Anti-Vaccine Researcher Andrew Wakefield Committed Fraud

Science is self-correcting. Over time, mistakes made by scientists are generally uncovered by other scientists. Sometimes, the mistakes are found quickly. Often, the mistakes take a long time to uncover. But mistakes are simply that: mistakes. Creation is very complex, and as scientists, we can often be fooled by that complexity. What we see as the “obvious” conclusion from a study might not be the correct conclusion at all, because there is often an underlying complexity that was not considered. So while many, many mistakes happen in the course of doing science, it is to be expected. Thus, when a scientist is found to have made a mistake, it doesn’t mean the rest of the scientist’s work is worthless. Even very good scientists make mistakes.

Scientific fraud is another matter altogether. While no scientist should be condemned for making mistakes, all scientists who commit fraud should be strongly and vigorously denounced. There have been two reports of scientific fraud that have come out over the past two days, and I consider it my duty as a scientist to make sure my readers are informed of them. I will discuss the first (and most egregious) in this post.

It involves the nonsensical idea that vaccines cause autism. This idea has been thoroughly tested by various scientific studies, and it is simply wrong. Indeed, I debated a proponent of this idea recently. The debate was hosted, produced, and heavily advertised by an anti-vaccination group. It went so poorly for my opponent that all mention of it has been wiped away from the anti-vaccine site.

Despite the fact that the conclusions of science could not be clearer when it comes to vaccines and autism, there are many people who still believe that vaccines cause autism. Many of them are followers of Andrew Wakefield, the one responsible for the the fraud I wish to discuss in this post.

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What Makes Bone So Strong?

Even this electron microscope image of hydroxyapatite crystals in bone doesn't reveal its amazing secret.
(Public domain image)
Bone is a truly incredible substance. It is as strong as steel but at as light as aluminum. Not only is it strong, but it is surprisingly flexible as well. As is the case with most things God made, human technology cannot come close to producing something with bone’s amazing properties. Consider, for example, the work of Antoni Tomsia at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California. He and his colleagues are trying to artificially produce something with the characteristics of bone, but they simply cannot come up with anything as elegant and sophisticated as bone. He says:

People want a strong, light, and porous material, which is almost a contradiction in terms, but nature does it…Bone is made from calcium phosphate and collagen, which are both extremely weak. But nature mixes them together at room temperature and without toxic chemical [sic] to create something that is very tough — this fascinates us.

What makes bone so special? The short answer is that we don’t really know. However, we are learning. For quite some time now we have known that bone is a mixture of many things, principal among them a protein called collagen and a calcium compound called hydroxyapatite. The collagen gives bone its flexibility, while the hydroxyapatite gives bone its strength.

However, the hydroxyapatite in bone is stronger than hydroxyapatite made in the lab. Why? It has to do with the size of the crystals. When hydroxyapatite is made artificially, the individual crystals that form are very large. In bone, the crystals are very small, on the order of 3 billionths of a meter long. These nanocrystals have long been thought to be the reason that hydroxyapatite in bone is so strong. However, scientists haven’t been able to understand why the nanocrystals stay so small in bone.

Now Klaus Schmidt-Rohr and his colleagues might just have figured that part out!

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Bacteria That Cause Tooth Decay….Good for you?

A human mouth infected with thrush.
(Image in the public domain)
You are looking at the inside of a person’s mouth. I know…the picture is gross. However, sometimes science is gross. You just have to get used to it. In my opinion, the science is well worth the gross picture. What makes this picture more gross than most pictures of a person’s mouth is that this mouth is infected with a yeast called Candida albicans. That’s what is causing the yellow gook you see in the mouth. This infection, commonly called thrush, is not very serious. Of course, it’s not very pleasant, either.

Interestingly enough, the yeast in question is called a dimorphic fungus. This means it can exist in one of two forms. It can exist as a collection of individual yeast cells, or it can grow threadlike structures called hyphae. These hyphae clump together to form a fungal body called a mycelium, which is what you are looking at in the gross picture above. The microscopic photo below shows you both forms of Candida albicans.

Candida Albicans in both forms. Click image for credit.

So if you have Candida albicans in your mouth, you won’t have thrush as long as the cells don’t form hyphae. If they stay in their yeast cell form, your mouth won’t look like the picture above. The interesting question, of course, is what keeps them from forming the hyphae?

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“Conserved DNA” and “Useful DNA” – An Evolutionary Predicament

As I have stated before, naturalistic evolutionists are forced to have a very simplistic view of life. Since they cannot accept that life was designed by an incredibly intelligent designer, they are forced to look at life through a ridiculously simplistic lens. This produces all sorts of problems for them. One of the more recent ones involves the amount of DNA that is “conserved” in class Mammalia.

For those who don’t know the term, “conserved DNA” is DNA that is similar across many different species. In the simplistic evolutionary view, DNA that is very important will be very similar in many different organisms, because important DNA cannot change very much. As Tina Hesman Saey writes in Science News1

About 7 percent of the human genome is similar to the DNA of other mammals, said Arend Sidow of Stanford University. Because it is similar, or “conserved,” geneticists assume this DNA is the most integral.

As Saey’s article indicates, this leaves Sidow to conclude that, “very little of the human genome is really necessary.” According to evolution, if only 7% of the human genome is conserved across all of class Mammalia, this indicates that most mammalian DNA was mutating freely, with very little constraint, during the long period of mammalian evolution. This, in turn, indicates that most mammalian DNA does little to affect the survivability of the mammal in question, and thus most mammalian DNA is not necessary. Indeed, the title of the article is, “Genome may be full of junk after all.”

Like most evolution-inspired ideas, however, this flies in the face of what science tells us about DNA.

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