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Thu, 18 Apr 2019
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Ben Shapiro interviews Stephen Meyer about intelligent design

Ben Shapiro
Ben Shapiro's Sunday Special interview with Stephen Meyer is up and viewable now at YouTube. This might be the best interview with Meyer that I've ever seen. Check it out:

Why might it be the best? Partly because of the long video format - a full hour (with a provocative final question for Steve that you need to subscribe to The Daily Wire to see), and very well produced. Partly because Shapiro has done his homework. He knows the common challenges to intelligent design and poses them very articulately, and he's obviously absorbed Meyer's books, especially Darwin's Doubt and Signature in the Cell, as well other material on ID. That is more than you can say for some scientists and journalists I'm thinking of right now.

Mr. Potato

'Enhanced' geothermal plant implicated in South Korea's second most destructive earthquake

earthquake Pohang
© Yonhap/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
The nation's energy ministry expressed 'deep regret', and said it would dismantle the experimental plant. A 2017 earthquake in Pohang, South Korea has been linked to a geothermal plant.
A South Korean government panel has concluded that a magnitude-5.4 earthquake that struck the city of Pohang on 15 November 2017 was probably caused by an experimental geothermal power plant. The panel was convened under presidential orders and released its findings on 20 March.

Unlike conventional geothermal plants, which extract energy directly from hot underground water or rock, the Pohang power plant injected fluid at high pressure into the ground to fracture the rock and release heat - a technology known as an enhanced geothermal system. This pressure caused small earthquakes that affected nearby faults, and eventually triggered the bigger 2017 quake, the panel found.

The quake was the nation's second strongest and its most destructive on modern record - it injured 135 people and caused an estimated 300 billion won (US$290 million) in damage. The nation's Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, which had provided funding for the plant, said in a statement that it accepts the panel's findings and "expresses deep regret" to the citizens of Pohang who were harmed by the event.

Comment: With a process quite similar to fracking, what did they expect? And in times like these, where the very ground beneath our feet is proving to be increasingly unstable - with a rise in sinkholes, major earthquakes, gaping fissures and landslides - it's a reckless endeavor:

Comet 2

Asteroid Ryugu is surprisingly dry, Japanese spacecraft finds

© Seiji Sugita et al., Science
The Hayabusa2 spacecraft reveals new clues about the early solar system. The visible-light camera and a near-infrared spectrometer on Hayabusa2 confirmed the lack of water on Ryugu. Researchers said they were unsure how the parent body that produced Ryugu became so dehydrated.
A Japanese spacecraft studying the near-Earth asteroid Ryugu beamed home new data revealing that the space rock has less water than scientists expected.

The spacecraft, Hayabusa2, arrived at Ryugu on June 27, 2018. Since then, the probe has surveyed the asteroid's surface and landed multiple robotic probes on its rocky terrain.

Last month, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) completed a complicated touchdown maneuver to collect samples from Ryugu's surface, which will be brought back to Earth in a return capsule in late 2020.

After almost a year surveying Ryugu, the Hayabusa2 spacecraft has already collected invaluable data that may help scientists better understand the early solar system.

Comment: Scientists may be surprised by the lack of water on asteroids like Ryugu because of their misconceptions about space rocks altogether: See also: And check out SOTT radio's:

Microscope 2

Turns out we didn't understand viruses: Plant virus distributes genes into separate cells - all work together

virus plant
Plant cells (blue) infected by different virus segments (red and green)
It is a truth universally acknowledged among virologists that a single virus, carrying a full set of genes, must be in want of a cell. A virus is just a collection of genes packaged into a capsule. It infiltrates and hijacks a living cell to make extra copies of itself. Those daughter viruses then bust out of their ailing host, and each finds a new cell to infect. Rinse, and repeat. This is how all viruses, from Ebola to influenza, are meant to work.

But Stéphane Blanc and his colleagues at the University of Montpellier have shown that one virus breaks all the rules.

Faba bean necrotic stunt virus, or FBNSV for short, infects legumes, and is spread through the bites of aphids. Its genes are split among eight segments, each of which is packaged into its own capsule. And, as Blanc's team has now shown, these eight segments can reproduce themselves, even if they infect different cells. FBNSV needs all of its components, but it doesn't need them in the same place. Indeed, this virus never seems to fully come together. It is always distributed, its existence spread between capsules and split among different host cells.

"This is truly a revolutionary result in virology," says Siobain Duffy of Rutgers University, who wasn't involved in the study. "Once again, viruses prove that they've had the evolutionary time to try just about every reproductive strategy, even ones that are hard for scientists to imagine."

Comment: The evolutionary biologist's fall-back answer for something they can't explain: "evolution done it!" It doesn't matter that the answer makes no sense and doesn't actually explain anything. How exactly did this "reproductive strategy" come about because of "evolutionary time"? What are the precise genetic pathways from one reproductive strategy to the next? What are their probabilities? No answers, just pat responses with absolutely no substance. Pathetic.


Global AI development threatened by Boeing's recent crashes

plane cockpit
© Getty Images / Reinier Snijders
Two deadly crashes involving Boeing's newest airplane in less than six months puts in jeopardy not only the credibility of the manufacturer, but also new technologies actively being pushed by the world's top tech firms.

All Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes operated by global carriers were grounded earlier this month after an Ethiopian Airlines aircraft crashed shortly after take-off, taking a steep nosedive not far from Nairobi.

The fatal accident which claimed 157 lives followed a similar crash in Indonesia, which killed all 189 people on board in October.

The two crashes appear to have something in common. The crews of both aircraft reportedly struggled with the MAX 8 autopilot system which pointed the nose of the airplane down before the crash.


