Geoscience Research Institute

News Archives – July-Dec 2012

DISCLAIMER:  The following links do not necessarily represent endorsement by the Geoscience Research Institute, but are meant to provide information from a wide range of viewpoints and expertise on scientific issues, religious issues, and the interface between the two, particularly in the area of creation and evolution.


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  • How Cichlids Diversify / 2 November 2012 / M. Emília Santos and Walter Salzburger / Science, v.338, n.6107, p.619-621 — the extreme diversity of cichlid fishes in East Africa helps to elucidate how and why organisms diversify
  • Flying Dinos and Baby Birds Offer New Clues About How Avians Took Wing / 2 November 2012 / Michael Balter / Science, v.338, n.6107, p.591-592 — at a meeting of vertebrate paleontologists last month, researchers pondered fresh clues about the origins of flight from studies of feathered dinosaurs and baby birds
  • Convictions Leave Italy’s Civil Protection in Chaos / 2 November 2012 / Edwin Cartlidge / Science, v.338, n.6107, p.589-590 — Italy’s government lacks experts to advise it on natural hazards following the conviction last week of six scientists and a government official for advice they gave ahead of the deadly earthquake in L’Aquila in 2009
    • L’Aquila verdict row grows / 1 November 2012 / Nicola Nosengo / Nature, v.491, p.15-16 — global backlash greets sentencing of Italian scientists who assessed earthquake risk
    • Bugged phone deepens controversy over Italian quake / 31 October 2012 / New Scientist, n.2889, p.5 — six scientists were convicted for manslaughter for failing to communicate earthquake risks, but wiretapped conversations hint at further problems
  • Palaeoflamingo nest found / 1 November 2012 / Nature, v.491, p.11
  • Galaxies could give glimpse of the instant time began / 31 October 2012 / Stephen Battersby / New Scientist, n.2889, p.9 — quantum fluctuations stretched out in the universe’s first moments may still be detectable in the pattern of galactic clusters today
  • Flying fish fossils hint at ancient evolution / 31 October 2012 / Hannah Krakauer / New Scientist, n.2889, p.16 — new fossils found in China show that flying fish were evading predators millions of years earlier than we thought
  • Prehistoric Transylvanian mammal had blood-red teeth / 31 October 2012 / Jeff Hecht / New Scientist, n.2889, p.17 — just in time for Halloween, we bring you Barbatodon transylvanicus, a mammal that scurried beneath the feet of dinosaurs and had blood-red tooth enamel
  • Artificial intelligence: Early ambitions / 31 October 2012 / Peter Norvig / New Scientist, n.2889 — we have long imagined machines that can reason and learn as well as a human can, but building them has turned out to be surprisingly difficult
  • Artificial intelligence: Everyday AI / 31 October 2012 / Peter Norvig / New Scientist, n.2889 — AIs route phone calls, approve credit card transactions, prevent fraud, trade stocks, recognise faces, and even help doctors interpret test results
  • Earth: According to the Word of God / Stephen LeBrun

