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"The deepest sin against the human mind is to believe things without evidence. Science is simply common sense at its best -- that is, rigidly accurate in observation, and merciless to fallacy in logic." Thomas Huxley

The Contradictions between the Creationist Movements

Posted By Shiloh Jolie Pitt on May 4, 2009 at 9:25AM

Source: Scientific American magazine

The Contradictions between the Creationist Movements
A skeptic engages three types of creationists who claim science supports their beliefs, yet they contradict one another

By Michael Shermer
April 28, 2009

During the tsunami of bicentennial celebrations of Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday in February, I visited the fringes of evolutionary skepticism to better understand how one of science’s grandest theories could still be doubted.

Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm in Bristol, England, is run by a kindly gentleman named Anthony Bush, who insisted that I not confuse him with those “loony American creationists” who think that Earth is only 6,000 years old. “How old do you think it is?” I queried. “Oh, I’ve worked it out to be around 100,000 years old, with Adam and Eve at around 21,000 years old.” (At an order of magnitude difference that makes Mr. Bush only five zeros shy of reality.)

What about, I pressed on, all the geologic evidence for a much older Earth? All those strata of, say, sandstone—loose sand compressed into solid rock over immense periods? Those strata are laid down every season, like tree rings, Bush explained. Interesting analogy, given that we can see trees growing from year to year, but where can we find sand being annually compressed into stone?

At the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Ky., I learned that Earth was created in 4004 B.C., about the same time that the Mesopotamians invented beer (“That’s on the secular timeline,” I was told). Dioramas feature children frolicking among vege­tarian dinosaurs, including a Tyrannosaurus rex and Utahraptor, whose daggerlike teeth and claws, it was noted, were used for cracking open coconuts before the Fall. But then the snake tempted Eve, who in turn charmed Adam into tasting the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil—after which dinosaurs became meat eaters, humans became sinners and Noah gathered the animals into the Ark (also rendered in­ a dioramic drama complete with screaming left-behinders on soon-to-be swamped rocks).

My tour ended with an interview with Georgia Purdom, an accommodating and bright woman (Ph.D. in molecular genetics from Ohio State University) who explained that the worldview you hold (biblical versus secular) determines how you interpret the data.

I countered by pointing out that Francis Collins, former head of the Human Genome Project, is a born-again evangelical Christian who fully accepts evolution. In his book The Language of God (Free Press, 2007), Collins describes ancient repetitive elements (AREs) in DNA that arise from “jumping genes” that copy and insert themselves in other locations in the genome, usually without any function. When you align sections of human and mouse genomes, the AREs are in the same location. “Unless one is willing to take the position that God has placed these decapitated AREs in these precise positions to confuse and mislead us,” he asserts, “the conclusion of a common ancestor for humans and mice is virtually inescapable.”

Collins is wrong, Purdom stated, because “he does not accept the biblical history in Genesis, so he’s beginning with his ideas about what happened in the past rather than what God said happened in the past, so he’s interpreting that data in light of that starting point.”

Shoehorning science into scripture was also painfully on display at the University of North Florida, where I debated founder and chief biblical cosmologist of Reasons to Believe Hugh Ross, an Old Earth Creationist who thinks that the biblical authors describe the expanding universe in such passages as Job 9:8, where God “stretched out the heavens,” and Isaiah 40:22, where God “stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in.” The key word in Hebrew is natah, which means “spread out,” like a blanket or a tent, and is a metaphor for the dome or canopy of the sky and fixed stars that formed

the basis of the cosmology of the ancient Hebrews, derived from the earlier Babylonian cosmology during the Jewish captivity in Mesopotamia.

In my opinion, Ross employs the hindsight bias when he digs through the scriptures in search of passages that vaguely resemble current scientific findings. Had cosmologists discovered that we live in a closed universe that will eventually collapse, then it seems to me that Job 9:7 would work well by confirming that God “commandeth the sun, and it riseth not; and sealeth up the stars.”

Seek and ye shall find.

