Archive for March, 2006

The Solar System Gets Crazier

Science, Uncategorized, Unexplained Artifact | Posted by Chris Parker
Mar 31 2006

A swath of space beyond Neptune is getting stranger all the time as astronomers find an ever-more diverse array of objects in various orbits and groupings.

A pair of discoveries this month along with a handful of others in 2005 have begun to reveal what some astronomers long suspected: The outer solar system contains a dizzying array of round worlds on countless odd trajectories around the sun, often with multiple satellite systems.

The problem is, current theories of the solar system’s formation and evolution can’t account for it all.

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Dutchman Builds Replica of Noah’s Ark

Amusing?, Religious, The Flood of Noah, Uncategorized | Posted by Chris Parker
Mar 30 2006


By Toby Sterling
Associated Press
Wednesday, March 29, 2006 4:56 AM
AP
Photo: Daily Telegraph

Johan Huibers hopes his working replica of Noah’s Ark will spur greater interest in the Bible.

SCHAGEN, THE NETHERLANDS — Some people think he’s crazy. His wife’s not exactly thrilled either. But like the biblical Noah, Dutchman Johan Huibers is steadfast in his mission: he’s building an enormous working replica of Noah’s Ark as a testament to his faith in the literal truth of the Bible.
Townsfolk in Schagen, 30 miles north of Amsterdam, frequently stop by to wave hello or just gawk at the huge wooden ship that is nearing completion in the town’s small harbour.

Johan’s Ark is calibrated to be able to pass narrowly under every bridge and through every sluice along his planned sailing route, through the interior waters of the Netherlands to the country’s big cities.

Reckoning by the old biblical measurements, the ark is roughly 150 cubits long by 30 cubits high and 20 cubits wide. That’s nearly 230 feet long, 45 feet high, and 30 feet wide.

As described in Genesis, Noah used “gopher wood” to build his ark. Johan’s Ark is constructed with American cedar and Norwegian pine – on top of a seaworthy steel hull.

While spectacular, it holds only about a fifth as many cubic cubits as Noah’s would have, according to most biblical scholars.

“And just think, Noah did it alone and without modern tools. It’s unimaginable, no?” says Huibers, an energetic 47-year-old contractor.

According to Genesis, Noah kept seven pairs of most domesticated animals, and one breeding pair of all other creatures, plus his wife, three sons and three daughters-in-law together on the same boat for almost a year while all the world was submerged by an enormous flood.

Huibers’ vision is more modest. He plans to stock his ark with a collection of farmyard animals such as horses, lambs, chickens and rabbits, plus an exhibition on more exotic creatures.

He hopes to set sail in September – displaying the ark as a combination religious monument, museum, and petting zoo.

“This will speak very much to children, because it will give them something tangible to see that Noah’s Ark really existed,” Huibers says. “They’ll hear the creak of the wood, smell the smell of the dung.”

Huibers kicked the idea around in his head for more than a decade before he bought and milled more than 1,200 logs needed for the project last summer. His son Roy, 17, and several builder friends have helped when they can. But most of the work was up to Huibers.

And Mrs. Huibers?

“She doesn’t really like it,” he says. “She always says ‘Why don’t you go dig wells in Ethiopia?’ I’ve been involved in projects there before. But she understands, this is my dream.”

Seeing is believing. Huibers began hammering in the nails in December, and on a frosty March afternoon, he walked energetically around the ship, pointing out how it will all work.

The entry is through a large drawbridge in the side, leading up to the second of three levels, where the animals will be stalled. Stairs take visitors to displays on the first and third levels. On the top deck will be a small covered house serving drinks, with the zoo outside.

Johan’s Ark will house mostly baby animals, which Huibers believes Noah would also have done to save space. They’re also cuter, which may help business.

The total cost of the non-profit project is estimated at slightly under $1.2 million.

Huibers plans to charge admission, $2.40 for children and $3.60 for adults, which will include a tour, a drink, and a religious pamphlet. “So at least a hundred thousand people will have to visit to call it a success,” he says. “Do you believe they will? I do.”

Huibers has already convinced his fussiest critics: the bankers, who provided loans. Johan’s Ark will meet all naval, fire and animal rights regulations.

Despite coming from the low-lying Netherlands, fear of rising seas from global warming or a new God-sent deluge didn’t play a special role in the Dutchman’s plan.

“It won’t happen again. You know: the rainbow,” he said, referring to the passage in Genesis where God put his “bow in the cloud” as part of his promise that he would never again flood the whole Earth.

Huibers said he hopes the project will renew interest in Christianity in the Netherlands. “That’s my motivation.”

