Saturday, 18 November 2017

Capybara: The World’s Biggest Rodent Is Intelligently Designed for Swamp Life

A Yellow-headed caracara on a capybara. Image courtesy of Charlesjsharp, CC BY-SA 4.0.



Joel Kontinen

The animal kingdom is full of creatures that defy simplistic Darwinian explanations.

One of them is the world’s biggest rodent capybara (Hydrochaeris hydrochaeris). It is optimally designed for swamp life – with webbed feet, and ears and eyes high on the head so it can hear and see clearly while in water.

This South American rodent can weigh almost 80 kg (175 lbs) and have a body length of 100 – 130 centimetres (40 to 50 inches) without the very short tail, but it is no bully and prefers to eat grasses, aquatic plants, grains, melons, and squashes.

Some other creatures, such as the binturong (Arctictis binturong) or bearcat, star-nosed mole, spiny anteater, platypus and the warm-blooded fish opah (Lampris guttatus), also defy Darwinian thinking.


Source:

Capycarafacts. com

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Ross 128 b: Newly Discovered Exoplanet Might Not Be Habitable, Despite the Media’s Expectations


Ross 128 b. Image courtesy oF ESO / M. Kornmesser.




Joel Kontinen

When it comes to reporting on potentially habitable exoplanets, it is not difficult to see an interesting trend, i.e., a more honest approach to previous discoveries.

They are suddenly seen as less plausible candidates for life or they are simply forgotten.

The recent discovery of the planet Ross 128 b, which orbits a red dwarf star 20 times closer than Earth orbits the Sun 11 light years from us, follows this tendency.

Red dwarf stars are notorious for bombarding their planets with intense solar radiation that can be lethal.

Many planets orbiting them might be tidally locked, with the same side always facing the star.

However, astronomers think that of Ross 128 b might receive less solar radiation although they are not sure whether it orbits its star in the habitable zone.

It is roughly Earth-sized with a temperature assumed to be between -60 and +20°C.

It might well give a false hope for those who expect to find alien life in the universe. Hitherto, all candidates have turned out to be worlds that most probably cannot sustain life.

And then it’s still a giant leap from being potentially habitable to actually being habited. There’s no life without information, no information without design, and no design without a Designer.

As far as we know, there’s no place like our created home planet anywhere in the universe.

Source:

Rincon, Paul. 2017. Nearby planet is a target for life. BBC News. (15 November).

Monday, 13 November 2017

Fruit Fly Brains Inspire Search Engines of the Future


Image courtesy of André Karwath, CC BY-SA 2.5.



Joel Kontinen

Fruit flies have an amazing skills, including their sense of smell. They can distinguish between very subtle differences in odours.

Recently, Salk Institute assistant professor Saket Navlakha and colleagues reviewed the published literature on fruit flies and came up with some interesting details, reported by Science Daily:

When fruit flies first sense an odor, 50 neurons fire in a combination that's unique to that smell. But rather than hashing that information by reducing the number of hashes associated with the odor, as computer programs would, flies do the opposite -- they expand the dimension. The 50 initial neurons lead to 2,000 neurons, spreading out the input so that each smell has an even more distinct fingerprint among those 2,000 neurons. The brain then stores only the 5 percent of those 2,000 neurons with the top activity as the ‘hash’ for that odor.”

This strategy is surprisingly elegant and efficient:

The whole paradigm helps the brain notice similarities better than it would compared to reducing the dimension, Navlakha says.”

This discovery is very likely to inspire better search engines.

Biomimicry or copying intelligent solutions in living beings has become a lucrative research field. (See here, here, here and here for some other examples.)

Source:

Salk Institute. 2017. Fruit fly brains inform search engines of the future. Science Daily. (9 November).

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Origin of Life Research Invokes a Synthetic Enzyme – And Fails


The Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park. Image courtesy of Jim Peaco, National Park Service, public domain.




Joel Kontinen

Origin of life is a messy research field. No one has ever come up with a plausible explanation of how non-life could have turned into life.

With naturalistic ideology running the show, explanations tend to be both speculative and impossible.

But they keep on trying. The latest attempt features a synthetic enzyme called diamidophosphate (DAP).

Ramanarayanan Krishnamurthy and his colleagues at the Scripps Research Institute report on their research in the journal Nature Chemistry.

While they cannot be sure that DAP even existed at the time life supposedly popped out of the prebiotic stew, they assume that it might have.

An article posted in Live Science does no spare conditionals in reporting on the research: “may have existed”, “could have reacted”, “may have reacted” and “could have been leached out”, to name a few.

Krishnamurthy has no proof that DAP even existed four billion years ago. He synthesized the molecule in his lab as a way to solve one of the fundamental challenges to phosphorylating in wet, early Earth conditions. For most phosphorylation reactions to work, they need to remove a molecule of water in the process.

‘How do you remove water from a molecule when you are surrounded by a pool of water?’ asked Krishnamurthy. ‘That’s thermodynamically an uphill task.’

DAP gets around that problem by removing a molecule of ammonia instead of water.”

However, that will not give us life. This scenario is anything but plausible.

Krishnamurthy is working with geochemists to identify potential sources of DAP in the distant geological past. Phosphate-rich lava flows may have reacted with ammonia in the air to create DAP, or it could have been leached out of phosphate-containing minerals. Or maybe it even arrived on the back of a meteorite forged by a far-off star.”

You don’t have to be a prophet to say that their scenario will not work.

Source:

Roos, Dave. 2017. Chemists May Have Found the 'Missing Link' to the First Life on Earth. Live Science (10 November).

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Giant Planet Orbits Dwarf Star: Monster Planet NGTS-1b Challenges Planet Formation Theories

An artist’s rendering of the monster planet and its sun. Image courtesy of University of Warwick/Mark Garlick.



