatican summit called to address the recent pedophilia scandals. The U.S. cardinals' statement at the end of meeting includes this snippet:
" 3) Even if the cases of true pedophilia on the part of priests and religious are few, all the participants recognized the gravity of the problem. In the meeting, the quantitative terms of the problem were discussed, since the statistics are not very clear in this regard. Attention was drawn to the fact that almost all the cases involved adolescents and therefore were not cases of true pedophilia. ..."
Placebos as good as Gold?
The Washington Post reported on May 7th that "After thousands of studies, hundreds of millions of prescriptions and tens of billions of dollars in sales, two things are certain about pills that treat depression: Antidepressants like Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft work. And so do sugar pills. ..."
ABC News reported on May 6th that the sequencing of the Mouse Genome is virtually finished. And the article mentions this surprise: "National Human Genome Research Institute head Dr. Francis Collins said he was not surprised to see mice have the same genes as humans, but he was surprised to see they had the same 'junk DNA.' 'This is content that we don't understand and don't recognize what it is,' Collins said in a telephone interview. 'Is this DNA involved in regulation? Does it turn genes on and off? Could it be new genes that we don't recognize? We just don't know.' What is now clear is that 'junk DNA' is not unique to humans and it is important enough to have lasted through the millions of years of evolution that separate mice and people. ..."
Poincare conjecture proved?
John Allen Paulos at ABC News writes on May 5th that "a respected British mathematician announced last month that he has proved a nearly century-old puzzle, the Poincaré conjecture, about spheres and their generalizations to higher-dimensional spaces. ... "
The article has a splendid example of an existence proof!
Bionic Retina Gives Six Patients Partial Sight ...
Yahoo/Reuters reports on May 8th that "They're not as fast as Lee Majors' Bionic Man, but six patients implanted with bionic retinas are seeing things they haven't seen in years. ..."
Pond Origins beat out Vents...
ABC News and Reuters reported on May 8th that "Life on Earth may not have emerged in undersea thermal vents in oceans as many scientists believe, but in freshwater ponds, New Scientist magazine said on Wednesday. ... "
Bacterium Genome Mapping Could Lead to Better Antibiotics...
ABC News and Reuters reported on May 8th that "British scientists have mapped the genetic material of a common soil bacterium in an achievement that could combat the growing problem of 'superbugs' bacteria resistant to the most powerful antibiotics. ... "
Ex-Scientologist Collects $8.7 Million In 22-Year-Old Case...
The Washington Post reported on May 10th that "Nearly 22 years ago, Lawrence Wollersheim, a disaffected member of the Church of Scientology, filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles accusing the church of mental abuse that pushed him to the brink of suicide. Teams of lawyers and various rulings came and went, all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Judgments against the church hit $30 million, then dropped to $2.5 million. But the Church of Scientology never paid -- until yesterday, when officials wrote a check for more than $8.6 million to end the case, one of the longest-running in California history...."
Free Electricity... the Countdown(S) are On...
Will Dennis Lee deliver Free Electricity to the world by the 4th of July? Or is the real date December 28th? Either way, check out the NMSR Dennis Lee/Free Electricity page to see our cool countdown clocks!
Earliest Known Flower discovered...
BBC News reports on Friday, 3 May, 2002 "Scientists say they have found the fossilised remains of the earliest known flower. It was discovered in a slab of stone in north-east China and the plant is thought to have lived at least 125 million years ago. It is like the mother of all flowering plants. Researchers at the University of Florida, US, say the species could be the predecessor of all flowering plants. ..."
a special report reprinted from Natural History magazine
Featuring articles by
* Richard Milner and Vittorio Maestro, ed. (introduction)
* Michael J. Behe, Ph.D. (ID) and Kenneth R. Miller, Ph.D. (EVO)
* William A. Dembski, Ph.D. (ID) and Robert T. Pennock, Ph.D. (EVO)
* Jonathan Wells, Ph.D. (ID) and Eugenie C. Scott, Ph.D. (EVO)
* Barbara Forrest, Ph.D. (overview)
Science project goes bad, really bad...
The CONTRA COSTA (Calif.) TIMES reports on April 27th "The whoosh of solid fuel igniting and the clatter of balsa against rooftops became a rite of spring long ago for neighbors of Orinda Intermediate School. It was only a matter of time, some said, before an annual science project at the school went awry...."
Brazilian cow clone proves to be all bull...
Yahoo.com reports on May 1st that "Brazilian scientists confirmed on Tuesday that a bull calf whose birth stunned researchers who had been trying to clone an adult cow was actually the result of a laboratory mix-up...."
Survey finds few in U.S. understand science...
CNN reported on May 1st that "Few people in the United States understand the scientific process and many believe in mysterious psychic powers and may be quick to accept phony science reports, according to a national survey. ..."
Krauss considers "Intelligent Design"...
This excellent article at the New York Times site requires user registration.
Megamouth Shark Found on S.African Beach ...
Yahoo/Reuters report on Aprill 22nd that "A rarely seen megamouth shark, unknown to science before 1976, has washed up on a South African beach, scientists said Monday. ... "
Early humans used tools to attack one another...
The April 22nd report from ABC News/Reuters says "A Neanderthal who lived and died with a hole in his skull provides the first scientific evidence that these early humans used tools to attack one another, researchers said today. The remains add to other clues that Neanderthals, a dead-end species of pre-human who colonized Europe, nursed their sick and thus had strong social ties, the researchers say. The 36,000-year-old skeleton was found in southern France years ago, but a study using recent techniques such as CT scans show the skull was crushed but healed. ..."
Phillip Johnson ... "It could be space aliens..."
SFGate.com profiled Intelligent Design movement leader Phillip Johnson on April 21. Author Louis Freedberg writes "Unlike Bryan, the three-time presidential candidate who took on Clarence Darrow in the 1925 Scopes trial, Johnson has never challenged evolution in a court of law -- but he easily could have. ... Johnson says he is an ordinary Christian who regularly attends the First Congregational Church in Berkeley. But when pressed, he avoids answering pointed questions, including his views on just who the intelligent designer is. 'It certainly could be God, a supernatural creature, but in principle it could be space aliens of high intelligence who did the designing,' he says. ... He won't say whether he is or isn't a creationist. 'I won't answer that. That's like asking me if I was ever a member of the Communist Party.' ..."
Stunning fossil human's earliest mammal ancestor?
The April 24th report in New Scientist says "Our earliest mammalian ancestor was a dormouse-like creature that liked to rummage around in small shrubs. The tiny animal, discovered stunningly preserved in a Chinese lake bed, could fit in the palm of your hand. Unusually, it reveals not only when placental mammals split from marsupials, but also how they lived. Eomaia,which means 'ancient mother,' comes from the Yixian formation, the source of the famous feathered dinosaurs. ..."
Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle ... from Inequality to Equality?
The April 27th New Scientist report says "Heisenberg quantified this in the uncertainty relation, which says that the product of the two uncertainties must always be greater than a certain fixed amount. This does not say how big the uncertainty might actually be, however. Michael Hall, who is a visiting fellow at the Australian National University's Institute of Advanced Studies in Canberra, wondered whether this could be quantified more exactly. ... The result is an expression that looks like Heisenberg's original relation, but gives the exact uncertainty in the measurements of position and momentum. Hall says it is an equation rather than an inequality, which is 'a far stronger relation.' So strong, in fact, that in a paper published this month in Journal of Physics A, Hall and Marcel Reginatto of the Physical-Technical Institute in Braunschweig, Germany, have managed to derive the basics of quantum mechanics from it, including the Schrödinger equation that describes the behaviour of quantum-mechanical wave functions. ... "
Attorney claims alleged psychic Miss Cleo is for real ...
The April 24th report from the South Florida Sun Sentinel says "Miss Cleos lawyer went on the offensive Wednesday after two months of near-silence, asserting his client has a gift of clairvoyance and suggesting shes the subject of a latter-day witch hunt. .. 'Does it make her any less Jamaican because she may or may not have been born in the U.S.?' Cone asked, though not stating that she was born in Jamaica. ... "
The FTC gets busy...