The Giant Stone Head of Guatemala–From Whence and to Whence?

Science, Sophistication of Ancestors, Uncategorized, Unexplained Artifact | Posted by Chris Parker
Mar 29 2006

Philip Coppens

A photograph of an enigmatic head in the Guatemalan jungle is one of those discoveries that quickly achieved notoriety, and equally fast disappeared from the radar. Still, further efforts should perhaps be made to further the cause of this enigma.

Some archaeological findings appear and then soon afterwards disappear again, even though they generate tremendous interest at the time of their initial announcement.

This was definitely the case for a gigantic stone head somewhere in the jungle of Guatemala. One of the first people to speak about this Guatemalan stone head was Dr. Oscar Padilla, in 1987. Padilla was a doctor of philosophy, as well as a lawyer and notary – though many seem to define him as a man interested in UFOs.

With this known interest in the mysterious, he was sent a photograph of a monolith located somewhere in the jungles of Guatemala. The photograph was taken in the 1950s by the owner of the land where the huge stone sculpture was located, but as he had died, Padilla had been unable to determine the exact location.

The story was first printed in the Ancient Astronaut Society newsletter Ancient Skies, in 1987. The article included the important photograph that sat the centre of the controversy.

For controversial it was.

The stone head had very fine features: thin lips, a large sharp nose, leaving an overall Caucasian interpretation. They eyes of the head are closed. Its size is enormous, at least 30 feet, as can be calculated from the three men sitting on top and the car parked in front of the statue.

Some initial observations were made: was the structure just a head, or was there a body underneath? Though unlikely, it could be.

If therefore most likely “just” a head, was there a rapport with the stone torsos of Easter Island? That seemed unlikely, but was asked at the time – specifically given the audience that would read the report.

s8int.com: The “original” photo is in black and white–we colorized it to help you see details in the presumbaly old photo. We’re not attesting to the validity of the story or of the photo, but if you’d like to read the rest of the story Click Here

Refining the Genome

Church of Darwin, Science, Uncategorized | Posted by Chris Parker
Mar 28 2006


GenomeBiology.com
[22 October 2004]

Genome revised down to under 25,000 genes; failings of whole genome shotgun revealed

A comparison of human genome sequences produced using different approaches by the International Human Genome Sequencing Consortium and the private firm Celera reveals that whole genome shotgun sequencing (WGS), as used by Celera, fails miserably on genome segmental duplications.

Writing in Nature this week, Evan Eichler, from Washington University, and colleagues show that WGS does very well for 95% of euchromatin, but falls down in the very large duplications that are greater than 98% identical and longer than 20 kb in size.

“It’s not that bad unless you really care about those large identical duplications,” he told us. The technique “fails and fails miserably” in that regard, he said.

For the current study, Eichler teamed up with previous collaborators Granger G. Sutton and Aaron L. Halpern, both now at the J. Craig Venter Institute in Rockville, Md., in an apparent revisiting of results published by PNAS in February this year. They conclude that breaking up the sequencing of whole genomes into two phases – WGS followed by clone-order-based sequencing in bacterial artificial chromosomes – is the way forward.

Eichler told us he had wanted to return to the comparison because his work for the first paper was completed in just 2 weeks and had been reduced to three sentences of actual data in the PNAS paper. “At that point, I thought that I would do a much more rigorous analysis; that I’m going to broadcast this on my own,” he said.

Eichler and Sutton both felt Celera hadn’t published in more detail because of PNAS page constraints. But, said Halpern, “it wasn’t just page constraints that limited us back in February – we just didn’t have the results at the time.”

Eichler had only had time to do a preliminary analysis in the first place, Sutton and Halpern said. “So, for instance, in this [latest] one, the discussion is about the effect of the length of the repeat and the percent identity – those are entirely new to this paper,” Halpern said.

“The take-home message was that strict application of WGS is going to miss [segmental duplication] regions of the genome,” Eichler added. “In fact, it’s one of those things that without a complete finished sequence of the human genome, we would not understand the architecture of these regions.”

Those sentiments are echoed elsewhere in Nature this week, where Francis Collins, Adam Felsenfeld, and colleagues of the International Human Genome Sequencing Consortium report the final finishing of the human genome sequence.

“If we want to finish the genome sequences for other organisms besides the human, one cannot just count on the shotgun method to do that correctly, at least not in its current form,” Collins, director of the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), told us.

“That’s a lesson that we had pretty much resigned ourselves to,” Collins said. “Now that you have a really final beautifully finished sequence, you can compare it to that of other organisms, particularly the mouse, the rat, and the chimpanzee,” Collins said.