This story was originally published with the the title "Creationism in 3-D"

join Shi's Technology group

Posted By royalgirl53 on Mar 16, 2009 at 11:15AM

I love science, biology, anatomy, etc. I probably would have been a scientist or doctor , but I was REALLY bad at math,good at physics and chemistry. Algebra did me in. So I became a sociologist and eventually a social worker (ick).
I have posted scientific info and have virtually been ignored.
I blogged about God's particles, link with breast cancer and underarm deodorant. I love Quantum physics..........!
So, Shi, I am glad you have this site, maybe I will have some positive exchange and inquiries on my scientific posts.
Thanks, Shi

Tagged with: Technology group

Lost "Sleeping Beauty" Mummy Formula Found

Posted By Shiloh Jolie Pitt on Jan 27, 2009 at 8:32AM

From: National Geographic News

January 26, 2009--She's one of the world's best-preserved bodies: Rosalia Lombardo, a two-year-old Sicilian girl who died of pneumonia in 1920. "Sleeping Beauty," as she's known, appears to be merely dozing beneath the glass front of her coffin in the Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo, Italy.


Now an Italian biological anthropologist, Dario Piombino-Mascali of the Institute for Mummies and the Iceman in Bolzano, has discovered the secret formula that preserved Rosalia's body so well. (Piombino-Mascali is funded by the National Geographic Society's Expeditions Council. National Geographic News is owned by the National Geographic Society.)

Piombino-Mascali tracked down living relatives of Alfredo Salafia, a Sicilian taxidermist and embalmer who died in 1933. A search of Salafia's papers revealed a handwritten memoir in which he recorded the chemicals he injected into Rosalia's body: formalin, zinc salts, alcohol, salicylic acid, and glycerin.

Formalin, now widely used by embalmers, is a mixture of formaldehyde and water that kills bacteria. Salafia was one of the first to use this for embalming bodies. Alcohol, along with the arid conditions in the catacombs, would have dried Rosalia's body and allowed it to mummify. Glycerin would have kept her body from drying out too much, and salicylic acid would have prevented the growth of fungi.

But it was the zinc salts, according to Melissa Johnson Williams, executive director of the American Society of Embalmers, that were most responsible for Rosalia's amazing state of preservation. Zinc, which is no longer used by embalmers in the United States, petrified Rosalia's body.

"[Zinc] gave her rigidity," Williams said. "You could take her out of the casket prop her up, and she would stand by herself."

Piombino-Mascali calls the self-taught Salafia an artist: "He elevated embalming to its highest level."

Learn more about Rosalia in National Geographic magazine's Sicily Crypts and on the National Geographic Channel documentary "Italy's Mystery Mummies."

—Karen Lange

Photograph by Vincent J. Musi

Do you have copyrighted material on your iPod or laptop and are going on a trip?

Posted By Shiloh Jolie Pitt on May 30, 2008 at 5:48PM

SOURCE: Popular Science Online May 30, 2008

A proposed trade agreement could authorize border agents to search the contents of laptops and iPods for copyrighted material

By Matt Ransford

As if the security in airports and controls at border crossings weren't slow and intrusive enough, governments around the world are quietly passing laws to allow them to search the contents of your laptop and other electronic devices, like iPods and cellphones. A United States court last month gave border agents carte blanche to hold a laptop for days and even copy its entire contents. The UK government has given its agents authority to search computers at its borders for pornography. But in what may be the most baffling and cumbersome move of all, the US, Canada, UK, and other EU nations are working behind closed doors on a new trade agreement which could turn border agents into the copyright police.

A four-page draft document [PDF] proposing the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) was leaked to the press this week which show plans for the creation of an international copyright regulator with its enforcement arm as each nation's border patrols. Guards and security personnel would be authorized to search electronic devices for any content that "infringes" on copyright laws, whether the copies are from legally purchased CDs or DVDs or not, and decide on the spot which content is infringing. The officials would be given authority to take action without any formalized complaint from the rights holders and without a lawyer present on behalf of the accused. The draft allows for the confiscation or destruction of any device the agents deem suspect.

The ACTA specifically calls for the coalition to operate outside the WTO and UN by forming its own governing body overseen by member nations. While the document is still in draft form, there is little reason to believe the actual agreement won't follow the draft's recommendations. Without public scrutiny or comment, the member states will have no impetus for transparency.

