Focus: creation news and views
Yeti research institute?
Russian officials have announced plans for a scientific research institute to study the yeti (also known as the ‘abominable snowman’).
Although the hairy ape-like creatures of popular myth are generally held to inhabit the Himalayas, some researchers believe the remote Russian mountains of western Siberia could also harbour a population of yetis.
“We think the yeti is a separate branch of human evolution. It lives in harmony with nature,” said yeti researcher Igor Burtsev.
Ideas that there are living ape-men such as the yeti and ‘bigfoot’ are fuelled by evolutionary notions of ape-men in the past. But people have always been people, and apes have always been apes. (And in any case, one wonders what a yeti researcher will actually study, given that even if yeti ‘sightings’ were based on an actual creature, no specimens—living or dead—are available!)
- Siberia plans yeti research institute, ABC News, www.abc.net.au, 24 March 2011.
Renewable energy from hornets?
The humble hornet is turning out to be more complex than anyone ever imagined. Scientists from Tel Aviv University have discovered that the Oriental Hornet can generate electricity from the sun.
They found that the yellow and brown stripes on the hornet’s abdomen produce a photo-voltaic effect. What happens is that the brown shell has grooves in it that split sunlight into diverging beams. The yellow stripe has pinhole depressions in it containing a pigment called xanthopterin. The pinholes trap the light and the pigment converts the light into electricity. Scientists are now looking into ways of developing a renewable source of energy by learning from the hornet.
There seems no end to these new and astonishing discoveries as man is learning that the creation is much more complex than evolutionists might have ever imagined—testimony to the wisdom and power of the Creator. See also creation.com/biomimetics for many more examples.
- Is the hornet our key to renewable energy?, renewableenergyworld.com, 7 January 2011.
Mammoth issues in the news
There are millions of mammoth remains preserved in the frozen soil (tundra) of Alaska, Canada and Russia. Though one occasionally finds frozen soft tissue, even the rare entire carcass, mostly these remains are bones and tusks.
Thanks to the work of Mike Oard, the foremost creationist researcher on Ice Age issues, it has been clear for some time now that the mammoth remains would have been deposited near the end of the post-Flood Ice Age. (For more information see creation.com/riddle, creation.com/snapfreeze, also The Mammoth and the Ice Age DVD presentation by Michael Oard on creation.com/store.)
Mammoth tusks are often so fresh that they can be used as a substitute for elephant ivory. The recent global ban on elephant ivory to combat illegal poaching has led to an increase in demand for mammoth ivory, which commands a higher price than that from modern elephants. Russia now exports 60 tonnes of mammoth ivory per year to China and this looks set to escalate.
In related news, Grant Zazula, a government paleontologist in Canada’s icy Yukon Territory, is supplying mammoth bone to researchers in his own country who are hunting for clues to bone diseases such as osteoporosis. Osteoclasts, cells which break down bone in the normal remodelling process, are more visible in mammoth bone. Zazula also supplies European researchers battling food fraud; gelatin from mammoth bone, though similar to that from other animals, will never be found in modern food. So it can be used as a baseline to detect mislabelling or adulteration of meat products.
- Mammoths heading a roaring trade in ivory, theage.com.au, 28 September 2010.
- Woolly mammoth remains find modern uses, cbc.ca/news/, 3 January 2011.
Mice grow younger in genetic rejuvenation
Scientists at Harvard University have induced a rapid aging process in mice, then reversed it again, by switching off then activating the enzyme telomerase. This has to do with the ‘aging clock’ at the ends of the chromosomes.
This is highly relevant to the whole matter of how humans were able to live for 900 years before the Flood, and why longevity dropped, as we showed in a 1998 article (Creation 20(4):10–13, creation.com/900). This report strongly reinforces our conclusions, which indicated that a changed atmosphere, e.g., could not have been the reason for the post-Flood decline in lifespans. (If it were, why did a 600-year-old Noah live for another 350 years in this allegedly unfavourable new world? See also Journal of Creation 8(2):138–141, 1994, creation.com/lifespan; 24(3):46–53, 2010.)