Still, it is the paucity of genes in the human genome – a figure revised downward to fewer than 25,000 – that continues to “blow our socks off,” according to Collins. It seems like an awfully short list to account for the biological properties of a human being, he said.

Felsenfeld, also at NHGRI, coordinated the teams involved in the sequencing project. He said the main surprises had only become apparent with the passage of time. “One of them is the real inhomogeneity of the genome. The most obvious manifestation of that is there is some small number of regions that we just can’t sequence,” he said.

“From here on out, it will require individual ingenuity to try and close any of those remaining gaps,” said Collins. But, he noted, there are probably few, if any, genes left in those unsequenceable regions.

First or Second Century B.C. Colima Toad, or Ankylosaur?

Crypto, Dinosaurs in Literature, Science, Uncategorized, Unexplained Artifact | Posted by Chris Parker
Mar 28 2006

Here at s8int.com, we know that there’s probably no less exciting “dinosaur” than the ankylosaur —but here again we use this particular distinctive animal to prove that man and “dinosaur” co-existed, just as the Bible tells us.

Sure, we wish we had a first century example of a t-rex, but today we have to deal with what we have. (we do have more interesting examples on prior pages of this section)

The item shown above was for sale. The company selling it “knows” that ankylosaurs died out 65 million years ago, according to scientists who study such things. Therefore, this has to be a toad, (for which there is some resemblance, we suppose) which did still exist more than 2,500 years ago.

They describe it first as a toad and then later in the text as a “reptile”. Of course, toads are not reptiles, they are amphibians. Anklyosaurs were reptiles, however, but we’re probably just being picky.

Below we provide; the auctioneer’s full description, photos of the object in question, a picture of some actual toads, as well as a synopsis of what science says about the anklyosaur. You’ll have to decide for yourself if this is a Colima culture toad, –or a dinosaur.

Frankly, we think toads will be insulted by the comparison.

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The Arch Bishop of Canterbury, Opposes Creationism in Schools —–ARCH 1: Principal, chief {an arch-villain}

Church of Darwin, Religious, Uncategorized | Posted by Chris Parker
Mar 23 2006

By Paul Majendie
Tue Mar 21, 7:46 AM ET

LONDON (Reuters) – The spiritual leader of the world’s Anglicans does not believe that creationism — the Bible-based account of the world’s origins — should be taught in schools.

“I don’t think it should, actually. No, No,” said Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, reflecting on the bitter education debate over religion and science that has so divided the United States in particular.

Williams, head of a church which has no problem with the Darwinian theory of evolution, told the Guardian newspaper: “I think creationism is, in a sense, a kind of category mistake, as if the Bible were a theory, like other theories.”

Asked if he was comfortable with the teaching of creationism in schools, the mild-mannered and usually cautious theologian said: “Not very. Not very.”

In the battle to bring God into the classroom, Christian conservative supporters of creationism and intelligent design seek to deny or downgrade the importance of evolution.

Intelligent design proponents say that nature is so complex that it must have been the work of a creator rather than the result of random natural selection as outlined in Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.

Williams’ stance echoes the position of the Roman Catholic Church, the world’s largest single Christian denomination, which has weighed into the debate by praising a U.S. court decision that rejected the intelligent design theory as non-scientific.

Catholicism, which has never rejected evolution, teaches that God created the world and the natural laws by which life developed.

British businessman Peter Vardy has funded schools in northern England that came under attack for teaching creationism in biology classes.

But the creationist movement has certainly not taken hold as strongly in Britain as it has in the United States.

“Religion has become politicized in America. That is not the case here. This is not a major issue,” religious commentator and broadcaster Clifford Longley told Reuters.

“There is no intellectual credibility given to creationism in this country. There is no parallel between English evangelicals and American evangelicals.

“When I wrote an article saying there were no creationists in Britain, they both wrote to me.”

Giants of the Far North; Giantism or Acromegaly?

Giants in Those Days, Science, Uncategorized, Unexplained Artifact | Posted by Chris Parker
Mar 20 2006

Photo: Egil Skallagrimson

“We note that the discovery of “Giant” remains in around 1930 was written up in the scientific journals of the day with casual racism. We note with interest as well scientific attempts to explain why a “modern” man –and other reamins found in the same cemetary” were of such huge size and why they exhibited characteristics similar to those of remains science had called Neanderthal.

Some creationists have previously suggested that Neanderthal was simply a modern man suffering some type of pathology. Evolutionists have resisted such an idea.

