Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Scientific American’s Unscientific Musings on Alien Life

Alien spaceship? Image courtesy of the Ministry of Communications of the USSR. Design: Andrey Sokolov. Scanned by Dmitry Ivanov.





Joel Kontinen

October 30, 1938 brought panic to the streets of New York. Orson Welles had adapted H. G. Wells’ science fiction novel The War of the Worlds for radio, and many listeners thought they were hearing a live broadcast on a Martian invasion.

At the time, people believed that Mars was inhabited by intelligent beings who had constructed a massive canal network that kept the red planet habitable.

Many people, including Stephen Hawking, are still fearful of big bad aliens.

Scientific American speculates on how we might react to the discovery of alien life. In an article awash with evolutionary assumptions, author Yasemin Saplakoglu quotes some true believers, including SETI’s Seth Shostak:

Perhaps it might make sense for our brains—tuned by millions of years of evolution to be wary of predators—to freak out over immensely powerful alien beings arriving on our cosmic doorstep from parts unknown.”

Saplakoglu also discusses the views of neuroscientist Cornelius Gross:

Gross thinks we would probably first try to understand it, a reaction that can be interpreted as yet another ancient, evolutionarily sculpted defense system aimed at gaining control of a novel situation.”

There seems to be a connection between believing in UFOs and in evolution. Darwinians detest the possibility that Earth could be a unique place, a privileged planet.

There is no evidence of any kind of alien life, despite the headlines suggesting otherwise. All reports have been false alarms. (See, for instance here, here and here.)

Source:

Saplakoglu, Yasemin. 2018. Is Humanity Ready for the Discovery of Alien Life? Scientific American (16 February).


Monday, 19 February 2018

Clever Ants Ward Off Diseases by Using Antibiotics

The thief ant (Solenopsis molesta) is surprisingly clever. Image courtesy of AntWeb.org. ,CC BY-SA 3.0.





Joel Kontinen

Ants have made headlines in the past few days.

First, research showed that they treat injured comrades.

Then a paper published in the journal Royal Society Open Science suggested that 60 per cent of ant species examined by researchers at the North Carolina State University used antibiotics to ward off infections.

Researchers already knew that some species of ants produced antimicrobials or “chemical compounds that kill pathogens,” but the results were a big surprise:

“The most potent antimicrobial was produced by one of the smallest ants in the study — Solenopsis molesta, also known as the thief ant — which also lives in some of the smallest colonies,” Live Science reports.

This sounds a lot like intelligent design.

Ants defy Darwinian expectations by harvesting seeds, creating elaborate farming systems, mastering basic mathematics, as well as by building impromptu bridges and living rafts.

Moreover, ants are living fossils that haven’t changed in aeons.



Source:

Weisberger, Mindy. 2018. Ant Species Stay Healthy with Self-Made Antibiotics. Live Science (13 February).

Saturday, 17 February 2018

The Odds of Getting Proteins from the Primordial Soup Are Beyond Astronomical, NASA Acknowledges

An artist’s impression of the early Earth. Image courtesy of NASA.




Joel Kontinen

Scientists have previously acknowledged that the origin of proteins is “close to a miracle.”

Yet. without them we wouldn’t have life. An article in Astrobiology Magazine explains this naturalistic dilemma:

Life relies on the intricately folded amino acid chains known as proteins for practically every chemical task. Proteins catalyze chemical reactions throughout the cell, stitch RNA strands together, transport molecules around the cell and control what enters and leaves through the membrane. A modern cell cannot be a cell without them.

Evolution’s enigma is a lot more complex. It has to get DNA, proteins and RNA at the same time.

But according to a naturalistic/materialistic scenario, even getting proteins is practically impossible:

Proteins pose a problem for scientists who study the beginnings of life… They are highly specialized and, compared to most molecules, they are enormous. The odds of such lengthy amino acid chains forming ‘out of the blue’ in life’s primordial soup are beyond astronomical.”

Trying to explain the nigh impossible, Andrew Pohorille, a senior astrobiologist at the NASA Ames Research Center, and colleagues used computer simulations to suggest a potential pathway for producing proteins.

They propose that the earliest protein was a lot smaller and less precise than today’s proteins. They call it the handyman of proteins.

There is absolutely no evidence for the existence of such a protein, however. Life is far too complicated to have arisen through naturalistic means.

Source:

Crow, Diana. 2018. ‘Handyman of Proteins’ Got Life Started. Astrobiology Magazine (15 February).



