How ancient churches sounded

Church buildings are acoustic spaces, in which music is performed.  Researchers are studying the acoustics of ancient and medieval churches.  They are finding that certain design elements were intended to adjust sounds, “trying to tune the space.”

Moreover, the acoustic data they are uncovering enables the researchers to reproduce the effects electronically.  Once a digital signature is discovered, it is possible to play recorded music–say, Gregorian chants–and filter it so that we can hear what it sounded like in that particular building.  “It’s like time travel,” says a musicologist.  We can make “a museum of lost sound.”

[Read more…]

Scientific outrage!

A paper on the workings of the human hand published in a scientific journal uses the term “creator” and “design,” sparking sputtering outrage and calls for boycotting the publication.

The authors, most of whom are Chinese, say the apparent reference to Intelligent Design was a mistake due to a mistranslation.  Chinese writing does tend to be much more lyrical and metaphorical than the generally dull Western academic prose.

But it’s interesting how so many scientists are set off by words and are so eager to silence people. They do not want themselves to be exposed to anything incompatible with their materialistic worldview, not allowing anything to the contrary to be so much as uttered.  Even the news account from a British publication, excerpted after the jump, feels that it must refer to Intelligent Design as a “pseudo-science.” [Read more…]

The end of the “noble savage”

Archaeologists have discovered the site of a deadly massacre in which 27 people were killed by primitive weapons.  The researchers date the site at some 10,000 years ago and say the people were hunter-gatherers.  This upsets the theory that warfare and organized violence appeared only when early humans settled down into permanent settlements.

This also upsets the perhaps related theory of the “noble savage” of Jacques Rousseau, according to which primitive people in “the state of nature” live lives of peace and virtue, with violence and other evils coming only as a result of “civilization.”  Apparently, human beings have been fallen and sinful as far back as we can see. [Read more…]

Your brain has as much memory as the internet

New research into the brain’s synapses has found that the human brain has 10 times the memory capacity previously thought.  In computer terms, it comes to at least  a petabyte, the memory capacity of the world wide web.

Now use your internet-sized brain to think about that.  Didn’t the world wide web have to be, you know, designed and created?  Could the internet have come into existence purely through random processes?  Yes, the internet is an example of a system with millions of separate agents, sort of like the economy, but doesn’t it require pre-existing minds?  So what about the 7 billion minds existing on the earth today, each with the capacity of the entire internet? [Read more…]

Has climate change killed the aliens?

In this vast universe, say many scientists, surely intelligent life has evolved elsewhere.  So where is it?  A new theory is being put forward:  the aliens are all dead.  This is because, in the course of evolution, when intelligent life advances to the industrial level, it inevitably causes climate change that causes its species to become extinct. [Read more…]

Biomedical studies that aren’t reproducible

A key principle of the scientific method is that experiments must be reproducible.  That is, an experiment has scientific validity only if another person tries the same experiment and gets the same result.

It has been coming out that a big percentage–possibly a majority of psychological and social science experiments are not reproducible.  That is understandable, since human beings are active agents and so cannot be expected to be as predictable as inanimate objects.

But now scientists are discovering that a large percentage of biomedical studies are also non-reproducible! [Read more…]


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