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Inorganic Particles In Plasma Displays Life-Like Properties Sunday, August 19, 2007

Posted by henry000 in biology, DNA, evolution, origin of life, physics, plasma, protein, science, science experiment.
3 comments

Here is another scientific research report published recently at ScienceDaily, this time regarding a discovery made by physicists that inorganic material shows life-like qualities:

Now, an international team has discovered that under the right conditions, particles of inorganic dust can become organised into helical structures. These structures can then interact with each other in ways that are usually associated with organic compounds and life itself.

In essence, the environment is the fourth state of matter – plasma – where electrons are no longer bounded to atoms. The particles in the plasma sate exhibit the ability of self-organisation to form helical structures, where they attract, divide and bifurcate to form two copies of themselves, interact with other particles – and even evolve into stable structures:

Quite bizarrely, not only do these helical strands interact in a counterintuitive way in which like can attract like, but they also undergo changes that are normally associated with biological molecules, such as DNA and proteins, say the researchers. They can, for instance, divide, or bifurcate, to form two copies of the original structure. These new structures can also interact to induce changes in their neighbours and they can even evolve into yet more structures as less stable ones break down, leaving behind only the fittest structures in the plasma.

I was very excited to read this report – imagine the possibilities this discovery opens up! As the article points out, it could even more conceivable now that non-carbon forms of life exist somewhere out there in the universe. As a matter of fact, Imagine a universe where “life” and perhaps even “intelligence” exist in the state of plasma… this is frankly quite freaky and exciting at the same time.

There is one major issue with the report though. It is not clear to me if this discovery is yet another computer simulation or an actual experimentation (emphasis mine):

However, Tsytovich and his colleagues demonstrated, using a computer model of molecular dynamics, that particles in a plasma can undergo self-organization as electronic charges become separated and the plasma becomes polarized..

Anyone has any ideas? I am leaning to interpret it as a computer model was used for the experiment. I will keep an eye out for it, because this is quite a remarkable discovery.

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Human Protein Evolution Retraced – at Atomic Level…! Saturday, August 18, 2007

Posted by henry000 in adaptation, Darwinism, evolution, human evolution, mutation, protein, science.
3 comments

I think this is breaking-news stuff. Apparently for the very first time, scientists are able to track very precisely and at an “unprecedented detail” – in fact at atomic level to be exact – of the evolutionary path of an important human protein.

Here is the summary: using state-of-art computational and molecular technology, the ancestor of an important human protein was recreated in labs. These are then subjected to high tech particle physics analysis where the atomic structures of the protein through the past 450 millions of years were revealed.

Says one of the scientists involved:

“This is the ultimate level of detail,” Thornton said. “We were able to see exactly how evolution tinkered with the ancient structure to produce a new function that is crucial to our own bodies today. Nobody’s ever done that before.”

Specifically, only 7 mutations are required for the protein to evolve to its current structure, and the mutations are dependent on each other. As a scientist remarked, much to the dismay of anti-Darwinians,

“This study has refined our knowledge of evolution because it helps address the question of whether adaptation occurs through large or small effect mutations,” said Padilla. “This study shows that small changes may enable large adaptations to occur. These large adaptations may then by further refined by smaller adaptations.”

It is a short and not an overly technical article which is worth a read.

Awesome, Awesome Evolution Software Friday, August 17, 2007

Posted by henry000 in animation, art, artificial intelligence, evolution, Jeffrey Ventrella, natural selection, simulation, software.
1 comment so far

This man – Jeffrey Ventrella – is quite incredible. Here on his website you can find a myriad of beautifully designed evolution simulation software:

http://www.jjventrella.com/

Please go to website and I am sure you will be impressed with Ventrella’s artistic talent and programming skills. Exploring the website is like discovering treasures upon treasures in a dream world. There are not just one but many evolution themed software, as well as fractals and other beautiful artwork. I know, you might say that there are many other evolution simulation software programs out there – true, but Ventrella’s are different in that they are aesthetically awesome.