Thursday, 15 February 2018

Ants Treat Injured Comrades, Defying Darwinian Expectations

Image courtesy of Dawidi, CC BY-SA 3.0.B.




Joel Kontinen


We would not expect animals to care for their wounded comrades in a Darwinian world, but in a created world it is no big deal, as God has given animals the intelligence they need for coping in a post-Fall environment.

A new paper published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B features African Matabele ants (Megaponera analis) that are known for waging wars against other ant colonies. Now, researchers found that they care for the injured, carry them home and even clean their wounds, perhaps with an antibiotic substance to “fend off infections,” as an article in The Guardian puts it.

Ants defy Darwinian expectations by harvesting seeds, creating elaborate farming systems, mastering basic mathematics, building impromptu bridges and living rafts.

Ants are living fossils that haven’t changed in aeons.

Source:

Sample, Ian. 2018. ‘Paramedic ants' observed treating injured comrades. The Guardian (14 February).

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Darwin Day 2018: Wikipedia Receives Censor of the Year Award

Wikipedia is the 2018 Censor of the Year.




Joel Kontinen

On February 12, which happens to be Charles Darwin’s birthday, Discovery Institute grants the Censor of the Year (COTY) award on individuals or organisations, recognising their “outstanding efforts in silencing debate about Darwinian evolution and alternative theories of life's origins.”

Past recipients of the award include Jerry Coyne, Neil deGrasse Tyson, the Commission on the General Conference of the United Methodist Church and the German Natural History Museum.

This year’s award goes to Wikipedia for the erasure of German palaeontologist Günter Bechly, disinformation about intelligent design and the biased treatment it gives to ID scholar Walter Bradley.

Source:

Klinghoffer, David. 2018. Happy Darwin Day! Our 2018 Censor of the Year Is Wikipedia. Evolution News & Science Today (12 February).

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Woodpeckers Are a Darwinian Headache

Image courtesy of Sławomir Staszczuk, CC BY-SA 3.0.




Joel Kontinen

Woodpeckers are a Darwinian headache:

A woodpecker hammering away at a tree experiences forces up to 1,400 times that of Earth's gravity, or 1,400 G's. To put that into perspective, humans can withstand about 8 G's of continuous momentum before eventually blacking out, and a sudden application of 50 G's would detach most of our organs. Even relatively small amounts of g-force in people can cause concussion, lingering pain in the neck and back, and red dots on the skin from ruptured capillaries — known as "G-measles" or "geasles" — according to Go Flight Medicine, a website for aviation and medical professionals,” Live Science explains.

Woodpeckers are designed to withstand hard knocks. They have “skulls with spongy layers — particularly in the front regions — that cushion their brains. Robust neck muscles also help to soften the impact, while thick inner eyelids protect their eyes.”

A new study suggests that a protein known as tau might “serve as a protective adaptation, providing a buffer around the birds' neurons that insulates them against harm.

That sounds like intelligent design.

Evolutionists believe that the earliest woodpeckers arrived at least “25 million years” ago, but they could never have survived if their only option was to follow the Darwinian trial-and-error approach.

Source:

Weisberger, Mindy. 2018. Does All That Headbanging Leave a Mark on Woodpeckers' Brains? Live Science (5 February).

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Justin Trudeau, Peoplekind and Political Correctness

Image courtesy of Jean-Marc Carisse, CC BY 2.0.



Joel Kontinen

Without the excesses of political correctness, bloggers might have less topics to choose from:

Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau invented the word peoplekind in a recent town hall event in Edmonton, Alberta.

He interrupted a longish comment by a young lady who spoke on the virtue of maternal love as “the love that's going to change the future of mankind."

On hearing this, Mr. Trudeau said, "We like to say peoplekind, not necessarily mankind. It's more inclusive."

It seems that Liberals are having a hard time in using time-honoured words in their proper sense. Think of marriage, for instance.

No wonder then that #peoplekind has been immensely popular on Twitter, and it has inspired a new “political correct” version of space exploration, with Neil Amstrong supposedly saying, “One small step for people, one giant leap for peoplekind”, of people (Nelson peopledela), comic heroes (Batpeople), places (Peoplehattan), fruit (peopledarin oranges) and even a soccer club (Peoplechester United).

Source:

BBC News. 2018. Canada PM Trudeau faces PC backlash over 'peoplekind' comment.