Electricity-eating microbes fix carbon dioxide using electrons

microbes eat electricity
© Bose laboratory, Washington University
A Washington University team showed how a phototrophic microbe called Rhodopseudomonas palustris takes up electrons from conductive substances like metal oxides or rust to reduce carbon dioxide.
New research from Washington University in St. Louis explains the cellular processes that allow a sun-loving microbe to "eat" electricity-transferring electrons to fix carbon dioxide to fuel its growth.

Led by Arpita Bose, assistant professor of biology in Arts & Sciences, and Michael Guzman, a Ph.D. candidate in her laboratory, a Washington University team showed how a naturally occurring strain of Rhodopseudomonas palustris takes up electrons from conductive substances like metal oxides or rust. The work is described in a March 22 paper in the journal Nature Communications.

The study builds on Bose's previous discovery that R. palustris TIE-1 can consume electrons from rust proxies like poised electrodes, a process called extracellular electron uptake. R. palustris is phototrophic, which means that it uses energy from light to carry out certain metabolic processes. The new research explains the cellular sinks where this microbe dumps the electrons it eats from electricity.


"Mindblowing" haul of fossils over 500 million years old unearthed in China

fossils Danshui
© Supplied
Scientists have found a treasure trove of fossils that date back more than half a billion years on the banks of the Danshui river in Hubei province.
A "mindblowing" haul of fossils that captures the riot of evolution that kickstarted the diversity of life on Earth more than half a billion years ago has been discovered by researchers in China.

Paleontologists found thousands of fossils in rocks on the bank of the Danshui river in Hubei province in southern China, where primitive forms of jellyfish, sponges, algae, anemones, worms and arthropods with thin whip-like feelers were entombed in an ancient underwater mudslide.

The creatures are so well preserved in the fossils that the soft tissues of their bodies, including the muscles, guts, eyes, gills, mouths and other openings are all still visible. The 4,351 separate fossils excavated so far represent 101 species, 53 of them new.

Comment: For more on the Cambrian period and how evolution probably didn't 'stumble' into anything, see: See also: And check out SOTT radio's:


Michael Behe responds to his Lehigh colleagues' inability to grasp the first rule of adaptive evolution

Lehigh University ca
© Joseph Giansante ’76 / Wikimedia Commons
Recently in the journal Evolution, two of my colleagues in the Lehigh University Department of Biological Sciences published a seven-page critical review of Darwin Devolves. As I'll show below, it pretty much completely misses the mark. Nonetheless, it is a good illustration of how sincere-yet-perplexed professional evolutionary biologists view the data, as well as how they see opposition to their views, and so it is a possible opening to mutual understanding. This is the first of a three-part reply.

I'd like to begin by enthusiastically affirming that the co-authors of the review, Greg Lang and Amber Rice, are terrific young scientists. Greg's research is on the experimental laboratory evolution of yeast, and he's an associate editor at the Journal of Molecular Evolution. Amber studies the evolutionary effects of the hybridization of two species of chickadee, and she's an associate editor for Evolution. Not surprisingly, the review is well written and the authors have done a lot of homework, not only reading the book itself but also digging into other material I have written and relevant literature. What's more, Greg and Amber are both salt-of-the-earth folks, cheerful, friendly, and great colleagues. The additional Lehigh people they cite in the Acknowledgements section share all those qualities. There is no reason for anyone to take any of the remarks in their review as anything other than their best honest professional opinions of the matter. So let's get to the substance of the review.

"Two Critical Errors of Logic"

After introductory remarks, Lang and Rice begin by deferring to the review of my book in Science and a follow-up web post to show that the book contains "a few factual errors and many errors of omission." (I along with others have dealt at length with those already; see here, here, here, here, here, and here) Instead, in their own review they focus on what they see as two logical errors of the book: 1) that I wrongly equate "the prevalence of loss of function mutations to the inevitable degradation of biological systems and the impossibility of evolution to produce novelty"; and 2) that I wrongly confuse proteins with machines, and use that misguided metaphor to mislead readers. I'll take those two points and their many subparts mostly in turn.


Dynamic genome discovery: Harvard scientists uncover 'DNA switch' that could lead to human limb regrowth

Gene switch
A team of scientists at Harvard University has discovered the "master gene" that enables animals such as lizards, geckos and jellyfish the ability to regrow large appendages of their body such as limbs and tails-if not their entire body-and they're hoping that the discovery could be a crucial first step to humans one day being able to regenerate their lost limbs.

The team released their study in Science journal this week that reveals the "DNA switches" that animals have used to control their genes and regenerate parts of their body.


Michael Behe: One man's battle with Darwinian evolution

Dr. Michael J. Behe
© Discovery Institute
Still from the film: Revolutionary: Michael Behe and the Mystery of Molecular Machines
When a man knows something's true, when it's obvious to him, but his peers and his colleagues believe something else, what does he do? Especially if it has to do with a subject considered to be very important, even foundational for the work he does, what does he do?

Does he decide to set his ideas on paper for the whole world to see? This guarantees fierce opposition and sometimes personal attack. To choose this path requires a willingness to face that opposition and stand firm. Such intellectual courage is rare but not vanishingly so. This is the story of a man who has that courage.

The Concept of Irreducible Complexity

By the early 1990s, Dr. Michael J. Behe, professor of biochemistry at Lehigh University, had come to doubt the efficacy of Darwinian evolution. (Behe uses the term Darwinian evolution to distinguish it from evolution meaning simply change over time, which is not controversial and which he accepts. Darwinian evolution, on the other hand, is claimed to be the result of unguided, naturalistic processes of random mutation and natural selection, which he sees as severely limited.)

Comment: Watch: Revolutionary: Michael Behe and the Mystery of Molecular Machines - to get a better glimpse of who Behe is and just what he's been up against: