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Thursday, June 04, 2009

Podcasts and a reading from interesting blogs: Perfection in biology?

The "evil" Discovery Institute's Nota Bene tells me:

What Darwinists Have to Grapple With: Physicists See Perfection in Biology

The scientists at Biologic Institute have noticed something sure to challenge and trouble Darwinian biologists: physicists are recognizing perfection as a principle in biology.

When we think of simple, elegant, unifying principles in science, we think of physics. It’s not surprising then that physicists who examine living systems are looking for principles of this kind.

And it seems they have found one. Simply stated, it is that biological processes tend to be optimal in cases where this can be tested.

Life’s complexity can make it hard to pinpoint what “optimal” means, but sometimes physical limits provide a crisp definition. Because these limits cannot possibly be exceeded, they serve as an objective standard of perfection. Interestingly, in cases where it is clearly beneficial to edge right up to this standard, that’s exactly what life seems to do.

For decades enzymologists have recognized that certain enzymes are catalytically perfect—meaning that they process reactant molecules as rapidly as these molecules can reach them by diffusion. That hinted at a principle of physical perfection in biology, but no one anticipated its breadth until recently.

Read the rest at Biologic's Perspectives blog.

(Quite honestly, having seen how long people live in a generally non-insane environment like Canada, I am a hard sell for nonsense about the imperfections of nature. I suspect that people - by act or omission - kill far more people than nature does, at present.)

Podcasts from the same evil source:

1. The Line Through the Heart: Natural Law and J. Budziszewski

Click here to listen.

On this episode of ID the Future Logan Gage interviews CSC fellow J. Budziszewski on his new book, The Line Through the Heart: Natural Law as Fact, Theory, and Sign of Contradiction. What is Natural Law? Listen in as Dr. Budziszewski explains how humans as rational creatures differ from animals driven by instinct, and the evidence for "a deep structure to the human moral intellect" or design in Natural Law.

2. Benjamin Wiker on Darwin, the Man and the Myth

Click here to listen.

On this episode of ID the Future, Logan Gage interviews Dr. Benjamin Wiker, author of The Darwin Myth: The Life and Lies of Charles Darwin.

What were Darwin's actual religious and philosophical views? Are atheists abusing Darwin's theory when they say Darwinism supports their atheist belief? Listen in as Dr. Wiker answers and explains the natural outgrowth of Social Darwinism from Darwin's theory.

Listen to previous IDTF episodes featuring Dr. Wiker here and here.

(Time someone started to talk about the ol' Brit toff's evasions and omissions - and the unspeakable hagiographies of his current supporters.)

Quantum computing: US to axe work?

In Nature (3 June 2009 Nature459, 625 (2009) | doi:10.1038/459625a), we we learn from Sharon Weinberger about "Spooky research cuts: US intelligence agency axes funding for work on quantum computing":
Two leading researchers in quantum computing have had their funds cut off by a US intelligence-research agency in what seems to be an administrative technicality. The controversy has underscored some scientists' fears that the field in the United States is too dependent on the spy world for funding.
Hmmm. Not sure what to think. It'll be interesting to see how George W. Bush gets blamed for this one.

Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy:


Uncommon Descent Contest Question 5: Darwinian fairy tales: Why middle-aged men have shiny scalps

Here at Robert Murphy's "Free Advice" blog, a post called - advisedly - Just-So Darwinism:
"Art and hairlessness co-evolved because they fed off each other. The girl whose skin was least hairy could paint it, tattoo it, decorate it and clothe it more adventurously than could her furry sisters. So she got more and better men. And in consequence her children - even the males, though to a lesser degree - lost their hair too. We had become the naked ape."

OK, you got that? Remember, the whole point of this story is to explain why older men with thinning hair are actually attractive to young women (despite the myths that Rogaine and others would have you believe, and despite all those male models with full heads of hair). So to do that, the story starts out with why evolution made women lose their (body) hair, which then caused their male offspring to lose their (body and scalp?) hair, even though the original motivation (sexual selection a la the peacock) never caused female baldness to become prevalent.
Hat tip: Darwinian Tales (by "Vox Day"), who kindly wrote to say, "Knowing of your intense interest in the "big bazooms" theory [of evolution], I think you'll enjoy this."

Yes, it is true. I collect stupid theories (like the sexy baldy and the "big bazooms") theory of evolution, the way some people collect ceramic busts of Elvis Presley, not because they admire them but because they are intrigued by the fact that anyone, anywhere would actually admire them.
The biology of baldness is complex. Some theorists believe that it renders older men so unattractive that - rather than sowing additional wild oats - they are forced to spend more time with their families and so help their children to survive. But the myriad Becky Sharps [gold digggers] in literature and history help to disprove that theory.

[ ... ]

Terence Kealey is vice-chancellor of Buckingham University
It is a bad sign when an educated person emits this rubbish.

Years ago, I listened to a gynecologist explain during a panel discussion that hair provides sexual excitement, hence "evolution" retains pubic hair. Was she right? Wrong? Who cares?*

This much I know is true: Pop Darwinism is vastly more ridiculous than the real kind. What is interesting is that so few serious Darwinists wish to cut the pop science loose.

So, for a year's free subscription to (decidedly not yer granny's explanation of why younger Christians are getting tired of all this materialist rubbish, but a more plausible one) plus free, fun back issues, here's the contest question:

What is the down side for serious Darwinists to just cutting the "evolutionary psychology" psychodrama loose, and focusing on what real science can say about evolution?
Truth in Advertising: I write the Deprogram column for Salvo. (I have no ties to any of the other contest prize sponsors.) I don't deal only in ID at Salvo; I deprogram people from many health nut moments as well.

Get writing and have fun! You must go here to Uncommon Descent to register to comment. Here are the contest rules:

*Fact (that will save you thousands of dollars of therapy, medical treatments, and/or legal fees): If you are a guy and want a girl to be nice to you, just try being consistently nice to her. If that doesn't work, move on. Keep being consistently nice to girls until you find one who really appreciates that, and chances are you have found your match. Okay, maybe not - but your chances with her are waaaaaay better than they are with the girl who just wants a guy to be in a big fight with.

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