300-year philosophy battle over the nature of space rages on

From philosopher Emily Thomas at The Conversation: Is there space between the stars? The relationist Leibniz argued that space is the spatial relations between things. Australia is “south of” Singapore. The tree is “three meters left of” the bush. Sean Spicer is “behind” the bush. That means space would not exist independently of the things […]



When you disappear from Wikipedia is when you matter, apparently

From David Klinghoffer at Evolution News & Views: Günter Bechly is a distinguished paleontologist, specializing in fossil dragonflies, exquisitely preserved in amber for tens of millions of years. After revealing his support for the theory of intelligent design, he was pushed out as a curator at the State Museum of Natural History in Stuttgart, Germany. […]

Evolution at last! In an English country garden

From ScienceDaily: A British enthusiasm for feeding birds may have caused UK great tits to have evolved longer beaks than their European counterparts, according to new research. … The specific gene sequences which had evolved in the British birds were found to closely match human genes known to determine face shape. There were also strong […]

Ancient teeth don’t rewrite human history after all

From Michael Greshko at National Geographic: Despite claims of a new origin story for humans, the fossils more likely belonged to a very distant branch on the primate family tree. … Study leader Herbert Lutz, the deputy museum director at the Mainz Natural History Museum, says that he and his colleagues have been dumbfounded by […]

Could that hole in the sun be dark matter?

From Shannon Palus at New Scientist: THERE is a hole in the sun. Right in the middle, a mass the size of 1500 Earths has simply disappeared. Much of what we know about the sun’s behaviour says it should be there – but when we interpret the data encoded in sunlight, that chunk of stuff […]

Microbiology needs more math to help sort out the concept of “species”? Oh but wait…

From Mikhail Tikhonov at The Scientist: More profoundly, microbial ecosystems are a strange world where many familiar concepts start to break down, including “species,” “fitness,” and maybe even “organism.” In our everyday experience, we are rarely in doubt whether a given creature is a fox or a rabbit. Further, it seems very easy to delineate […]

Are we really closing in on dark matter?

From Cathay O’Connell at at Cosmos: Like me, physicists around the world are in the midst of an important search that has so far proven fruitless. Their quarry is nothing less than most of the matter in the universe, so-called “dark matter”. So far their most sensitive detectors have found – to be pithy – […]

Could more than 30,000 biomed studies be suspect due to contaminated cells?

Yes. From Peter Dockrill at Science Alert: Of the 451 cell lines known to be compromised, the most famous contaminating source is what’s known as HeLa cells, named after their source, Henrietta Lacks. In 1951, this 31-year-old mother of five from Virginia died from cervical cancer. But during treatment before her death, cells were taken […]

Zap! RNA World gets another brief jolt of life

From ScienceDaily: The spark of life, the authors say, was the creation of RNA polymers: the essential components of nucleotides, delivered by meteorites, reaching sufficient concentrations in pond water and bonding together as water levels fell and rose through cycles of precipitation, evaporation and drainage. The combination of wet and dry conditions was necessary for […]

Eight minute vid for Michael Denton’s new Wonder of Water

From Michael Denton’s new book, Wonder of Water: This wonder fluid is fit for life on Earth in an absolutely stunning number of ways. It is fit for the formation of proto-planetary discs, for the formation of the planets, for the formation of the oceans, and for their subsequent preservation. Water is uniquely fit for […]

Convergent evolution: Independent origin of lizard toepads = evolution a “tinkerer”?

From ScienceDaily: Travis Hagey, Michigan State University evolutionary biologist, shows how different groups of lizards — geckos and anoles — took two completely different evolutionary paths to developing the beneficial trait of sticky toe pads. In a paper published in the journal Evolution, Hagey showed that anoles seemed to commit to a single type of […]

Theoretical physicist: Textbook inflation theory does not solve flatness problem

From Sabine Hossenfelder at her blog Backreaction: I’ve had many interesting reactions to my recent post about inflation, this idea that the early universe expanded exponentially and thereby flattened and smoothed itself. The maybe most interesting response to my pointing out that inflation doesn’t solve the problems it was invented to solve is a flabbergasted: […]

Claim: Whales and dolphins have rich ‘human-like’ cultures and societies

From ScienceDaily: Whales and dolphins (Cetaceans) live in tightly-knit social groups, have complex relationships, talk to each other and even have regional dialects — much like human societies. A major new study, published today in Nature Ecology & Evolution (Monday 16th October), has linked the complexity of Cetacean culture and behaviour to the size of […]

Fatty tissues found in fossil bird from 48 million years ago

From ScienceDaily: As a rule, soft parts do not withstand the ravages of time; hence, the majority of vertebrate fossils consist only of bones. Under these circumstances, a new discovery from the UNESCO World Heritage Site “Messel Pit” near Darmstadt in Germany comes as an even bigger surprise: a 48-million-year old skin gland from a […]

Chemistry World: Suppression of academic freedom is a global crisis

In North America, we think mainly in terms of toxic snowflakes, of the sort that made it dangerous for their biology prof to be on campus. But elsewhere, it can be worse. From Maria Burke at Chemistry World: Thousands of people in the higher education sector have been targeted in Turkey where state and university […]

Are wealthy, white, male mavericks part of science’s problem?

From philosopher of science Adrian Currie at Aeon: There’s a scarcity of jobs compared with the number of applicants, and very few high-ranking and ‘big impact’ journals. This means that the research decisions that scientists make, particularly early on, are high-risk wagers about what will be fruitful and lead to a decent career. The road […]

A common species of beetle turns out to be two species

Using “cutting edge DNA technology.” From ScienceDaily: Meladema coriacea is among Europe’s largest water beetles and has been considered common across the south of the continent and in North Africa since the early 19th century. But academics from the University of Plymouth and the Institute of Evolutionary Biology in Barcelona have now shown what was […]

Reptile had bird-like head 100 million years before birds

From Jake Buehler at Gizmodo: Imagine an animal with the body of a chameleon, the feet and claws of an anteater, the humped back of a camel, and a tail that is both flattened like a beaver’s, but also like that of a scorpion. If you’re thinking this sounds like someone just threw your local […]

Dan Brown tries the Science disproves/dismisses God trick

As Breitbart (as a handy source) reports: >>“Historically, no god has survived science. Gods evolved,” the best-selling American novelist said at the Frankfurt Book Fair, where he unveiled his newest book, “Origin”. The fifth instalment in the wildly popular series that started with “The Da Vinci Code” tracks Harvard professor Robert Langdon’s latest code-cracking adventure […]

Nature cannot be all there is. Science demonstrates that.

  From Denyse O’Leary at Evolution News & Views: Naturalists (who say nature is all there is) have recently sought to jimmy the rules around evidence to accommodate their strong belief that a multiverse really exists. Astrophysicist Ethan Siegel offers a glimpse of the future they propose, in a piece at Forbes titled “The multiverse […]

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