Left bank, here I come …

You Belong in Paris You enjoy all that life has to offer, and you can appreciate the fine tastes and sites of Paris.You’re the perfect person to wander the streets of Paris aimlessly, enjoying architecture and a crepe. What European City Do You Belong In?

Just a link, to the Wall Street Journal science journal

The WSJ has a concise and balanced report about two recent discoveries that support evolutionary theory, or do not, depending on your viewpoint. The first involves fossils of an ancient animal with features intermediate between water-dwelling fish and land-dwelling tetrapods. The fossils support the hypothesis that land-dwelling animals evolved from aquatic creatures. Creationists and intelligent design proponents are unconvinced, however. The second involves the recreation of an ancient hormonal receptor, to test one of the hypotheses of intelligent design, that the many aspects of living organisms are too complex to have developed randomly. Receptors and hormones were believed to be co-dependent, begging the question of how they could evolve simultaneously. The conclusion is that the receptor developed first, and the hormone second, refuting the ID hypothesis.

Cometh now Tangled Bank no. 50

The biweekly anthology of science bloggers’ best recent work is at The Island of Doubt. Topics range from astronomy to zoology, from the strictly scientific to the strictly political. It’s well worth a look. Who says scientists can’t write?

When the numbers don’t add up …

Call in the experts. Intelligent Design supporters use the argument that a designer must have organized the universe because (they say) the probability of life arising by random chance is close to zero. William Dembski, of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary here, has made this argument practically his life’s mission. Well, the arguments are wrong and so are the premises. Check out this new blog, Good Math, Bad Math, for some clear explanations why Dembski and ID math are wrong.

Tangled Bank #49 1

I submitted another essay, somewhat peripherally related to science, but it got accepted anyway. Sweet. Anyway, Tangled Bank #49 has a plethora of great science related essays by some of the blogosphere’s great science bloggers. ( I am humbled by my inclusion in this august group.) Check it out.

UK talks on law, religion and intelligent design

Attention fellow Kentuckians! There will be two interesting talks at the University of Kentucky College of Law. The complete details are at The Panda’s Thumb, but here’s the basics. On Wednesday the 22nd, a seminar on “Religion, the First Amendment, and the New Supreme Court” at 12:00 noon in the College of Law Courtroom. The public is invited. On Monday the 27th, a discussion about “Intelligent Design: Question and Controversy in Law and Philosophy,” at 4 pm in the Courtroom. The public is also invited to this one. William Dembski, one of the leading detractors of evolution, now teaches at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary here in Louisville. He could make an appearance at the second talk, which ought to be interesting, to say the least.

Not science or tech, but strangely compelling

I came across a site today, BetOnIraq.com, which at face value, is very intriguing. The site offers to exchange dollars for Iraqi dinar, ostensibly to bolster the fledgling democracy of Iraq. There is the possibility that dinar will actually be worth something someday, so picking up 100,000 dinar for just $155 could be a lucrative investment (well, more like a wager). Or the 100,000 dinar could end up being just worthless pieces of pretty paper. A closer look set off some caveat emptor warnings in my brain. Before you rush to buy a fat wad of dinar online, you need to be aware of some red flags on this site, and on similar sites listed below. The order page is not secured or encrypted. While the site does not accept credit cards, the order page does ask for your name, address, e-mail and phone. Without encryption, that information could be intercepted by a third party, or the site’s database could be hacked. Also, the site offers no advice about the privacy of your contact information, although the operators do say By making a purchase you acknowledge that you are not on a watch list, a terrorist, associated with a terrorist ...

Erosion of a different kind

Offered without further comment … From FoxNews today: A new provision tucked into the Patriot Act bill now before Congress would allow authorities to haul demonstrators at any “special event of national significance” away to jail on felony charges if they are caught breaching a security perimeter. From the U.S. Constitution: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. Cindy Sheehan‘s account of her arrest and expulsion from the State of the Union address on Jan. 31: What Really Happened …. UPDATE (2/2): Charges against Sheehan have been dropped and the Capitol Police chief admitted his officers were overzealous.

The origin of art?

My friend and colleague here at St. Francis, Matt Gatton, has an interesting and compelling hypothesis about the origin of art, specifically cave-wall art. Matt surmises that early artists in caves and other enclosures took advantage of a property of optics — the camera obscura — to create their images of wildlife. It is now fairly well accepted that European painters of the middle ages and Renaissance used the camera obscura, otherwise known as the “pinhole camera,” for many of their works. Since the pinhole camera flips images upside and left-to-right, careful inspection of some paintings will show rings that should be on the left hand are instead on the right, and so on. Anyway, Matt has done simulations in the field to test his hypothesis and has developed a convincing case for the early origins of art. Check out his website at www.paleo-camera.com.
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