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SEPTEMBER 30

  • Supernova Dating and Classification Is Not Simple / September 30, 2012 / Creation-Evolution Headlines — Bang! goes a star. Watch how fast its contents move, and you know the date, right? Watch its light curve, and you know the type, right?
  • News to Note / September 29, 2012 / Elizabeth Mitchell / Answers in Genesis — a weekly feature examining news from the biblical viewpoint
  • Cause test could end up in court / 28 September 2012 / New Scientist, n.2884, p.3 — Proving the cause of something is notoriously difficult. A new test claims to be able to find such causes, and it might end up in the courtroom very quickly.
  • Will Elitist Science Lead to Mind Control? / September 27, 2012 / Creation-Evolution Headlines — when you can’t convince the public, try zapping or manipulating them
  • Poison postures / 27 September 2012 / Nature, v.489, p.474 — researchers working on controversial topics must take care how they promote their results
  • Evolution: How the unicorn got its horn / 27 September 2012 / Heather Hendrickson and Paul B. Rainey / Nature, v.489, p.504–505
  • Jazz-singing robot could shed light on consciousness / 27 September 2012 / Douglas Heaven / New Scientist, n.2884, p.18-19 — a robot that is being taught to sing duets with humans could reveal the nature of creativity, thought to be linked to consciousness
  • Earth cracking up under Indian Ocean / 26 September 2012 / Colin Barras / New Scientist, n.2884, p.10 — the whole world shuddered in April this year as Earth’s crust began the difficult process of breaking a tectonic plate
  • Oldest dental filling is found in a Stone Age tooth / 26 September 2012 / New Scientist, n.2884, p.14 — a beeswax cap that was applied 6500 years ago to a cracked canine adds to evidence that prehistoric humans were competent dentists
  • Reality: ineffable, but impossible to forsake / 26 September 2012 / New Scientist, n.2884, p.3 — whatever your definition of reality, you can’t avoid it
    • Reality: The definition / 1 October 2012 / Jan Westerhoff / New Scientist, n.2884, p.34-35 — even trying to define what we mean by “reality” is fraught with difficulty
    • Reality: The bedrock of it all / 1 October 2012 / Valerie Jamieson / New Scientist, n.2884, p.36 — can we explain reality purely in terms of matter and energy
    • Reality: How can we know it exists? / 1 October 2012 / Mike Holderness / New Scientist, n.2884, p.45 — proving whether or not reality is an illusion is surprisingly difficult
    • Reality: The future / 1 October 2012 / Richard Webb / New Scientist, n.2884, p.47 — It’s possible that we live in fundamental reality. Future beings almost certainly won’t.
    • Reality: Is matter real? / 26 September 2012 / Jan Westerhoff / New Scientist, n.2884, p.37-46 — It’s relatively easy to demonstrate what physical reality isn’t. It is much harder to work out what it is.
    • Reality: How does consciousness fit in? / 26 September 2012 / Michael Brooks / New Scientist, n.2884, p.42-43 — Some theories hold that reality and consciousness are one and the same. Is the universe really all inside your head.
  • Intolerance Grows for Skeptics of Consensus Science in Spite of Data / September 26, 2012 / Creation-Evolution Headlines — If you question evolution or man-caused global warming, be prepared for a smear. If you are a Christian, be prepared for hate. But the skeptics may have the facts on their side.
  • Cambrian Soft Animal Survived Unchanged 200 Million Years / September 25, 2012 / Creation-Evolution Headlines — a fossil soft-bodied lobopodian has been found in Carboniferous strata in Illinois
  • Earliest Galaxy Points Out Flaws in Secular Cosmology / September 23, 2012 / Creation-Evolution Headlines — more evidence points to a fully-formed universe very soon after the beginning