Ken Magill of iMarketing News writes on April 19th "The Federal Trade Commission said yesterday that it has sent warning letters to more than 50 companies making questionable gas-saving and energy-related advertising claims about products for sale on their Web sites. ..."
Ira Teinowitz writes on April 16th that "A member of the Federal Trade Commission today warned media companies to crack down on running ads by makers of vitamin supplements and weight loss products that carry flagrantly dubious claims. ..."
Paul Kurtz to be on Sunday Morning...
Paul Kurtz will be featured on the CBS News Sunday Morning Show to air Sunday, April 28. The show starts at 9:00am eastern time. Medium John Edward will be the topic.
See: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/1998/07/09/sunday/main13562.shtml for more info.
The Washington Post/AP report on April 10th that "Two bizarre objects found by an orbiting X-ray telescope may represent a new class of star and may contain a new form of matter, defying current theories of particle physics and astronomy....This evidence 'points to a star composed not of neutrons, but of quarks in a form known as strange quark matter,' said Jeremy Drake of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. ... "
Porn king Guccione goes down...
Just a few years ago, Bob Guccione was shelling out millions of dollars for photographs of the plastic alien at the Roswell UFO Museum (see http://www.parascope.com/nb/1096/pent.htm for details...). True, he thought these were photographs of a real, dead alien, but that didn't turn out to be the case. Not-so-frugal Bob is in deep trouble now, says This London on April 8th, and his soft porn magazine Penthouse is going down....
Do bacteria cause some cancers in children?
The Guardian reports on April 3rd that "Children who develop two types of brain cancer might have been infected with bacteria or a virus when they were babies, researchers suggested yesterday. ..." This is not surprising to NMSR members who heard Greg Cochran's talk on "A New Germ Theory" in April of 1999.
Tidbits from ABC News...
Terror War, New Nuclear Bombs Rejuvenate New Mexico Weapons Labs
Linguists and Native Speakers Fight to Preserve Dying Languages
Failed Monkey Clonings Cast Doubt on Human Cloning Claim (April
Answers in Genesis on "compromising" Christian colleges...
Can a Christian accept evolution? Of course not! says Answers in Genesis. In fact, they say "Because of the pervasive influence of evolutionary thought on Christianity, many Christian colleges compromise on the Word of God (e.g. see Baptist school afraid of creation). In some cases, it may be better for a student to attend a secular school, knowing up front that they will be taught evolutionary humanism, rather than attend a Christian college or university that (perhaps unknowingly) undermines Gods Word. ..."
Dembski to share podium with "Paluxy Mantracks" creationist Carl Baugh...
"Intelligent Design" mathematician William Dembski does not like to be characterized as a "creationist." Why, then, is he sharing a podium with... Dr. Carl Baugh???
Colorado school district rejects creationism...
NCSE reports on April 10th that "On April 9, 2002 the Board of Education of the Liberty J-4 School District voted 5-0 against a proposal to include creationism in its science classes. Located in Joes, Colorado, about 150 miles east of Denver, the district serves just over 100 students. ..."
High Costs of Alternative Medicine...
In the April Washington Monthly, Chris Mooney writes "After spending half a billion taxpayer dollars, alternative medicine gurus still can't prove their methods work--how convenient. ..."
Dem charges Bush with plotting 9-11 attacks...
The Washington Post reports on April 12th that "Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.) is calling for an investigation into whether President Bush and other government officials had advance notice of terrorist attacks on Sept. 11 but did nothing to prevent them. ... McKinney said the war on terrorism has enriched Carlyle Group investors by enhancing the value of a military contractor partly owned by the firm. Carlyle Group spokesman Chris Ullman asked: 'Did she say these things while standing on a grassy knoll in Roswell, New Mexico?' ... "
Chimp/Human brain differences detailed...
The Chicagop Tribune reports on April 12th that "Scientists have long puzzled over how humans and chimpanzees can share 98.7 percent of the same genes, yet have vastly different mental capacities. Now an international team of researchers says it knows why. The genes in human brains, they report in the Thursday issue of Science, operate in different ways than the ones in chimps do, potentially giving humans a huge lead in mental prowess over their closest primate relative. ..."
The Struggle to Bring Bad Doctors to Justice...When Medicine is Murder
The March 27th edition of the Village Voice has an interesting article by Sharon Lerner. Lerner begins "Leah Grove said "inhalation therapy" felt like riding a magic carpet. Perhaps that's why she continued the treatment in the face of common sense-and her own violent physical reaction. She would thrash, shake, and gasp for breath as her psychiatrist, a 73-year-old named James Watt, held a mask to her face and began administering the combination of gases that was supposed to help her recover repressed childhood memories. Twice, the 38-year-old computer sales executive threw up immediately after the sessions. On one occasion, Grove even punched Watt in the face, which led him to suggest that she bring someone along to the appointments to help restrain her... It was his desire to help his girlfriend in this quest, O'Brien says now, that convinced him to use his 175-pound frame to pin Grove down that day. O'Brien's heft didn't turn out to be necessary. Grove did struggle for breath, but after writhing briefly, she became eerily still. 'It was different from the other times,' remembers O'Brien, who had acted as bodily restraint in at least six previous sessions and was planning to try the therapy himself that afternoon. 'She just stopped responding. Something was wrong.' Grove never regained consciousness. After being in a coma for three weeks, she died. ..."
William Dembski: Intelligent Design is "An argument from ignorance"...
In an article by Richard John Neuhaus from First Things 121, March 2002, Neuhaus writes "With respect to the origin and complex development of life forms, clear thinking begins with recognizing what we do not know. Dembski puts it nicely: 'An argument from ignorance is still better than a pipe dream in which youre deluding yourself. Im at least admitting to ignorance as opposed to pretending that youve solved the problem when you havent.'
An asteroid's a comin'... better duck! (in the year 2880)
Yahoo reports on April 4th that "A new look at an asteroid orbiting the sun shows it could possibly smash into the Earth with the explosive force of millions of tons of TNT. But experts say the potential impact is still 878 years away, time enough for the speeding space rock to alter its course. ..."
ABC News reports on Ohio & Intelligent Design...
ABC NEws reported on the Ohio machinations on April 1, 2002. Amanda Onion writes "...Unlike past movements to include the biblical theory of creation in school's science plans, proponents of Intelligent Design deny their agenda is a religious one. Behe explains the theory points out weaknesses in Darwin's theory of evolution and tries to present the "best explanation of how the world got here." The fact that the theory's explanation is mystical, says Behe, is beside the point. ..."
Gamma Rays knock Flatulence for a Loop ...
Yahoo.com reported on March 27th that "Indian scientists have come up with a cure for flatulence, by blasting guilty foodstuffs such as beans with gamma rays to knock out the offending chemicals that cause the problem, New Scientist magazine said on Wednesday."
Pre-Columbian Chinese explorer thesis is in trouble...
The National Post reports on March 18th that "An amateur British historian who has made headlines by contending that the Chinese reached America 70 years before Christopher Columbus has presented new evidence to support his theory, but academics said they were not yet convinced...."
Ken Miller Sounds Off on Santorum Amendment...
Contrary to Discovery Institute claims, says noted biologist and author Ken Miller of Brown, "The 'Santorum Language' on evolution is NOT included in the new Education Law signed by President Bush." Miller has resources on-line so you can "Check the facts for yourself."
Sen. Ted Kennedy Sounds Off on Intelligent Design...
The following appeared in the March 21, 2002 Letters to the Editor of the Washington Times:
"Evolution is designed for science classes
The March 14 Commentary piece, "Illiberal education in Ohio schools," written by my colleague Sen. Rick Santorum, Pennsylvania Republican, erroneously suggested that I support the teaching of "intelligent design" as an alternative to biological evolution. That simply is not true.
