NASA’s Phoenix lander has identified water in a soil sample collected from Mars—no small source of excitement for those who proclaim “where there’s water, there’s life.”
For the first time since Phoenix landed in late May, the probe has successfully transferred water ice (within a soil sample) to its onboard lab. Scientists will now spend weeks (or likely longer!) analyzing the sample “to see whether the planet was ever, or is, habitable,” reports the BBC.
As William Boynton, a mission researcher, explained, “We’ve seen evidence for this water-ice before in observations by the Mars Odyssey orbiter and in disappearing chunks observed by Phoenix last month, but this is the first time Martian water has been touched and tasted.” Boynton is referring to a possible sighting of ice last month, which we reported on in “More Ice on Mars?”
Of course, the excitement over the water ice is almost completely driven by evolutionists’ hopes that if there is water on Mars, there may be—could be—may have been—just maybe—some evidence of life on Mars as well. The Phoenix researchers will now look for any sign of organic materials in the sample, even while speculating on the “history of the ice” (whether it has melted before), according to mission chief Peter Smith.
Our comments from “More Ice on Mars?” still apply well to the current news:
[T]his particular icy discovery should cause a cold feeling for evolutionists, who would much prefer to find liquid water but instead have found only this scant evidence of subsurface ice. And of course, the very idea that liquid or frozen water on Mars is a “big thing” comes straight from the evolutionary faith that where there’s water, life will follow. In fact, that’s the entire premise of today’s Martian landers.
We suspect that, after coming up with either no clear evidence of organic materials or only contradictory/inconclusive evidence, the Phoenix researchers will nonetheless claim the ice discovery as a major find related to Martian habitability—which will in turn lead to future probes and an ever-continuing search for life on the planet. The question we politely (and rhetorically) submit is, what evidence could NASA find that would completely quell evolutionist’s hopes for life on Mars?
Not so fast! The much-publicized soft tissue found inside a T. rex thigh bone (supposedly millions of years old) may not be dinosaur protein after all, if the research of a University of Washington scientist is correct.
In the 1990s, a team led by Mary Schweitzer (of Montanta State University then and North Carolina State University now) located soft, fibrous, unfossilized tissue (see photos), including what appeared to be and acted like blood vessels and blood cells (see photos), inside a T. rex thigh bone that had been cracked open. Her discovery shocked paleontologists and sparked a new debate over the age of dinosaur fossils—and, by implication, the age of the entire fossil record and thus the age of the earth. While young-earth creationists pointed to the find as evidence against the old-earth paradigm, evolutionists tripped over themselves trying to explain how fresh blood cells could have lasted 65 million years (or more).
Looking to replicate Schweitzer’s research, University of Washington paleontologist Thomas Kaye went to the same formation where Schweitzer’s team found the now-famous T. rex sample. He recovered a dinosaur bone of his own, cracked it open, and then dissolved the tissue in acid just as Schweitzer had done.
Reporting in PLoS One, Kaye says his team identified in “their” bone the same features that were previously (by Schweitzer’s team) identified as remnants of blood cells. Kaye’s team instead believes they are microscopic, iron-containing mineral spheres. The team also claims to have found similar structures inside bones from other creatures.
As for the stretchy material Schweitzer, et al., had identified as containing collagen—and which a Harvard team concluded last year was a bird- and alligator-like protein—Reuters reports that Kaye’s team believes it is instead “bacterial biofilm, a slimy substance that the microbes often form.” Kaye thinks the bacteria that once lived inside the T. rex’s real blood vessels produced the biofilm.
“We are not experts in the field,” Kaye told Reuters in a telephone interview, adding:
“We are not disagreeing with the fact that their instruments detected protein. We are offering an alternative explanation. We determined that these structures were too common to be exceptionally preserved tissue. We realized it couldn’t be a one-time exceptional preservation.”
Of course, since dinosaur bones are not routinely broken open, the preservation exhibited by the bones Schweitzer’s team discovered doesn’t have to be a one-time exceptional preservation (and, in fact, we suspect that it may not be).
In fact, the most abstract note we might make on this news is that even if the “facts” change (as they often do when fallible humans, with imperfect knowledge, conduct investigations), the paradigms and presuppositions nonetheless stay the same. Bible-believers will continue to start with Genesis, whereas evolutionists will continue to stretch the data into a timeline long enough to incorporate evolution.
To see the newest evidence for evolution—and what Darwinists rest their faith on—look no further than the local jewelry shop!
Calling the beginning of life “[o]ne of the greatest mysteries in science,” LiveScience managing editor Robert Roy Britt looks at diamonds, which some scientists believe may hold the answer to that great mystery.
First, Britt candidly admits, “[N]obody knows how . . . simple amino acids, known to be the building blocks of life, were assembled into complex polymers needed as a platform for genesis.”
This is where diamonds come in. Basing their experimentation on research from more than 30 years ago, German researchers at the University of Ulm treated natural diamonds with hydrogen. As a result, the diamonds formed “crystalline layers of water” on the surface, as well as electrical conductivity.
Britt explains the researchers conclusion:
When primitive molecules landed a few billion years ago on the surface of these hydrogenated diamonds in the atmosphere of early Earth, the resulting reaction may have been sufficient enough to generate more complex organic molecules that eventually gave rise to life, the researchers say.
“The new research does not conclusively determine how life began,” Britt understates, while the researchers claim “[h]ydrogenated diamond advances to the best of all possible origin-of-life platforms,” which reveals the current “strength” of evolutionary origin-of-life models.
Most of the secular news on how life may have begun on Earth should reinforce three ideas in the Christian’s mind.
