Custom Search

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Nectocaris appears in "the geological blink of an eye" - evolutionary biologist

In "Reinterpreting Nectocaris as a little Kraken", British physicist David Tyler reflects on new findings about just how swiftly the octopus family appeared, as Nectocaris demonstrates:
Since the studied samples all come from the Middle Cambrian Burgess Shale Formation, Nectocaris "extends the cephalopods' fossil record by over 30 million years".

"The findings make the ancestors of modern squid and octopuses at least 30 million years older. Evolutionary biologist Martin Smith, the main author of the study, told PA news agency that the findings bring cephalopods much closer to the first appearance of complex animals. "We go from very simple pre-Cambrian life-forms to something as complex as a cephalopod in the geological blink of an eye, which illustrates just how quickly evolution can produce complexity," said Mr Smith."

[ ... ]

The above quote from Martin Smith illustrates both the significance for the Cambrian Explosion and the conundrum the evidence provides for evolutionary theory. The problem is that everything occurs "in the geological blink of an eye" - whether it be the origins of the phyla with radically different body plans, or whether it be the origins of different classes within a phylum (such as the origin of cephalopods within the mollusca).
The problem here is that the evolutionary biologists mean "random evolution", which obviously does not account for this speed. Meanwhile,
Cephalopods are not like other molluscs.

Anything but sluggish, they are capable of instant and rapid movement. Far from being mindless filterers or grazers, they are active predators possessing the most advanced nervous system known among invertebrates. Their brain-to-body ratio exceeds that of most vertebrates (although we have not been smart enough to figure out exactly how smart they are). They are masters of camouflage, changing shape, surface pattern, texture and colour in the blink of an eye - and they do have good eyes. When threatened, they escape by means of a built-in hydro jet that can even send them squirting through the air like little rockets on a tail of water."

For more, go here.

The fundamental problem now is that "evolution" is becoming indistinguishable from creation. Darwinian evolutionists appear in no hurry to face up to it.

Note: The image is from Citron.


Sunday afternoon coffee: Did your old science teacher know the Tarot?

From The Scientist (8th October 2010):

Science tarot
A whimsical deck of cards shuffles the worlds of logic and mythology

On a Thursday night in San Francisco, three elaborately costumed women sit in a lively hall giving tarot readings. One wears ornamental snakes in her hair, and another sports a headdress with oversized purple eyeballs. This isn't your everyday divinatory gathering -- they're at the California Academy of Sciences, surrounded by glass cases of stuffed antelopes and lions. And instead of knights and kings, their cards display images of mitochondria, neurotransmitters, and Darwin.

This unusual scene is the launch party of Science Tarot, a collaboration between science communicators, artists, and other creative thinkers who have produced a science-inspired deck of tarot cards. The team has reimagined each traditional card as a scientific concept, using images ranging from bacteria to black holes. While some people are dubious about the idea, others say the project could encourage interest in science and even act as an educational tool.

"I want to get science out in the world in a friendly way, so people who don't necessarily have a relationship to science realize that it's part of their lives," says co-creator Raven Hanna, a San Francisco-based science communicator with a PhD in molecular biophysics and biochemistry.

The project began in 2003 when Hanna was brainstorming ideas for an art installation with Logan Austeja Daniel, a landscape and sound designer, and Martin Azevedo, a writer, filmmaker, and tarot fan who works in biotechnology. They realized "there was not a science tarot deck in the world, and there really should be one," recalls Hanna.
Some worry that students might get the wrong idea of what science is all about.

Now, there's a thought. Used to be that kids thought the world of science for putting a man on the moon. What you think?


Another nugget from the quote mine: In evolutionary biology, "almost no findings are replicated"

Jerry Coyne is always fun. He has the distinction of being a Darwinist who is perfectly honest about the war between Darwinism and any belief in the uniqueness of humans - many examples here, and such relief from any contact with Christian Darwinists.

Recently, he commented on an article in The New Yorker by Jonah Lehrer, “The truth wears off: is there something wrong with the scientific method?”.

Basically, Lehrer says, an initial demonstration in science tends to weaken or disappear when attempts are made to replicate it:
On September 18, 2007, a few dozen neuroscientists, psychiatrists, and drug-company executives gathered in a hotel conference room in Brussels to hear some startling news. It had to do with a class of drugs known as atypical or second-generation antipsychotics, which came on the market in the early nineties. The therapeutic power of the drugs appeared to be steadily falling. A recent study showed an effect that was less than half of that documented in the first trials, in the early nineties. Before the effectiveness of a drug can be confirmed, it must be tested again and again. The test of replicability, as it’s known, is the foundation of modern research. It’s a safeguard for the creep of subjectivity. But now all sorts of well-established, multiply confirmed findings have started to look increasingly uncertain. It’s as if our facts are losing their truth.

Read more here [some more there, but you must pay for the rest].
Coyne writes in "The 'decline effect': can we demonstrate anything in science?"
I tend to agree with Lehrer about studies in my own field of evolutionary biology. Almost no findings are replicated, there’s a premium on publishing positive results, and, unlike some other areas, findings in evolutionary biology don't necessarily build on each other: workers usually don’t have to repeat other people's work as a basis for their own. (I'm speaking here mostly of experimental work, not things like studies of transitional fossils.) Ditto for ecology. Yet that doesn't mean that everything is arbitrary. I’m pretty sure, for instance, that the reason why male interspecific hybrids in Drosophila are sterile while females aren't ("Haldane's rule") reflects genes whose effects on hybrid sterility are recessive. That’s been demonstrated by several workers. And I'm even more sure that humans are more closely related to chimps than to orangutans. Nevertheless, when a single new finding appears, I often find myself wondering if it would stand up if somebody repeated the study, or did it in another species.
Good thing to wonder about. Time more people wondered about that. Breath of fresh air.

Personally, I am most wary of any finding that is breathlessly touted as proving what our moral and intellectual superiors (in their own view) totally believe already, so why anyone even did the study isn't clear. Couldn't they just save a bundle by making the whole thing up? Given that we all must swallow it anyway, or so we are told.

Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy:

Labels: ,

Who links to me?