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  • Animals are conscious and should be treated as such / 24 September 2012 / Marc Bekoff / New Scientist, n.2883, p.24-25 — now that scientists have belatedly declared that mammals, birds and many other animals are conscious, it is time for society to act
  • News to Note / September 22, 2012 / Elizabeth Mitchell / Answers in Genesis — a weekly feature examining news from the biblical viewpoint
  • Warped Light Reveals Infant Galaxy on the Brink of the ‘Cosmic Dawn’ / 21 September 2012 / Yudhijit Bhattacharjee / Science, v.337, n.6101, p.1442 — Astronomers have recently spotted a galaxy dating back to a mere 500 million years after the big bang. It sets a new record for most distant object sighted by astronomers.
  • Did Neandertals Truly Bury Their Dead? / 21 September 2012 / Michael Balter / Science, v.337, n.6101, p.1443-1444 — new excavations in France are reexamining whether Neandertals buried their dead, an issue that many researchers had long thought was itself dead and buried
  • Spontaneous giving and calculated greed / 20 September 2012 / David G. Rand, Joshua D. Greene, and Martin A. Nowak / Nature, v.489, p.427-430 — economic games are used to investigate the cognitive mechanisms underlying cooperative behaviour, and show that intuition supports cooperation in social dilemmas, whereas reflection can undermine these cooperative impulses
  • Retraction record rocks community / 20 September 2012 / David Cyranoski / Nature, v.489, p.346-347 — anaesthesiology tries to move on after fraud investigations
    • Through the gaps / 20 September 2012 / Nature, v.489, p.335 — A 20-year campaign of scientific fraud says as much about the research community as it does about the perpetrator. The system that allowed such deception to continue must be reformed.
  • Studies slow the human DNA clock / 20 September 2012 / Ewen Callaway / Nature, v.489, p.343-344 — revised estimates of mutation rates bring genetic accounts of human prehistory into line with archaeological data
  • Extreme weather / 20 September 2012 / Nature, v.489, p.335-336 — better models are needed before exceptional events can be reliably linked to global warming
  • Climate change determined humanity’s global conquest / 19 September 2012 / Michael Marshall / New Scientist, n.2883, p.12 — modern humans only made it out of Africa when the changing climate made the Arabian desert passable — the rest of our migrations were climate-dependent too
  • Truth decay: The half-life of facts / 19 September 2012 / Samuel Arbesman / New Scientist, n.2883, p.36-39 — much of what we believe to be factual has an expiration date, but the good news is that we can see it coming
  • Warmonger or idealist: the roots of human conflict / 19 September 2012 / Dan Jones / New Scientist, n.2883, p.40-43 — Homo sapiens is not a particularly violent species — we just have more worth fighting for than other animals
  • Pristine Wood Found in Diamond Crater / September 19, 2012 / Creation-Evolution Headlines — a kimberlite crater in Canada, said to be 53 million years old, yielded exquisitely preserved unfossilized wood
  • Man Is Man and Ape Is Ape: The Gulf Widens / September 18, 2012 / Creation-Evolution Headlines — now that “human ancestors” from 300,000 years ago show comparable mental acuity to ours, the gradual upward slope to man looks more like a cliff
  • Bob Ballard Throws Out Textbooks for a Living / September 17, 2012 / Creation-Evolution Headlines — an interview with oceanographer Bob Ballard shows him taking glee at proving the scientific consensus wrong
  • Evolutionary Fish Story / September 16, 2012 / Creation-Evolution Headlines — similar-looking blind fish couldn’t have swum across the world, so did they evolve separately
  • News to Note / September 15, 2012 / Elizabeth Mitchell / Answers in Genesis — a weekly feature examining news from the biblical viewpoint
  • Geological Dates Collapse / September 13, 2012 / Creation-Evolution Headlines — two papers in Geology this month cast serious doubt on assumptions used to date rocks.
  • If Morality Evolved, Is It Righteous? / September 12, 2012 / Creation-Evolution Headlines — evolutionists are determined to keep morality from succeeding as a defeater for natural selection.
  • Jerusalem Cistern Found from First Temple Era / September 10, 2012 / Creation-Evolution Headlines — a huge cistern near the Temple Mount has been found that was part of Solomon’s Temple complex
  • ENCODE Study Forces Evolutionists to Retract “Junk DNA” Myth / September 6, 2012 / Creation-Evolution Headlines — at least 80% of the human genome is functional, scientists now say, based on a genetic survey called ENCODE that may force reassessment of what a gene is
  • The oldest evidence of bioturbation on Earth / May 2012 / Vladimir Rogov, et al. / Geology, v.40, n.5, p.395-398

