Think Fast: News Briefs

first_imgOf the many news items that cross the CEH desk, many are noteworthy but go unreported due to lack of time.  Here are a few that deserve honorable mention lest they pass into oblivion.Cosmology: Dark future – Several sources like Science Now and commented on the dark future of the universe if cosmic acceleration continues to tear the universe apart.  It’s not just a heat death any more.  Hundreds of billions of years from now, the story goes, galaxies will recede from our horizon, making us feel very alone before we freeze to death.  Christians might find it interesting to compare this eschatology with their own.Astronomy: Venerable star – Is this star really 13.2 billion years old?  That’s what scientists at ESA said (see also National Geographic).  They called a star in our Milky Way a “galactic fossil” and claim it was born not long after the big bang.  The fact that it contains heavy elements means that, according to theory, even earlier stars had to form first, live, die and explode to provide the ingredients.  The dating methods are indirect, naturally.  Stars don’t have birth certificates.  Nobody seemed to question the estimate.Cell biology: Tar babies – Imagine cells that can thrive in gooey asphalt.  That’s what biologists have found in the famed La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles, reported EurekAlert.Zoology: Frog pharmacy – Why would God create highly poisonous frogs?  Maybe He didn’t.  An article on National Geographic says that the poison on frog skin, made of alkaloids, comes from mites they eat.  Certain species of frogs seem to have been able to tolerate the alkaloids and shuttle them onto their skin.  The mites pick up the alkaloids from leaf litter.  Some frogs end up tasting bitter, and some are highly poisonous.  The toxicity, therefore, may have been a consequence of a natural concentrating process that did not add any new information to the genome of the frogs or the mites.    In a related story, National Geographic said that juices in frog skin might provide an ideal bug repellant.  The reporter wrote, “‘frog skin is really a portable pharmacy’ full of chemicals for keeping the amphibians healthy.”Planetary science:  Enceladus friction – a new theory for how Enceladus produces geysers was offered in Nature and echoed in EurekAlert, National Geographic and  The idea is that tidal forces open and close the “tiger stripes” or cracks in the southern hemisphere, producing heat like rubbing your hands together.  This might permit a geysering mechanism without water (which, National Geographic lamented, might decrease the odds for life).  The paper did not address how long this mechanism could last, nor why the other nearby moons are not so affected.Genetics: Music of the proteins – Someone at UCLA decided to put proteins to music, reported EurekAlert.  The website allows visitors to download MP3 files and listen to them.  Amino acids were assigned chord values and the sequences were played in tune.  Listeners can judge whether this makes any scientific sense.Climate: Global historic warming – Evidence for a “megadrought” in the 12th century has been deduced from tree rings in the Colorado Plateau, reported EurekAlert.  The U of Arizona researcher was surprised by how deep and long it lasted.  He said it “could be an analogue for what we could expect in a warmer world.”  It is doubtful the American Indians were burning coal and gasoline at the time, so don’t blame them.  Incidentally, prolonged droughts have been suggested as reasons for the decline of the Anasazi.  Their cliffside remains scattered throughout the southwestern United States were left abandoned en masse.Marine biology: Cold treasure trove – Scientists were amazed to find a rich, diverse ecology under Antarctic ice.  The Live Science article was published widely.  Evolutionists thought that harsh environments would produce less biodiversity.  See also the National Geographic report with pictures.Marine biology: – Demise greatly exaggerated – Another Coelacanth was pulled up in Indonesia, reported PhysOrg.  This classic living fossil species that was thought to have gone extinct in the time of the dinosaurs was found alive in 1938.  Since coelacanths live in deep, cold waters, they normally do not survive after capture for more than a couple of hours.  This one lived 17 hours.  Their bony fins, once thought to be evolving into limbs for land travel, are used for swimming: “The powerful predator is highly mobile with limb-like fins, and it gives birth to live young rather than laying eggs.”  The report in National Geographic has a photo of the fish and fisherman.This shows just a little of the material that must be sifted to bring you Creation-Evolution Headlines daily.  For every article reported, typically several dozen others are examined.  Every once in awhile we need to “clear the desk” to prepare for new stories coming in.  We hope you appreciate this service; 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