Weekend Coffee: September 6

Coffee

• This week, Bob McDonnell, a.k.a Virginia's former "Governor Ultrasound", was convicted by a jury on multiple counts of corruption. The schadenfreude-y part is that McDonnell ran for office as a religious-right, pro-marriage, Christian-family-values candidate, whereas his defense at trial basically consisted of arguing that his own marriage was a shambles and that everything he said on the campaign trail was a lie.• In weird and cool biology news: two unclassifiable animal species … [Read more...]

Repost: The Age of Wonder

HumanityInSpace

[Author's Note: I'm reposting some old favorites while I'm away on vacation this week. This post was originally from November 2008.]If you search the internet, it's not hard to find New Agers and others who think that the dawning of the age of reason was a mistake. They envision a more "holistic" approach, one that properly pays heed to the mystery and complexity of existence, and castigate science for being cold, unfeeling, heartless in its probing, reductionist scrutiny of the natural … [Read more...]

TV Review: Cosmos, Episode 2

102-011-cosmos-some-of-the-things-molecules-do-large-photo-960x540

(I've decided to review the new Cosmos series hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson that's airing on Fox. I haven't reviewed the first episode yet, but I'll return to it later. If you missed it, you can stream full episodes online.)Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, Episode 2, "Some of the Things That Molecules Do"If I had to pick one word to describe this episode, it'd be "overstuffed". Granted, the series has a huge amount of territory to cover; and unlike the original Cosmos, which aired on PBS, … [Read more...]

On the Morality of: De-Extinction

Dolly

I was fascinated by a lengthy article last week on "de-extinction", the emerging science of cloning extinct species back to life. While we almost certainly won't be recreating dinosaurs Jurassic Park style, there are many vanished animals for which we have well-preserved specimens from which we could extract genetic material, from passenger pigeons to woolly mammoths, dodos to thylacines (or even the Australian gastric brooding frog, a bizarre species that gestates its young in its stomach). … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: November 9

Coffee

• Following the resignation of the previous team, CFI has announced the new hosts of their podcast Point of Inquiry, one of whom is my friend Lindsay Beyerstein. Congratulations!• This week's entry in the WTF Department: Richard Cohen, an awful columnist for the Washington Post, saw the movie 12 Years a Slave and was shocked to learn how bad slavery was. I wish I were kidding about that.• Three cheers for science! A new antiviral therapy can cure hepatitis C without a … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: The Promise of In Vitro Meat

CoffeeWithBacon

Earlier this month, the first ever lab-grown hamburger was eaten at a taste test in London. The tasters' reports were guardedly positive:Upon tasting the burger, Austrian food researcher Ms Ruetzler said: "I was expecting the texture to be more soft... there is quite some intense taste; it's close to meat, but it's not that juicy. The consistency is perfect, but I miss salt and pepper."This is meat to me. It's not falling apart."Food writer Mr Schonwald said: "The mouthfeel is like … [Read more...]

Evolution Is Still Happening: Beneficial Mutations in Humans

One of my all-time most popular posts on Daylight Atheism, "The Scars of Evolution", lists some of the kludges, hacks and jury-rigs left behind in the human genome, the telltale signature of evolution. The vestigial structures and design compromises still found in human bodies are tangible evidence that our species has a long evolutionary history and didn't just pop into existence ex nihilo. But a different line of evidence comes in the form of ongoing mutations in the human gene pool. Most … [Read more...]

The Language of God: Deeper DNA Comparisons

The Language of God, Chapter 5By B.J. MarshallIn the last post, we saw Collins give a foothold to Creationists who want to deny macroevolution. Even granted that he should have never allowed this foothold in the first place, he makes a valiant effort to tear the false micro-v-macro wall down by comparing our genome to those of other animals. It is here that Collins asserts that "[t]he study of genomes leads inexorably to the conclusion that we humans share a common ancestor with other living … [Read more...]

The Language of God: Micro vs. Macro

The Language of God, Chapter 5By B.J. Marshall Before tackling the gritty details using DNA evidence to support human evolution, Collins addresses Darwin, mutations, and the "rather arbitrary" distinction between microevolution ("incremental changes within a species") and macroevolution ("major changes in species") (p.131-2). In my discussions with Creationists, the micro- v. macro-evolution thing always comes up. … [Read more...]

The Language of God: Size Doesn’t Matter

The Language of God, Chapter 5By B.J. MarshallIn this section, Collins describes how "the study of genomes leads inexorably to the conclusion that we humans share a common ancestor with other living things" (p.133-4). There are a lot of ideas in this chapter to unpack, so I'd like to start by reviewing Collins' material on DNA at a high level: size and broad similarity. It would be my hope that, even if Creationists only heard some of the material in this chapter, they would quickly see the … [Read more...]


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