Joel Kontinen

They refer to it as the monster planet.

A giant gas planet orbiting a dwarf star is causing astronomers to scratch their heads in bafflement. The combination challenges the established planet formation theory.

NGTS-1b is a hot Jupiter very close to its sun, with an orbit lasting 2.6 days. Its host star is a red M-dwarf with a radius of 50 per cent that of our sun.

The problem is that such a planet should not exist, if naturalistic theories were true.

It appears that they aren’t.

NGTS-1b is not the only “impossible” exoplanet. Some are extremely hot, some others have three suns, and many others are likewise more or less weird.

It might be high time to ditch naturalistic speculations and keep in mind that ours is a privileged planet, fine-tuned for life.

Source:

Royal Astronomical Society. 2017. Monster' planet discovery challenges formation theory. Science Daily. (31 October).

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Ingredients of Life Cooking Up on Enceladus?

Image courtesy of Cassini Imaging Team, SSI, JPL, ESA, NASA.





Joel Kontinen

A can of sardines has all the ingredients that life needs, but its content is as dead as dead can be.

Much more than just the necessary ingredients are needed for life to suddenly pop up.

This same principle also applies to Saturn’s icy moon Enceladus that is geologically far too active for a solar system that is assumed to be 4.5 billion years old.

To solve this dilemma, some secular scientists, for instance Gaël Choblet at the University of Nantes, France, and colleagues, have to invoke tidal forces caused by Saturn’s gravity,

According to New Scientist,

Choblet and his team found that the tidal heating effect could persist for tens of millions to billions of years, giving any potential life plenty of time to evolve in the resulting warm, chemically diverse areas.”

However, this is not a discovery; it is an assumption based to the belief that Saturn and its moons are billions of years old.

And it might be good to keep in mind that life only comes from life.

All secular origin of life hypotheses are speculations and /or wishful thinking.

They are certainly not supported by facts.

Water does not magically turn into molecules or even mice in our solar system or anywhere else.

Source:

Crane, Leah. 2017. Enceladus’s hot, gritty core may cook up ingredients for life. New Scientist (6 November).

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Giraffe-Sized Flying Creature Defies Darwinian Explanations

Quetzalcoatlus might have looked like this. Image courtesy of ДиБгд, public domain.





Joel Kontinen

Researchers recently found a fragmented fossil of an enormous flying creature in the Gobi Desert in Mongolia.

Pterosaurs were enigmatic creatures. They were almost too big and too heavy to fly, but they somehow managed to take to the air.

Tall as male giraffes (5.5 metres or18 feet), they had a wingspan of 9.7–11 metres (32–36 feet).

They appear suddenly, fully formed in the fossil record at the time when dinosaurs ruled the Earth (according to Darwinian thinking).

Pterosaurs had exquisitely designed features, some of which are found in modern bats and some in modern birds.

There is no shortage of mosaic-like creatures in the animal kingdom. The extinct ones include Archaeopteryx and Tiktaalik.

Living mosaics, such as the e duck-billed platypus and the spiny anteater, are problematic for evolution.

They are not evolving into something else, and neither did pterosaurs.

Source:

Pickrell, John. 2017. Ancient Winged Terror Was One of the Largest Animals to Fly. National Geographic (31 October).


Friday, 3 November 2017

Kepler Finds 20 Habitable Exoplanets (That Might Not Be Habitable)


Some hope this is a habitable world. Image courtesy of NASA.





Joel Kontinen

Just add water is the major ingredient in the secular formula for creating life. Thus, every time NASA or some other agency reports on the discovery of an exoplanet that could potentially harbour water, the press creates big headlines.

Often, on closer inspection, discoveries have turned out to be false positives. It has even happened that some of the planets don’t exist.

Many secularists want desperately to find life in space. They are uncomfortable with the idea that Earth is a privileged planet, especially created by God, who is all-powerful and to whom all human beings are accountable.

New Scientist has this to say about the recent finds:

“The list of potential worlds includes several planets that orbit stars like our sun. Some take a relatively long time to complete a single orbit, with the longest taking 395 Earth days and others taking Earth weeks or months. The fastest orbit is 18 Earth days. This is very different to the very short “years” we see around smaller stars with habitable planets like Proxima Centauri.

The exoplanet with a 395-day year is one of the most promising worlds for life on the list, says Jeff Coughlin, a Kepler team lead who helped find the potential planets. Called KOI-7923.01, it is 97 per cent the size of Earth, but a little colder.

Its cooler temperature is due to its distance from its star and the fact that the star is slightly cooler than our sun. This means it may be a little more like tundra regions on Earth than temperate ones, but is still warm enough and large enough to hold the liquid water essential to life as we know it.”

However, water is by far not the only ingredient needed for life and at least some exoplanets assumed to orbit their sun in the habitable zone are not habitable at all.

Source:

Wenz, John. 2017. We may have found 20 habitable worlds hiding in plain sight. New Scientist (30 October).

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Star Wars Lookalike Monkey Is No Alien

Pied tamarin (Saguinus bicolor). Image courtesy of Stavenn, CC BY-SA 3.0.



Joel Kontinen

A tiny Brazilian monkey looks a bit like Yoda, a Star Wars character, but it is no alien. The pied tamarin (Saguinus bicolor) is an endangered species.

A mere 25 centimetres long, this tamarin might appear to be grumpy, but it is actually a social and curious creature.

Saguinus bicolor is yet another example of the rich variety within each created kind.


Source:

Hamzelou, Jessica. 2017. Pied tamarin doesn’t look too happy about its extreme close-up. New Scientist (25 October).