Rather, I believe that public school science classes should focus on teaching students how to understand and critically analyze genuine scientific theories. Unlike biological evolution, "intelligent design" is not a genuine scientific theory and, therefore, has no place in the curriculum of our nation's public school science classes."
EDWARD M. KENNEDY
The Shape of Life to emerge TUESDAY APRIL 2nd...
The Sea Studios production "Shape Of Life " begins on KNME-TV5 on Tuesday, April 2nd, at 8:00 PM. If you saw producer Mark Shelley's talk about the show at the Museum of Natural History last February, you know you'll want to watch it! Here's KNME's blurb:
"This first episode explores the scientific evidence that points to the one single animal that gave rise to all other animals, including humans. Then it explores the group of creatures whose descendents were the first to harness the power of muscles and nerves. "
It will run for three weeks on Tuesdays, so tune in on April 9th and 16th also!
PRESIDENT BUSH DELIVERS INCONTROVERTIBLE DENUNCIATION OF DEMOCRATIC FAIRY TALE OF EVOLUTION...
Hey, this has gotta be real. The website is, after all, www.whitehouse.org. But then again, it might be best to check your calendar for today's date.
Bible Tales Are Wilting in the face of Archaeology...
The Yahoo.com report of March 9, by Michael Massing of the New York Times, says "Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation. Such startling propositions the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years have gained wide acceptance among non- Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity until now. ... 'Etz Hayim,' compiled by David Lieber of the University of Judaism in Los Angeles, seeks to change that. ... These essays, perused during uninspired sermons or Torah readings at Sabbath services, will no doubt surprise many congregants. For instance, an essay on Ancient Near Eastern Mythology," by Robert Wexler, president of the University of Judaism in Los Angeles, states that on the basis of modern scholarship, it seems unlikely that the story of Genesis originated in Palestine. More likely, Mr. Wexler says, it arose in Mesopotamia, the influence of which is most apparent in the story of the Flood, which probably grew out of the periodic overflowing of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. The story of Noah, Mr. Wexler adds, was probably borrowed from the Mesopotamian epic Gilgamesh. ..."
Human Evolution: Make Love, Not War...
Steve Connor of the Independent (UK) writes on March 7th that "They came, they saw and they made love, not war. This is the story of how our human ancestors spread across the world, according to the most detailed study of our genetic heritage attempted so far. Alan Templeton, professor of biology at Washington University in St Louis, Missouri, has found convincing evidence to suggest that the history of human evolution is one of sexual interchange rather than the physical elimination of one group by another. 'Humans expanded again and again out of Africa, but these expansions resulted in interbreeding, not replacement, and thereby strengthened the genetic ties between human populations throughout the world,' he said...."
Did the Chinese beat Columbus?
Elizabeth Grice of the Vancouver Sun writes on March 4th that "History books may need to be rewritten in the light of new evidence that Chinese explorers had discovered most parts of the world by the mid-15th century. This week, an amateur historian will expound his theory, backed up by charts, ancient artifacts and anthropological research, that when Columbus discovered America in 1492, he was 72 years too late. ..."
The Universe is Beige, not Green...
ABC News reports on March 7th that "Red-faced astronomers said Thursday they were mistaken when they reported that the universe is light green. It's really beige. 'It was more colorful than it should have been, unfortunately,' said Ivan Baldry, a post-doctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins University who co-authored the scholarly paper that gave the color of all the light in the universe. 'It's much closer to white, really,' Baldry said in a telephone interview. 'More like cream.'..."
Ohio School Board hears Pro's/Con's of Intelligent Design...
Francis X. Clines of the New York Times reported on March 12th that "Proponents of the intelligent-design movement, which challenges Darwin's primacy in the science classroom, argued for equal footing in the state's new teaching curriculum today [March 11th], while critics warned that speculative theories of some ultimate agent underpinning evolution were the antithesis of true science. Hundreds of people sat for more than two hours at a hearing on the issue by the State Board of Education, listening to abstruse arguments about the bacterial flagellum and the peppered moth before one of four clashing scholars finally used the G- word that had attracted the crowd in the first place. 'The real danger is in trying to put God in the gaps,' said Dr. Lawrence Krauss, the physics chairman at Case Western Reserve University. Dr. Krauss argued that while much remained to be discovered about natural selection, Darwin's theory had only grown in strength through decades of repeated experimentation and discovery that intelligent design had not been subjected to.... With equal fervor, Dr. Jonathan Wells, senior fellow at the Discovery Institute, a Seattle organization dedicated to alternative scientific theories, contended that there was enough valid challenge to Darwinian evolution to justify intelligent design's being ordered into the classroom curriculum not as a religious doctrine, he maintained, but as a matter of 'a growing scientific controversy.' ... Dr. Kenneth R. Miller, a biologist at Brown University, told the board that the state of 'scientific controversy' being repeatedly claimed by the two speakers for intelligent design was nonexistent among the vast majority of scientists. Instead, he said, it was 'propped up from outside the scientific community' in a move to pressure legislators and school officials to overrule the scientific mainstream. One of the best lessons a teacher can offer students is to 'let them know science has limitations,' Dr. Miller said. He complained that the theory advanced by intelligent-design advocates had not been submitted to peer review and experimentation the way other theories must be tested to be scientifically accepted. 'They're not a part of science,' Dr. Krauss added. 'What they're really attacking here is not Darwinism but science.' ... "
Creationism... it's not just for America anymore!
The Guardian (UK) reports on March 9th that "Fundamentalist Christians who do not believe in evolution have taken control of a state-funded secondary school in England. In a development which will astonish many British parents, creationist teachers at the city technology college in Gateshead are undermining the scientific teaching of biology in favour of persuading pupils of the literal truth of the Bible. ..."
Miss Cleo is NOT a Jamaican, mon...
The Miami Herald reports on March 14th that "Miss Cleo, the Jamaican shaman and spokeswoman for a psychic hot line, was born in California, according to her birth certificate. The state Attorney General's Office received a copy of Miss Cleo's birth certificate, showing that she was born Youree Dell Harris on Aug. 13, 1962, in Los Angeles County Hospital. Her parents are from Texas and California. ..."
Physicist/Priest gets Prize...
SFGate.com reports on March 15th that "John C. Polkinghorne, a British mathematical physicist and Anglican priest whose writings on reconciling religion and science have helped propel public interest in the issue, was named winner yesterday of the 2002 Templeton Prize. The $1 million religion award is the world's largest annual monetary prize awarded to an individual. It was created in 1972 by Sir John Templeton, a global investor who wanted to offer a prize exceeding the Nobels to underscore his belief in the importance of advances in spiritual discoveries. ... He argues that the Big Bang and evolution are compatible with belief in God as creator, and that evil, disease and suffering can be explained as the inevitable result of a God-given freedom for 'creation to make itself.' But he says 'the jury is still out' on such theories as 'intelligent design,' whose advocates assert that creation's complexity can only be explained as the work of a purposeful designer. ..."
Behe Stumps New Mexico...
A Special Report on Michael Behe ("Irreducible Complexity") appears in a brand-new NMSR C-file. It's full of pithy quotes from Behe's talks at UNM and at Calvary Chapel in Albuquerque. What did Behe say at UNM that he didn't say at Calvary? And vice-versa? Check it out, at...
"Bubble Fusion" ... Deja Vu all over again, or something New?
This has been all over the news and the 'Net. Bob Park of APS says "Taleyarkhan et al. from Oak Ridge National Laboratory (WN 1 Mar 02), claiming evidence of d-d fusion correlated with sonoluminescence from collapsing bubbles in deuterated acetone. However, Shapira and Saltmarsh, also from Oak Ridge, using purportedly superior detection and analysis equipment, found no evidence for fusion. ... Both sides, Kennedys [Science] editorial concludes, 'would do well to wait for the scientific process to do its work.' But in the end, it was Science that refused to wait until it had a balanced report."
Is this just another Cold Fusion-style fiasco, or something really substantial? Let's check back in a few years and see if we're driving sonoluminescent-fusion cars!
This dinosaur-bird transitional is the Best Yet...
