Creation-Evolution Controversy in the News

first_imgDarwin, Genesis, Paul Mirecki, disclaimer stickers, Kansas and intelligent design continue to be searchable keywords in news reporting about science education.Mirecki’s got a fight on his hands:  The embattled U of Kansas prof who was going to ridicule intelligent design (ID) in a religion class till his inflammatory email surfaced (11/29/2005), and who later claimed to be beaten up off-campus (12/07/2005), continues to get a pummeling in the news as he tries to defend himself.  Though he claims he was pressured to resign, and threatens to sue over his lack of support by the university (see Lawrence Journal-World 12/10), the Lawrence Journal-World claimed Dec. 13 that he left voluntarily.  The Journal-World also reprinted a postcard sent out by the Religious Studies department of the University repudiating Mirecki’s “inappropriate comments” but expressing appreciation for his scholarly work and teaching.  Science Magazine took note of this in its Random Samples column, but focused on the attack and not the controversy about it.  No arrests have been made of any suspects.  Conservative commentator Michelle Malkin has been trying for a week to get to the bottom of this.Georgia Stickers Reviewed:  When federal judge Clarence Cooper ordered evolution-disclaimer stickers removed from Cobb County, Georgia biology textbooks last January (see 01/13/2005), the school board appealed.  The item has come up for review by a federal appeals panel, according to an Associated Press story on MSNBC News and South Carolina’s The State.  The three judges are questioning the accuracy of Cooper’s decision.  To them, the disclaimer seems non-religious and straightforward.  The Atlanta Journal-Constitution said the judges gave the lower court ruling a “hostile reception,” indicating they might side with the school board in their ruling next year.  Rob Crowther for Evolution News put the pieces together to claim that the ACLU lied to the federal court while making its claim that the stickers constituted an endorsement of religion.  Pam Sheppard reported on this story for Answers in Genesis and also mentioned the lawsuit against the University of California by Christian Schools accusing the university system of discrimination.Evolution of Conservatism:  Casey Luskin argued in Human Events that intelligent design is within the future of the conservative movement.  This was to rebut the claims of Charles Krauthammer and George Will, who had sided with the Darwinists in their editorials (see 11/19/2005, third bullet).Dutch & Such:  The University of Leiden is holding a half-day symposium on intelligent design today (Dec 16), according to Tom Magnuson at Access Research Network.  The question is, “Is ID about theology or science?”The Whole Truth:  The Darwin exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History (12/08/2005) is giving a sanitized version of Darwinism, wrote John West for Evolution News.  The exhibit mentions little or nothing about the social implications of Darwinism, such as racism and eugenics – including the Darwin’s own ideas on those subjects, which West says the museum “completely suppresses.”Bible Spin:  Top Tech News reported as an oddity the ministry of Rusty Carter, “who has a degree in biblical studies from Colorado Christian University and earns his living doing floor maintenance.”  Carter leads Christian school groups on tours of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science but gives a “Biblically Correct” interpretation of the exhibits.  The curator seems not sure what to do about it.  See the earlier stories from 10/17/2005, 09/28/2005, and 09/22/2005.Kansas Rolls Up Its Sleeves:  Now that the Kansas school board is permitting criticisms of Darwinism, school board member Kathy Martin wants curriculum materials for teachers, reported the Kansas City Star.Icons Defended:  Jonathan Wells has been posting reprints on ID the Future of rebuttals to criticisms of his 2000 book, Icons of Evolution.Anti-ID Folks Weigh In:  Alan Boyle, in his Cosmic Log on MSNBC News on Dec. 13, tallied up the feedback from his list of biggest scientific controversies of the year (12/08/2005).  He was “frankly surprised by the overwhelming sentiment against intelligent design” in his unscientific experiment.  He reprinted examples, like “If the proponents of intelligent design are successful in foisting their delusions on a new generation of young Americans, they will likely further undermine future American competitiveness in the biological sciences, and possibly in other fields of scientific endeavor as well.”  Boyle surmised that “perhaps it demonstrates that mainstream scientists have made some headway after all, in spite of the political challenges in Pennsylvania and Kansas.”This Guy Is Falling:  Donald Kennedy in Science 12/16, in an editorial about science education, warned about terrible consequences if science educators don’t help students think critically about things like intelligent design:Second, the future of the world is at stake!  That’s not melodrama.  Never have exciting new developments in science been more tightly connected to real dilemmas in public policy.  If the electorate distrusts science and doesn’t understand how scientists explore and interrogate the natural world, how will they vote on issues ranging from stem cell research and global climate change to the teaching of intelligent design in our schools?  In addition to full-time scientists, we need educated citizens who can think critically about the science and technology choices so prominent in contemporary political life.But then, isn’t that what the Georgia textbook stickers asked students to do about evolution – think critically?We’re still waiting for substantive arguments on why students should be taught that humans have bacteria ancestors.  Pro-evolution reporters seem to get worked up over politics, definitions, motives, implications, religion, and authority.  How about a little scientific evidence?(Visited 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Why Chernobyl Neighbors Are Not Dying

