Of Colonial Memories and the Cambrian Explosion (Among Other Things)

Of Colonial Memories and the Cambrian Explosion (Among Other Things) December 12, 2018

 

Looking at the House Range.
A view of the western side of western Utah’s House Range (looking north from Route 50, west of Marjum Pass). All of the exposed units date to the Cambrian period. From the base upward, the lower, curved slopes consist of Pioche Formation and Tintic Quartzite. Above that is a thick, lighter-colored cliff of Howell Limestone. The darker-colored slopes above that are the Chisholm Shale. The next light-colored cliff above is the Dome Limestone and Whirlwind Formation. The dark-colored area at the very top has outcroppings of Swasey Limestone. (Wikimedia Commons public domain image)

 

There are, plainly, still some fundamentally important things left out there to be discovered — although it seems that one of them just was:

 

“What a Newfound Kingdom Means for the Tree of Life: Neither animal, plant, fungus nor familiar protozoan, a strange microbe that sits in its own “supra-kingdom” of life foretells incredible biodiversity yet to be discovered by new sequencing technologies.”

 

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This is an interesting and informative article:

 

“‘Useless Quirks’ of Evolution Strengthen Understanding of the Theory”

 

In certain ways and at certain places, though, I have to admit that it struck me as perhaps more a declaration of a faith or an exposition of an ideology than a careful setting forth of scientifically demonstrated fact.  Take this passage, for example:

 

“One misconception is that evolution has some innate sense of direction or purpose. In reality, evolution is a mindless, plan-free phenomenon, driven into endless possibilities by random mutations, the most successful of which win out.”

 

I have no particular problem with evolution, but I sometimes wonder whether we really know enough to rule direction out altogether and to insist dogmatically on random mindlessness.  If little nudges were given here and there — say, even at the molecular or quantum level — or if there were constraints or guide rails at some points, would we be in a position to detect them?  Could they be seen in the fossil record, or even on the genetic level?

 

“In Cambrian Explosion Debate, ID Wins by Default”

 

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Changing gears and for the sake of variety, here are two pieces on very different subjects (though both, I suppose, involve fiery heat):

 

“The Parker Solar Probe takes its first up-close look at the sun: The spacecraft broke speed and distance records on its initial solar flyby”

 

“Çatalhöyük Mural: The Earliest Representation of a Volcanic Eruption? 9,000-year-old painting thought to depict an eruption at Hasan Dağ”

 

 

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