YAHOO.com reports on March 6th that "Paleontologists working in China have unearthed the first fossil of a dinosaur that appears to have had full-fledged feathers a finding they say settles once and for all the debate over whether dinosaurs and birds are related. Researchers said the 3-foot fossil also reinforces the idea that at least some dinosaurs were warm-blooded creatures that needed feathers for insulation, not flight. The specimen is believed to be about 128 million years old. It is a small, fleet-footed theropod, a two-legged carnivore that could not fly and belongs to the same family as the larger and more fearsome Tyrannosaurus rex. The researchers said the dinosaur that appears to have had mature feathers identical to those of modern birds, including long, showy plumage on its tail and hind legs. Some of the feathers are more than 5 inches long...."
No Plane Crash at Pentagon on 9-11?
Yes, it's another Conspiracy. This time, it's alleged that the government is covering the fact that no plane crashed into the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. Here's a typical claim: "As everyone knows, on 11 September, less than an hour after the attack on the World Trade Centre, an airplane collided with the Pentagon. The Associated Press first reported that a booby-trapped truck had caused the explosion. The Pentagon quickly denied this. The official US government version of events still holds. Here's a little game for you: Take a look at these photographs and try to find evidence to corroborate the official version. It's up to you to Hunt the Boeing!"
In a word: "Oy!"
T rex was no Olympic Sprinter...
www.newscientist.com reported on Feb. 2nd that "Tyrannosaurus rex was a lumbering giant incapable of even breaking into a gentle jog, say two specialists in biomechanics. Their work suggests that the popular, Jurassic Park-inspired image of T. rex as an adept sprinter, capable of catching a speeding car, is artistic licence literally going a step too far. John Hutchinson and Mariano Garcia of the University of California at Berkeley calculated that a six-tonne T. rex could not have carried enough leg muscle to break into a run. Instead it could only walk at a respectable five metres per second, just half the top speed clocked for an elephant or a top human sprinter. ... The model seems reasonable, says Jim Farlow of Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne...."
Volvos a source of "dangerous" EMFs?
The New York Times reported on March 1st that "Although a Swedish car magazine found higher than normal levels of electromagnetism in some Volvos, its study, which alarmed many Volvo owners, may have overstated the hazard. The magazine, Vi Bilagare, said it found magnetic fields in three Volvo models the S60, V70 and S80 as high as 17.8 microteslas around the driver's left foot. A microtesla is a unit of measurement for magnetism. Citing recommendations by the National Institute for Working Life, a Swedish labor group, the magazine said that was about 80 times the level considered safe, which it defined as 0.2 microteslas. The Swedish findings were widely reported. But the labor group's standard is far more conservative than one set by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection, a group of scientists who establish safety standards for various forms of electromagnetic radiation. The commission considers low-frequency radiation of less than 100 microteslas to be safe...."
Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2002/03/01/automobiles/01VOLV.html (free registration required)
Dennis Lee promises Free Electricity demo on 4th of July...
The Feb. 21 story by Kate Silver of the Las Vegas Weekly is titled "The Electric Christian Rapture Test ." She writes "They say all it takes is a little bit of faith, some cash and a signature, and if everything goes as planned, subscribing Christians (and maybe a few trusting infidels) will be free of the evil power companies -- and their power bills -- for life. Call it the Electric Christian Rapture Test. ... [There is] a network of disciples of self-proclaimed anointed one, inventor and Christian evangelist Dennis Lee, who -- though he has actions pending against him by attorneys general and alerts filed by Better Business Bureaus in various states -- has been traveling the country, registering people for free power. The would-be, modern-day miracle-maker says that the Fourth of July will take on an extra special meaning this year. This July 4 will not just be Independence Day for our nation. It will be America's Declaration of Energy Independence Day. The day when their fabulous invention will be unveiled and the faithful will receive the free electricity that Lee's brethren have been promising for years. ..."
I think Bart Simpson has summed it up best: "Yeah, right!"
Astronomers respond to "Young Universe" claims...
CSICOP Fellow Andrew Fraknoi recently announced that "In several U.S. states there have been demands that discussions of the Big Bang and the vast age of the cosmos be excluded from science curricula in K-12 classrooms. In response, the Astronomy Education Board of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) has put together an article for teachers on how astronomers know that the universe is old and that it changes with time. The illustrated article has been posted on the Web at: http://www.astrosociety.org/education/publications/tnl/56/
It is a special issue of "The Universe in the Classroom," a newsletter on teaching astronomy in grades 3-12, published by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. The article explains the evidence showing that we live in a universe that is between 10 billion and 15 billion years old and that both the universe and its contents undergo evolutionary change. It is designed to help teachers explain these ideas to their classes and concerned community members. A list of written and web resources is also included. ..."
FTC takes on dubious Anthrax "cures"...
David McGuire of Newsbytes reports at
that "As part of its ongoing crusade to purge the Internet of fraudulent Sept. 11 profiteers, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) today announced that it had settled a claim against a Web site that marketed its 'colloidal silver' product as a cure for Anthrax. ... "
A related story from the Associated Press appears at
"Federal regulators have settled deceptive advertising charges against the marketers of a do-it-yourself anthrax test kit and a dietary supplement touted as curing hundreds of deadly diseases."
Michael Behe stumping New Mexico...
Here is the itinerary for "Mr. Irreducible Complexity" himself for next week...
Michael Behe NM Schedule
Monday March 4th 4:00 PM (Public)
University of New Mexico
Anthropology Lecture Hall (Room 163)
Tuesday AM Private technical talk to Sandia Labs specialists
Tuesday March 5th 12:00 Noon (Base Access Required)
Sandia National Laboratories Live video link to Sandia Labs in Livermore, California
Building 962 (Auditorium)
Tuesday March 5th 7:00 PM (Public)
New Mexico Tech in Socorro, New Mexico
Workman Center (Room 101)
Wednesday March 6th 12:00 Noon (Public)
Los Alamos National Laboratory in Los Alamos New Mexico
Wednesday March 6th 7:00 PM (Public)
Calvary of Albuquerque
4001 Osuna Rd NE
Also broadcast on a National wide cable TV link - Radio KNKT, NM wide. And also live on the Web
PBS examines the Monkey Trial...
Last Monday's "American Experience" on the Scopes trial featured soundbites from Eugenie Scott, Phillip Johnson, and many others. It was a fairly interesting show. One tidbit of interest was that the scenes where angry fundamentalists threw bottles at the teacher's jail cell never happened in Dayton in 1925. Another is that the "modern" Intelligent Design movement of today is based on the same theme as the fundamentalist creationists of William Jennings Bryan's day: "If my kid has to study evolution, he'll lose his faith."
And check out this excellent Scopes Trial website:
This Slate piece by William Saletan, from Feb. 13th, begins "This is the way creationism ends. Not with a bang, but with a whimper. ... Liberals call ID a menace that will sneak religion into public schools. They're exactly wrong. ID is a big nothing. It's non-living, non-breathing proof that religion has surrendered its war against science. ... Like the Taliban, creationists were washed up. Their only hope was to flee to the mountains, shave their beards, change their clothes, and come back as something else. What they've come back as is the Intelligent Design movement. Gone are the falsifiable claims of a six-day creation and a 6,000-year-old Earth. .. Without distinctive, measurable claims such as the six-day creation, the 6,000-year-old Earth, and other literal interpretations of the Bible, creationism no longer materially contradicts evolution. The reason not to teach intelligent design isn't that it's full of lies or dogma. The reason is that it's empty. ..."
Forget the Face on Mars...there's a Face in the Pacific! ;>)
I heard about this on Art Bell's show over the weekend. The guest host and his guest were gushing over detailed images of a face on the ocean floor, complete with eyelids, eyebrows, pupils, even teeth. So I found the website and checked it out for myself. Alas, it makes even the Face on Mars look good! See for yourself!
U.S. Tightening Rules on Keeping Scientific Secrets...
