first_imgArcata >> For the first three innings of Friday’s game against the Perth Heat Colts, the Humboldt Eagles American Legion 19-and-under team was in cruise control.As it has been apt to do this season, Humboldt’s offense scored early and often to stake the Eagles to a 7-0 lead after three innings of play during Friday’s game at the Arcata Ball Park. But as the game wore on, the early-inning rout took the shape of a late-game nail-biter as the Colts chipped away at the large deficit and …last_img read more

first_imgA BBC News story is claiming that butterflies split into competing teams when differences in their wing patterns emerge.  Based on a paper in Nature,1 this is supposed to be an example of a rarely-observed mechanism for speciation, called reinforcement: in this case, “These wing colours apparently evolved as a sort of ‘team strip’, allowing butterflies to easily identify the species of a potential mate.”  Why is this newsworthy?  Julianna Kettlewell explains, “Given our planet’s rich biodiversity, ‘speciation’ clearly happens regularly, but scientists cannot quite pinpoint the driving forces behind it” (emphasis added in all quotes).    The authors of the paper are careful to describe their hypothesis of reinforcement as merely a suggestion: “Therefore, although we cannot distinguish at what level (intraspecific or interspecific) reinforcement has operated, our comparative study demonstrates that natural selection against maladaptive matings is likely to have caused widespread divergence in pre-zygotic isolating characters between sympatric species of Agrodiaetus, and could have led to speciation.”1Lukhtanov et al., “Reinforcement of pre-zygotic isolation and karyotype evolution in Agrodiaetus butterflies,” Nature 436, 385-389 (21 July 2005) | doi: 10.1038/nature03704.Ironic that Julianna Kettlewell has the same surname as the infamous researcher of peppered moths (see 06/25/2004 entry).  This article doesn’t improve much on evolutionary storytelling.  Who is asking how or why the little flying bugs developed team spirit?  Can they even see their own wing patterns, let alone care whether that attractive, sweet-smelling female over there has identical strips?  Seems to be another case of imputing human aesthetic values on bugs.  As long as we’re speculating about butterfly fashion fads, why wouldn’t they just as easily be saying, vive la difference?    The authors of the paper note that “empirical evidence has been sufficiently scarce to raise doubts about the importance of reinforcement in nature.”  Their own case is full of speculation and doubt.  So is this the best that evolutionists can do, 146 years after The Origin of Species supposedly settled the issue?  Look how excited they all get over a few wing styles, and how eagerly they want to invoke the magic phrase natural selection to help Charlie get a little credit.  They should be worried (see next entry).(Visited 9 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

