Re: Scientists create 'DNA computer', etc

From: Stephen E. Jones (
Date: Mon Jan 17 2000 - 08:21:17 EST

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    Below are web article links, headlines and/or paragraphs for the period 11-
    13 January 2000, in descending date order, with my comments in square


    CNN ... Scientists create 'DNA computer' January 13, 2000 ... Scientists
    have created a "DNA computer" from strands of synthetic DNA they
    coaxed into solving relatively complex calculations, according to a report
    in today's issue of the journal Nature. ... Also at: Yahoo! ...
    Wednesday January 12 ... Scientists Take DNA Computing Out of the Test
    Tube LONDON (Reuters) - ...DNA computing has sparked intense interest
    because more information can be stored on molecules of DNA than any
    silicon computer chip. Scientists estimate that a dried gram of DNA can
    store more information than a trillion CDs. ... & BBC
    ... Wednesday, 12 January, 2000, ... DNA computers take shape Anchoring
    DNA to a substrate may liberate its computing potential By BBC News
    Online Science Editor Dr David Whitehouse ... DNA can do this through
    the manufacture of enzymes, which are biological catalysts that could be
    called the 'software' used to execute the desired calculation. ... The appeal
    of DNA computing lies in the fact that DNA molecules can store far more
    information than any existing computer memory chip. ... The logic behind
    conventional digital computers represents information as a series of
    electrical impulses using ones and zeros. DNA computing depends on
    information represented as a pattern of molecules arranged on a strand of
    DNA. [More evidence that the information encoded on DNA is the
    essentially the same as human intelligently designed information encoded
    on silicon.]
    ABCNEWS ... Copying the `Natural' Way Embryo Split Early, Creating a
    Twin Researchers used a technique called embryo splitting to produce a
    rhesus monkey named Tetra. The technique is commonly used among farm
    animals, but it's taking a step into primate labs. ... The Associated Press
    Jan. 13 - Researchers using a technique called embryo splitting hope to
    grow genetically identical rhesus monkeys in the laboratory - a
    breakthrough that would enable experiments such as growing new organs
    from stem cells to be tested on monkeys rather than mice. ... Also at: ...
    Sci/Tech ... Friday, 14 January, 2000 ... Breakthrough as scientists 'clone'
    monkey Tetra may help research into human diseases By BBC News
    Online Science Editor Dr David Whitehouse Tetra is a rhesus monkey and
    the first primate to be "cloned" using a method that splits the original cells
    in an embryo to make multiple identical animals. [If they can grow
    genetically identical monkeys by splitting embryos, one presumes they can
    also grow genetically identical humans the same way?]
    CNN ... Experts cite 'strong evidence' of global warming Panel finds
    spike in temperatures over last two decades January 13, 2000 ...
    The report, announced Wednesday night in a statement by the
    National Academy of Science's National Research Council, takes
    an unusually strong stand on the issue. It also undermines a
    principal argument used by scientists who dissent with the majority
    view, which is that global warming is well under way with possibly
    dire environmental consequences. ... [I have ignored global
    warming articles as off-topic, although it does have a connection
    with the Creation/Evolution debate in terms of its effect on
    extinction and with ID in terms of the type of society we are going to
    have in the 21st century. For general information this is an
    important statement on the subject by the NAS.] CNN ... FDA
    ban on blood donations from gay men challenged The federal
    government's ban on blood donations from gay men is being
    challenged, but there is strong political and public pressure to keep
    the policy in place January 13, 2000 ... From Correspondent Rusty
    Dornin SAN FRANCISCO (CNN) -- While San Francisco
    experiences an acute shortage of blood, one gay city official is
    waging a campaign to change a federal policy that bars him, or any
    gay man who has engaged in any homosexual behavior since
    1977, from donating blood. ... [Whether one thinks homosexual acts
    are OK or not, the fact is that homosexual activity has a strong
    correlation with infectious disease like HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C. It
    is the responsibility of blood donation and transfusion servcies to
    ensure that risks to patients are minimised as far as possible. As a
    father whose daughter needed 20 units of blood after a road
    accident, and who prayed that she would not contract AIDS or
    hepatitis C, I would be appalled if so-called `gay rights' were
    pushed so far as to increase the risk of innocent patients
    contracting a potentially fatal blood-borne disease.] CNN ...