A Feb. 17th piece by William Broad of the New York Times notes "The Bush administration is taking wide measures to tighten scientific secrecy in the hope of keeping weapons of mass destruction out of unfriendly hands. Last month, it began quietly withdrawing from public release more than 6,600 technical documents that deal mainly with the production of germ and chemical weapons. It is also drafting a new information security policy, to be released in the next few weeks, that officials say will result in more documents' being withdrawn. It is asking scientific societies to limit what they publish in research reports. ..."
Bob Park of APS declared "All this is painfully familiar to physicists who recall efforts of the Reagan administration in the early 80s to create what amounted to a new level of classification: 'sensitive but unclassified.' In 1982, at a conference of the Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers, the government blocked more than 100 unclassified papers from presentation. Officers of the American Vacuum Society were arrested for allowing scientists from the People's Republic of China to attend the annual meeting at which all papers were unclassified. At the APS March meeting it was easy to pick out the FBI agents, wearing bulky hearing aids, and talking into the cuffs of their suits. In 1983 the APS Council affirmed its support for 'the unfettered communication of all scientific information that is not classified.' "
Psychic Parasites profiled...
This web page by skeptic David Bloomberg runs down many so-called "psychics" who are atttempting to gain profits from the 9-11 terror attacks. This list includes Sylvia Browne, John Edward, Terry and Linda Jamison (the "psychic twins"), and James Van Praagh. Good reading!
CSICOP sets up "Miss Cleo Watch" website...
And I'll bet she never saw it coming! You can catch up on the Florida psychics latest troubles at:
Bible classes halted in Tennessee county famed for Scopes Trial...
The New York Times reported on Feb. 9th that "The Tennessee county where the Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925 resulted in a verdict favoring the classroom teaching of biblical creationism over evolution was ordered today by a federal district judge here to stop holding Bible classes in its elementary schools. The classes, held in Rhea County for 51 years, violate the constitutional separation of church and state, said the judge, R. Allan Edgar..."
N. Y. Times calls "Intelligent Design" a "Theory"...
The New York Times reported on Feb. 11th that "The latest challenge to evolution's primacy in the nation's classrooms the theory of intelligent design, not the old foe creationism will get a full- scale hearing next month before Ohio Board of Education members, who are in a heated debate over whether established science censors other views about the origins of life....Supporters of this theory acknowledge that the earth is billions of years old, not thousands, as a literal reading of the Bible suggests. They also accept that organisms change over time, according to commonly held principles of evolution. But they dispute the idea that the astounding complexity of the earth's plants and animals could have just happened through natural selection, the force that Darwin suggested drives evolution. An intelligent designer perhaps the God of Genesis, perhaps someone or something else had to get the ball rolling, they contend....Critics say it would make Ohio a laughingstock to rival Kansas, where school board members voted in 1999 to delete evolution from the state's recommended science curriculum and standardized tests. The board was eventually turned out by voters and evolution was restored. Opponents of intelligent design view it as a sophisticated variation on the decades-old effort to force theism into the public schools. ... "
Speaking of Scopes...
The "Monkey Trial" airs on KNME TV-5 (the local PBS affiliate) on Sunday, Feb.17th at 9 pm. The show is part of the American Experience series. Here is the synopsis: "In 1925, a Tennessee biology teacher named John Scopes was arrested for teaching evolution in defiance of state law. His trial became an epic event of the 20th century, a debate over free speech that spiraled into an all-out duel between science and religion. Featuring two of the 20th century's greatest orators, Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan, the Scopes trial was America's first major media event, with hundreds of reporters and live nationwide radio coverage dispersing the sensational news. Outside the courthouse, a circus atmosphere prevailed as a chimpanzee in a suit and hat vied with fire-and-brimstone preachers for the crowd's attention. "Monkey Trial" explores the dramatic moment when a new fault line opened in society as scientific discoveries began to challenge the literal truth of the Bible. Often humorous and at times frightening, the story of two value systems colliding resonates today."
Will Global Warming make days longer?
NewScientist.com reports on Feb. 13th that "A team led by Olivier de Viron of the Royal Observatory of Belgium has calculated the impact of global warming from the build-up of greenhouse gases in the air on the angular momentum of the planet....The overall effect will be to give the planet a nudge from east to west, marginally slowing its rotation from west to east. The nudge will be small - enough to increase the length of the day by only around 1 microsecond, or a millionth of a second, over a year. It will take the most sensitive instruments a decade to spot any change...."
Icthyosaurs Spewed Chunks...
Yahoo.com and Reuters reported on Feb. 11th that "British scientists said Monday they had discovered what they believed to be the world's oldest fossilized vomit from a large marine reptile that lived 160 million years ago. Professor Peter Doyle of the University of Greenwich in London said the vomit found in a clay quarry in northern England shed new light on the diet and eating habits of the ichthyosaur -- a Jurassic Age fish-like reptile with a long head, tapered body and four flippers.... Other examples of fossilized vomit have been discovered, but Doyle and Dr. Jason Wood of Britain's Open University said their sample was the oldest. ...The vomit contains the shells of dozens of belemnites, tiny shellfish that were found in abundance in the water around Britain. They were a staple food for extinct marine reptiles. The scientists are convinced the sample is vomit because of the way the belemnite shells were scattered in the fossilized sample. A microscopic examination also showed the shells had been etched by stomach acid from the digestive fluid of the marine creatures. ..."
Happy Valentine's ...Scientists still searching for answers about Sex...
ABC News reported on Feb. 14th "Don't let this dampen your Valentine's Day, but the fact is, scientists are still trying to figure out what's so great about sex. They're looking beyond candy hearts and romantic dinners to the fact that in the cold light of biology, sex is a pretty inefficient way to reproduce. But it's so widespread among plants and animals that there must be some payoff. After more than a half-century of debate and some 20 published theories, scientists are still trying to pin down just what the payoff is....Currently, most scientists offer two general theories about why sex is so good: It helps a species get rid of harmful mutated genes, or, alternatively, it helps the population take advantage of beneficial mutations. Call it bad genes vs. good genes...."
Move Over ,Taos ... here comes the Kokomo Hum!
ABC News reports on Feb. 13th "Complaints about the 'Kokomo Hum' began in 1999, when a handful of local residents began to report a constant low-pitched rumbling noise. They say they developed a range of mysterious health problems soon after, including dizziness, diarrhea, extreme fatigue, joint and muscle pain, nosebleeds, and excruciating, unending headaches...." Art Bell, of course, thinks it's huge secret underground bases.
Scientific American Maps Creationism in America...
The on-lone article in the March 2002 issue says "Since 1920 creationists have been successful in persuading legislatures in five Southern states to pass laws favorable to their views, but the courts consistently struck them down, saying that they violated the establishment clause of the Constitution. In the 1990s creationists began focusing instead on changing state educational standards. The most famous attempt to do so in recent years--the decision of the Kansas Board of Education to eliminate evolution from the state's science standards--was not a success: the decision was reversed in 2001 when antievolution board members were defeated for reelection. Still, creationists have been victorious in many other states, a trend catalogued by Lawrence S. Lerner of California State University at Long Beach. His evaluation, summarized and updated in the map below, is valuable in part because it points up the widespread sway of creationists in Northern states, such as Illinois, Ohio and Wisconsin, that have a liberal or moderate tradition. Furthermore, it highlights the fact that certain Southern states--North and South Carolina--have more rigorous educational standards than some Northern states, such as New York and Massachusetts...."
There's a very interesting map showing the evolution education status of each state of the union. New Mexico is colored yellow (Satisfactory/Good); however, several states appear red (Unsatisfactory, useless, or absent).
Women still struggling in scientific careers...
Womens E-news reports on Feb. 15th that "After 30 years of activism in science, women who crack genetic codes and create information technology have yet to solve the gender equation.... Despite significant advances, women in science have cause for frustration to equal their pride...."
The Feds are going after Florida "Psychic" Miss Cleo...
