Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Saturn’s Rings Look Too Young for an Old Solar System

Image courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI.




Joel Kontinen

New data gathered by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft suggest Saturn’s rings might be “100 million years” old.

This would mean that for the first “4,5 billion years” Saturn had no rings.

Previous research has suggested that Saturn might be “2 billion years” younger than the solar system and that the rings may be younger than dinosaurs.

Several planets, such as Mercury and Venus, Jupiter’s moons Io and Europa, Saturn’s moons Titan, Mimas and Enceladus, as well as Pluto also look too young for a “4.6 billion-year-old” solar system.

Source:

Amos, Jonathan. 2017. Cassini hints at young age for Saturn's rings. BBC news (30 August).



Monday, 28 August 2017

Fungi Use Water Cannon to Fire Spores

Fungi use a cannon that is much more sophisticated than a Gatling gun. Image courtesy of Matthew Trump, CC BY-SA 3.0.




Joel Kontinen

Fungi are assumed to be among the oldest living organisms, at least according to Darwinian thinking.

But they are definitely not stupid.

Recently, the Journal of the Royal Society Interface published a paper on how fungi use cannons to spread their spores. New Scientist discloses the gist of how these tiny creatures make use of the laws of physics:

Biologists have long known that the mechanism involved two drops of water interacting with the half-egg shape of spores launched in this way: an elongated drop that forms on its flat side, and a small spherical drop called a Buller’s drop that sits near the rounded base of the spore.

When the drops merge, the loss in surface area releases some of the energy that was maintaining surface tension in the original drops. That is converted into the kinetic energy required to launch the spore away from its parent fungus
.”

Chuan-Hua Chen at Duke University in North Carolina, who wrote the paper with his colleagues, says the fungi use a cannon-like device to fire a cannonball, but it’s a bit more complicated than that:

The Buller’s drop is like the ammunition, and the shared flat surface of the other drop and the spore is like the cannon bore that decides which direction it will go,” he says.

New Scientist explains what then happens:

The merger of the two drops imparts momentum that can have the spore moving at up to 1 metre per second, although air drag quickly slows it down.

Travelling just a centimetre horizontally is enough to allow it to be carried away by the breeze, instead of dropping back down close by
.”

This doesn’t sound very Darwinian.

The research also involves a biomimicry dimension:

Controlling the spore-launching process is also key to applying it in other areas, like self-cleaning surfaces where water droplets latch on to dirt and fling it into the air.”

Many other creatures, such as the bombardier beetle and the spider man snail, also use sophisticated physics.

And that’s not all. Plankton have an in-built device for catching prey. It operates like a Gatling gun that was used in the American Civil War.

Source:

Crane, Leah. 2017. Fungi use water droplet cannons to fling spores into the breeze. New Scientist (26 July).




Saturday, 26 August 2017

Molecular Clocks Again Disagree with Fossils, This Time on the Diversification of Mammals


Molecular clocks are nowhere near as accurate as this timepiece. Image courtesy of Alves Gaspar, CC BY-SA 3.0.



Joel Kontinen

Radiometric dating of fossils and the molecular clock approach should in principle give identical dates or at least dates that are in the same ballpark.

In practice, they don’t. Research tends to find fault with molecular clocks, and dating methods are known to be more or less unreliable.

Usually more.

A recent paper on the radiation of placental mammals around the assumed time when the dinosaurs went extinct illustrates this tendency. The authors acknowledge:

The timing of the diversification of placental mammals relative to the Cretaceous–Paleogene (KPg) boundary mass extinction remains highly controversial. In particular, there have been seemingly irreconcilable differences in the dating of the early placental radiation not only between fossil-based and molecular datasets but also among molecular datasets.”

They suggest that the catastrophe that assumedly killed off the dinosaurs left mammals unscathed:

A birth-death-shift analysis suggests that placental mammals underwent a continuous radiation across the KPg boundary without apparent interruption by the mass extinction, paralleling a genus-level radiation of multituberculates and ecomorphological diversification of both multituberculates and therians. These findings suggest that the KPg catastrophe evidently played a limited role in placental diversification, which, instead, was likely a delayed response to the slightly earlier radiation of angiosperms.”

I would suggest a much more logical explanation for the demise of the dinosaurs: the global flood of Noah’s day that was followed by the ice age made conditions very challenging for big reptiles.

Source:

Liu, Liang et al. 2017. Genomic evidence reveals a radiation of placental mammals uninterrupted by the KPg boundary. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (published online on 14 August).

Thursday, 24 August 2017

New Scientist: Thou Shalt Not Bash Darwin

New Scientist tries to defend this Victorian gentleman by bashing his recent biography.




Joel Kontinen

Evolutionists are not pleased with A. N. Wilson’s soon-to-be released book Charles Darwin: Victorian mythmaker, in which this prolific writer and biographer accuses Darwin of plagiarism, bad science and says his thinking led to bad consequences, such as giving inspiration to eugenics and Nazi race laws.

Writing in New Scientist, John van Wyhe takes issue with all of this, claiming that Wilson’s portrayal of Charles Darwin is “error-strewn and tendentious.”

Now, Wilson might have made a few small mistakes in his biography, such as attributing the emergence of the giraffe’s long neck to Darwin’s ideas (it was Lamarck’s), but Darwin made some huge ones, and these cannot be overlooked.

What is more, some of the alleged mistakes van Wyhe mentions, for instance, overlooking “hundreds, thousands of examples of transitional fossils,” are not mistakes at all.

Many alleged transitional fossils, such as Archaeopteryx and Tiktaalik, are highly suspicious.