Ventrella is both a famous and somewhat elusive figure. His is an artist as well as a researcher in artificial intelligence as well as an Internet entrepreneur. He is a co-founder of the online virtual world There and several other ones.

Here is a screenshot (click to enlarge) of one of the Java applet named Music Gene Pool which demonstrates the power of selection in creating music from randomness to your own liking:

EvoMusic

Here is the screenshot of a Windows program called Gene Pool:

Gene Pool is an artificial life simulation in which populations of physics-based organisms evolve swimming capabilities over time. These organisms are called “swimbots”. You can set mate preference criteria and thus influence what the swimbots consider as attractive qualities in potential mates. The most attractive swimbots get chosen most often and so their genetic building blocks propogate to future generations. Eventually, swimbots get better at pursuing each other, competing for food, and becoming babes to other swimbots. Local gene pools emerge which compete for sex and food (for energy to have more sex). Eventually a dominant sub-population takes over.

Gene Pool

I am nuts about evolution and as a software engineer, I can tell you I really admire and envy the works of this man. I wrote a small Java applet a few years ago simulating Conway’s Game of Life, and it is infantile and woeful comparing to Ventrella’s works (which I will be playing with for the next few days whenever time permits…)

Hate Crime vs. Art – Comic Thursday, August 16, 2007

Posted by henry000 in Bible, Christianity, comic, funny, hate-crime, humor, humour, Islam, political correctness.
33 comments

This comic depicts the current over-sensitive political-correctness towards Islam.

Hate Crime vs. Art

This is a re-post from here.

An Atheist Hate Letter Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Posted by henry000 in atheism, Christianity, discrimination, faith, fundamentalism, hate-crime, hoax, OUT campaign, religion, Sam Harris, statistics, Texas, United States.
19 comments

Update:

Several readers have kindly pointed out that the letter is actually a hoax – please see the comments for more details. My apologies for not being able to double check this before posting…

h3nry – 15 August 2007

Check out this reader’s letter to a newspaper – tell me if I should laugh it off or see it as some sort of hate-crime? Surely if we replace the word “atheists” with some other minority group, the letter would never have been published.

Courtesy of this page here (via Reddit). Unfortunately not much else information is given on this letter.

Reader Voices Strong Opinions on Atheists

The ending sentence exemplifies the prejudice and religious bigotry of the writer of the letter:

I don’t care if they have never committed a crime, atheists are the reason crime is rampant.

Those of you who have read Sam Harris’ Letter to a Christian Nation might remember the interesting statistics correlating crime rates in the more religious areas of the United States in comparison to the less religious areas:

Of the twenty-five cities with the lowest rates of violent crime, 62 percent are in “blue” states and 38 percent are in “red” states. Of the twenty-five most dangerous cities, 76 percent are in red states, 24 percent in blue states. In fact, three of the five most dangerous cities in the United States are in the pious state of Texas. The twelve states with the highest rate of burglary are red. Twenty-four of the twenty-nine states with the highest rate of theft are red. Of the twenty-two states with the highest rates of murder, seventeen are red.

where the “red” states are the conservative religious states and the “blue” states are the more liberal states.

It is worth noting that the writer of the letter is not anonymous – which I suspect by choice – which to me seems to reflect the general anti-atheist sentiment held by the majority in the US.

I suppose it is precisely because of this sort of hatred that the OUT Campaign is designed for – although not unexpectedly it has also convinced atheists to continue to hide their views.

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“The Limits of Atheism”? Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Posted by henry000 in anti-evolution, atheism, Behe, creationism, evolution, faith, fundamentalism, God, Michael Behe, rationality, reason, religion, science.
3 comments

Sometimes I wonder where the journalistic standards have been these days. Here is an appalling article written by a columnist named David Warren, titled “The Limits of Atheism”. Firstly it addresses nothing on the limits of atheism, instead it is all mumbo-jumbo on evolution; secondly it is full of the straw-man and manipulative arguments coming from the religious bigotry frame of mind.