first_img(Visited 62 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0 Surprising scientists, both people and animals are doing OK around the world’s worst nuclear accident site.Thirty years ago, on April 26, 1986, Russian government officials evacuated people living in 1,600 square miles around the Chernobyl nuclear power plant after a meltdown sent a radiation cloud over a large area (see history of the incident on PhysOrg). The “exclusion zone” was deemed too hazardous for humans. Animals, however, were not evacuated; scientists feared a great die-off and ecological disaster. A new study, though, shows a big surprise. National Geographic reports:In a new study released Monday, Beasley says that the population of large mammals on the Belarus side has increased since the disaster. He was shocked by the number of animals he saw there in a five-week survey. Camera traps captured images of a bison, 21 boars, nine badgers, 26 gray wolves, 60 raccoon dogs (an Asian species also called a tanuki), and 10 red foxes. “It’s just incredible. You can’t go anywhere without seeing wolves,” he says.The animals are not zombies, walking around like grotesque mutants in a horror movie. Most are doing well. There are some species with increased incidence of cataracts or albinism, but most wouldn’t notice any difference. Without hunters or human interference around, animal numbers have rebounded; it’s like a great “rewilding” experiment.  Scientists are finding that radiation effects may be less severe than predicted. Surprisingly, Science Daily says, even predators are doing well, even though apex predators stand to suffer the highest radiation dosage from eating contaminated prey as well as getting it from the environment.Beasley and his research team saw 14 species of mammals on the camera footage. The most frequently seen were the gray wolf, wild or Eurasian boar, red fox and raccoon dog, a canid species found in East Asia and Europe. Beasley said all of these species were sighted at stations close to or within the most highly contaminated areas.“We didn’t find any evidence to support the idea that populations are suppressed in highly contaminated areas,” Beasley said.Human ComebackClingons have invaded the exclusion zone. PhysOrg says, “Defying radiation, elderly residents cling on in Chernobyl.” Former residents who called this place home, now in their 70s and 80s, continue living there, danger or not. They Ukrainian government still says the area is uninhabitable. Perhaps the residents feel that they have nothing to lose at their age.In the aftermath of the explosion, which spewed out clouds of poisonous radiation that spread across Europe, more than 1,000 people returned to live in the officially sealed-off area.Urupa survives off vegetables she grows in her garden as well as the food supplies brought by visitors.Are the residents keeling over from radiation damage and cancer? Radiation levels are still high, keeping many visitors out. Thirty deaths were directly attributable to the accident; another 4,000 were feared at risk. “Serious mutations, though, happened only right after the accident.”The article says nothing about increased death rates among those living in the exclusion zone. A child born there in 1999 had anemia and had to move out, the article says, but the fact that many have lived for decades in a radiation bath is phenomenal.The ReasonHow can people and animals thrive in this kind of constant danger? Actually, it’s only a matter of degree. All of us get radiation exposure every day to varying doses. Some breathe in radon gas rising from under their houses. People at higher elevations face more radiation than those at sea level. A long-distance airplane flight can deliver more radiation than a chest X-ray; pilots, therefore, expose their bodies to a great deal of radiation over their careers.If it weren’t for protective mechanisms built into our cells, we would all die much younger from radiation damage. This is not to excuse the Russians for their carelessness at Chernobyl; radiation levels that high are unquestionably harmful. But it is partially comforting to realize that our bodies repair damage 24 x 7 and usually get it right. Whether genes are damaged from UV light, ionizing radiation or cosmic rays, cells know what to do. Science Daily says that “the human body is pretty good at repairing itself” except when we put toxins like cigarette smoke in our lungs or stand in the sun too long. Another Science Daily article praises “the complex genetic network that maintains genome integrity in normal cells.”Here are some recent papers in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences about the mechanisms of DNA damage repair:Dynamic control of strand excision during human DNA mismatch repair (PNAS): Four “evolutionarily conserved [i.e., unevolved] components” work together to fix mismatched DNA bases.Genome-wide kinetics of DNA excision repair in relation to chromatin state and mutagenesis (PNAS): This paper describes “Nucleotide excision repair” which is “the sole mechanism for removing bulky adducts from the human genome, including those formed by UV radiation and chemotherapeutic drugs.” Cancer can result from mutations in this system.Nucleotide excision repair by dual incisions in plants (PNAS): This paper should surprise evolutionists. You and your potted plant are in two different kingdoms of life, separated (according to evolution) for hundreds of millions of years. And yet, “we found that plants remove UV photoproducts from their genomic DNA through a dual-incision mechanism that is nearly identical to that of humans and other eukaryotes.”On that note, Science Daily reports another case where humans and plants have a lot in common: “Damage-signalling protein shows parallels between plant, human immune systems,” the headline reads.These are just a few of the built-in repair systems that keep animals, plants and people alive in a constant bath of invisible dangers. Without question, the residents around Chernobyl would be better off without the high radiation. There’s no debate that health care workers and government officials should seek to limit exposure. But thank God we are not utterly defenseless against these threats.Update 4/22/16: Claire Corkhill on The Conversation shares interesting facts about the herculean efforts being undertaken to secure the nuclear reactor from another leak for hopefully another 100 years. “At 110 metres tall with a span of 260 metres, the confinement structure will be large enough to house St Paul’s Cathedral or two Statues of Liberty on top of one another,” she writes; but that’s not the only challenge facing engineers. It has to be hermetically sealed and moved into place without exposing human workers.Why aren’t evolutionists happy about Chernobyl? It should provide their very best lab for seeing neo-Darwinism in action. Bathe a population of animals in radiation and watch the fittest survive. New organs and traits should develop as mutation and selection work their magic. Any day now, we should see teenage mutant Ninja turtles come marching out of the woods, with SuperGrandma flying overhead.Genesis 11 records a steady decline of longevity after the Flood compared to the multiple centuries people lived before the Flood (Genesis 5). Abraham lived 175 years, but half a millennium later, Moses lamented the “threescore and ten” that was common in his day (Psalm 90), though he lasted to 120 years. Some creationists believe changes in the earth’s magnetic field or atmosphere during the Flood exposed the world to higher radiation levels. That and cumulative mutational load on the human genome over the subsequent millennia leaves our medical experts struggling to keep us alive a little longer.We all get cancer every day. Our immune system and DNA damage response crews catch most emergencies. Thank God for these amazing systems that keep you alive. Treat every day as a gift, while always being prepared to meet your Maker.last_img read more

