Sorry, “Black Sheep.” Science IS Sexy

In a recent comment, the poster known as “Black Sheep” stated, “No matter what you think, science isn’t sexy.” I beg to differ. Just read these chemistry pickup lines, listed in the December 20, 2010 edition of Chemical and Engineering News (p. 56):

“I’m cobalt and you’re nickel. Let’s make an alloy.”

“I’d like to form a covalent bond with you.”

“If I could rearrange the periodic table, I’d put U and I together.”

“You’re lutetium and I’m vanadium. Together, we’re in LuV.”

“Our love will be like sodium in water: brief, explosive, and hot.”

And here’s my favorite:

“You’re so hot, your electrons are changing state.”

If that’s not sexy, I don’t know what is!

Still More Evidence That Babies in the Womb are Fully Human

A baby devloping in the womb (click for credit)
In a previous post, I noted that from a scientific point of view, it is quite clear that a baby developing in the womb is fully human. In fact, people who claim otherwise are forced to argue against science. This produces some really absurd ideas, such as Josh Rosenau’s claim that it is hard to distinguish between a baby developing in the womb and cancer!

Now even though I doubt that it will change the minds of the fervent pro-abortion crowd out there, it is important to communicate what science tells us about a baby developing in the womb. As I mentioned in the previous post linked above, not only does genetics tell us that from the moment of fertilization, a baby is 100% human, but recent studies also indicate that when given the opportunity, babies in the womb will socialize. This, of course, adds to the genetic evidence and confirms that babies in the womb are, indeed, fully human.

The newest thing science tells us is that parts of the brain that were thought not to develop until after a baby is born are actually well-developed in the womb. Interestingly enough, those parts of the brain are involved in the kinds of activities that make us…well…human.

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Marvelous Monarch Medicine

A Monarch Butterfly, Image from
Monarch butterflies are not only beautiful, they are truly marvelous creatures. Consider, for example, their annual migration. The story begins in a fir forest in Mexico, where monarch butterflies from eastern North America blanket the trees. They slow down their biological processes so that they can last through the winter months, and then in February or March, they start the 3,000-mile journey back to Eastern North America.1

However, none of them makes the entire trip. Instead, they lay their eggs and die along the way. The new monarchs that hatch develop into adults and then continue the journey. These monarchs typically live only about two months in total, at which point they lay their eggs and die. This continues until August, when the members of the current generation, none of which has ever seen the fir forest in Mexico, make the trip back there. Individuals often end up landing on the same tree in which their forefathers spent the winter!2 How do these intrepid travelers know where to go? That matter is still under investigation.

It turns out that this migration is just one of the marvels of the monarch. Current research indicates that monarch mothers are also able to medicate their offspring!

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I Get Spam

SPAM, a canned meat product and a very annoying form of advertisement.
(Image from

As anyone who has a blog knows, one of the nuisances associated with blogging is the spammers. They have automated programs that find blogs and then leave “comments” that essentially advertise something. Of course, most bloggers use some sort of anti-spam software to keep the spammers at bay, but no such software is perfect. The software I use, Akismet, is pretty good, but every once in a while, it misidentifies a real comment as spam. Since I don’t want to lose any real comments, I go through the spam folder from time to time.

It’s usually not a big deal. Spams have a pattern to them, so I can usually get through 50 spams in just a few minutes. For example, most of them are short, and they say things like:

yes your portal incomparable ac, (link to the site being advertised)

wow that site class ap, (link to the site being advertised)

whant to say this board class gx, (link to the site being advertised)

wanna say it’s site peerless hs, (link to the site being advertised)

Well, yesterday I was going through my spam folder and saw something that didn’t fit the pattern. Here’s what it said:

HELP! I’m currently being held prisoner by the Russian mafia (link) and being forced to post spam comments on blogs and forums! If you don’t approve this they will kill me. (link) They’re coming back now. Please send help!
HELP! (link)

I think spammers are probably the lowest form of life, or at least they are giving politicians a good run for that position. Nevertheless, I think I could come to like the spammer who thought up that one!