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  • Is Evolutionary Science in Conflict with Biblical Christianity? / September 7, 2012 / James Crocker / St James Anglican Church (Newport Beach, CA)
  • Weather Gone Wild / September 2012 / Peter Miller / National Geographic — rains that are almost biblical, heat waves that don’t end, tornadoes that strike in savage swarms — there’s been a change in the weather lately
  • Mountains in the Sea / September 2012 / Gregory S. Stone / National Geographic — Hundreds of thousands of seamounts rise from Earth’s ocean floor. Life has been explored on barely 300.
  • The South Pole Telescope / August 26, 2012
  • From the mouths of molluscs — ancient snail relative found / August 22, 2012 / Yahoo! News
  • 5 Ways to Leave Your Body / August 20, 2012 / Sherry Baker / Discover Magazine — Want to teleport through space or travel the world at will? Out-of-body technology can alter your sense of place and set you free.
  • The Voyage to Find Out How Earth Was Born / August 11, 2012 / Tim Folger / Discover Magazine — a daredevil spacecraft is giving us our first look at the asteroid Vesta — a unique survivor from the demolition derby that created our own celestial home
  • Bring Ancient Voices Back to Life / August 9, 2012 / Jill Neimark / Discover Magazine — rebuilding the vocal tracts of extinct creatures could let us hear long-lost sounds: an ancient whale song, the cries of our ancestors
  • This Is What Earth Will Look Like in 100,000,000 AD / August 6, 2012 / Paul Raeburn / Discover Magazine — to map the supercontinent of the future, geologists first had to solve a vexing magnetic riddle
  • Life in an Icy Inferno / July 2012 / Olivia Judson / National Geographic — in the topsy-turvy world of Antarctica’s Mt. Erebus, we’ve come to one of the coldest spots on Earth to search for beings that thrive in blistering heat
  • Finally, a Home Where You Can Enjoy the Post-Apocalypse / June 13, 2012 / D. C. Stewart / Discover Magazine — when the above-ground world is suffering through some form of cataclysm, you’ll be living it up in a hardened bunker under the Kansas soil
  • Is War Inevitable? / June 12, 2012 / E. O. Wilson / Discover Magazine — human evolution has been defined by conflict … war is embedded in our very nature
    • No, War Is Not Inevitable / June 12, 2012 / John Horgan / Discover Magazine — science writer Horgan begs to disagree with E. O. Wilson, saying that war is a cultural development, not an indelible part of our evolutionary heritage