Let’s start with the second paragraph. Warren simply asserts that most of the proponents of “evolutionism” know little science and cannot engage in details scientific discussions:

For most of these correspondents know precious little science, and haven’t the stamina to engage in detailed argument. They are simply shocked and appalled that anyone would dream of challenging what they believe to be the consensus of “qualified experts,” whom they assume are a closed camp of hard-bitten materialists, with no time for religious or poetical flights.

How outrageous!

It is the creationists of any creationism flavours who exhibit the undesirable trait of ignorance in evolution (and science in general) – we see this time and time again in the never-ending debates against creationists. We are all familiar with how they argue, which involves techniques such as quote mining, mis-understanding science, trumpeting scientists’ mistakes, using out-of-date data, using any areas of uncertainty as proof etc, you name it.

It is precisely the lack of “stamina” to engage in scientific arguments that make creationists of all favours so foolish and wrong. For example,  Michael Behe – one of the very few quotable reputable creationist-scientist today – has had one of his central argument refuted completely here by a grad student.

What on earth does Warren mean by putting quotes around “qualified experts”?

They (evolution proponents) imagine themselves to have an impersonal interest in defending science against “religious superstition,” and the dangers to society that the latter might present. They in fact have strong and uncompromising religious beliefs of their own, which they are loath to have questioned.

Yes of course! We stand to defend human knowledge and the scientific method as well as rationality from religious ignorance and fundamentalist thinking and manipulation.

I often wonder why the religious fundamentalists think evolutionists are arrogant, in that we have “uncompromising religious beliefs” of our own – when the complete opposite is true! Nothing, even in the face of undeniable evidence, will change the creationist’s mind, where as the proponents of evolution and science are the opposite – by definition. Now who is “uncompromising”?

In the concluding paragraphs Warren writes about a recent scientific finding showing that DNA could not have survived comets crashing into earth, because he attempts to show that yet another possible naturalistic explanation of origin of life is been shown not possible. He again shows his lack of understanding in evolution by using the argument of chance. This time this chance argument is done with a twist. Warren thinks that the materialistic evolutionists have resorted to the “multiple universes” hypothesis in order to let chance to explain the origin of life. What idiotic and criminal claim!

God In the Maths Thursday, August 9, 2007

Posted by henry000 in Baptist, Christianity, creationism, education, faith, fundamentalism, funny, mathematics, Texas, United States.
2 comments

Check out this math curriculum description of a Baptist school – God is in the maths.

Some highlights are:

Students will understand the absolute consistency of mathematical principles and know that God was the inventor of that consistency. They will see God’s nature revealed in the order and precision they review foundational concepts while being able to demonstrate geometric thinking and spatial reasoning.

Mathematical study will result in a greater appreciation of God and His works in creation.

And guess what, it seems to be a school based in Texas (surprise, surprise…)

Just imagine what the biology and physics descriptions would be.

“What Is The Danger of Teaching Creationism?” Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Posted by henry000 in anti-creationism, anti-evolution, anti-ID, creationism, education, evolution, God, intelligent design, science.
16 comments

This is a question asked by a fellow blogger Steve at Bits of Brain. Specifically, he would like to know what the impacts and consequences are for teaching creationism alongside of evolution in our schools:

So I remain curious as to what you see are the impacts, the consequences, the ramifications. What will HAPPEN to our children if one day our courts fail us and permit this craziness to enter the classrooms?

Naturally I was appalled by this question and so I left a couple of comments to his post, which I thought I will promote and repeat them up to a post here.

First of all here is the background. Brian at his nice blog Laelaps posted an entry titled “Combating Creationism with History“. Steve then replied with lots of questions, basically sympathesizing with the creationists and questioning why creationism must be fought against. Brian has done a lengthy reply which is worth a read, while I took a different angle in saying that it is important to combat the religious ideology because creationism and its various flavours have been a pest and great waste of resource to our educational systems.

Why is creationism dangerous? As Steve states:

… What is the danger?” What is the “threat” that creationism presents to our society, to our culture, and to our school-children?

Well, in a nutshell it is the same as teaching astrology, numerology or alchemy in our classes.

Education is established as a system to impart knowledge, values and attitudes to the children, while allowing them to learn and develop critical skills and habits.