LOST and the Large Hadron Collider

Posted By Shiloh Jolie Pitt on May 29, 2008 at 2:21PM

SOURCE: Popular Mechanics - May 24, 2008

"DEBUNKING LOST'S SCIENCE: Hollywood Sci-Fi Behind the Scenes

As our favorite TV show returns from writer’s strike purgatory, its creators reveal just how much research goes into the making of Lost’s high-tech mythology—and let slip a few secrets about the island’s future.

By Erin McCarthy

Executive producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse tell PM they've been following the development of the Large Hadron Collider (right) as they lay out Lost's time-travel plot for the rest of this season. Could one of the Dharma Initiative's stations (left) create a mini black hole into the future? (Still Courtesy of ABC)

At its geeky core, Lost is a show about science and faith—and it's undeniable that this season, science is taking center stage. As the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 try to unravel the island's mysteries in an effort to get off of it, they are thwarted again and again by temporal distortion, electromagnetic energy and time travel of the mind—not to mention a really cranky smoke monster that may or may not have a basis in science.


But the creators did let slip that the rest of this season will revolve around some very real—and very big—physics: the Large Hadron Collider, the much delayed European particle accelerator that could reveal information about the Higgs boson and dark energy. Some physicists believe the LHC will produce mini black holes, which might actually be able to open a one-way portal to another universe—a gateway that can only be kept open by a force of energy as strong as Jupiter ... or an electromagnet inside a desert island.

Michio Kaku, author of Physics of the Impossible, thinks the Lost creators are using cutting-edge science to lay the groundwork for a transversible wormhole to another point in space and time—a trip foreshadowed in an off-season video about the so-called Orchid station, which Lindelhof and Cuse promised would be a key to the next few episodes. "They're amping up the energy to the point where space and time begin to tear, and the fabric begins to rip," Kaku tells PM. "When the fabric of space and time begin to rip, things that we consider impossible become possible again."

Even new technology, though, has its limits. And the Lost team had no problem modifying some next-gen touchscreen satellite phones to its needs in showing off its beyond-iPhone power, beginning late last season. "We didn't really want to put ourselves in a position where we were married to everything that exists technologically," Cuse says. "We decided that our satellite phone would be a very modern, high-tech version." Plus, Lindelof adds, they're dealing with the personal property of a bad guy who can plant a fake plane crash in a submarine trench too deep for recovery.

One thing's for certain: Lost is the first mainstream TV show since Mr. Wizard to make science cool again. Across thousands of Web sites devoted to Lost, obsessive viewers analyze screen captures, debate theories of living in purgatory and play online games in trying to answer the ultimate science question: What is this damn island? Andy Page, webmaster of Lost fan site DarkUFO, says his site normally receives 800,000 hits the day after a new episode, and has had over 50 million hits in two years. "It started as a simple blog listing all the outstanding mysteries of the show and snowballed from there," he says, insisting that The X-Files has nothing on Lost when it comes to myth hunting.

"It kind of boggles our minds, actually," Cuse says. "We never imagined that people would get wrapped up in the intricacies of it to the degree that they have. We really just set out to make a show that we thought was kind of cool and entertaining."

Mission accomplished. "

Click HERE for a bunch of more Live Links regarding the show, show trivia, and additional info.

Fact or Fiction: Chocolate Is Poisonous to Dogs

Posted By Shiloh Jolie Pitt on Feb 14, 2008 at 7:37AM

Scientific American magazine

Chocolate can affect canines in different ways--from the mildly upsetting to the downright dangerous
By Alison Snyder

A small dog should be belly-up after eating a handful M&M's, at least according to conventional wisdom. But watching "Moose," a friend's five-pound Chihuahua, race around a living room after his sweet snack makes one wonder: Is chocolate truly poisonous to dogs?

Dogs and humans have similar tastes. Like us, they seek out sweets and have no problem indulging. But unlike humans, our canine companions experience dangerous effects from eating chocolate—it can poison them and in some cases is lethal. The hazard, however, is probably overblown, says Tim Hackett, a veterinarian at Colorado State University. Chocolate's danger to dogs depends on its quantity and quality. Large dogs can usually handle a small amount of chocolate whereas the same helping could cause problems for Moose and his pint-size kin.