The results in the mice were dramatic, the equivalent of an 80-year-old human progressively becoming like a 25-year-old again in all physical aspects. In humans, unchecked activity of telomerase (which controls cell multiplication) would make us prone to widespread cancer. The bottom line is that the control of aging is largely genetic, and humans living to much greater ages is not some ‘primitive mythology’ as is often alleged.
- Harvard team successfully reverses the aging process in mice, www.gizmag.com, 29 November 2010.
Human teeth in Israel raise long-age eyebrows
Archaeologists claim to have found teeth in a cave in central Israel which are the oldest evidence of modern man. The teeth, which were also examined with X-rays and CT scans, were found in layers which ‘date’ to 400,000 years. Avi Gopher, an archaeologist from Tel Aviv university, has concluded that they are identical to those of today’s Homo sapiens, calling this “exciting”.
To those who accept the long-age dating methods, the conclusion that the teeth are human is unwelcome and hence is being resisted. To evolutionists, it upsets today’s prominent ‘out of Africa’ theory of human evolution, which says that all modern humans outside of Africa are from a much later (c. 200,000 years ago or less) migration that ‘replaced’ other humans like Neanderthals.
Long-age or ‘progressive’ creationists (who believe in vast ages before Adam) likewise cannot have descendants of Adam living such a long time ago. In their scheme of things, only spiritless non-humans that look like humans could have existed then, so this is how they regard the Neanderthals. For them, such a conclusion would represent one more problem to add to the DNA analyses of Neanderthal human remains. These have conclusively shown that they interbred with ‘modern’ human groups and hence are the same created kind (see also creation.com/neandergenes).
Dr Gopher is confident of finding more remains of the human inhabitants in the cave, including skulls and bones that would help silence doubters.
- Researchers: Ancient human remains found in Israel, news.yahoo.com, 27 December 2010.
Dino date collides with impact theory
A dinosaur bone, the femur of a hadrosaur, was ‘dated’ using a new application of the U-Pb radiometric method, hailed as being able to give it an absolute age. The calculated result of 64.8 million years ago caused headlines around the world. This is because it would mean the creature was alive some 700,000 years after the time when a giant meteorite impact was supposed to have caused such environmental havoc as to wipe out the dinosaurs.
This theory, bolstered by Hollywood, still grips the popular imagination, though even many evolutionists have raised doubts for years. For example, we reported as far back as 2004 (see creation.com/dino-impact) that the ‘date’ of the crater and of the extinctions it was supposed to have caused differed by a ‘mere’ 300,000 years.
Of course, both the evidence interpreted as a ‘time of extinction’ and the dating methods rely on long-age assumptions. So it is no surprise that the more data comes in, the less coherence there is between the two. This is because long ages are an untenable belief, being based on a rejection of the global Flood described in Genesis (2 Peter 3:3–6). See also p. 35 this issue.
- Test shows dinosaurs survived mass extinction by 700,000 years, www.research.ualberta.ca, 27 January 2011.
Expelled from NASA
Ben Stein’s landmark documentary Expelled and Dr Jerry Bergman’s book Slaughter of the Dissidents (both available via creation.com/store) present numerous examples of creationists being excluded from academic and research positions because of their opposition to evolution.
Now evolutionists have claimed yet another prize scalp—this time it’s leading creationist David Coppedge (see his article p. 44 this issue). NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) fired him earlier this year, after nearly 14 years of stellar service. JPL says Coppedge’s termination resulted from budgetary constraints/downsizing, but his dismissal came after he’d filed a lawsuit against his employer, alleging discrimination because JPL had sought to gag him from talking about the creation-evolution issue with co-workers.
David Coppedge was the most senior member of the team that oversees the computers on NASA and JPL’s Cassini Mission to Saturn—that doesn’t seem at all like the first staff member who would be forced to leave in a downsizing situation.
- NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab fires Cassini Mission Senior Computer Admin who filed discrimination lawsuit, www.evolutionnews.org, 25 January 2011.
Cricket didn’t change in 100 million years of evolution?
The splay-footed cricket genus Schizodactylus has exhibited what evolutionists call evolutionary stasis for “at least the last 100 million years”. Note the similarity between fossil (left photo) and living (right) specimens. But it’s no problem for creationists, as this issue’s ‘living fossil’ article on p. 23 explains. (See also creation.com/stasis.) Note, too, the degree of detail preserved in the fossil specimen—consistent with rapid burial in an event only thousands of years ago (Genesis 6–9), not millions.
