Everything You Know About Evolution Is Wrong (Again)

first_imgThere’s a genre of science news stories characterized by pointing out things Darwin got wrong.  It’s not creationists that do this – these are secular reporters and evolutionary biologists.  They seem to try to one-up Darwin by proposing new theories that do evolution better.  They usually don’t go far enough to jettison Darwin completely, but some come close.  A couple of stories in this genre surfaced recently.    “Evolution More Rapid than Darwin Thought” announced a story in Science Daily.  Maybe that was a way for a grad student writing his dissertation to attract attention.  Magnus Karlsson, a doctoral candidate at Linnaeus University in Kalmar, studied pygmy grasshoppers and found that they change color by natural selection, probably due to predation.  That’s a pretty standard peppered-moth kind of conclusion.  “But the most important part of the dissertation is that I have shown that evolution sometimes proceeds incredibly rapidly,” he said.  “This is huge.”  How huge?  Some color variations appear in one generation.  Karlsson has outdone the peppered moths for speed, and Mr. Slow-and-Gradual himself, Charles Darwin.    Oliver Burkeman went even farther to one-up Darwin.  His story in The Guardian is really a bombshell of the genre: “Why everything you’ve been told about evolution is wrong.”  The subtitle added, “Evolutionary thinking is having a revolution.”  It’s not that evolution itself is wrong, Burkeman explains, but there is a kind of Lamarckian revival: “What if the way you live now affects the life expectancy of your descendants?” the subtitle teased.  First, Burkeman ridicules the creationists to get them out of the way, holding up the old NASA-Joshua internet myth for instant dismissal and using the usual scare quotes around intelligent design.  But then his bombshell comes with the same “This is huge” line Karlsson used:Such talk, naturally, is liable to drive evolutionary biologists into a rage, or, in the case of Richard Dawkins, into even more of a rage than usual.  They have a point: nobody wants to provide ammunition to the proponents of creationism or “intelligent design”, and it’s true that few of the studies now coming to public prominence are all that revolutionary to the experts.  But in the culture at large, we may be on the brink of a major shift in perspective, with enormous implications for how most of us think about how life came to be the way it is.  As the science writer David Shenk puts it in his new book, The Genius in All of Us, “This is big, big stuff � perhaps the most important [discoveries] in the science of heredity since the gene.”That really would be big, but Shenk and Burkeman seem to underestimate the resiliency of Darwin theorists against potentially falsifying observations.  Their proposed Darwin crisis revolves around epigenetics and the definition of organism.  Burkeman also describes the trouble Jerry Fodor is causing with his book What Darwin Got Wrong (02/24/2010).    In the end, though, Burkeman comes to Darwin’s rescue by claiming that Charles Darwin never claimed to have the only mechanism by which evolution acts.  “Darwin, writing before the discovery of DNA, knew very well that his work heralded the beginning of a journey to understand the origins and development of life,” Burkeman ended, dismissing millennia of belief in creation.  “All we may be discovering now is that we remain closer to the beginning of that journey than we’ve come to think.”  So despite the conflict and setbacks, at the end of this scary novel, the protagonist is saved, and Darwin lives happily ever after.These stories appear from time to time; they’re kind of like dummy missiles intended to throw the enemy off track.  They pretend that internal squabbles are about to lead to the collapse of the Darwin Empire.  But in the end, they’re never really trying to chuck Chuck.  They may give him a Charlie horse, but never a hammerlock.  Watch for the hoarse of a different calor.  Their real caloric is saved up for the common enemy: the creationists.  What is it about those guys that makes them the target of such venom and strange antics?  Makes you almost want to get to know them.(Visited 38 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

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The Information Packed Into a Bird Egg

