Intelligent Design Multiverse

Science writer critiques the “many worlds” (multiverse) fantasy; Rob Sheldon weighs in

But the multiverse isn’t really about evidence or falsifiability. The theory is held in defiance of the demand for evidence and believed in such a way as to make falsifiability sound unCool. As Ball perceptively notes, “Even though most physicists dismiss or even deride it, it is often eagerly embraced by physics popularizers and their audiences.” Perhaps it is best described as a lifestyle choice.

'Junk DNA'

Rob Sheldon on Larry Moran and the junk DNA

Sheldon: If I recall correctly, the original definition of “functional” was whether that piece of DNA was turned into a protein, which depended on finding a “start” and a “stop” codon. The Human Genome Project reported that some 90% of the human genome didn’t have these “start/stop” features, and hence was “non-functional”. [“Non-functional” underwent considerable revision later.]

Cosmology Intelligent Design Physics

Is a new “muon” finding evidence for a fifth force of nature? Rob Sheldon weighs in

Sheldon: I hate to disappoint you, but most of my gut reaction is negative… In fact, this 40-year stasis in particle physics has meant that two generations of graduate students have never had a successful breakthrough experiment, or confirmed a new theory. The field, as Sabine Hossenfelder reminds everyone, is littered with wrong papers.

Intelligent Design Neuroscience Philosophy Science

Rob Sheldon reflects on skepticism about the findings from research brain scans (fMRI)

Sheldon: The skeptical neuroscience student talks about the sin of employing too many statistical searches on the data, also known as “p-hacking”. Once again, the sin is not in using statistics, but rather in refusing to tell the world how many searches you made on the data before you settled on this one. Because the significance is not simply the data p-value, but the search space you used in finding it.

Cosmology Intelligent Design Physics

Sabine Hossenfelder asks, Should Stephen Hawking have won the Nobel? Rob Sheldon weighs in

Rob Sheldon: Hawking did not get the Nobel, however, because he hung his hopes on the radiation emitted by BH–the so-called “Hawking radiation”. And it was never observed. Sabine tries to explain why. But one argument that Sabine doesn’t make, is that Hawking radiation may never have been observed because BH are themselves never observed.

Biology Genetics Intelligent Design Physics

Rob Sheldon: Biologists’ use of the term “half-life” shows just how tenuous many of their propositions really are

Recently, our physics color commentator Rob Sheldon took issue with the use of the term “half-life” to describe the survival of DNA in fossils. He says the term has a specific meaning with respect to radioactive decay that just does not apply to other events in nature. In the biology paper at issue, with “half-life” Read More…

Biology Evolution Intelligent Design Physics

Does DNA really have a “half life”? Physicist Rob Sheldon is skeptical

Sheldon: “As a physicist, I would like to point out that biologists are misusing the word “half-life”. DNA does NOT have a half-life of 521 years. Radioisotopes have a half-life, because the nucleus is unstable to natural decay through the weak force (for isotopes of interest).” He goes on to say that the weak force of the universe “is unaffected by temperature, pressure, time, or chemicals.” Not so for DNA.