first_img1.  Prud’homme et al, “Body plan innovation in treehoppers through the evolution of an extra wing-like appendage,” Nature Volume: 473 (05 May 2011), pp. 83�86, doi:10.1038/nature09977.By making evolution mean anything, they make it mean everything – and therefore nothing.  By creating an illusion of progress, evolutionists have created the perfect conspiracy: a way to snow the public under the banner of science, using the Stuff Happens Law (SHL).  Philosophers may realize that “stuff happens” amounts to a failure of scientific explanation, but by calling it something more sophisticated – evolution – evolutionists can tinker with it in countless ways.  Being inherently flexible, the Stuff Happens Law lends itself to endless corollaries that can be couched in Darwinian jargon.Strange stuff happens (evolutionary reversal)Stuff happens at any speed (evolutionary stasis or radiation)Stuff happens by surprise (evolutionary innovation)Stuff re-happens (circular evolution)Stuff survives happenstance (living fossils)Stuff makes other stuff happen (humans affecting biology by “unnatural selection”)As long as creative minds inhabit evolutionary biology labs, the future looks bright for endless twists on Darwin’s tale.  Whether this amounts to science is an entirely different question. (Visited 13 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0 Evolution is a strange theory; it goes forwards, backwards, sideways and nowhere, fast or slow, up or down, inside out and outside in.  Here are some examples that contradict the slow, gradual picture of progress that was so popular in Victorian England.Re-using lost genes:  Scientists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology are claiming that evolution dug into an old bag of tricks and pulled out something lost 200 years ago.  “Ever since Charles Darwin proposed his theory of evolution in 1859, scientists have wondered whether evolutionary adaptations can be reversed,” the press release from MIT News said.  Examples have been the re-evolution of wings in insects (see 05/28/2003).    Using a computational model, Jeff Gore at the university decided that evolution can reverse itself, but only if fewer than four mutations were involved.  He studied bacteria that achieved resistance to an antibiotic named cefotaxime.  It took five mutations to confer resistance; there were 120 ways to get all five, but only 18 could actually occur, he found.    The article did not get back to the question of how insects could re-evolve wings – a reversal that would seem to involve many more than four mutations.  It also repeated the discredited idea that the human appendix is no longer needed.Going nowhere:  New Scientist announced in a bold headline, “Horsetail fossil tells tale of plant evolution.”  But when the reader looks for said evolution, there is none to be found except a tale indeed.  Alan Channing [Cardiff U] found a fossilized horsetail that must have been preserved in a hot spring environment.  It looks modern: “Though a new species, the fossilised plant is quite similar to some horsetails living today with a single upright evergreen shaft,” the article confessed.  While admitted that horsetails have had a “contested evolutionary history” that Channing’s work now “clears up,” the article went on to say that “The findings suggest horsetails experienced only modest innovations in their long evolutionary history.”    Innovations?  The article presented no evidence of ancestors of horsetails.  Worse, Channing’s study pushes the origin of modern-looking horsetails back another 14 million years, to 150 million years before the present.  The fossil preserved “not only stems but also leaf sheaths, roots and reproductive structures.”  It’s as if this plant popped into existence 150 million years ago and never dreamt up any new innovations all the way to the present except, if anything, the older ones were bigger and better: “Today’s horsetail plants are living fossils, the only surviving members of the class Equisetopsida, the article ended.  “For more than a 100 million years, Equisetopsida plants dominated the understory of the late Mesozoic period forests, stretching up to 30 metres high.”Evolution in reverse:  PhysOrg tells us that cicada-like insects called treehoppers cast aside their front wings 200 million years ago, only to call them up into service as headgear.  “That’s probably shocking news if you are an entomologist, and challenges some very basic ideas about what makes an insect an insect, the researchers said.”    Strange things happen in evolution.  “But then, some 50 million years ago, something strange happened to the cicada-like treehoppers: they once again sprouted wing-like structures from the top of the first segment of the thorax.”  But they didn’t flap: “Some of these wildly divergent extrusions resemble thorns, others look like antlers, and still others like aggressive ants or animal droppings, creating one of Nature’s most exotic menageries.”  It wasn’t clear if the capitalized Nature referred to the outdoors or the journal Nature, where the study made the cover story.1     What does this mean for evolutionary theory?  “Evolution is usually described as linear, but these modified wings suggested the process had come full circle.”  Turning evolution into a personified inventor, French biologist Benjamin Prud’homme said, “This extra pair of wings was not needed for flight, but nor did it prevent it.  So it became raw material for evolution to play with.”  A co-author said that the study shows “how development abilities can be lost or silenced over millions of years, only to be redeployed to contribute to the evolution of a complex and beautiful appendage.”  The abstract of the Nature paper remarked, “This innovation in the insect body plan is an unprecedented situation in 250 Myr of insect evolution.”  The paper claimed this required no new genetic information: “We submit that morphological innovations can arise from the deployment of existing but silenced developmental potentials, therefore requiring not so much the evolution of new genetic material but instead the expression of these potentials.”Evolution in hiding:  Biologists who study fungi have found an embarrassing surprise: according to PhysOrg, “a hitherto unknown type of fungi which has fundamentally expanded the scientific understanding of this group of organisms.”  A British team has uncovered a whole new group of fungi which they named cryptomycota – hidden fungi.Dr Tom Richards, from the University of Exeter’s Biosciences department and the Natural History Museum London, said: “This study has been very surprising – not least because the original sample came from the nearby pond.  Fungi have been well studied for 150 years and it was thought we had a good understanding of the major evolutionary groups, but these findings have changed that radically.    “Current understanding of fungal diversity turns out to be only half the story – we’ve discovered this diverse and deep evolutionary branch in fungi that has remained hidden all this time.”Cryptomycota apparently lack a rigid cell wall.  What does this mean?  The article referred to the fungus as either an “intermediate state” or a “living fossil,” but admitted that it must be successful: “Despite lacking the tough cell wall, they seem still to be very successful in the environment because of their extensive diversity and cosmopolitan distribution.”  The discovery also points out that biologists may be oblivious to large segments of the living world: “Until recent years, researchers investigating microbial diversity have sampled by growing microbes in lab cultures, but now it seems that the vast majority of life forms are never captured using these methods – meaning most of the evolutionary complexity of life remains unsampled.”Evolution by loss:  A lizard in Cambodia has no legs or eyes.  The BBC News has a picture of what looks like an earthworm, but is a “legless lizard” that has also lost its eyes.  Uncommon Descent teased about “Evolution as loss of function.”Unnatural selection:  What would you call “unnatural selection”?  Would it be synonymous with intelligent design?  Not according to Michael Le Page at New Scientist, who has been writing a series about how humans are harming the environment with their pesticides, hunting, climate change, pollution, diseases, and shuffling of invasive species.  He left begging the question of whether humans were naturally selected to do this.last_img read more