first_imgThere’s more in a bird’s egg than can be accounted for by the Reverse Humpty Dumpty Hypothesis (i.e., Darwinism).Hummingbird eggs, by David CoppedgeA Closer Look at a Bird EggIn 27 June 2017, we quoted Thomas Higginson who in 1862 wagered that a bird’s egg should be voted “the most perfect thing in the universe.” His opinion received support recently from researchers from Montreal, Canada, who took a closer look at eggshells. Publishing their work in the open-access journal Science Advances, they found that eggshells are dynamic structures, that begin hard to prevent breakage while the mother bird incubates them, but gradually soften near hatching time so that the chick can peck its way out. The science was advanced online by Nature, and Phys.org included a video clip from the research that reveals the fine structure of the eggshell.The results also provide insight into the biology and development of chicken embryos in fertilized and incubated eggs. Eggs are sufficiently hard when laid and during brooding to protect them from breaking. As the chick grows inside the eggshell, it needs calcium to form its bones. During egg incubation, the inner portion of the shell dissolves to provide this mineral ion supply, while at the same time weakening the shell enough to be broken by the hatching chick. Using atomic force microscopy, and electron and X-ray imaging methods, Professor McKee’s team of collaborators found that this dual-function relationship is possible thanks to minute changes in the shell’s nanostructure that occurs during egg incubation.World Magazine carried the story with its intelligent design implications, as did Evolution News & Science Today. The discovery may have biomimetic implications, too. World says, “The scientists hope their discovery will allow human engineers to design new, synthetic nanocomposite materials with novel properties.” Unfortunately, co-author Marc McKee gives the credit to blind chance, saying in The Guardian,When you think about it, we should be making materials that are inspired by nature and by biology because, boy, it is really hard to beat hundreds of millions of years of evolution in perfecting something.Apparently he wasn’t thinking about it with sufficient depth of logic.What Comes Out of the EggCheck hatching on Day 21. Credit: Illustra Media.Inside that egg was a growing embryo, which was once a single cell. Inside that cell were genetic and epigenetic instructions to grow an adult bird, as Illustra Media beautifully animated in its film Flight: The Genius of Birds. All the instructions for the complete bird were there in the zygote, including the ability to learn as an adult from its environment. This means that the zygote is more complex than the egg, which is more complex than the adult bird. To fathom the amount of information in an egg, let’s look at some adult birds that hatched out of those incredible incubating chambers.How birds can detect Earth’s magnetic field (Science Daily). Inside that egg was the potential to build navigation equipment that can use input from the magnetosphere. Scientists have been searching for years for the location of that sense. Researchers at Lund University believe they have found it in Cry4, a member of a group of proteins called cryptochromes (‘hidden colors’).The receptors that sense the Earth’s magnetic field are probably located in the birds’ eyes. Now, researchers at Lund University have studied different proteins in the eyes of zebra finches and discovered that one of them differs from the others: only the Cry4 protein maintains a constant level throughout the day and in different lighting conditions.Other cryptochromes vary according to the biological clock, but Cry4 does not. Although work remains to be done to see how Cry4 reads magnetic information and responds to it, this is another clue to a long-standing puzzle. The team believes that all animals may have this ability. Do humans? Whatever is determined, there is another potential use for it: “this knowledge may be of use when developing new navigation systems.” See also the write-up on Phys.org.Birds show astonishing diversity in sizes, colors and habitats, but all develop from eggs in a similar way. Credit: Illustra Media (most images).New Bird of Paradise Species Has Smooth Dance Moves (National Geographic). Take a look at the photo in this article. Would you think it’s a space alien? This jet-black bird of paradise from West Papua New Guinea, with two bright blue eyes and open beak, sporting a glistening aqua neck pouch, is doing its mating dance. Whether it is really a new species or just a variety is a debate for taxonomists, but the embedded video will likely impress anyone. Peacock spiders (ENV) may be the only animals that out-dazzle the mating dances of birds, except, perhaps, peacocks themselves.How birds focus even with eyes on opposite sides of their heads (New Scientist). Bird eyes look sideways, so how can they get stereo vision? This article, unfortunately behind a paywall, says that scientists have proposed three ways they might stay focused. Earlier studies showed that head-bobbing in some birds is accompanied by brain ‘software’ that maximizes the time an image remains still, so that the bird can maintain focus and not lose sight of a subject of interest in its field of vision (12 April 2005).Extremely fast dives help peregrine falcons maneuver to catch agile prey (Science Daily). The world’s fastest bird, the peregrine falcon, can catch its prey during high-speed dives even when the prey is rapidly changing directions. It’s a “risky behavior” that “surely places extraordinary physical and cognitive demands on the falcon.” The team used computer simulations to imitate the hunting strategy, using data from videocams attached to falcons. “The research team found that optimal tuning of the mathematical laws that control steering in the simulation corresponded closely to measurements of steering for real falcons.” Details can be found in the open-access journal PLoS Computational Biology. The Science Daily article mentions a kind of reverse biomimetics, where humans invented something only to learn that nature had it first. “Detailed computer simulations reveal why falcons dive at their prey using the same steering laws as human-made missiles.” For the falcon, that precision guidance system had to be present inside the egg, and programmed inside the zygote.We need a corollary for the law of nature we discovered in science media, which states, ‘The more detail in a science paper, the less talk about evolution.’ The corollary should say, ‘…and the more absurd that evolution-talk becomes.’ (See the SEQOTW above for example.) Darwinians are so silly (e.g., 16 April 2018). They believe in the Reverse Humpty-Dumpty Hypothesis (i.e., Darwinian evolution). By faith, they believe that random biomolecules can leap up and assemble themselves into an egg, given billions of years. Time is not going to help that kind of credulity.(Visited 426 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