Yahoo.com News and the AP reported on Feb. 15th that "Federal fraud fighters say Miss Cleo's psychic hot line should have seen it coming: a lawsuit accusing the service of rampant deception. Describing the hot line as "permeated with fraud," the Federal Trade Commission said Thursday it wants to shut down Access Resource Services Inc. and Psychic Readers Network. The two companies in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., are behind the telephone psychic reading service that on television and the Internet promises insights into love and money. Florida authorities announced a separate lawsuit, challenging the service's spokeswoman, Youree Dell Harris, known as "Miss Cleo," to prove that she really is a renowned shaman from Jamaica...."
Chandra images a quasar with disk, jet ...
Surf over to "Astronomy Picture of the Day" for this amazing pair of photographs comparing visible startlight to the corresponding X-ray image!
Quantum Energy from Ball Lightning?
A mass mailing from Alexander Sammons of Chukanov Quantum Energy, LLC (http://www.ChukanovEnergy.com ) claims that "Very recently, a new ground-breaking source of energy has been discovered. This new energy is called the quantum energy, which originates from the quantum plasma macro-object known as the ball lightning. For the first time, this naturally occurring phenomenon was reproduced in the laboratory environment. After years of secret research and development, we are ready to share our discovery with the scientific community...."
But Bob Park, in the American Physical Society's What's New column for Feb. 8th, calls this THE GREAT SPAM SCAM: A "NEW GROUNDBREAKING SOURCE OF ENERGY." Park notes "You probably got the same SPAM this week, announcing discovery of an 'unlimited source of energy,' having something to do with 'ball lightning.' I don't know what the big deal is: new sources of 'infinite energy' are announced almost daily, and 'ball lightning' is invoked about as often as 'zero point energy' or 'cold fusion.' One thing is new; the most frequent warning sign of voodoo science is that claims are pitched directly to the media (WN 25 Jan 02). Chukanov Quantum Energy, has taken a different road, e-mailing their pitch to thousands of scientists."
Beam me up, Scotty...for REAL??? (Well, not yet...)
Anil Ananthaswamy in the Feb. 2nd New Scientist writes "The dream of teleporting atoms and molecules - and maybe even larger objects - has become a real possibility for the first time. The advance is thanks to physicists who have suggested a method that in theory could be used to 'entangle' absolutely any kind of particle. ..."
Small mutations in HOX genes produce BIG changes (a.k.a. "macroevolution")...
ABC News reported on Feb. 7th that "A team led by William McGinnis, a biologist at the University of California at San Diego, showed that a single mutation in a particular class of genes known as Hox genes can lead to big changes in the body. These big changes, the researchers say, could have played a significant role in the evolution of some new species. ..."
Read the UCSD Press Release on this study at
And see how the Discovery Institute's Jonathan Wells got shrimp on his face while commenting on this research, in an article from NCSE at
Michael Behe to appear in Albuquerque next month...
Mr. "Irreducible Complexity" himself, the star of the Intelligent Design movement's biochemical wing, will speak in Albuquerque in March. Here's the schedule, straight from the Creation Science Fellowship of New Mexico: "March 4-6, 2002 Michael Behe, Professor of Biochemistry at Lehigh University, and author of Darwin's Black Box, will be in the New Mexico area. He starts on March 4th, 4 PM, at the Anthropology Lecture Hall (Room 163), UNM. He ends Wednesday, March 6th, 7 PM, at Calvary Chapel, 4001 Osuna Rd NE. Michael Behe is a renowned speaker on the topic of intelligent design. His lectures challenge the current scientific thinking in the area of evolution, and all are free. For further information and times/locations, visit http://www.arn.org/behe/behehome.htm Also on this site is the mention of a 2-hour video, Irreducible Complexity: The Biochemical Challenge to a Darwinian Theory. It says that it incorporates animations and brings his book, Darwin's Black Box, to life."
Cartoon of the Week...
It's "9 Chickweed Lane," from Feb. 2nd.
Cat Fight erupts over Lynx Fur...
If you listen to conservative radio talk show hosts like Rush Limbaugh and Mike Reagan, or read newspapers like the Washington Times, you would have heard that government scientists deliberately planted samples of lynx fur in places where the animals do not live, just to stop development in those areas. An editorial in the January 25, 2002 edition of The Washington Times states "Federal and Washington state scientists recently tried to limit the use of two national forests by faking evidence that the parks were home to a threatened species, the Canadian lynx.Two U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employees, two Washington state Department of Fish and Wildlife employees and three employees from the Gifford Pinchot National Forest sent bogus lynx hairs to a laboratory in an effort to dupe authorities into believing the animal inhabited the Wenatchee and Gifford ..."
Not so fast, says Nature magazine. The prestigious science journal reported on the controversy recently. Rex Dalton wrote that "A study of the habitat of the threatened Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis) in US forests is embroiled in fierce controversy, after it emerged that wildlife biologists sent fur samples from captive lynx to a laboratory that was supposed to be monitoring the whereabouts of the animals in the wild. The Washington Times published allegations last month that the biologists were seeking to distort a national survey of the lynx by planting the captive animals' fur in the forest. Critics of wildlife-conservation measures in the United States including powerful figures in both Congress and the Bush administration have pounced on the allegations, claiming that they confirm their worst fears about how far government scientists will go to justify wildlife protection. But the biologists involved hotly deny any intent to deceive, saying that the samples were never 'planted' in the forest, but were sent to the laboratory to check that it was testing properly. ... In 1998, federal officials say, a private contractor hired to carry out the survey's first season found the lynx in several forest regions in Washington state. The next year, biologists at the Forest Service took over the study, but found the lynx in only one region of the state. But in 2000, confusion arose among the various state and federal biologists who were sending samples for DNA analysis to the Forest Service's Forestry Sciences Laboratory in Missoula, Montana. In interviews and statements, several biologists questioned the laboratory's capabilities. These concerns prompted seven wildlife biologists in at least three independent instances at three separate agencies to submit samples of captive lynx hair as 'blind controls'. 'Everyone in the field was questioning the DNA analysis,' says Jeffrey Bernatowicz, a biologist at the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife, 'so people sent in control samples independently.' ..."
The Seattle Times stated on Dec. 31, 2001 that "Investigators so far have found the biologists weren't trying to skew the study, but only wanted to test the accuracy of the survey lab because of questionable results in the past. The unauthorized samples sent to the lab were segregated from valid field samples, so the survey was not skewed, according to the Forest Service...."
Moral of the Story: Don't "Rush" to judgement!
Is human evolution finally over?...
The Sunday February 3, 2002 edition of The Observer states that "For those who dream of a better life, science has bad news: this is the best it is going to get. Our species has reached its biological pinnacle and is no longer capable of changing. That is the stark, controversial view of a group of biologists who believe a Western lifestyle now protects humanity from the forces that used to shape Homo sapiens. ... the evolution of mankind ... has now stopped because virtually everybody's genes are making it to the next generation, not only those who are best adapted to their environments. However, other scientists believe evolutionary pressures are still taking their toll on humanity, despite the protection afforded by Western life. For example, the biologist Christopher Wills, of the University of California, San Diego, argues that ideas are now driving our evolution. 'There is a premium on sharpness of mind and the ability to accumulate money. Such people tend to have more children and have a better chance of survival,' he says. In other words, intellect - the defining characteristic of our species - is still driving our evolution. ..."
This computer will self-destruct in 5 seconds, Mr. Phelps...
ABC News reports on Feb. 4th that "In an attempt to develop highly sensitive magnetic sensors, scientists at the University of California: San Diego, coated silicon wafers with gadolinium nitrate. But when Frederic Mikulec, one of the researchers at UCSD, went to cut the chip with a diamond-tipped cutter, an unexpected event occurred. The chip blew up in his face. ...Since the basic building material is the same, Sailor says sensitive chips say the ones used in secretive spy equipment or weapon systems could have a portion crafted with silicon gunpowder. If the devices fell into the wrong hands, a signal could be sent to the chip to divert a tiny electrical pulse to the gunpowder and destroy the chip. But Sailor says the powerful compound is good for more than just destructive power. ... For example, if the force of the explosion could be controlled, the compound could be used to make tiny rockets that would power microscopic machines. "We could build a tiny robot sensor to detect chemical warfare agents that could hop around the battlefield using [silicon gunpowder]," says Sailor."
