For those interested, a podcast of the 63rd ASA meeting is now available on iTunes. HT to The Creation of an Evolutionist for pointing this out. The ASA is mainly a theistic evolutionary crowd, but that doesn't mean they don't have good things to say. If nothing else, it is good to know what those who disagree with you actually think in their strongest forms, rather than just passing around straw-man versions of those positions among people who already agree with you.
Progetto Cosmo has a fantastic article which deals with some of the interesting problems that have been encountered in the last century in mathematics, and how those problems relate to intelligence and design.
They document the progress of work in Godel, Chaitin, von Neumann, and others, and show how each of them came to the conclusion that, fundamentally in life (not just biology), more does not come from less. It is a great tour of some of the thinking that is fundamental to design yet is often times ignored in sound-bite debates.
UncommonDescent has a fascinating discussion about the design implications of MicroRNAs. The importance is stated by DaveScot in the comments:
Each specific base pair sequence of length n [i.e. the MicroRNA targets], has a probability of 1/n^4. An 8 pair sequence has a pobability of 1/4^8 or ~ 1/64000. To have two that match I think we need to multiply the probabilities of each. Get the drift? After seeing the same target sequence not a couple but hundreds of times, and in the protein target groups that give the right combinations for function, doesn’t design spring to your mind?
There is almost too much going on these days to keep up with! I'll try to let you in on some of the craziness:
A lot of people have been discussing front-loading. Here's some of the links:
I've found several blogs. These two appear to be very interesting indeed:
Currently in Creationism there are two puzzling issues with regards to the fossil record:
The fossil record of the flood strata is fairly easy to understand if we look at it as consecutive habitats which get washed away. The one big problem with this theory is that there is an entire biome (the mammals) that appears to be missing. There have been many possibilities considered for this one, including:
Sadly, this is not actually the topic of this post, I just thought I'd throw it in for free :)
After the flood (if you view the end of the flood as the K/T boundary), the fossil record is fairly consistent with the idea of a post-flood repopulation of the earth. The marsupials seem to be the fastest to get anywhere, with the placentals being slower but more dominating.
So why are the apes consistently before humans in the fossil record? Kurt Wise's take on this - it's because of Babel. After the flood the animals were obedient - they spread out and repopulated the earth. The humans, however, were not obedient. They stayed in the same spot at Babel. This caused the animals to have a very large head-start in repopulating the earth, which is one of the reasons why apes always precede humans in the fossil record, and why the humans appear to be the only baramin whose fossil record does not extend back to the flood.
Osaka University has some really great stuff on the bacterial flagellum:
I also found a book online called Origins and Destiny: A Scientist Examines God's Handiwork. It's not fantastic, but it is decent. I was actually searching for some of his other work and had no idea that he had this book, nor that it was online for free. Anway, take a look at it if you're interested.
Some new research has given us another possible reason for Galileo's trial - basically that the Tuscan Duke of Medici refused to aid Rome in its war efforts against France, and so Pope Urban VIII punished the Duke by arresting Galileo, who was the Duke's personal friend. So why is this theory plausible? It is the reason given in the first biography of Galileo - only 20 years after his death.
What's really good to know is that the science-vs-religion aspect is no longer in vogue among scholars:
Not that modern scholars give much credence to the traditional science-vs.-religion interpretation of the trial. Most Galilean researchers today agree that politics played a much bigger role than religious closed-mindedness, but there is spirited disagreement about the specifics. Some think the pope was angry at being parodied by Galileo's character Simplicius in Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems. Other scholars have suggested that church leaders felt Galileo had tricked them into granting him a license to write the book by not revealing its Copernican leanings. But "Salusbury's explanation is kind of refreshingly new," Wilding says.
So now, at the very least, we have agreement that even Galileo's own contemporaries did not view the trial as being science-vs-religion, but rather more of a political problem.
I also found another book for free online that I will never have time to read - The Computational Beauty of Nature.
Note to self - need to read The Onset of Selection (sorry - this blog is better-catalogued than my bookmarks on my browser)
Random questions for my readers:
Most people don't understand the problems of the production of variability in biology (or actually in any complex system), and especially how it relates to Intelligent Design. Here are some links to my current work on the subject:
Several of our friends at Bryan College are working on problems about natural evil - how did predation come about in a world that was supposed to be "very good"? Currently, they are looking at nematocysts as killing machines - delivering toxins that stun or kill the victim.
One thought was that the nematocysts were originally less toxic - perhaps delivering something less than a killing blow. One thought was that perhaps symbiotic relationships might affect the toxicity of the sting. As a model system, the Bryan College team began by studying the feeding habits of green hydra, who use nematocysts to stun and kill their prey before eating them. They were fed Sea Monkeys (Artemia) and their feeding patterns were observed. Unfortunately, the toxins were too toxic to the Artemia to be of use in toxicity assays, but they managed to garner some cool Hydra feeding videos in the process. All of the videos are sped up in order to make it a little more exciting. However, for a true-speed video, here is a Hydra swallow in real-time.
Anyway, many thanks to the BryanCORE guys for lending me the videos! For more information, you can read the research abstract (it is abstract C2).
Bryan Center for Origins Research announced at the BSG conference the availability of the new CELD database for searching through Creation-oriented literature and abstracts. Think of it as kind of like Pubmed for Creationists. I believe it goes back to the 1800s for some of the indexed journals. They have their full journal list available.
Anyway, happy searching!