Sunday, 20 August 2017
Who’s afraid of artificial intelligence?
"If you're not concerned about AI safety, you should be. Vastly more risk than North Korea," Elon Musk tweeted on 11 August.
The billionaire businessman has previously suggested that
humans are living in a computer simulation.
Now, however, he has begun to echo Stephen Hawking, who has previously warned us of the very same danger.
The threat is more sci.fi that anything else. Machines can only do what they are programmed to do.
Could this fear stem from the naturalistic worldview in which mind is assumed to have arisen from matter?
In real life, it doesn’t.
Chow, Denise. 2017. Elon Musk: AI Poses Bigger Threat to Humanity Than North Korea. Live Science (16 August).
Friday, 18 August 2017
The fossil record can be a nightmare for Darwinian evolution, as animals often appear fully formed in the wrong places, don’t evolve for aeons and any assumed intermediate forms (aka missing links) tend to be more or less suspicious.
The recent discovery of two Jurassic Era mammals – Maiopatagium furculiferum and Vilevolodon diplomyl – reminds us that Darwin-only textbooks are badly outdated.
What is more, Maiopatagium looked like modern flying squirrels.
We already knew that some mammals, such as Repenomamus giganticus that looked a lot like the Tasmanian devil, might have eaten small dinosaurs.
And then there were Jurassic squirrels and flowering plants.
Some mammals predated dinosaurs, if the fossil record is to be trusted.
The Book of Genesis shows us that God created all kinds of animals (but not species) at the same time, so dino-era flying mammals should not surprise us.
Gabbott, Sarah. 2017. First 'winged' mammals flew over dinosaurs. BBC News (10 August).
Wednesday, 16 August 2017
A recent article in Nature questions the concept of convergent evolution or the idea that unrelated species share traits.
Kevin Padian mentions a number of creatures “whose adaptations have never been duplicated: the kangaroo, the platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus), the century plant (Agave americana, which blooms only once in its multidecade life) — and humans.”
He could also have mentioned the bombardier beetle, the aardvark, the star-nosed mole and the spiny anteater, for instance.
Agave americana, also known as the century plant, resembles an aloe though it is not closely related to them. While it can live up to 30 years, it only blooms once, at the end of its life, reaching a height of 8–9 metres (25–30 feet).
Like many other organisms, it defies Darwinian assumptions – in a big way.
Padian, Kevin. 2017. Evolution: Parallel lives. Nature 548, 156–157 (10 August).
Monday, 14 August 2017
Squid are fascinating creatures. They use jet propulsion to dart through the water and can even fly above the surface over a short distance.
They can hide from predators by changing colour.
These are not the only design features in this animal that can rightfully be called a living fossil. Even its ink has not changed in “150 million years”.
Recently, Science published a paper on how squid can see clearly in water:
“It’s hard to see underwater, and not just because of the chlorine. The image-producing light rays that enter our eyes have trouble bending and focusing when the water’s density is almost same as that of eye fluid. Sea creatures experience the same problem, but squid use a type of lens notorious for blurry images to correct that, researchers report today in Science. Spherical lenses, like the squids’, usually can’t focus the incoming light to one point as it passes through the curved surface, which causes an unclear image. The only way to correct this is by bending each ray of light differently as it falls on each location of the lens’s surface.”
So far, so good. But then they attribute a cleverly designed feature to blind evolution:
“S-crystallin, the main protein in squid lenses, evolved the ability to do this by behaving as patchy colloids—small molecules that have spots of molecular glue that they use to stick together in clusters. The S-crystallins feature a pair of loops that act as the proteins’ sticky patches and attract the loops of other S-crystallins. Globs of six proteins link together during the squid’s larval stage and form a gel that eventually becomes the center of the lens. As the gel becomes too dense with protein clumps, smaller particles struggle to diffuse through, and a new layer of protein packages forms with just under six S-crystallins in each clump. The process continues until the outer edge of the lens is formed with pairs of S-crystallins. This allows light rays to bend a little differently in each region of the lens, which yields a clearer image.”
Invoking evolution is totally unnecessary. A protein does not have the ability to evolve anything.
It is clear that like the intricate trilobite eye, squids also defy Darwinian just so stories about eye evolution.
Sinclair, Kai. 2017. Watch the secret to a squid’s crystal clear underwater vision. Science (10 August).
Saturday, 12 August 2017
The peppered moth (Biston betularia) is one of the most famous icons of evolution, together with Darwin’s finches.
These icons share a common trait: tiny changes that didn’t last very long.
Now, a paper published in the journal Current Biology features another case of industrial melanism.
Rick Shine at the University of Sydney and colleagues found that the turtle-headed sea snake (Emydocephalus annulatus) is turning black due to pollution.
Reporting on the story, New Scientist says:
“The group already knew that pollutants such as arsenic or lead can bind to melanin, a dark pigment in the skin, and they wondered whether this might explain the black snakes. To find out, they collected and analysed the skins naturally shed by these snakes in industrial and non-industrial waters. The sea snakes typically shed – or slough – their skin a few times a year.”
The NS story goes on to say:
“Looking at 17 sloughs, Shine’s group found that the concentrations of 13 trace elements – particularly cobalt, manganese, lead, zinc and nickel – were higher in snakes near urban areas, and higher in darker skin. Shine says similar concentrations of those trace elements have been reported to cause severe health problems in many domesticated species, from cattle to poultry.
What’s more, Shine’s group found that the black sea snakes shed their skins twice as often as their lighter counterparts. This suggests that the black sea snakes are, indeed, adapting to deal with the pollution in the water they inhabit – both by developing skin with a better capacity to bind potentially harmful trace elements, and by shedding that skin more often to reduce the trace element load they must deal with.”