first_img27 September 2013UK-based solar solutions provider Solarcentury and local partner Momentous Energy have launched a joint venture based in Johannesburg that aims to capitalise on the growing alternative energy market in the southern African region.Announcing the formation of Solarcentury Africa on Wednesday, Solarcentury CEO Frans van den Heuvel said it put the joint venture partners “ahead of the curve in being able to supply roof and ground installations to meet anticipated growing demand for solar energy from southern African countries”.Van den Heuvel said Solarcentury Africa had already completed its first project, a roof installation for a large South African property company, and was planning to install “the biggest solar roof-top system in South Africa” in the coming months.According to Solarcentury, South Africa’s annual 24-hour global solar radiation average is about 220 W/m², compared with about 150 W/m² for parts of the USA and about 100 W/m² for Europe and the United Kingdom.“This makes South Africa’s local resource one of the highest in the world.”Solarcentury boasts 15 years’ experience in the international solar industry and a number of high-profile installations, including the award-winning solar bridge at Blackfriars in London.Momentous Energy brings local knowledge and robust infrustructure to the joint venture. The company is currently building one of the first solar projects under the South African government’s renewable energy programme for independent power producers, a 7 MW solar park in Rustenberg in North West province.SAinfo reporterlast_img read more

first_imgOdisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Monday announced a series of awards and special incentives for dedicated doctors, paramedical staff and other healthcare workers of government hospitals across the State.Stating that his government was emphasising on quality healthcare under its 5T (transparency, teamwork, technology, time and transformation) initiative, Mr. Patnaik said that 10 doctors and other healthcare workers will be presented with Chief Minister Award, which includes cash prizes of ₹10 lakh and ₹5 lakh respectively. Government healthcare institutions providing quality service will also be rewarded, he added.last_img read more

first_imgThe Australian High Commission in India on Thursday denied media reports that athletes from its country had behaved like hooligans at the Commonwealth Games Village.In a statement, the high commission accepted that some spirited celebrations had taken place but denied hooliganism by the Australian team.  “We can confirm that in the course of celebrations a washing machine was damaged, though it remains unclear who did the damage, what their nationality was and whether it was deliberate or accidental,” the high commission said in a statement. “The suggestion that this was a reaction to Australia’s loss in the second Test is completely baseless. Australia sent its biggest team ever to the Delhi Games. The athletes embraced India and left with wonderful experience,” the statement said. The Herald Sun newspaper claimed that Australia’s Commonwealth Games chief Perry Crosswhite had confirmed that a washing machine was thrown off the eighth floor of an Australian residential tower at the Village.  But Crosswhite said he would be surprised if the culprit was an Australian and blamed athletes from other countries who were in the Australian building at the time of the incident. The Delhi Police confirmed the rampage but said it had not received any complaint from the CWG Organising Committee.  Media reports had said that some members of the Australian contingent went on the rampage after being unable to accept India’s thumping win over the Australian cricket team in the Test match.  The reports said a washing machine, electrical fittings and furniture at the Village bore the brunt of the athletes’ anger. Apparently, slogans were also raised against Sachin Tendulkar.advertisementlast_img read more