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Q&A with Rick Fedrizzi, President and CEO of USGBC

first_imgI recently had an opportunity to ask Mr. Rick Fedrizzi a few questions about green building. With his rich history and the role that he has played in the green building movement, it’s always a privilege and an honor to talk with Rick.With USGBC’s prominent role as a facilitator of the green building market shift, how do you see the organization assisting in the success of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act? What are the challenges to the success of this legislation?USGBC is committed to bringing together the community to share ideas and success stories, which will be fundamental to making the most of the funds allocated in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), which we see as an important down payment on a new, green economy. Prior to the bill’s passage, we worked closely with Congress to craft significant provisions that directed tens of billions of dollars in funding to green building activities proven to save energy, save money, and create jobs–investing in the weatherization of homes for low-income families, helping make green schools a reality for thousands of children, committing to green building leadership in our federal facilities, and supplying funding to crucial grant programs that aid sustainability efforts at the state and local levels.Since President Obama signed the legislation in February, we have launched a multipronged effort to identify and promote ways that state and local leaders and other recipients could maximize the use of recovery dollars to advance sustainability in buildings.  We’ve also developed several resources that can help businesses and homeowners figure out how to best access these funds so the funds can be fully deployed.  The effort is historic, and it will require commitment from a variety of players, including policymakers, citizens, and practitioners, to reinvigorate and transform both our economy and our environment. To learn more about ways to use the recovery funds, visit http://www.usgbc.org/DisplayPage.aspx?CMSPageID=1962How do you see the American Clean Energy and Recovery Act (ACES) taking shape before and after it hits the Senate in September? What role could the USGBC play in supporting that legislation once it passes in its final form?Climate and energy legislation represents a historic opportunity to accelerate green building.  The bill’s very foundation–a cap and trade system for greenhouse gas emissions and an energy efficiency and renewable electricity standard – provides the necessary framework for dramatically shifting how we make decisions about energy, a shift that will spur innovation and investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy.  We know, according to McKinsey & Co., that we’re squandering $130 billion annually by not harnessing the engine of green, energy-efficient buildings. ACES includes several initiatives or provisions supported by or developed in consultation with USGBC to incentivize and accelerate the economic and environmental benefits of green building across the country.  Given the potential savings of $1.2 trillion and the creation of up to 900,000 jobs by 2020 (again, according to McKinsey), advancing a climate bill that increases our nation’s energy efficiency in buildings is an economic, environmental, and national security imperative.  As the Senate negotiates the final form of its version of climate change legislation, we continue our work to strengthen and shape provisions that support and encourage green building while engaging the community to support its passage.There has been a lot of focus on green building these past few years. Do you think the discussion will be broadened, with greater emphasis on communities, towns, and cities?Last year, for the first time, half the world’s population lived in cities. That figure is expected to grow to 70% by 2050. Today, cities occupy just 2% of the world’s land mass but are responsible for more than two-thirds of global energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. Current urban development patterns will not support the projected growth; they must be reinvented.So yes, and we welcome this broader focus that looks beyond the building footprint to how it both impacts and contributes to the quality of life. The USGBC has been working with the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Congress for the New Urbanism to create LEED for Neighborhood Development, the first national program for green neighborhood design and construction. LEED-ND will be hugely important in the marketplace because it takes all we’ve learned about buildings and delivers it on a larger scale, and we’ve learned that it is best delivered not so much building by building, but at the neighborhood level. Not ever building needs its own power plant, but one for a city block or a group of buildings may be more efficient and more resourceful than a national grid. LEED ND helps us explore that.We’re also convinced that city-scale thinking and coordination can have the greatest impact the most quickly. In that regard we’ve been working with the Clinton Climate Initiative to develop the Climate Positive Development Program. This initiative aims to meet the dual challenge of rapid urban growth and climate change by supporting the development of large-scale urban projects that will demonstrate that cities can grow in ways that are “climate positive,” striving to reduce the amount of on-site CO2 emissions to below zero. The Climate Positive Development Program will incorporate CCI’s full range of “Cities” programs–including building retrofit, waste management, outdoor lighting, and transportation – into a focused partnership with 16 participating urban developments on six continents.Are you surprised that the USGBC is continuing to grow at such a rapid pace? How do you explain that in light of the economy and downturn in construction?I think that in a troubled economy, success comes from finding opportunities among challenges. Green building is even more important in light of the current economic challenges. We know that buildings in the U.S. are responsible for 39% of CO2 emissions, 40% of energy consumption, 13% water consumption, and 15% of GDP per year, which makes green building a source of significant economic and environmental opportunity. The Center for American Progress says that greater building efficiency can meet 85% of future U.S. demand for energy, and a national commitment to green building has the potential to generate 2.5 million American jobs. And as I mentioned earlier, we know that 900,000 new jobs are possible by 2020 if we fully advance energy efficiency in our buildings.People want to solve these problems–the economy, climate change, energy dependence. And they know better buildings are a solution–a specific, uncomplicated, straightforward immediate solution, and they know that USGBC has a reputation for getting things done. We give our