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  • A New Face Reveals Multiple Lineages Alive at the Dawn of Our Genus Homo / 10 August 2012 / Ann Gibbons / Science, v.337, n.6095, p.635 — after 40 years of searching, an international team of researchers has found fossils of a face and two jawbones that they say belong to the same species as the mysterious skull of Homo rudolfensis
  • Neandertal Champion Defends the Reputation of Our Closest Cousins / 10 August 2012 / Michael Balter / Science, v.337, n. 6095, p.642-643 — archaeologist João Zilhão and his critics trade charges over who truly invented artifacts at European sites — and whether Neandertals were “modern”
  • Ice Age Tools Hint at 40,000 Years of Bushman Culture / 3 August 2012 / Michael Balter / Science, v.337, n.6094, p.512 — archaeologists studying a South African cave say they have found 44,000-year-old artifacts — including bone tools and poisoned arrowheads — nearly identical to those still in use by hunter-gatherers
  • Higgs Boson Makes Its Debut After Decades-Long Search / 13 July 2012 / Adrian Cho / Science, v.337, n.6091, p.141-143 — last week’s announcement that physicists at the European particle physics laboratory, CERN, had discovered the Higgs boson could mark the end of the road for particle physics
  • Genes Suggest Three Groups Peopled the New World / 13 July 2012 / Ann Gibbons / Science, v.337, n.6091, p.144 — the most comprehensive genetic study to date concludes that Native Americans descend from at least three groups of ancestors from Asia, although these groups intermingled extensively once in the New World
  • Prominent Turkish Academic Who Advocated Secular Reforms Arrested / 6 July 2012 / Yudhijit Bhattacharjee / Science, v.337, n.6090, p.23 — the former head of Turkey’s Council of Higher Education, Kemal Gürüz, has been arrested as part of an inquiry by Turkey’s conservative government into what’s known as the “postmodern coup” of 1997
  • Bilaterian Burrows and Grazing Behavior at >585 Million Years Ago / 29 June 2012 / Ernesto Pecoits, Kurt O. Konhauser, Natalie R. Aubet, Larry M. Heaman, Gerardo Veroslavsky, Richard A. Stern, and Murray K. Gingras / Science, v.336, n.6089, p.1693-1696 — Neoproterozoic trace fossils from Uruguay indicate that early animals appeared at a time between global glaciations
    • Old and Groovy / 29 June 2012 / Mary L. Droser and James G. Gehling / Science, v.336, n.6089, p.1646-1647 — the discovery of furrowed and backfilled trace fossils, claimed to be at least 585 million years old, raises questions about their origins
  • Early Pottery at 20,000 Years Ago in Xianrendong Cave, China / 29 June 2012 / Xiaohong Wu, Chi Zhang, Paul Goldberg, David Cohen, Yan Pan, Trina Arpin, and Ofer Bar-Yosef / Science, v.336, n.6089, p.1696-1700 — shards from a cave in China imply that humans had invented pottery and used it for cooking by about 20,000 years ago
    • On the Invention of Pottery / 29 June 2012 / Gideon Shelach / Science, v.336, n.6089, p.1644-1645 — what was the function of early Asian pottery, which predates the invention of agriculture by about 10,000 years
  • Early Dates for Artistic Europeans / 1 June 2012 / Michael Balter / Science, v.336, n.6085, p.1086-1087 — new radiocarbon dates of artworks found in a cave in southwest Germany suggest to some researchers that certain artistic behaviors emerged first in Europe rather than Africa
  • What Is Dark Energy? / 1 June 2012 / Adrian Cho / Science, v.336, n.6085, p.1090-1091 — the nature of the “dark energy” that is causing the expansion of the universe to accelerate is now perhaps the most profound mystery in cosmology and astrophysics, and it may remain forever so
  • What’s the Source of the Most Energetic Cosmic Rays? / 1 June 2012 / Daniel Clery / Science, v.336, n.6085, p.1096-1097 — data taken from detectors in the past few years have provided some clues to the origin of the highest energy cosmic rays but, as yet, no smoking gun
  • Why Is the Solar System So Bizarre? / 1 June 2012 / Richard A. Kerr / Science, v.336, n.6085, p.1098 — enigmas such as Mercury’s makeup (mostly iron core, with a thin veneer of rock) and Uranus’s skewed magnetic field continue to bedevil planetary scientists, and no tidy resolution is in sight
  • A Rogue Earthquake Off Sumatra / 1 June 2012 / Jeffrey J. McGuire and Gregory C. Beroza / Science, v.336, n.6085, p.1118-1119 — a magnitude 8.6 strike-slip earthquake within an oceanic plate raises fundamental questions about earthquake physics
  • Evolution of a Vertebrate Social Decision-Making Network / 1 June 2012 / Lauren A. O’Connell and Hans A. Hofmann / Science, v.336, n.6085, p.1154-1157 — across vertebrates, behaviorally relevant brain regions are remarkably conserved over 450 million years of evolution
  • The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion / March 2012 / Jonathan Haidt / Pantheon (Random House) — see also Amazon
  • Golden Holocaust: Origins of the Cigarette Catastrophe and the Case for Abolition / February 2012 / Robert N. Proctor / University of California Press — see also Amazon
    • Big Tobacco Indicts Itself / 27 July 2012 / Thomas H. Brandon / Science, v.337, n.6093, p.412-413 — drawing on formerly secret industry records, Proctor explores how cigarettes became the most widely used drug on the planet — and argues for a ban on their manufacture and sale
    • Tobacco industry dying? Not so fast, says Stanford expert / December 12, 2011 / Cynthia Haven / Stanford Report — Smoking is not going away. Worldwide the tobacco industry continues to create toxic products that cause not just lung cancer but also cataracts, ankle fractures, early onset menopause, spontaneous abortion and erectile dysfunction, among other maladies.
    • 750 Pages of Tobacco Conspiracy / December 7, 2011 / YouTube

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