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1. National Geographic News: “Mars Has Cave Networks, New Photos Suggest”
Thermal imaging experts analyzing photos of Mars have announced the possible presence of caves beneath Mars’ famous red surface. The research team identified seven circular pits on the surface that “appear to be openings to underground caverns.” These could-be caves, located near Mars’ second-highest mountain, “may be similar in structure to Hawaii’s lava tubes.”
But what’s the real draw for evolutionary scientists?
The discovery of potential caves is exciting, the scientists said, because such underground formations may be the most promising places to look for signs of life.
[Other caves] lie on the mountain’s lower flanks, where conditions may be more hospitable for life.
Some researchers have suggested that Martian caverns in low-lying areas could hold reservoirs of water, which would make the existence of microbial life much more likely.
And, in case scientists’ train of thought on the matter isn’t clear:
Dirk Schulze-Makuch of Washington State University headed a recent study of potential Martian hydrothermal sites including Arsia Mons.
“If there is still volcanic activity at or near the [cave] sites, the chances for life are much higher,” he said.
“Hydrothermal water and associated nutrient-containing compounds could be released periodically and sustain life.”
It’s disappointing to read that space exploration seems to be increasingly focused on one thing: finding some outer-space connection to the supposed evolution of life on earth. Indeed, it seems that nearly all recent discoveries about the Red Planet are in some way centered on the possibility of Martian life. For the reality about such claims, see our Astronomy and Astrophysics Q&A, Alien Life / UFO Q&A, and Origin of Life Q&A.
2. [email protected]: “Better sonar through dolphin teeth”
It’s another case of science turning to God’s design for inspiration: a study published in Bioinspiration & Biomimetics (which focuses on such natural inspiration) describes how engineers may be taking a cue from dolphins in devising improved sonar systems. Dolphins navigate using sonar-sonar that “outperforms any man-made system, particularly in shallow water, “ according to the article.
Enter Peter Dobbins, an engineer for Britain’s SEA Group. Based on the theorized but as yet unverified idea that dolphins use their teeth to improve sonar navigation, Dobbins modeled dolphin jaws to investigate the “endfire array” concept:
The models showed that the endfire-array pattern performs better at close range than the ‘broadside’ pattern often used in man-made sonar systems. In a broadside array, the sound
travels at right angles to the jaw-from directly underneath, for example. Whereas the broadside array loses the ability to determine direction of sound closer than 10 centimetres from the source, the endfire array can still do so.
Of course, since scientists have not proven that dolphins actually use their teeth in navigation, Dobbins’ model only “may be” taking a cue from nature. Despite this unanswered question, the article points out:
Dobbins agrees that further work is necessary to determine whether his models accurately reflect dolphin sonar. But regardless of how that debate turns out, he says, the results can already be used to improve man-made systems.
As humans, we can be thankful for not only God’s incredible designs, which have inspired numerous engineering advances, but also for the logical minds God gave us that allow us to use science to investigate the world around us.
3. AP: “Biology teacher fired for referring to Bible”
A substitute biology teacher in Sisters, Oregon, was fired for not following the official curriculum on evolution. Kris Helphinstine, a 27-year-old with a master’s degree in science, allegedly “included Biblical references in material he provided to students and gave a PowerPoint presentation that made links between evolution, Nazi Germany and Planned Parenthood.” At least one local parent cited his child’s “confusion” on evolutionary theory due to Helphinstine’s aberrations.
Helphinstine denied teaching creationism, claiming he only wanted to “teach students about bias in sources [and] teach critical thinking.”
Although the AP story does not give extensive information on why the Sisters board decided to fire Helphinstine, it is clear that the incident reflects similar educational censorship across the country: any hint of teaching anything other than unquestioned, mainstream, dogmatic evolutionary theory is instantly derided as creationism and attacked as a violation of everything from the U.S. Constitution to students’ rights. This reinforces an important point, however: Christian parents must anticipate the evolutionary indoctrination their children will receive in public school science classes.
4. BBC: “Climate change shifts sheep shape”
A multi-decade study of Scottish sheep indicates that weather patterns have an effect on “body shape and population size,” according to the BBC, who reports on this ovine study led by Imperial College London professor Tim Coulson and colleagues.
Harsh winters led to larger sheep, which brought about changes in population size, yet in milder winters this effect was not seen.
The study is part of an effort to show how “ecology and evolutionary change are linked,” says Coulson, who explained that the small island the sheep call home is like a “natural laboratory” due to its isolation and lack of civilization.
Coulson explains that as winters have gotten milder, the evolutionary pressure toward larger sheep has been reduced, suggesting warmer winters of the future may allow increasingly smaller sheep to dominate a more stable population. Coulson adds that climate change is, thus, leaving both an ecological and evolutionary legacy.
Indeed, this 20-year-long experiment is an excellent illustration of the effect climate has on the natural selection process that occurs in populations. As different environmental factors change, different members of a species become more fit or less fit, increasing or decreasing their chances at survival. In this case, cold winters challenged the survival of smaller sheep, resulting in relative domination by stockier sheep. DNA allows for various adaptations to different environments. Yet none of this adaptation / natural selection process changes the animal; in this experiment, the sheep-even while changing size-remain sheep. We never observe animals changing into other animals or gaining new structures because such change would require an increase in genetic information-information that cannot arise by random chance.
Even as scientists talk about evolution “in the real world,” what we observe does nothing to verify the story of molecules-to-man evolution. Rather, we observe animals adapting to their environments; we observe sheep breeding sheep, dogs breeding dogs, and so forth. Our observations are completely consistent with the biblical worldview, but stand in stark contrast to what evolutionists predict.
5. National Geographic News: “Photo in the News: Ancient Lizard Glided Using Its Ribs”
Scientists in China recently unearthed the fossil of an unusual “ancient lizard”: a 6.1-inch-long (15.5 cm) reptile that soared “on membranes supported by eight elongated ribs.” The treetop-dwelling creature is thought to have been highly maneuverable.
Of course, this “flying lizard,” which allegedly lived long ago in the early Cretaceous period, sounds strange to most people. But surprisingly, there is a similar genus of reptiles living today: the Draco genus, whose members glide using membranes stretched over their ribs.
Although members of the Draco genus are distinct enough from this new fossil find not to be considered living fossils, they are similar enough to make one wonder whether some of these “ancient lizards” may be alive today in a form just as the fossil record shows.
6. ABC News Online: “Canberra scientist identifies ‘dwarf’ galaxy”
Dr. Helmut Jerjen, a scientist at Canberra’s Australian National University, recently made an interesting discovery: a thought-to-be “giant” galaxy pegged at 140 million light years from earth is actually a “dwarf” galaxy ten times closer.
This distance revision is a good reminder of a fact often forgotten in debates over the origin of the universe, distant starlight, and the like: our scientific understanding of the size, layout, and properties of the universe is based on incomplete information, especially since humans have not traveled beyond the moon. Scientific ideas that supposedly “overturn” the Bible are always subject to change-and usually do change sooner or later! The Bible, on the other hand, is truth (John 17:17). So why compromise truth to accommodate the shifting sands of science?
Visit our Astronomy and Astrophysics Q&A page for informative reading on the universe around us!
Remember, if you see a news story that might merit some attention, let us know about it! And thanks to all of our readers who have submitted great news tips to us. If you didn’t catch last week’s News to Note, why not take a look at it now? See you next week!
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