    How old is Kennewick Man? January 13, 2000 ... YAKIMA, Washington
    (AP) -- The federal government on Thursday will release results of carbon-
    dating tests on Kennewick Man, one of the oldest and most complete
    skeletons found in North America. The U.S. Department of the Interior
    also will decide whether to classify the human remains as Native American
    under federal law. .... Initial tests indicated Kennewick Man was about
    9,200 years old. ... [This might be an interesting test of which has the
    priority: science or Native American culture?]
    ABCNEWS ... Are We All From Mars? Earth and Mars May Have
    Swapped Microbes ... By Kenneth Chang ATLANTA, Jan. 12 -
    New calculations show through the history of the solar system,
    billions of Martian rocks blasted into space by colliding comets and
    meteors eventually crashed into Earth, and vice versa. ... Mars,
    smaller than Earth, would have cooled to hospitable temperatures
    first. And most planetary scientists envision that early Mars would
    have been a warm, wet place - conditions considered amenable to
    life. .... in the first half billion years of the solar system's history,
    when there was a lot more stuff whizzing through, some 50 billion
    Martian rocks would have tumbled down on Earth. ... [Personally I
    have no problem with life originating somewhere else and being
    transported to Earth by meteorite(s). As a Moderate Concordist I find
    it 0significant that Genesis 1 does not say that God created first life
    on Earth.]
    Yahoo! ... Wednesday January 12 ... Did Bacteria Survive Trip
    From Mars? ATLANTA (Reuters) - Astronomers reported on
    Wednesday they had found a tough but peaceful pair of bacteria
    that might have been able to survive the arduous trip from Mars,
    back when the Red Planet could have supported life. ... The
    bacteria -- Bacillus subtilis (wild) and Deinococcus radiodurans R1 -
    - are resistant to high speeds, extreme heat and radiation... [It
    should be possible to tell if these bacteria are primitive, by
    subjecting them to a molecular cladistic test. If they are at or near
    the root of the presumed bacterial family tree, then it is possible
    that they originated from Mars. But if they are not then it is more
    likely they later adapted to life in extreme environments. But what is
    interesting about this article is that it seems to indicate that science
    is giving up on the first origin of life on Earth and is now looking for
    it in space. It is of course much less likely that they will find bacteria
    on other planets, and even if they do, in proving they did not come
    from Earth. Given NASA's habit of crash-landing space craft on
    nearby planets :-), it would always be possible that they hitchhiked
    from Earth. Only if such life were radically different could it be
    proven that they did not originate on Earth. The article does say
    that it is unlikely that life began outside our Solar System. But I
    would have thought there would be an easy way to test whether life
    arose naturalistically by simulating all plausible planetary
    environments and placing plausible combinations of chemicals in
    them. If the materialist-naturalist assumption is correct that life
    arose when the conditions were right, then scientists should
    eventually see life arise out of non-living chemicals in a laboratory
    here on Earth.]
    ABCNEWS ... Spotting a Stellar Nursery Understanding How Globular
    Clusters Arise ... By Kenneth Chang ... ATLANTA, Jan. 12 - Astronomers
    have spotted jampacked clumps of hundreds of thousands of infant stars
    still nestled within their stellar nurseries of gas and dust. The discoveries
    could help explain how these huge stellar groups, known as globular
    clusters, form - and how they manage to not blow themselves apart as they
    form. ... [This could have implications for the standard hot big bang model
    because the article says that now old and stellar globular clusters have been
    found but no middle-aged ones. However as a unrepentant Big-Banger I
    would speculate that maybe there is a "survival of the fittest" among
    globular clusters in that they mostly blow themselves apart in early- to
    middle-age and those which survive to old-age are rare?]