Chocolate is processed from the bitter seeds of the cacao tree, which contain a family of compounds known as methylxanthines. This class of substances includes caffeine and the related chemical theobromine. Both molecules bind to receptors on the surfaces of cells and block the natural compounds that normally attach there. Low doses of methylxanthines can lead to vomiting or diarrhea in dogs, and euphoria in humans. Chocolate contains a significant amount of theobromine and smaller amounts of caffeine. If a large quantity of theobromine or caffeine is ingested, some dogs will experience muscle tremors or even seizures. These chemical constituents of chocolate can cause a dog's heart to race up to twice its normal rate, and some dogs may run around as if "they drank a gallon of espresso," according to Hackett. Moose, it seems, was on a "theobromine high."

Dogs are capable of handling some chocolate, but it depends on the animal's weight and the type of chocolate it eats. Unsweetened baking chocolate contains more than six times as much theobromine as milk chocolate, although amounts vary between cocoa beans as well as different brands of chocolate. Less than four ounces of milk chocolate is potentially lethal for Moose and other small dogs, according to the ASPCA Animal Control Poison Center.

Around every confection-centered holiday—Valentine's Day, Easter and Christmas—at least three or four dogs are hospitalized overnight in the animal medical center at Colorado State. But in 16 years as an emergency and critical care veterinarian, Hackett has seen just one dog die from chocolate poisoning, and he suspects it may have had an underlying disease that made it more vulnerable to chocolate's heart-racing effect.

Dogs that eat a small amount of chocolate should be able to filter the methylxanthines through their body and avoid veterinary treatment. But more acutely poisoned dogs are generally treated by inducing vomiting and administering activated charcoal to absorb any methylxanthines remaining in the gut or that may be circulating through the dog's digestive system.

Ultimately, Moose survived his cocoa snack. But no matter how you bake it, wrap it or melt it, chocolate and Moose don't mix.

Fact or Fiction?: A Cockroach Can Live without Its Head

Posted By Shiloh Jolie Pitt on Feb 14, 2008 at 7:27AM

Scientific American magazine

A nuclear war may not trouble them, but does decapitation?
By Charles Choi

Cockroaches are infamous for their tenacity, and are often cited as the most likely survivors of a nuclear war. Some even claim that they can live without their heads. It turns out that these armchair exterminators (and their professional brethren) are right. Headless roaches are capable of living for weeks.

To understand why cockroaches—and many other insects—can survive decapitation, it helps to understand why humans cannot, explains physiologist and biochemist Joseph Kunkel at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, who studies cockroach development. First off, decapitation in humans results in blood loss and a drop in blood pressure hampering transport of oxygen and nutrition to vital tissues. "You'd bleed to death," Kunkel notes.

In addition, humans breathe through their mouth or nose and the brain controls that critical function, so breathing would stop. Moreover, the human body cannot eat without the head, ensuring a swift death from starvation should it survive the other ill effects of head loss.

But cockroaches do not have blood pressure the way people do. "They don't have a huge network of blood vessels like that of humans, or tiny capillaries that you need a lot of pressure to flow blood through," Kunkel says. "They have an open circulatory system, which there's much less pressure in."

"After you cut their heads off, very often their necks would seal off just by clotting," he adds. "There's no uncontrolled bleeding."

The hardy vermin breathe through spiracles, or little holes in each body segment. Plus, the roach brain does not control this breathing and blood does not carry oxygen throughout the body. Rather, the spiracles pipe air directly to tissues through a set of tubes called tracheae.

Cockroaches are also poikilotherms, or cold-blooded, meaning they need much less food than humans do. "An insect can survive for weeks on a meal they had one day," Kunkel says. "As long as some predator doesn't eat them, they'll just stay quiet and sit around, unless they get infected by mold or bacteria or a virus. Then they're dead."

Entomologist Christopher Tipping at Delaware Valley College in Doylestown, Pa., has actually decapitated American cockroaches (Periplaneta americana) "very carefully under microscopes," he notes. "We sealed the wound with dental wax, to prevent them from drying out. A couple lasted for several weeks in a jar."

Insects have clumps of ganglia—nerve tissue agglomerations—distributed within each body segment capable of performing the basic nervous functions responsible for reflexes, "so without the brain, the body can still function in terms of very simple reactions," Tipping says. "They could stand, react to touch and move."

