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Sunday, July 10, 2005

National Geographic's Top 25 unanswered science questions

A reader kindly draws my attention to the following upcoming info from the July 1 National Geographic. Celebrating its 125th anniversary, Science magazine asks
"Top 25 Unanswered Science Questions", and NG should be on the newsstand now.

Three key questions are

"What is the biological basis of consciousness?"

"If the results don't provide a blinding insight into how consciousness arises from tangles of neurons, they should at least refine the next round of questions," Greg Miller writes in the Science special issue.

Note: Not only do the results not provide any blinding insight, they won't likely provide much insight at all. Consciousness is a really big unsolved mystery.

"Are We Alone In the Universe?"

" .... scientists say the universe is likely full of places where the conditions are ripe for intelligent life to evolve. "The really big question is when, if ever, we'll have the technological wherewithal to reach out and touch such intelligence," writes Richard A. Kerr.

Note: Does that mean there are lots of places truly like Earth? I'd be happy to hear about even one. Queries from real estate agents are welcome.


"How and Where Did Life on Earth Arise?"

"As scientists gather around this origin model, other scientists are focusing on how the lifeless chemistry of a pre-biotic Earth gave rise to a RNA world. Other researchers debate where these primitive building blocks came together. Was it in deep-sea hydrothermal vents, tidal pools, oceans covered in glaciers? Or "perhaps Martian microbes were carried to Earth 4 billon years ago," Carl Zimmer speculates in Science."

Note: In other words, we haven't a clue how life started.

Clearly, National Geographic wants to answer all these questions while assuming that there is no intelligent input into the universe.

The big problem with making an unintelligent origin for life or the universe a criterion in science is two-fold: If the origin did require some input from intelligence, you can never answer the origin question and you can never know why you can't answer the question, because you won't be allowed to talk about the problem in clear terms either.

Blog service note: Did you come here looking for any of the following stories?
- the Privileged Planet film shown at the Smithsonian, go here for an extended review. Please do not raise cain about an "anti-evolution" film without seeing it. If your doctor forbids you to see the film, in case you get too excited, at least read my detailed log of the actual subjects of the film. If you were one of the people who raised cain, ask yourself why you should continue to believe the people who so misled you about the film's actual content ...

- The Catholic Church making clear that it does not support Darwinism and the New York Times having a hard time coming to grips with that. (All this really means is that the Catholic Church realizes that its strength comes from a higher power than the good opinion of the Times.)

- the showing of Privileged Planet at the Smithsonian, go here and here to start, and then this one and this one will bring you up to date.

- the California Academy of Sciences agreeing to correct potentially libellous statements about attorney Larry Caldwell, who thinks that students should know about weaknesses as well as strengths of Darwinian evolution theory, click on the posted link.

- Bill Dembski threatening to sue the Thomas More Law Center in the Dover, Pennsylvania ID case, click on the posted link and check the current daily post for updates. (Note: This dispute has apparently been settled. See the story for details. )
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If you like this blog, check out my book on the intelligent design controversy, By Design or by Chance?. You can read excerpts as well.

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