There are several critical skills that our educational system teaches which arms the kids to become self sufficient and get more out of life. These skills include sports, using computer and learning foreign languages to other more abstract basic skill set such as critical thinking, problem solving and respecting others.

Creationism teaches none of the above – at its core it says an intelligent-designer-did-it and nothing more. Evolution, on the other hand, is a product of scientific disciplines, which is based upon several fundamental skills such problem solving and critical thinking. Now let us look at it n terms of bodies of knowledge, which for example include philosophy, arts, literature and history. Again, how does creationism fit in? What sort of knowledge does it provide?

The best category where creationism can fit in is science. But the problem is that it is not science and does not value any of the scientific fundamentals. It has nothing scientific. Granted, there are areas of uncertainty in it but this is quite normal in all scientific disciplines – just think about the fascinating unsolved mysteries in astrophysics and quantum physics. The ever-dwindling sets of unsolved problems and yet-to-be-explained phenomena are best left for science to deal with, not a religious doctrine that says god-did-it.

So we have established that creationism has absolutely no values. Therefore, the impact of teaching it in our classes is a great waste of resources. The ramification of teaching it is to dumb down or kids, and a direct insult to our educational systems.

“A New Breed of Atheist” Friday, August 3, 2007

Posted by henry000 in atheism, Christianity, Christopher Hitchens, Dawkins, humanism, rationality, reason, religion, Richard Dawkins, secularism.
10 comments

A writer at ChristianPost has joined a chorus of concerned religious lots in attacking the current atheism movement spearheaded by Dawkins and Hitchens and all. He identifies this new breed atheism, or anti-theism, as something that is:

There’s no substance, just anger and a lot of hot air.

The lack-of-substance argument has been widely used as a main criticism to these hot-selling anti-theism books such as The God Delusion; some even calls them naive and simplistic. I have stressed it previously that when criticising religion or any other ideology systems you need not to be a complete scholar in the subject – there is a difference between being completely ignorant and being knowledgeable enough.

Further, the writer notes:

They don’t argue; they yell. They’ve decided that, simply because they dislike religion, there is no reason to respect it. In their minds, it’s stupid, dangerous, and that’s all that needs to be said.

He also addresses the current atheism trend from the more concerned atheists (emphasis mine):

The old-guard secular humanists are questioning this new trend, and rightly so. Most traditional atheists simply had their own belief system, and if we wanted our belief system that was okay. The new breed reflects the death of truth. They’re like the communists who feared religion more than anything else because it was a competing truth claim.

How many wrongful claims can you find in this single paragraph along?

Incredibly atheism has been equated once again to a belief system. No it isn’t! If so, what is it and what is its faiths and beliefs?

We don’t fear religion. We are incredibly concerned about the dangers religion has shown over and over again, and these dangers are based on irrationality and blind faith. The dangers range from discrimination against non-believers, to religious-based practices such as honour-killing, genital-mutilation, creationism to name just a few, and to global-wide conflicts that I need not to mention here.

This is why the new atheism is being blunt and in-four-face, bringing the religion down from its pedestal.

Further, in a sweeping generalisation the new atheism movement is being labelled as a system that competes with religion to claim truth. Again this is wrong. Atheism keeps an open mind as to what the so-called truth is – it never claims truth. Religions do. And they do that based not on rational approaches but on dogmatic beliefs and ancient writings. Each religion claims it is the truth religion, let alone the plethora of cults and denominations.

The new atheism may be too loud and blunt – get used to it and get over it.

Power of Prayer Proven (and Disproven) – Videos Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Posted by henry000 in animation, Bible, Christianity, Ed Current, faith, funny, God, humor, humour, Jesus, parody, prayer, rationality, reason, religion, sarcasm, video.
2 comments

Here is another great video from Ed Current, whose other previous works The Atheist Delusion and The Deluded Mailbag I have bloggged earlier. He really has a knack of creating good parody!

Here is his latest work which proves that prayer works:

Courtesy of the Friendly Atheist.

Okay, for all the atheists out there, here is a different video which refutes the power of prayer. Now I am totally confused as to whether prayer works or not…