members and the industry a place to convene. Together we educate, advocate, and press for practical solutions that raise the bar but don’t try to go the distance in one fell swoop. Every time we’ve raised the bar, the market has responded, and that gives us the room to raise the bar a bit more. I think our members and the industry see this and appreciate this social capitalist approach we take.When I hear negativism about the USGBC or the LEED rating systems in the LEED courses that I am teaching or elsewhere, I tell people that the USGBC folks listen to constructive feedback. Is the recent addition of performance requirements to LEED V3 an initiative that was in the cards for USGBC for some time, or was it in response to criticism within the last couple of years?LEED has been in use only nine years, and yet we’re already on the third significant evolution of the rating system precisely because the market keeps telling us what it needs. Though we all might want to go faster, getting a consensus and developing a comprehensive plan takes some time. We began working on LEED 2009 in 2006, and the performance gap—or the disconnect between the modeling that occurs in the design and construction phase and what actually happens in daily operation—was one critical issue we felt had to be part of the next evolution of the rating system, and—equally important—that the market was ready for it. The LEED Steering Committee developed the new Minimum Program Requirements, or MPRs, as a mechanism to help close that performance gap. One of the MPRs requires that USGBC access building energy and water use data was envisioned by the LEED Steering Committee to let owners and operators know how their buildings are performing while helping to improve on future versions of the rating system. And we’re not done–we’re in the process of rolling out a program that will further enhance our data collection and diagnostic efforts to help individual building owners and the industry at large better calibrate their needs in an effort to achieve continuous performance.I am really enjoying creating the USGBC course for REGREEN Home Renovation Guidelines. I firmly believe that this class is a game changer for the USGBC and its educational offerings, given the current emphasis on energy efficiency and available resources through ARRA. Would you like to see REGREEN evolve into a rating system to add to the impressive LEED library?We don’t envision REGREEN as a rating system, but rather as a collection of tried and true best practices and resources for homeowners to use when implementing home renovation projects. We’ve enjoyed the partnership with ASID, and they’ve provided invaluable input into the formation of the nation’s first residential remodeling guidelines. That being said, somewhere down the road, we hope to develop a rating system for existing homes, much like the LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance rating system, that will help ensure that a home is being operated and maintained as energy- and resource-efficiently as possible, all the while providing a healthier environment for occupants. Greening America’s 120 million existing homes and making sure new home construction is green are vital parts of our ability to slow climate change, reduce energy dependence, and help homeowners save on their energy and water bills.Web forums are buzzing with complaints about the LEED AP test. Most complaints focus the questions that are easy to look up in a reference book rather than knowledge of green building concepts. How do you respond to these observations?First let me describe how the tests were developed. All LEED Professional Credentialing exams—the LEED Green Associate Exam and the various LEED AP specialty exams—are specifically designed to test a candidates knowledge in three areas:1. Recall of the factual material that is presented in a similar context to the exam references;2. Application of this learning to problems or scenarios so that the candidate can demonstrate an ability to solve these issues using familiar principles or procedures described in the exam references;3. Analysis that assesses a candidate’s ability to break the problem down into its components to create a solution.Once developed, the validity and reliability of the exam were subjected to extensive independent analysis of each individual question and the exam as a whole. Each exam question was developed and validated by global work groups of “subject matter experts,” referenced to current standards and resources, developed and monitored through psychometric analysis, and found to satisfy the test development specifications of a job analysis.We’re actually pretty excited about how the new credentialing structure has been received. The LEED Green Associate credential is an incentive for more people to become knowledgeable about green building, even if they never design a plan, swing a hammer or spec a window. But these people—lawyers, marketers, general businesspeople–they are as important to market transformation as architects and engineers and designers. For these latter categories, the specialty exams give them ample opportunity to demonstrate their broader expertise.We’ve gone from about 55,000 LEED APs this time last year, to nearly 140,000 at the end of July. That’s an astonishing growth curve, and we want it to continue because it indicates our ability to move this market transformation forward faster.Many residential builders point out that the ICC-700 standard is much more builder-friendly than LEED for Homes. Is USGBC interested in finding ways to make LEED for Homes more builder-friendly?Less than 1% of the U.S. housing stock has been certified under any green residential program, so USGBC’s vision is to help the residential marketplace simply build more green homes, irrespective of which standard is used.  While LEED for Homes is designed largely for the leaders and innovators of the market, other programs, such as ICC-700, offer other builders a viable starting point as they move up the green continuum. To help promote this vision, USGBC has working partnerships with home building associations and local green building programs across the U.S. that educate home builders and home buyers on the key differences between available green home certification programs. This allows the local markets to better understand their available green options without going through the time-consuming process of a rating system modification. Silly question: If you had three wishes, what would they be?1. That when we get to Greenbuild in Phoenix on November 11 -13, that the market will have begun to turn, and that we can take pride in our industry’s contribution to that through energy efficiency and new jobs;2. That every person who stands on the sidelines to “green-bash” is required to actually offer a constructive solution;3. That sooner rather than later we start to see green buildings evolve into regenerative, restorative buildings that generate their own energy.last_img read more