Norwegian Shooter Has Been Banned

If you have been reading this blog for any length of time, you probably recognize the name “Norwegian Shooter.” He is a regular commenter, and even though he relies on character assassination, distraction, and quoting out of context, his comments were entertaining. I don’t know of anyone else who has so clearly demonstrated the irrationality of the atheist point of view.

Unfortunately, because he refused to observe a basic request from me regarding his comportment (most likely as a result of his frustration at being demonstrated wrong time and time again), he has been banned from commenting on this blog.

PZ Myers – A Top RELIGION Blogger

I was reading PZ Myers’s blog today, and I found out that he has been nominated for several blog awards. One of those awards is for the Best Religion Blog, and he seems a bit confused about that. He says:

I’ve been nominated for what?

OK, what is this thing? I’ve been nominated for Best Blog About Stuff, which is OK, but then…Best Celebrity Blogger? Somebody has a very slack definition of “celebrity”. Then there’s Best Religion Blogger — this is an atheist blog…

I am not sure why PZ is confused. He seems to think that his blog shouldn’t be characterized as a “religious” blog because he happens to be an atheist. This, of course, is nonsense. While I know some atheists who are not religious, PZ is most certainly a very, very religious man. Thus, I am not surprised that he has been nominated for the honor of Best Religion Blogger.

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I want to discuss more about Dr. Peter Borger’s excellent posts at Creation Ministries International’s website, because I really think he is onto something. As anyone who is remotely familiar with young-earth creationism knows, God designed specific kinds of organisms. Those organisms were created with the ability to adapt to changing environments, so the organisms we see today are those that descended from the various created kinds. The scientific pursuit dedicated to determining exactly what kinds of organisms were made and how the organisms we see today are related to those created kinds of organisms is called baraminology. This word comes from the Hebrew words bara, which means “created,” and min, which means “kind.”

So how did God give these created kinds the ability to adapt to changing conditions? According to Dr. Borger, He gave them baranomes, which are:

pluripotent, undifferentiated genomes with an intrinsic ability for rapid adaptation and speciation. Baranomes are genomes that contained an excess of genes and variation-inducing genetic elements, and the law of natural preservation shaped individual populations of genomes according to what part of the baranome was used in a particular environment.

In other words, the genome of each created organism was full of many genes, some of which the organism didn’t even need. These “excess genes,” as well as changes produced by the built-in elements that promote genetic change, were then acted on by natural selection (which he calls “natural preservation”) to produce the various organisms that we see today. In the article I linked above, Dr. Borger produces some powerful evidence to support this idea.

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Neanderthals Didn’t…Didn’t…DID Interbreed with People

The original reconstruction of Neanderthal Man (left) and a more realistic reconstruction of a Neanderthal child (right). Both images are in the public domain.

It’s not a really new story, but I was interviewed by an internet radio show about the sequencing of the Neanderthal genome1 and its comparison to present-day people, so I decided I would blog about it as well.

The first thing to discuss is how they sequenced the genome of something that no longer exists. In this case, they used three Neanderthal fossil fragments found in the Vindija cave in Croatia. Fossils (especially those belonging to genus Homo) are rare and very valuable, and this process required the destruction of the fossils, so the three fragments were chosen carefully. They were all fragments that contained very little anatomical information, so anything lost due to the destruction of the fossils was minimal. Based on some pretty good reasoning, it was concluded that the fossil fragments came from three different women, two of which may be relatives. According to scientifically irresponsible dating techniques, these fragments are supposedly around 40 thousand years old.

When they looked at the DNA in the samples they prepared from the bones, they found that between 95 and 99 percent of the DNA came from organisms other than Neanderthals, like bacteria that colonized the fossil. In other words, only 1-5 percent of the DNA found was DNA of interest. How did they get rid of the other 95-99 percent so they could focus on Neanderthal DNA? They used restriction enzymes that tend to cut only bacterial DNA.

So even though this is a remarkable achievement, there are a lot of potential errors in the derived genome sequence. After all, any time the “signal” you are looking at is 20-99 times weaker than the “noise,” it will be hard to determine exactly what the signal is. Keeping in mind these potential errors, what was learned? In short, it was learned that creationists have been right about Neanderthals all along.

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