Image courtesy of the Institute for Creation Research.

And when Wilson describes evolution as an “ersatz religion”, he is exactly right. This is attested by statues, such as the one in London’s Natural History Museum. and the importance given to Darwin Day.

Sources:

van Wyhe, John. 2017. ‘Radical’ new biography of Darwin is unreliable and inaccurate. New Scientist (21 August).

Wilson, A.N. 2017. It’s time Charles Darwin was exposed for the fraud he was. Evening Standard (4 August).

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Researchers Discover the Non-Evolution of MRSA

Human neutrophil ingesting MRSA. Image courtesy of the National Institutes of Health, public domain.




Joel Kontinen

Antibiotic resistance is a prominent argument used by evolutionists. While the journal Nature acknowledged in 2011 that research results “show conclusively that antibiotic resistance is a natural phenomenon that predates the modern selective pressure of clinical antibiotic use,” the argument has not become extinct.

In 2012, research published in the Journal PLoS ONE found that bacteria that had been isolated from human contact for more than four million years” in a cave in New Mexico were already resistant to antibiotics."

The date is suspect but the discovery – as well as others after it – nonetheless suggested that evolution had nothing to do with antibiotic resistance.

A recent study published in the journal Genome Biology shows that MRSA (Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus) “emerged long before the introduction of the antibiotic methicillin into clinical practice,” as Science Daily puts it.

The article goes on to say:

The researchers found that S. aureus acquired the gene that confers methicillin resistance -- mecA -- as early as the mid-1940s -- fourteen years before the first use of methicillin.”

While still giving the nod to evolution, Science Daily merely relates how MRSA appeared:

To uncover the origins of the very first MRSA and to trace its evolutionary history, the researchers sequenced the genomes of a unique collection of 209 historic S. aureus isolates. The oldest of these isolates were identified over 50 years ago by the S. aureus reference laboratory of Public Health England and have been stored ever since in their original freeze-dried state. The researchers also found genes in these isolates that confer resistance to numerous other antibiotics, as well as genes associated with decreased susceptibility to disinfectants.”

Bacteria are known to borrow stuff from other bacteria, but horizontal gene transfer or using pre-existing genetic material is not Darwinian evolution.

Source:

BioMed Central. 2017. MRSA emerged years before methicillin was even discovered. Science Daily. (20 July).


Sunday, 20 August 2017

Elon Musk: AL Is a Bigger Threat to Us than North Korea

Image courtesy of Gnsin, CC BY-SA 3.0.




Joel Kontinen

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.

Source:

Chow, Denise. 2017. Elon Musk: AI Poses Bigger Threat to Humanity Than North Korea. Live Science (16 August).

Friday, 18 August 2017

Flying Mammals Flew Over the Heads of Dinosaurs

The Southern Flying Squirrel (Glaucomys volans) just got a new ancestor. Image courtesy of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, public domain.





Joel Kontinen

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.

Source:

Gabbott, Sarah. 2017. First 'winged' mammals flew over dinosaurs. BBC News (10 August).

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

The Century Plant and Many Animals Challenge Convergent Evolution

Agave americana blooms only once, at the end of its longish life. Image courtesy of Alvesgaspar, CC BY-SA 3.0.





Joel Kontinen

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.

Source:

Padian, Kevin. 2017. Evolution: Parallel lives. Nature 548, 156–157 (10 August).


Monday, 14 August 2017

Squid’s Vision and Other Designed Features Challenge Darwinian Stories

Fossil squid shows lack of evolution. Image courtesy of Didier Descouens, CC BY-SA 4.0.



Joel Kontinen

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.

Source:

Sinclair, Kai. 2017. Watch the secret to a squid’s crystal clear underwater vision. Science (10 August).

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Sea Snakes Replay Peppered Moth Story


Some sea snakes, such as the Blue-lipped sea krait, Laticauda laticaudata, have not turned black. Image courtesy of Jon Hanson, CC-BY-SA-2.0.





Joel Kontinen

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.

Source:

Woodward, Aylin. Sea snakes are turning black in response to industrial pollution. New Scientist (10 August).

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Man ‘Marries’ Laptop

Could you marry something like this? An American gentleman thinks he can. Image courtesy of Sonicdrewdriver, CC BY-SA 4.0.





Joel Kontinen

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.

Source:

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 in Disgrace: 4 Journals Publish Hoax Star Wars Paper Featuring Midi-Chlorians

The real mitochondrion looks like this. Image courtesy of Kelvinsong, , Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0).




Joel Kontinen

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.

Source:

Pappas, Stephanie. 2017. Mitochondria or Midi-Chlorians? 'Star Wars' Hoax Paper Published in 4 Journals. Live Science (25 July).

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Richard Dawkins Gets Banned for Offending Muslims

Dawkins got banned from a Berkeley event. Image courtesy of Shane Pope, CC BY 2.0.





Joel Kontinen

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.

Source:


Klinghoffer, David. 2017. Dawkins Banned in Berkeley. Evolution News & Science Today (21 July).


Friday, 4 August 2017

Weird Exoplanet Is So Hot That It Can Cause Iron to Boil

Image courtesy of Engine House VFX, At-Bristol Science Centre, University of Exeter.




Joel Kontinen

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.

Source:

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

Modern-Day Dragon Blood Might Help Cure Diseases

Looks like a dragon. Image courtesy of Charles J. Sharp, CC BY-SA 4.0.




Joel Kontinen

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”.

Source:

Popescu, Adam. 2017. On the trail of dragons with blood that can save people’s lives. New Scientist (2 August).