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Archive for the ‘biology’ tag

YouTube: ‘How To Shut Up Pesky Creationists’

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Written by Jeremy

January 25th, 2012 at 2:15 am

Texas BOE gets something right for once

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Thanks to Robert Luhn from the National Center for Science Education for passing this bit of news along to me.

This issue has been stewing for quite some time, but the Texas Board of Education voted 8-0 this week to use mainstream science textbooks from established publishers in its classroom materials, rather than use materials from International Databases, LLC., that would have included elements of intelligent design, or at least thrown Darwinism and evolution into some question.

Credit: Photograph by: Richard Milner Archive/Handout, Reuters

Here’s some examples of material submitted to the Texas BOE from International Databases (I assume it’s no coincidence that the LLC’s initials are “ID”) claiming that “intelligent input is necessary for life’s origin” and “life on Earth is the result of intelligent causes.”

In an article from The Dallas Morning Star, International Databases president Stephen Sample had this to say:

I am not trying to bring the book of Genesis into science classes. One of the reasons I decided to enter the bidding for these books was to give Texas students a fair and honest treatment of evolution. The scientific community is split on Darwin’s theory, and my material reflects that.

The mainstream scientific community is not “split” on evolution, and it has not even been unsure on the matter in a very long time. Likewise, Darwin’s “theory” is no longer a theory in the more common sense of the word, that is, “a proposed explanation whose status is still conjectural, in contrast to well-established propositions that are regarded as reporting matters of actual fact.”

Evolution is a scientific theory, that is, as close to proclaiming something as fact as we ever get in science. Here’s some light reading on types of “theories.”

See this article for more background on the Texas BOE case.

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Our daily universe: cuttlefish

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As I write this, Georgia Public Broadcasting is running a special on cuttlefish, a bizarre type of mollusc species that, in order to blend into their environment and community with other cuttlefish, it can change the color, skin texture and shape of its outward appearance. It can change to colors from bright neon to green or to any other color in the spectrum. Scientists term their skin “electric skin” because as soon as the color information enters the brain about the environment the animal is in, the information is immediately sent, like an electric impulse, to receptors in the skin. The animal has three hearts that pump blue blood, and it also has one of the largest brains among the invertebrates. Cuttlefish are also treated as food in the Mediterranean and East Asia. Needless to say, this is one of the most fascinating on the planet. Here is the link to GPB’s special.

Credit: Jenny (JennyHuang) from Taipei

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Written by Jeremy

July 19th, 2011 at 7:23 pm

Our daily universe: creationism

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Today, I take an ironic detour from the typical “Our daily universe” postings to offer this:

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Written by Jeremy

April 15th, 2011 at 11:15 pm

‘The lucky ones’

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Following is a profound quote from evolutionary biologist, Richard Dawkins, that I have been contemplating today:

We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Sahara. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively outnumbers the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here. We privileged few who won the lottery of birth against all odds, how dare we whine at our inevitable return to that prior state from which the vast majority have never stirred. — March 2008, U.C. Berkeley

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Written by Jeremy

April 3rd, 2011 at 10:11 pm

The impressive and unimpressive

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If I may borrow a few lines from Christopher Hitchens’ “God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything,” here is the author marveling at the wondrous images brought to us from the Hubble:

If you will devote a little time to studying the staggering photographs taken by the Hubble telescope, you will be scrutinizing things that are far more awesome and mysterious and beautiful — and more chaotic and overwhelming and forbidding — than any creation or “end of days” story. If you read Hawking on the “event horizon,” that theoretical lip of the “black hole” over which one could in theory plunge and see the past and the future (except that one would, regrettably and by definition, not have enough “time”), I shall be surprised if you can still go on gaping at Moses and his unimpressive “burning bush.”

So then, I would suggest, instead, marveling at the wonders within the universe and also at those happening within our own selves at the cellular level. It is quite breathtaking:

And at the organelle level, here is “Powering the Cell: Mitochondria”:

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Written by Jeremy

November 18th, 2010 at 1:00 am

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