- Rare insect fossil reveals 100 million years of evolutionary stasis, news.illinois.edu, 3 February 2011.
Yet another failure of evolutionary theory
Based on the idea that fruitflies evolved from non-flies and even non-insects, evolutionists supposed that ‘old’ genes (those shared with non-flies) would be more important than ‘new’ genes (those only in flies).
So they inactivated one gene at a time in flies to find which ones were essential.
Much to their surprise, the ‘old’ and ‘new’ genes were equally important—about 1/3 of all inactivated genes caused death. Without evolutionary assumptions there would be no reason to suppose that genes shared with other creatures (they had the same Creator) would be more important to the flies than genes that are peculiar to flies. This has implications for medical research. Based on the same faulty evolutionary reasoning, scientists have assumed that humans share all the really important genes with mice, so that experiments on mice would be a fine indicator of human responses.
- Age doesn’t matter: New genes are as essential as ancient ones, www.sciencedaily.com, 16 December 2010.
A flick of the tail
Engineers have dramatically improved the acceleration of their ‘mechanical fish’ robots by emulating the physics behind the pike fish’s ability to rapidly accelerate from a stationary start.
They constructed 50-cm-long rubber models of fish with an internal mechanism designed to ‘flick’ the model’s tail in the same way as a pike does. This resulted in an underwater acceleration of 4 g, which was eight times better than that of previous robotic fish. But they’ve got a way to go yet to match the top recorded acceleration of real pike, 15 g.
As New Scientist mused, “A robot with that kind of acceleration could be well suited to covert operations or navigating turbulent water.”
- Robofish is quick off the mark, New Scientist 208(2785):21, 6 November 2010.
It’s life … whoops, no it isn’t!
For the last 20 years it has been believed by some scientists that tiny branching structures in rocks of the (allegedly) 3.5-billion-year-old Apex Chert rock of Western Australia were fossilized bacteria. However, it has recently been shown that these filament structures are not remnants of life at all, but are simply tiny fractures in the rock filled with the minerals hematite and quartz.
University of Oxford palaeobiologist Martin Brasier criticised previous researchers who “ignored the obvious” in their eagerness to equate the branching filaments with early life. “There is a willful blindness about these structures that sometimes has more to do with local politics than global truth,” he said.
Kansas University researcher Craig Marshall drew a parallel between the Apex Chert saga and announcements about Martian life. “If we’re having problems here with ancient Earth sediments and there’s a huge debate, we want to try and be more stringent with our analytic techniques. We don’t want a repeat of the announcement in 1996 that, ‘Wow, we found life on Mars.’ I can’t recall the timeframe of how many days or weeks until they said, ‘Well, maybe we haven’t.’”
However, note that although the latest study ruled out the filaments being fossilized life forms, it also found “an intriguing detail” in the surrounding rock, namely, carbonaceous material—which could be of biological origin. If it is, we can expect ongoing controversy about the Western Australian chert fossils, given the pressure such ‘3.5-billion-year-old biological evidence’ puts on evolutionary origin-of-life theories—see creation.com/early-life-controversy.)
Sadly, assuming there was sufficient carbonaceous material to do a carbon-14 analysis, evolutionists would not bother, as they presume that the rock’s supposed age rules out any carbon-14 still being present. But carbon-14 could indeed be there (just like in supposed billions-of-years old diamonds—see creation.com/diamonds) because the rocks, in common with rocks all over the world, are actually only thousands of years old.
- Filamentous figments in the Apex Cherts, nature.com/news, 20 February, 2011.
- Research overturns oldest evidence of life on Earth, www.physorg.com, 16 March 2011.
More veggie dinos than ever
Predators like T. rex and Velociraptor belong to the suborder Theropoda, which was long supposed to be largely, if not exclusively, carnivorous. A recent study by Lindsay Zanno and Peter Mackovicky of the Chicago Field Museum has overturned this notion. Examining 90 ‘species’ of theropods, using such methods as analyzing fossilized dung, they found that nearly half of them were vegetarian. This included ornithomimosaurs, therizinosaurs, oviraptorosaurs, alvarezauroids, and one of the troodontids.