First, secular models for the origin of life are still woefully underdeveloped, resting on “may have” and “could have” and often pushing the origin of biotic compounds or even life itself into space. Even attempts to exactly replicate scenarios for the start of life have produced nothing even close to the simplest organism (which is by no means simple!).
Second, both ideas of the origin of life—that it was authored by God or that it was authored by chance—are untestable, unprovable historical events that rest on faith. For all the science evolutionists attempt to put behind it, the godless origin of life remains a by-faith proposition.
Third, even if scientists could come up with a perfectly lucid, successfully tested model for how life could originate naturally, such an idea could never be more rational or valid than the Genesis 1 account of creation, since creating life is entirely possible for an omnipotent God! Besides, there is never anything illogical with or unscientific about trusting the authoritative Word of the One who was there.
To the sunny beaches on Titan, everyone—let’s all go for a swim!
Scientists have, for the first time, confirmed the existence of an unearthly lake in the solar system. Using an instrument on the Cassini orbiter, the scientists have mapped a “lake-like feature” on the surface of Saturn’s largest moon, Titan. The feature is approximately 150 miles (235km) long and is in the south polar region of the moon.
Unlike earthly lakes, however, the newly discovered lake on Titan is composed of hydrocarbons, including ethane and methane, along with nitrogen. Intriguingly, Cassini investigator Robert Brown explains how the team knew the feature was a lake:
“We know the lake is liquid because it reflects essentially no light at 5-micron wavelengths. It was hard for us to accept the fact that the feature was so black when we first saw it. More than 99.9 percent of the light that reaches the lake never gets out again. For it to be that dark, the surface has to be extremely quiescent, mirror smooth. No naturally produced solid could be that smooth.”
Although the discovery confirms previous hypotheses that methane- and ethane-filled bodies of liquid exist on Titan, scientists had also previously thought Titan may have entire hydrocarbon oceans, produced by the action of UV light on Titan’s methane atmosphere over a supposed 4.5 billion years. Cassini’s investigations show that no such oceans exist, however, and it appears that even this lake is evaporating.
The probe’s measurements also “rule out the presence of water ice, ammonia, ammonia hydrate, and carbon dioxide” in the lake.
Titan and its hydrocarbon-heavy atmosphere have long been subjects of interest for astrobiologists, and further research into the planet will likely continue to be centered around the possibility of finding signs of life. The byproduct, of course, is getting a glimpse into a very strange place indeed!
No wonder houseflies can be so difficult to target: their guidance-control systems are sophisticated enough that they may inspire improvements to control systems in autonomous air vehicles.
Researchers at Imperial College London have analyzed the nerve connections in the brains of flies that help them maintain a stable gaze during their rapid maneuvering, which in turn prevents them from colliding with obstacles in mid flight.
According to an Imperial College press release, by keeping a constant gaze even while its body changes direction, a fly is able to more efficiently process visual information and modify their movements accordingly.
The feat is accomplished by the close interaction of two groups of neurons. One group receives input from a fly’s eyes, generating electrical signals that inform the fly of its movements; the signals then continue on to the second group of neurons, which update the fly’s neck muscles to stabilize its head (and therefore its line of sight).
The news release explains that, according to lead researcher Holger Krapp, “the pathway from visual signal to head movement is ingeniously designed: it uses information from both eyes, is direct, and does not require heavy computing power” (our emphasis).
Krapp added, “Anyone who has watched one fly chasing another at incredibly high speed, without crashing or bumping into anything, can appreciate the high-end flight performance of these animals.” He also stated that flies can update and process visual information more than ten times faster than humans—no wonder they’re so hard to swat!
The release also said the research may lead to improvements in creating unmanned aerial vehicles that operate autonomously, without the need for remote guidance.
Strapping fish on soldiers may not be the most practical self-defense measure, but future fighting men and women could nonetheless find themselves protected by fish-inspired armor.
Engineers report in this week’s issue of Nature Materials on the super-strong armor of an African fish, Polypterus senegalus. According to the research, the fish’s armor is so effective because it is a composite of four materials layered and aligned in a specific manner. “The different chemical properties of each material, the shape and thickness of each layer and the junctions between layers all contributed to the armor’s strength,” explains LiveScience’s Jeanna Bryner.
Commenting on the news, Field Museum assistant curator of zoology Leo Smith said, “That doesn’t surprise me that millions of years or hundreds of millions of years of evolution would be a good starting point for what we need for this day and age.” Comments like Smith’s seem to be the unjustified, perpetual cry of Darwinian scientists when they encounter incredible designs—and they add no value to the research, either. Creationists, however, can remember that God took far less than “millions or hundreds of millions of years” to fashion these designs!
Authorities nearly a hundred miles north of our Creation Museum were assisted by the dutiful efforts of part of AiG’s security team earlier this week when an 11-year-old boy with autism disappeared from his home.
Responding to the call was Answers in Genesis K-9 supervisor David Blaylock, along with AiG’s Security Department bloodhound Isabelle (“Izzy”).
Authorities had been worried the boy would become lost or injured in the thick woods, and a state patrol helicopter and plane dispatched to search for him had been unsuccessful, even when using infrared cameras.
Next, about seven K-9 teams were called in, including David and Izzy. After just under a half hour—and just after the sun set—David and Izzy found the boy near a creek not far from the child’s home.
AiG is thankful to have a top-notch security team with several talented dogs and their handlers; AiG security chief Jeff Hawkins noted, “Congratulations to David and Izzy; they are a credit to the AiG Security Department and the ministry’s support of our K-9 Unit.” We are certainly thankful they were of use to the general public this past week. Our security team stands ready to support local law enforcement and emergency services whenever necessary. Chief Hawkins has also recently authored a book on security for churches, An Introduction to Security & Emergency Planning for Faith-Based Organizations, which is available in our online store.
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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