History, Evolution, and The Darwin Debate

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Evolution today

January 30th, 2009 · No Comments

‘Fishy’ Clue Helps Establish How Proteins Evolve
ScienceDaily (Jan. 29, 2009) — Three billion years ago, a “new” amino acid was added to the alphabet of 20 that commonly make up proteins in organisms today. Now researchers at Yale and the University of Tokyo have demonstrated how this rare amino acid — and, by example, other amino acids — made its way into the menu for protein synthesis.

Billion-year Revision Of Plant Evolution Timeline May Stem From Discovery Of Lignin In Seaweed
ScienceDaily (Jan. 29, 2009) — Land plants’ ability to sprout upward through the air, unsupported except by their own woody tissues, has long been considered one of the characteristics separating them from aquatic plants, which rely on water to support them.
Did Charles Darwin believe in racial inequality?
His anniversary has thrown a fresh spotlight on ideas about race that still excite his friends and foes. Marek Kohn looks at a troublesome legacy

Partly because I just went to Africa and flew over (but did not have a chance to actually visit) the Great Rift Valley (also known as the Cradle of Mankind), I’ve been thinking a bit about evolutionary theory of late. I am a scientist, but not a biologist – my field is medical physics. Still, my background makes me biased towards the scientific establishment and I am an ardent believer in the scientific method. While technically as a deeply religious person I do believe in “intelligent design” (in the abstract) I don’t believe in Intelligent Design as promoted by the various evolution-denialists in the political arena. I am quite strictly against introducing religious theories such as ID into the science curriculum.

All that said, I still am unable to accept the blind assertion that genetic mutation is the sole source of speciation. Note that I am not talking about the origins of life, but rather the evolution of life afterwards from species to species. It strikes me that the evolutionary dogma can be reduced to the idea that DNA is “read-only”. Contrast this with the (discredited) ideas of Lamarck who argued that the environment can introduce changes to an organism that are then heritable by its progeny; given that DNA is indisputably the mechanism by which species reproduce, that implies that DNA is “read/write”.

Reviewing Jerry Coyne
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A study of wildfires after the last ice age has cast doubt on the
theory that a giant comet impact wiped out woolly mammoths and
prehistoric humans

Blushing is the biggest gap in evolutionary theory, say scientists who
admit they can’t explain why people turn red when they are embarrassed

In our legal system, judges and juries have to assign responsibility
for crimes and decide on appropriate punishments. A new imaging study
reveals which area of the brain plays a key role in these cognitive

Epigenetic changes to plant DNA preserved through successive generations

Tags: Evolution

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