Dr Zanno says that theropods are mostly “clearly adapted to a predatory lifestyle”, so she assumes that the ones that ate plants started off as carnivores, then “went soft” in their later evolution. However, another and perhaps more straightforward way of looking at this is that, clearly, large numbers of types of dinosaurs that look designed to be carnivores are not that at all. This is very supportive of the Genesis teaching that originally, all creatures ate plants. Some later must have turned to carnivory. For more on this, see creation.com/veg-dinos.
Another blow to the status of dino carnivores comes through the famous Lark Quarry footprints near Winton, Queensland, having recently been reassessed. For 30 years it had been assumed and taught that they represented around 150 small dinosaurs being stampeded as they were chased by a large carnivore. However, the prints of the ‘carnivore’ have now been shown to be those of a large ornithopod—a plant-eater.
- Most dinosaurs were vegetarian, research suggests, www.telegraph.co.uk, 21 December 2010.
- Villain a vegetarian, www.theage.com.au, 18 December 2010.
- A reassessment of large theropod dinosaur tracks … of Lark Quarry: A case for mistaken identity, Cretaceous Research 32(2):135–142, 2011.
- Australia’s largest carnivorous dinosaur forced to take a walk, www.uq.edu.au, 16 December 2010.
Amazing new brain facts
A study by Stanford University researchers using new imaging techniques has announced stunning results. Stephen Smith, the study’s senior author, is cited as claiming that they had found that the brain’s complexity is beyond anything they’d imagined, “almost to the point of being beyond belief”. In our cerebral cortex alone, it turns out that there are over 125 trillion synapses. That’s “about how many stars fill 1,500 Milky Way galaxies”. Each one of these connections also functions like a microprocessor. Each synapse in turn, it is now clear, contains about 1,000 molecular switches of its own. The conclusion? “A single human brain has more switches than all the computers and routers and Internet connections on Earth.”
The more we find out about the intricacies of creation, the more unlikely it is that it is all the result of natural processes, with no designing intelligence.
- Human brain has more switches than all computers on Earth, news.cnet.com, 17 November 2010.
Humpback whale flipper inspires fan design
We have previously reported on the unusual bumps (tubercles) on the humpback whale flipper. They turn out to improve lift by 8% and reduce drag by an amazing 32% (Creation 27(2):56, 2005; creation.com/flighty-flippers).
This is because the fluid is channelled through the narrower space between the bumps, which increases speed (Venturi Effect) and drops the pressure (Bernoulli Effect). This also generates eddies which increase lift. This means that the flipper can be slanted much more—a higher angle of attack—before stalling.
Now the company WhalePower has copied the Creator’s flipper design to make much more efficient turbines and fans.
Its wind turbine generated 20% more power, because its blades could be angled more steeply than those on a conventional turbine (31º instead of 15º). It could also work at lower wind speeds. And its industrial ceiling fans moved 20% more air with fewer blades and a slower speed, saving 20% of energy costs.
If such a fan design were installed to cool computers, it could likewise result in huge energy savings. In the USA alone, computers and servers consume 5% of the country’s total electrical energy output, or about 50 million megawatt-hours—60% of which is for fans and ventilation systems. Cutting the energy requirements by even 5%, let alone 20%, would result in huge savings.
- A Whale of an idea: WhalePower’s humpback-inspired tubercle technology marks next evolution in airfoil design, www.design-engineering.com, 1 November 2010.
Atkins’ evolutionary diet of meaninglessness
A review in New Scientist of Peter Atkins’ latest book On Being is tellingly parked under the joyless heading “Existence is useless”. Atkins, an Oxford evolutionist professor, is renowned for having earlier said that man is “just a bit of slime on the planet”, and in this book he continues along that theme. “Deep down,” he writes, “we, like everything, are driven by purposeless decay.”
The reviewer notes that “as might be expected of a loud-voiced atheist, Atkins misses no opportunity to take a swipe at religious ideas … for entertainment’s sake”. Evidently a fellow atheist, the reviewer glowingly describes Atkins’ book as “food for the atheist’s soul”. We would say it’s rather evidence of ‘itching ears syndrome’ (2 Timothy 4:3).
- Existence is useless, New Scientist 209(2804):54, 19 March 2011.