    Yahoo! ... Wednesday January 12 6:46 PM ET Height Matters, Study
    Shows By Patricia Reaney LONDON (Reuters) - Charles Darwin
    suggested it, Hollywood producers have long insisted on it and British and
    Polish scientists have now confirmed it -- tall men get the girls. Their
    research shows that tall men are more sexually attractive and have more
    children than shorter men. "They tend to have more children presumably
    because they are more attractive. They are more likely to get married and
    whether they get married or not they are more likely to produce more
    offspring," Robin Dunbar told Reuters. Also at: CNN
    WEB SITES: CNN ... Tall men get the girls and have more kids than short
    guys, study says January 12, 2000 ... Buss, who has written two books on
    human mating habits, said the female preference for taller males harkens
    back to the earliest stages of human evolution. That was a time when
    prehistoric women chose mates who could offer them the best protection
    and provide for their needs. ... Also at: BBC
    ... Thursday, 13 January, 2000 ... Tall guys get the girls ... "Height is also a
    cue to the kind of resources a husband can bring into a relationship and this
    has a huge impact on the survival chances of their offspring." ... "I suppose
    one of the important consequences of these results is really to show up that
    human behaviour is driven, at one level at least, by evolutionary processes.
    It doesn't mean that everything we do is genetically determined but
    evolution is guiding our behaviour," Professor Dunbar told the BBC.
    Professor Dunbar says short men should not lose heart - the process of
    choosing a mate is very complex and height will only be one factor. ... [A
    good (?) example of Darwinian extrapolation. From a sample of only 4,400
    men in one country (Poland) and finding that: 1) "childless men in all age
    groups were about 1.2 inches shorter than men with at least one child"; 2)
    "Bachelors were also shorter than married men"; and 3) "The only
    exception...was for men born during the 1930s who reached adulthood
    shortly after World War Two when there was a shortage of eligible men",
    the evolutionary psychologists concluded that "the effect of height on
    reproductive output might be due to shorter men being disadvantaged in
    the search for a mate" and that "their findings support Darwin's theory of
    sexual selection...based on preferences for specific traits in one sex by
    members of the other sex". But the fact that married men who were
    childless already had found a mate, and the article admitted that "tall men
    and women are more successful than shorter individuals on average in
    many different walks of life", would indicate that the lower fecundity rate
    of shorter people in Poland might be due more to their rational decisions to
    delay or not to have as many children based on economic factors. In any
    event for Darwinian evolutionary psychologists to extrapolate from
    fecundity rates in a minority of the population in a 20th century,
    impoverished, politically subjected, European industrial nation, to
    Darwinian conclusions about all human societies throughout all history and
    even prehistory, just shows how pseudoscientific Darwinian ways of
    thinking can be! In the BBC article it is interesting how Prof. Dunbar
    personalises "evolution" as "guiding our behaviour"! But he has an escape
    clause which vitiates everything he has just said: "the process of choosing a
    mate is very complex and height will only be one factor"!]
    Yahoo! ... Wednesday January 12 ... Scientists Reduce Estimate of Near
    Earth Asteroids By Patricia Reaney LONDON (Reuters) - The number of
    asteroids capable of colliding with the Earth and causing massive
    devastation is only about half of previous estimates, American scientists
    said on Wednesday. Researchers said there were only 500-1,000 asteroids
    large enough to cause a catastrophe -- rather than 1,000-2,000 -- and 90
    percent of them would probably be detected within the next 20 years. ...
    Also at:
    CNN...Scientists slash estimate of near-Earth asteroids January 12, 2000...
    Scientists believe an asteroid could hit the Earth in the far distant future,
    some time over the next 100,000 years, but in the next 100 years there is
    only a small chance. ... & ...