Here, science ironically tries to explain “giant”, and or “Neanderthal like” characteristics found on an obviously “modern” man as-being due to some type of pathology. “..s8int.com

Man of Gardar

What manner of man was the Man of Gardar?

Was he a surviving neanderthaloid type, thousands of years out of his time in the middle ages? Was he a freak Eskimo, living with the dwindling colony of Norsemen on the unfriendly coast of Greenland in the twelfth or thirteenth century?

Or was he a degeneration type arising from the inbreeding of a malnourished group of white men cut off from the rest of the world?

These questions have been roused by the recent discovery in the medieval Christian cemetery at Gardar, southwest Greenland, of a most extraordinary skull…..

Sir Arthur is inclined to look upon the strange skull as a result of a disorder of growth, somewhat like the fairly common and distressing type of giantism known as acromegaly. This disease is due to a glandular failure, and frequently results, says Sir Arthur, in the assumption, “in a bizarre form, of all the characteristics of the skulls of ancient fossil man—particularly Neanderthal and Rhodesian characters.

“Homo gardarensis must have been the subject of a particular disorder of growth—the kind of disorder which causes giantism in man, but whereas in most giants growth soon becomes irregular, in Homo gardarensis it remained regular.” ..July 19, 1930 Biofortean Review

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Huge Unidentifiable Bird in Hawaii

Crypto, Science, Uncategorized, Unexplained Artifact | Posted by Chris Parker
Mar 18 2006


Photo: Simulated

I was stationed in an infantry unit at Schofield Barracks on Oahu from 1996 through 2000.

Our company was conducting a training excercise in what we called the Kahuku range which is a mountain range on the North East side of the Island. It’s roughly ten miles inland from where the Turtle Bay Resort is for anyone familiar with the area.

I’m not positive of the exact month but I’m pretty sure it was October or November of 1999. We had just completed a night excercise and it was about 1:00 a.m and we had bed down for the night.

It was a full moon and there were only a few small clouds high in the sky so we opted not to build shelters and just roll our mats out and go to sleep. As I was laying there looking at the sky I noticed a huge bird like creature hovering way up in the sky amongst the clouds apparently riding thermals or something.

It right away struck me as odd because it was flying at around the same altitude that the passenger jets traveled at and was still easily visible to me. I only knew this because it flew through the same little set of clouds that a jet had flown through not five minutes earlier.

This “bird” had very long angular wings that swept out and away from its body. A long body and either a long neck with a pointed head or a very elongated head on a shorter neck it was hard to distinguish that feature.

It’s tail was about one quarter the size of it’s body and apeared theat it might be feathered.

I would estimate the wingspan at 20 feet and that is only using the plane that was in the same clouds to reference against. I know commercial planes have wingspans between 130-195 feet and this “bird” was roughly 1/8th that size. It must have been about 8-10 feet from beak to tail.

It’s body was aerodynamic and well proportioned to it’s wings. It’s flight seemed effortless, only flapping it’s wings once every 30 to 40 seconds. I could not distinguish any color as it was night time. I watched this thing hover and dive around the clouds for about two minutes in awe and totally confused.

At that time I looked over to my buddy lying on the ground next to me an noticed him still awake staring into the sky. I asked him “Do you see that?” and I remember his reply exactly, he said “Yeah, what the hell is that thing, it looks like a pterodactyl.”

I said “I don’t know but that thing is massive.”

He even reinforced my thoughts on it’s size by noting it was flying in the same spot as the jet as I had noticed. We watched it for about another 3 minutes until it flapped it’s wings a few times gaining more altitude and departed in a southerly direction.

We discussed what it could be for about an hour. He swore it was a dinosaur and made jokes about Jurassic park being filmed in Hawaii. We finally concluded that it looked like a cross between a modern bird and a pterodactyl. It didn’t seem like it was conclusively one or the other.

I know this account is a little winded and I still feel foolish telling it sometimes but I wanted to give as much detail as I could remember. I called the university of Hawaii two days later when we got back to base and asked a biology professor there if he knew what it was that I saw and he pretty much laughed at me and told me that maybe my eyes were tired from training in the dark because birds that size don’t exist.

He suggested a number of large migratory oceanic birds none of which even closely resemble what we saw. I’ve looked in a ton of books and all over on-line and have not found a bird or reptile, modern day or extinct that matches the silhouette of what I saw that night.

I was hoping someone in the cryptozoology community may be able to give me some insight as to what it may be. Again I know this story is long so feel free to edit where needed.