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4 held for locking up woman for 15 years

first_imgPANAJI: The Panaji women’s police station on Wednesday arrested four family members for unlawfully confining a 45-year-old woman, who was rescued after nearly 15 years on Tuesday from a locked room of her maternal house in Candolim village, North Goa. Sub-inspector Reema Naik of the women’s police station told The Hindu on Wednesday that a case was registered against the accused under Sections 344 and 346 read with 34 of the Indian Penal Code. The victim’s two brothers, Mohandas and Ravindra Verlekar, and their wives, Anita and Amita, respectively, were arrested and released on personal bonds.The victim, Sunita Verlekar, has been shifted to a shelter run by the Institute Of Public Assistance (Provedoria), Ms. Naik said.During interrogation on Wednesday, the family produced a certificate issued by the State-owned Institute of Psychology and Human Behaviour (IPHB) in 2008, saying that Sunita suffered from undifferentiated schizophrenia-related moderate disabilities.Medical check-up todayThe Director of State, Provedoria, has arranged for a thorough check-up of the victim at the IPHB on Thursday, and the police have been requested to record her statement only after that.The police said that with the document produced by the family, a senior doctor at the IPHB will now trace her medical records and treat her accordingly.The woman was rescued with the help of activists from Bailancho Saad, a woman’s collective who were alerted about Sunita’s confinement by village activists.According to the police, the victim was locked in one room of a house, which belonged to her brothers. “One of the brothers, who lived in the same house with his family, would give her food through a slit in the door. But we found her without clothes in the room, which had no electricity. There was urine all around the place,” a woman police constable who was involved in the rescue operation had said on Tuesday.last_img read more

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Multi-mission aircraft hangar inaugurated

first_imgIndian Coast Guard Director-General Rajendra Singh inaugurated a multi-mission aircraft hangar at the Coast Guard Air Enclave here on Friday, giving a boost to the futuristic expansion of ICG’s air operation.The ICG’s air assets, including two Dornier aircraft, at Bhubaneswar will swiftly respond to maritime contingencies at extended ranges, ensuring the safety and security off the coast of Odisha, Mr. Singh said.The aircraft are regularly deployed extensively for maritime surveillance, search and rescue and disaster management along the Odisha and West Bengal coasts. It has been tasked with the responsibility of patrolling over 1.5 lakh sq. km of the Indian Exclusive Economic Zone in the Bay of Bengal. Besides, the aircraft were recently deployed for air-dropping of food packets during flash floods in Odisha’s Rayagada district.According to ICG, the Centre has approved a ₹32,000-crore plan that will give more teeth to the security agency. The Coast Guard aims to improve its force level to 175 ships and 110 aircraft by 2022.K.C. Pande, Additional D-G and Coast Guard Commander (Eastern Seaboard), and Kuldeep Singh Sheoran, I-G, were present on the occasion.last_img read more

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