Ancient Tracks Reveal How a Two-Ton Dinosaur Broke Into a Run...
The ABC News report from Jan. 31st states "Whatever the reason, a two-ton, 20-foot long dinosaur pressed its clawed feet into soft sand about 163 million years ago and left tracks that reveal how this hulking animal could switch gears from a stroll to a run."
Milwaukee Woman Sees Jesus In A Tree...
It's not just tortillas in New Mexico! The Milwaukee Channel (WISN 12) reported on Jan. 28th that "A Milwaukee woman said that she sees an image of Jesus Christ on a tree right in her own back yard. ..."
Kucinich withdraws "Chemtrails/Psychotronic Weapons" bill...
We reported recently that the Chemtrail websites were all a-buzz with excitement over Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) and his bill, HR2977 (" the 'Space Preservation Act of 2001"), which mentioned both chemtrails and psychotronic weapons. But now the Bill has vanished, and in its place comes HR 3616 ("Space Preservation Act of 2002"). This bill does NOT mention so-called "chemtrails."
What are the pundits saying now?
"By its conspicuous appearance in 2977, the term 'chemtrails' received a form of credibiity within the official government process never seen before...producing the hope that one courageous Representative had finally had the fortitude to take the issue of chemtrails to a level of Congressional scrutiny long overdue. ..." (Lorie Kramer, posting on the Jeff Rense ("Sightings") web site.
And New Mexico's own Cliff Carnicom: "An Act of Dishonor..."
And Drudge wanna-bee Paul Rebhan: "Congressman removes chemtrail language from bill.. ..."
Quackwatch gets ABC's attention!
ABC News on Jan. 25 wrote about Dr. Stephen Barrett, founder of www.quackwatch.com. "More than 1 million Americans are diagnosed with cancer every year and studies suggest that many of them explore alternative therapies. But do the treatments actually work? 'I wish the word 'alternative' would go away. It's quack cancer therapy,' says consumer advocate Dr. Stephen Barrett, founder of Quackwatch.com, a nonprofit organization designed to protect consumers from health-related scams. 'Most people think that quackery is easy to spot,' says Barrett. 'Often it is not. Its promoters wear the cloak of science. They use scientific terms and quote or misquote scientific references.' ... "
Quaking lights..."Scientists drawn to legends of luminous displays that precede temblors"...
Alberto Enriquez of the Anchorage Daily News reports on January 21, 2002 that "When it comes to earthquakes, the earth doesn't just move. It often roars. It broadcasts at radio frequencies. And if the conditions are right, it even produces a visible glow...."
NMSR's very own John Derr is cited heavily!
Don't Worry, Be Happy...Global Patterns Explain Warm Winter...
ABC News reports on Jan. 28th on seemingly abnormal weather patterns, such as balmy winter weather in Ottowa. "Such patterns are true across much of North America. It's having an unusually warm January to go with an unusually warm autumn. New York City, for instance, has sent out snowplows for only one significant storm. It came Jan. 20, and left just 3 to 4 inches of snow. If you are looking for a reason, forecasters say it's the Madden-Julian Oscillation. ..."
New Gender-Neutral Bible Planned...
AP and the Washington Post report on Jan. 28th that "The International Bible Society said Monday that America's best-selling modern Bible is about to get an update using gender-neutral wording, despite past criticism of that idea from conservatives. The revision will be called "Today's New International Version," or TNIV. The original "New International Version," which has sold more than 150 million copies worldwide since 1978, will remain on the market...."
"Your Genes smell Good!"...Women Use Odor to Determine Genetic Compatibility...
ABC News reports on Jan. 22nd that "If you have ever been attracted by a person's scent, it may be their genes you smell. Researchers believe that women can identify men based on differences as small as a single gene. ..."
Boy born with 4-inch TAIL...
This made Paul Harvey's Jan. 11th broadcast. A photo of the boy appears at the Free Republic link below (from Ananova.com). The story: "Crowds are flocking to Indian temples to see a Muslim baby with a 'tail' who is believed to be the reincarnation of a Hindu god. The 11-month-old boy has been named Balaji or Bajrangbali, another name for monkey-faced Lord Hanuman. He is reported to have a 4in 'tail' caused by genetic mutations during the development of the foetus. Iqbal Qureshi, the child's maternal grandfather, is taking Balaji from temple to temple where people offer money to see the boy. Mr Qureshi says the baby has nine spots on his body like Lord Hanuman and showed them to journalists, reports Indian newspaper The Tribune...."
And : http://www.cosmiverse.com/paranormal01140202.html
Of course, humans have genetic memories of the days when our ancestors had tails. The boy's mutation probably just re-activated his DNA's "tail" code, which still sits in the genome of all humans on Earth.
Abstract thinking may have evolved in Africa 77,000 years ago...
The LA Times reports on Jan. 11th that "The very modern human traits of complex and abstract thinking may have evolved in Africa 77,000 years ago--almost twice as early as previously believed--according to a team of anthropologists who unearthed intricate geometric carvings on bits of rock from a South African cave. The finding, if verified, could overturn much current thinking in anthropology. But the sweeping claim is already generating controversy among experts in the field...."
Rep. Dennis Kucinich's "Space Weapons" bill getting lots of "woo-woo" attention...
Since last week's report on the congressional bill concerning "Chemtrails" and "Psychtronic weapons," Rep. Dennis Kucinich's bill is being touted on several Internet websites dealing with "chemtrails" and other woo-woo conspiracies.
Kucinich home page: http://www.house.gov/kucinich/
Kucinich press release on "the Space Preservation Act of
From the Peace in Space site..."This bill will soon become
U.S. law and a forth coming world treaty will inact the world law to
ban space-based weapons....:"
From Cliff Carnicom's Santa Fe-based "Chemtrails" site:
From Jeff Rense's ("Sightings") web site: "After years of
denial from government, military, and environmental agencies, the
reality of the controversial issue regarding the covert programs
known as Chemtrails has been acknowledged..."
From "Chemtrail Central" : "Congressman Dennis Kucinich of
Ohio has introduced bill HR2977, the 'Space Preservation Act of
2001,' in which Chemtrails are classified as an exotic space weapon.
Click here to read the text of the proposed law. Bill is currently in
subcommitee and has not yet come to a vote. ..."
The Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space has also weighed in.
"We wholeheartedly support this bill and call upon the U.S.
Congress to enact this legislation...."
Incidentally, the Global Network is also planning to protest the upcoming 19th Annual Symposium on Space Nuclear Power & Propulsion, right here in Albuquerque, on Feb. 4th...
February 4, 2002
No Nukes in Space Protest Vigil
Albuquerque, New Mexico
10:00 - 2:00 PM at the 19th Annual Symposium on Space Nuclear Power & Propulsion
Hyatt Regency Hotel (330 Tijeras NW)
This annual conference of DoE, NASA, Air Force, aerospace industry, and nuclear academia promotes the expanded use of nuclear power in space. Join the Global Network as we again protest the funding of continued research and development on nuclear reactors for space-based weapons, the nuclear rocket, and nuclear power for NASA's space missions. As the DoE expands its production of space nuclear devices workers at Los Alamos and other labs are facing increased contamination.
Kucinich gained fame as "Cleveland's mayor from 1977 to 1979, [and] was also known as 'Dennis the Menace' and 'Enfant Terrible' by the media of the day. Under the Kucinich administration the city defaulted on loans making it the first major American city to do so since the Depression...."
Does Research Show New Evidence for Faith, or a Challenge to Religion?
ABCNews.com reports on Jan. 14th that " 'There are certain [brain] patterns that can be generated experimentally that will generate the sense, presence and the feeling of God-like experiences,' says professor of Neuroscience Michael Persinger of Ontario's Laurentia University. 'The patterns we use are complex but they imitate what the brain does normally.'..."