Source: Aaron Sanchez; Cryptozoology.com

All Those Darwinian Doubts

Church of Darwin, Science, Uncategorized | Posted by Chris Parker
Mar 17 2006

By: David Berlinski
Wichita Eagle via Discovery Institute
March 9, 2005

The defense of Darwin’s theory of evolution has now fallen into the hands of biologists who believe in suppressing criticism when possible and ignoring it when not. It is not a strategy calculated to induce confidence in the scientific method.

A paper published recently in the Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington concluded that the events taking place during the Cambrian era could best be understood in terms of an intelligent design – hardly a position unknown in the history of western science.

The paper was, of course, peer-reviewed by three prominent evolutionary biologists. Wise men attend to the publication of every one of the Proceeding’s papers, but in the case of Steven Meyer’s “The origin of biological information and the higher taxonomic categories,” the Board of Editors was at once given to understand that they had done a bad thing. Their indecent capitulation followed at once.

Publication of the paper, they confessed, was a mistake. It would never happen again. It had barely happened at all. And peer review?

The hell with it.

“If scientists do not oppose antievolutionism,” Eugenie Scott, the Executive Director of the National Center for Science Education, remarked, “it will reach more people with the mistaken idea that evolution is scientifically weak.” Scott’s understanding of ‘opposition’ had nothing to do with reasoned discussion. It had nothing to do with reason at all. Discussing the issue was out of the question. Her advice to her colleagues was considerably more to the point: “Avoid debates.”

Everyone else had better shut up.

In this country, at least, no one is ever going to shut up, the more so since the case against Darwin’s theory retains an almost lunatic vitality.

Look – The suggestion that Darwin’s theory of evolution is like theories in the serious sciences – quantum electrodynamics, say – is grotesque. Quantum electrodynamics is accurate to thirteen unyielding decimal places. Darwin’s theory makes no tight quantitative predictions at all.

Look – Field studies attempting to measure natural selection inevitably report weak to non-existent selection effects.

Look – Darwin’s theory is open at one end since there are no plausible account for the origins of life.

Look – The astonishing and irreducible complexity of various cellular structures has not yet successfully been described, let alone explained.

Look – A great many species enter the fossil record trailing no obvious ancestors and depart for Valhalla leaving no obvious descendents.

Look – Where attempts to replicate Darwinian evolution on the computer have been successful, they have not used classical Darwinian principles, and where they have used such principles, they have not been successful.

Look – Tens of thousands of fruit flies have come and gone in laboratory experiments, and every last one of them has remained a fruit fly to the end, all efforts to see the miracle of speciation unavailing.

Look – The remarkable similarity in the genome of a great many organisms suggests that there is at bottom only one living system; but how then to account for the astonishing differences between human beings and their near relatives – differences that remain obvious to anyone who has visited a zoo?

But look again – If the differences between organisms are scientifically more interesting than their genomic similarities, of what use is Darwin’s theory since it’s otherwise mysterious operations take place by genetic variations?
These are hardly trivial questions. Each suggests a dozen others. These are hardly circumstances that do much to support the view that there are “no valid criticisms of Darwin’s theory,” as so many recent editorials have suggested.

Serious biologists quite understand all this. They rather regard Darwin’s theory as an elderly uncle invited to a family dinner. The old boy has no hair, he has no teeth, he is hard of hearing, and he often drools. Addressing even senior members at table as Sonny, he is inordinately eager to tell the same story over and over again.

But he’s family. What can you do?

David Berlinski holds a Ph.D. from Princeton University. He is the author of On Systems Analysis, A Tour of the Calculus, The Advent of the Algorithm, Newton’s Gift, The Secrets of the Vaulted Sky, and, most recently, Infinite Ascent: A Short History of Mathematics. He is a senior fellow with Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture.

“God’s Scientist” Receives “supreme” Award

Religious, Science, Uncategorized, Unexplained Artifact | Posted by Chris Parker
Mar 17 2006

Richest grant goes to cosmologist who says religion best explains laws of universe

by MICHAEL VALPY

Globe and Mail, March 17, 2006

Cambridge University cosmologist and mathematician John Barrow was awarded $1.6-million yesterday to do research into whether God is sitting at the control panel behind the Theory of Everything about the universe.

He won the 2006 Templeton Prize for Progress Toward Research or Discoveries about Spiritual Realities, the world’s richest individual scholarly research grant.

Its initiator, mutual-fund investor Sir John Templeton, specified that it be worth more than the Nobel Prize (which is worth about $1.5-million) so the media would take it seriously.

Dr. Barrow, 53, author of 17 books and one play (about infinity), believes that monotheistic religious thought about God and creation offers a better explanation than anything else, including most science, of how the universe works.

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