Third runway for Heathrow an economic bonanza

first_imgA third runway would put Heathrow on the same footing as rivals serving Paris, Frankfurt and Amsterdam and allow another 740,000 flights a year to 40 new destinations. The Airports Commission report forecast the 17.6 billion pound project would add 147 billion pounds in economic growth and create 70,000 jobs by 2050.The north-west runway would involve the construction of a new terminal, Terminal 6, and as significant expansion of Terminal 2 along with big increases to road and rail capacity costing up to 5 billion pounds.The report recommended restrictions to reduce environmental and noise effects, including an overnight curfew. It also described as feasible a cheaper expansion at rival Gatwick Airport.The Heathrow proposal has attracted significant opposition, including from a number of high-profile politicians such as conservative MP Boris Johnson, and almost 800 homes will need to be demolished to make room for it.However, it is believed to have the support of British Prime Minister Theresa May and has been backed by pilots and unions.The BBC said the decision would be made by a sub-committee chaired by May and some ministers would be allowed to speak out against it a limited period “in a move seen as evidence a third runway at Heathrow would be backed’’. The UK government has approved a third runway at Heathrow following a cabinet committee earlier this week.However, a public consultation now follows before a final decision is made as part of a national policy on aviation. The final vote will be taken late next year but it is unlikely that it would be operational until well into the next decade.A report last year recommended that the third runway be given a green a light because the slot- congested airport is at capacity and expansion was seen as the best option for the future of UK aviation.Heathrow third runway videolast_img read more

GPS and Geocaching Begins an Eight Billion Dollar Upgrade

first_img SharePrint RelatedLessons from a $40,000 G.P.S. DeviceAugust 26, 2010In “Community”An inside look at the latest GPS Satellite UpgradeAugust 2, 2011In “Community”Who’s Hiding in Your GPS Device?July 19, 2010In “Community” You won’t be lost in the woods anymore (we hope). New GPS satellites are expected to increase accuracy.The U.S. is upgrading its constellation of GPS satellites.  They’ll be replaced in an effort to greatly improve accuracy.  Good news for geocachers. The replacement satellites are expected to sharpen the accuracy of your GPS device from about 20 feet to just an arm’s length. They’re also touted as being more reliable – meaning you won’t lose the signal as often.Hopefully, this means fewer Did Not Finds (DNFs) on the horizon. But it’ll take a while to reach the horizon.  The first generation of satellites will reportedly be swapped out one for one over the next decade.The launch of the first of the next generation of GPS satellites has been scrubbed three times due to weather or technical glitches. The fourth time proved to be a charm.  The rocket carrying the satellite lifted off Thursday, May 27th from Cape Canaveral, Florida.The satellites’ software will be upgradable while they are in space and also continue to broadcast an atomic clock, keeping time to a billionth of a second.Besides guiding travelers to destinations, ambulance crews to emergencies and owners to lost dogs, how else do we use GPS each day?Share with your Friends:Morelast_img read more