Interested in Planetary Images?
Check out http://ic-www.arc.nasa.gov/ic/projects/bayes-group/Atlas/ !
Darwin Day a-comin'...
The Observer reports on Jan. 14th that "He was the originator of the most dangerous idea in history. He disenfranchised God as our creator and revealed the animal origins of humanity. Many believe his influence was pernicious and evil. But now a campaign has been launched to establish an international day of celebration on 12 February: birthday of Charles Darwin, author of the theory of evolution by natural selection. ...The Darwin campaign was launched by US activists two years ago to resist the anti-evolution campaigning of fundamental Christians. Now the aim is to create global celebrations by 2009, the bicentennial of his birthday. ... 'We have little chance of getting a national holiday for Darwin in the US - there is far too much anti-science and pseudoscience,' said project organiser Amanda Chesworth.'We are more likely to get one established in Europe, particularly in Britain, his birthplace.' ..."
Congrats to NMSR's own Amanda Chesworth!!
Move over Kansas... here comes OHIO...
Does this sound familiar? School science standards need to be revised, and a hard-working committee of scientists and teachers develops a set of new standards. Of course, these standards include references to biological evolution. But certain members of the school board refuse to approve the standards, asking instead for treatment of "alternative theories" such as Intelligent design. It happened in New Mexico in 1996, and in Kansas in 1999. However, the creationist-friendly standards did not last long in these states; NM's standards were improved in 1999, and those of Kansas in 2001, both after creationist board members were voted out of office.
It's 2002, and it's "deja vu all over again" time. This time it's Ohio.
Is President Bush a Reptile?
David Icke's "REPTILIAN CONNECTION" site wins our Wacky Web of the Week (WWW) award.
"This is why people like George Bush, Henry Kissinger, and a stream of the other Illuminati 'big names' are exposed in my books and on this site as reptilian shape-shifters who take part in human sacrifice and blood drinking. The two go together. There also appears to be a very significant emphasis among the Illuminati-reptilians and their offshoots with paedophilia, which is rampant on this planet...."
Was Tampa Suicide Pilot under the spell of Accutane? Paulos says "NO!"
John Allen Paulos writes for ABC News on Jan. 9 that "Reports have surfaced that Charles Bishop, the 15-year-old who flew a small plane into a Florida skyscraper last week, may have been taking the acne medication Accutane and that this might have accounted for his suicide. Such speculation stems from the 37 suicides and 110 suicide attempts among users of the medication since its introduction in 1982. ... So let's cut the 10 million figure by more than two-thirds and estimate that 3 million different people have taken Accutane since 1982. If roughly 150 of them either committed or attempted suicide, we determine that approximately one in 20,000 committed or attempted suicide. But the overall suicide rate (successes, not just attempts) for teenagers is approximately 10 per 100,000 or one in 10,000. This is much higher than the rate among Accutane users! If we were to draw any top-of-our-head inference from the figures, it would be that Accutane has a prophylactic effect and lessens the risk of suicide, not that it causes it."
Creationists can't agree on Education Bill/Santorum Amendment...
Sen. Santorum's anti-evolution amendment to the Education Bill was removed from the bill, and relagated to explanatory materials appended to the recently-signed law, as explained by the National Center for Science Education (NCSE).
(See: http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/news/2001/ZZ/263_santorum_amendment_stripped_fr_12_21_2001.asp )
Fair enough. Then the Discovery Institute, the "Intelligent Design" arm of the creationist movement, weighed in, saying the NCSE had it all wrong. On December 28, 2001 the Discovery Institute claimed "After the U.S. Congress adopted a statement in December calling for students to be exposed to a diversity of views when topics 'such as biological evolution' are taught, a pro-Darwin group is absurdly trying to claim victory through a creative reinterpretation of the legislative record."
See also: http://www.discovery.org/viewDB/index.php3?command=view&id=1102&program=CRSC
Not so fast, says Answers in Genesis, a leading young-Earth/Biblical creationist group. Mike Matthews, of AiG-US, wrote on January 7, 2002 "After months of debate, the US Congress has finally passed a massive, 1,000-page education bill, promising that no child will be left behind. A jubilant President Bush plans to sign the bill tomorrow, January 8, in Hamilton, OhioAiGs own backdoor. But one small item is missing from the bill. Gone is a controversial amendmentpassed earlier by the Senatesuggesting that students should be told why biological evolution generates so much continuing controversy. ... Oddly enough, the Discovery Institutea leading center for the advancement of intelligent designpushed for the amendment and yet considered the new education bill a victory, too. 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, says Bruce Chapman, president of Discovery Institute. It seems odd that two archenemiesthe Discovery Institute and the NCSEshould approve of the same bill. As so often happens in politics, the same vague political document can be read to support two opposing views. ..."
It seems to me that the young-earthers figured it out better than the Intelligent Designers!
Supreme Court nixes bid by creationist teacher Rodney LeVake...
The AP reported on Jan. 7th that "The Supreme Court declined Monday to be drawn into a debate over the teaching of evolution in America's public schools. The refusal is a victory for schools that require teachers to instruct on the subject even if the teacher disagrees with the scientific theory. ..."
For more on this important ruling...
http://www.startribune.com/stories/614/1014425.html (Minnesota, LeVake's home state)
And what did the creationists say?
"Sadly, the US Supreme Court appears to be reaffirming its pattern of hostility toward the teaching of Christianity...."
Surprisingly, the Discovery Institute hasn't sounded off on the decision yet, but it's sure to come up when DI fellow Phillip Johnson visits Minnesota on Jan. 18th and 19th.
More Troubles for "Free Electricity" honcho Dennis Lee ...
Gregory A. Hall of the The Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY) wrote on Jan. 4th that "Kentucky's attorney general has filed a lawsuit to keep a group of companies and their owner from promoting a generator that would offer customers free electricity --if it's developed. The lawsuit seeks to block Dennis Lee and his New Jersey companies from holding seminars in Kentucky promoting the free-electricity device. At least two seminars have been held in Louisville. ... The lawsuit, filed by Attorney General Ben Chandler, claims that Lee and the companies are defrauding consumers because they don't disclose that the device does not exist and is 'based on unproven scientific theory.' ...While the attorney general's office has filed other lawsuits involving alleged consumer fraud, this is the first in Chandler's administration that challenges a free electricity proposition, said Barbara Hadley Smith, Chandler's spokeswoman. In a telephone interview, Lee denied that he or his companies have done anything improper. ... He said all advertising and statements for his products reflect their speculative nature. 'We believe that we can do that,' he said. 'We make it very clear to everyone that we are not certain that we can do that.' "...
Congress gets bill concerning "Chemtrails," "Psychtronic weapons"...
Rebfile.com reports on Jan. 11th that "In what may be the first governmental acknowledgement of its kind, a public official from Cleveland, Ohio has referenced 'chemtrails' in a bill put before congress. Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D) has submitted bill no. HR 2977 IH , which proposes a ban on the weaponization of space. One of the weapons systems listed in the bill is 'chemtrails'...."
Plant has taste for termites...adaptive radiation!
Evolutionary "Speed Limit" Governs How Quickly Life Bounces
Back After Extinction; Biodiversity Recovers More Slowly Than
Discovery Overturns Long-Held Genetic Belief ... A classic
belief found in genetics and evolution textbooks since the 1930s has
been overturned by powerful new techniques combined with the
willingness to question dogma.
Scientists See Cosmic Dust Near Nascent Supernova
Earth escapes brush with killer asteroid
Astronomers have taken optical images of a giant planetlike
body orbiting a sunlike star, making it the closest ever observed
around a star through direct imaging.
Prank of the Week:
Compare http://www.sciohio.org (Science Excellence for All Ohioans) to
http://www.sciohio.com (Substandard Education for All Ohioans).
It's a Hoot!
See Also Hot News of the Week, or News Summaries for 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2001, 2000.
NMSR Site Map