And it is not just the body that can survive decapitation; the lonely head can thrive, too, waving its antennae back and forth for several hours until it runs out of steam, Kunkel says. If given nutrients and refrigerated, a roach head can last even longer.

Still, in roaches, "the body provides a huge amount of sensory information to the head and the brain cannot function normally when denied these inputs," explains neuroscientist Nick Strausfeld of the University of Arizona, who specializes in arthropod learning, memory and brain evolution. For instance, although cockroaches have a fantastic memory, "when we've tried to teach them when they had bits of them missing, it's hopeless. We have to keep their bodies completely intact."

Cockroach decapitation may seem macabre, but scientists have conducted many experiments with headless roach bodies and bodiless roach heads. Decapitating roaches deprives their bodies of hormones from glands in their heads that control maturation, helping researchers investigate metamorphosis and reproduction. And studies of bodiless roach heads shed light on how their neurons work. Plus, it provides just one more testament to the cockroach's enviable endurance.

Netvibes: Building a personal, dynamic Web page

Posted By Shiloh Jolie Pitt on Nov 12, 2007 at 8:05AM

Techonology Review Magazine - Sept/Oct 2007

"When I open my Web browser, I want to get the latest stuff that's really important to me," says software engineer, Web entrepreneur, and former journalist Tariq Krim. That's the idea behind Netvibes, a free and "agnostic" Web service Krim created to let netizens build customized pages from disparate modules such as RSS feeds from blogs, competing news sites such as Google and Yahoo, and even user-translated international sites. On the "Tariq" tab of his own ­Netvibes page, Krim uses search modules to track what bloggers are saying about him and his company. A portion of his page is shown below.


Web Trick: Design in 3D with free Google software SketchUp

Posted By Shiloh Jolie Pitt on Nov 9, 2007 at 11:09AM

Source: Popular Science Magazine - Nov. 2007

You don't need an advanced degree in architecture or fancy CAD software to design in three dimensions; you just need Google.
Specifically, you need SketchUp (sketchup.com), Goggle's 3-D modeling program, which with enough practice lets you create digital versions of buildings, cars or any other objects you dream up.
Though not quite as sophisticated as some high en programs, SketchUp includes all the drawing, lighting, and texturing tools you're likely to need. Plus, the basic version of the software is free. Still daunted by the prospect of drawing something from scratch: Grab already-finished models from Google's 3D Warehouse - a trove of amazing desgins ranging from F1 racers to the White House - and integrate them into your work.
By Paul Stamatiou

Cathedral de Notre Dame

West Virginia State Capitol

Emotional memory

Posted By Shiloh Jolie Pitt on Nov 6, 2007 at 8:51AM

Science News magazine - Oct. 20, 2007. Subscribers Only article

Patrick Barry

Where were you on Sept. 11, 2001? Or when the shuttle Challenger exploded in 1986? Heightened emotions cause experiences to crystallize into lasting and vivid memories. This boost in memory formation is due in part to the stress hormone norepinephrine, but scientists haven't understood how the hormone causes this effect.

Now researchers have uncovered molecular changes triggered by norepinephrine that help nerve cells form new memories.

A team led by Roberto Malinow of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York traced the hormone's effects to a receptor molecule called glutamate receptor 1 (GluR1) on the surfaces of nerve cells. Through GluR1 and similar receptors, nerve cells can receive signals from their neighbors. Nerves store new memories by increasing the strength of those signals, according to a leading theory.

Norepinephrine, a form of adrenaline, triggers the attachment of a small molecule called a phosphate group to GluR1s before they reach a nerve cell's surface. Adding the phosphate group expedites the movement of GluR1 molecules to the surface, where they're thought to help cells form memories.

"There are likely to be a number of different mechanisms that underlie this effect, but this appears to be a major one," Malinow says.

The team engineered mice to have a mutation in GluR1 that prevents phosphate groups from attaching. Injecting norepinephrine into normal mice improved the animals' ability to learn from experience. But for the mice with impaired GluR1, the hormone made no measurable difference, the researchers report in the Oct. 5 Cell.

The research could lead to new drugs for emotion-related memory disorders, Malinow notes. "In post-traumatic stress disorder, where you have too much emotionally charged memory, this [receptor] could provide a molecular target for possible treatments."