Instead of invoking evolution, a more credible explanation would rely on design. Sea snakes were designed with the ability to survive in hazardous environments.
This reminds us of the ability of many animal species to adapt to new challenging environments after the year-long global flood of Noah’s days.
Woodward, Aylin. Sea snakes are turning black in response to industrial pollution. New Scientist (10 August).
Thursday, 10 August 2017
Last May, New Scientist admitted that liberals can be deluded.
Some recent developments suggest that they indeed can be. After they jettisoned the Christian concept of marriage, i.e., one man and one woman, and introduced their own anything goes formula, we are increasingly hearing of even more bizarre “marriages”, such as the case of a British woman who married two cats.
And then paedophilia and polygamy are just waiting for their day.
It doesn’t end there. The Washington Times reports on a man who supposedly married his laptop:
“Chris Sevier says that if same-sex couples are able to get married and demand that Christian bakers make them wedding cakes, then he should be allowed to marry his laptop and demand a cake to celebrate the union between one man and one machine.
The self-identified ‘machinist’ says he married his laptop in a ceremony in New Mexico, and now he has sued to demand that a Colorado baker — who is already in court after refusing to bake for a same-sex marriage — must be compelled to make cakes for him and his computer ‘bride.’ He also has filed a lawsuit demanding that Utah recognize his man-object marriage.”
This reminds me of the title of one of Melanie Phillips’ books: The World Turned Upside Down.
As the Western nations are throwing away their rich Christian tradition, the result is total mayhem.
Swoyer, Alex. 2017. Man ‘marries’ his laptop, sues for state recognition and a wedding cake. The Washington Times (30 July).
Tuesday, 8 August 2017
Peer review does not automatically mean that a science paper is reliable. At least one bogus, computer generated paper was accepted for publication in a journal.
Then there was the episode of a dog sitting on the editorial board of 7 journals.
The latest addition to this trend features a hoax Star Wars Paper on Midi-Chlorians accepted by four journals.
Obviously, the reviewers failed to distinguish between the supercomplex mitochondrion and the fictitious “and widely derided microscopic life-forms that give Jedi warriors their ability to use the Force in the ‘Star Wars’ movies,” as Live Science puts it.
It seems that it has become increasingly difficult to distinguish between truth and falsehood, fact and fiction, real news and fake news, as the recent fake news about the Canaanites reminds us.
Pappas, Stephanie. 2017. Mitochondria or Midi-Chlorians? 'Star Wars' Hoax Paper Published in 4 Journals. Live Science (25 July).
Sunday, 6 August 2017
In recent years, Richard Dawkins and other militant atheists have done everything to silence Darwin sceptics.
This was well documented in Ben Stein’s film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.
The attempted censorship has become so severe that it prompted Discovery Institute to bestow the Censor of the Year award to the individual who has blatantly attempted to silence dissidents in origins issue. Past recipients include Jerry Coyne and Neil deGrasse Tyson.
Dawkins has also done much to denigrate Christianity and keep pro-theistic views out of academic settings.
Now, it seems his strategy has backfired. At Berkeley, a local progressive radio station, KPFA, sponsored an event in which Dawkins was supposed to speak about his new collection of essays.
The event was scheduled to take place in a church on 9th August, but when KPFA heard about Dawkins’ tweets about Islam, they cancelled the event.
It seems that while progressives welcome the denigration of Biblical Christianity, they will not tolerate any criticism of Islam, regardless of how justified it might be.
Klinghoffer, David. 2017. Dawkins Banned in Berkeley. Evolution News & Science Today (21 July).
Friday, 4 August 2017
Weird is probably the adjective that best describes at least some exoplanets.
Some of them shouldn’t exist, if naturalistic theories were right.
There’s even a planet that kills naturalistic planet formation theories.
A new paper published in Nature features a hot Jupiter that beats most of the other weird worlds, WASP-121b, which orbits its sun roughly 900 light years away from us.
Science Daily gives us some details about this giant planet:
“WASP-121b has a greater mass and radius than Jupiter, making it much puffier.
The exoplanet orbits its host star every 1.3 days, and the two bodies are about as close as they can be to each other without the star's gravity ripping the planet apart. This close proximity also means that the top of the atmosphere is heated to a blazing hot 2,500 degrees Celsius -- the temperature at which iron exists in gas rather than solid form.”
WASP-121b is obviously not the place to search for little green men, regardless of whether they are bad (as Stephen Hawking assumes) or not.
The take away message from this discovery is that Earth seems to be a very privileged planet.
University of Maryland. 2017. Exoplanet shines with glowing water atmosphere: Distant 'hot Jupiter' has a stratosphere hot enough to boil iron. Science Daily. (2 August).
Wednesday, 2 August 2017
It might not be easy to miss dragons. They’re in legends, the Chinese horoscope as well as in the names of animals such as draco Volans or the flying dracon and the biggest remaining monster of them all, the Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis).
This big dragon can grow to be three metres (10 feet) long. New Scientist calls it ”a true relic of a bygone era” and describes a perhaps surprising trait in the creature’s blood: it can probably be used to cure diseases in humans:
“Some of the first clues to the power of dragon blood came from a curious observation. Komodos generally eat carrion, which may be tainted with disease, but they rarely succumb to illness. Investigations showed that this is because the lizards’ blood is loaded with antimicrobial peptides, or AMPs – an all-purpose immune defence.
The hope is that those AMPs could be used as antibiotics to beat the growing number of resistant bacteria threatening hundreds of thousands of human lives around the world.”
Well, dragons were always somewhat mysterious.
Another relic is the tuatara. Evolutionists have to believe that it hasn’t evolved for over “200 million years”.
Popescu, Adam. 2017. On the trail of dragons with blood that can save people’s lives. New Scientist (2 August).