    Sci/Tech ... Wednesday, 12 January, 2000, ... No escaping asteroids It hit
    the dinosaurs and it could hit us By BBC News Online Science Editor Dr
    David Whitehouse Whether an asteroid will hit the Earth is a question of
    when, not if. Though it is an unlikely event, it will happen given enough
    time. We might be unlucky and it may occur next year, or we may have to
    wait a 100,000 years for a major impact. ... The number of Near Earth
    Objects (NEOs) is about half of that previously estimated. But the threat
    they pose is undiminished, according to a survey. ... [This is good news,
    but as the BBC article says it is still only a question of *when*! It only
    needs *one* large asteroid on a collision course with Earth to not be
    detected or to be detected too late!]
    Yahoo! ... Wednesday January 12 ... Mass Hysteria May Be Rising
    - U.S. Study BOSTON (Reuters) - Outbreaks of mass hysteria,
    including fears of poison gases in the air, may be on the rise and
    traditional efforts to combat them may only make them worse, an
    article in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine found.
    Researchers said it was likely that as fear of bioterrorism or
    environmental toxins rose, outbreaks of short-term, widespread,
    psychogenic illness were likely to increase. ... [It is interesting that
    with the decline of Christian faith there appears to be an increase in
    fear. This may tie in with Jesus' prediction that before He returns
    "Men's hearts" will be "failing them for fear, and for looking after
    those things which are coming on the earth..." (Luke 21:26 AV)?]
    Yahoo! ... Wednesday January 12 ... Milky Way's Halo Caused by
    Exploding Stars - NASA ATLANTA (Reuters) - Thousands of
    exploding stars left a tell-tale halo of searingly hot gas around the
    Milky Way, NASA scientists reported ... The football-shaped halo is
    huge, extending about 5,000 to 10,000 light years above and below
    the plane of the Milky Way galaxy, which contains Earth... Also at:
    ABCNEWS ... Understanding Heavenly Halos Looking to
    Supernovae as the Source This computer image shows a halo
    blown out by supernovae. The halo extends thousands of light-
    years from the center. (NASA) By Kenneth Chang
    ATLANTA, Jan. 12 - Our Milky Way galaxy is bathed in the glow of
    ultrahot gas likely blown out by the explosions of dying stars. ...
    University of Wisconsin astronomer Blair Savage described it as a
    "galactic fountain" where supernovae explosions blast interstellar
    gas upward and downward away from the galaxy's central disk,
    which then, tens of millions of years later, falls back to the center
    by gravity. ... [Another obstacle to extragalactic panspermia, travel
    and SETI?]
    Yahoo! ... Tuesday January 11 ... Virus Found As Cause of Lou
    Gehrig's Disease WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Researchers said on
    Tuesday they had found the best evidence yet that a virus causes a
    deadly paralyzing disease known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
    (ALS). ... best known ...for affecting physicist Stephen Hawking,
    affects the motor nerve cells in the spinal cord, gradually
    weakening muscles in the body and eventually causing paralysis.
    Patient's brains are spared, leaving them trapped in a deteriorating
    body. The disease is fatal and incurable but some people can live
    with ALS for years. ... [This is only included because of its
    connection with Stephen Hawking, although baseball fans might be
    interested too.]

    "In discussing the power of evolutionary theory, Root-Bernstein says: `In
    the absence of evolutionary theories, any chronological ordering of the
    fossil record would seem to be a possibility, and no means would exist to
    choose one order over another.' This statement expresses the common
    misconception that paleontologists arrange fossils in a theoretically
    reasonable order and then use this order to construct a chronology. In fact,
    no evolutionary theory at all is required to use fossils for geochronology.
    The best evidence is that the geological time scale in its modern form was
    fully developed by about 1840 - before Darwin's Origin of Species. The
    time scale based on fossils was built by geologists who were creationists.
    Since 1840, many details have been filled in, but the basic sequence has
    remained unchanged." (Raup D.M., "Evolution and the Fossil Record",
    Science, Vol. 213, No. 4505, 17 July 1981, p289).
    Stephen E. Jones | |

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