Friday 30 December 2022

Unintelligent Designer News - An Enzyme Which Protects Us Against Viruses Also Causes Cancers. Is this Malevolence or Incompetence?

Enzyme That Protects Against Viruses Could Fuel Cancer Evolution | Newsroom | Weill Cornell Medicine
A three-dimensional image of a cancer cell's nucleus obtained by Dr. Faltas and his team shows the APOBEC3G protein (green) inside the nucleus (blue).
In a stunning example of unintelligent design, an enzyme that Creationists have to believe was designed by their putative omniscient designer god to protect us from the viruses it designs to make us sick, also causes cancers. Whether this is evidence of malevolence or incompetence is difficult to say, if you believe the Creationist claims. What it can't in all honesty be presented as is evidence of supreme intelligence and omnibenevolence.

Fortunately, people who understand evolutionary biology don't need to concern themselves with those sorts of questions because they know a mindless, utilitarian natural process like evolution is not a sentient entity and therefore has no intent. Arms races such as that between our immune system and viruses is entirely predictable, as is the example of trade-off between protecting against viral infection and causing cancer. The only test of effectiveness is in the number of descendants that survive to reproduce.

The role of the enzyme, called APOBEC3G, which protects human cells against retroviral attack, in promoting cancer was discovered by a team lead by researchers at Weill Cornell Medicine who used a preclinical model of bladder cancer to investigate the role of the enzyme in promoting the disease and found that it significantly increased the number of mutations in tumour cells, boosting the genetic diversity of bladder tumours, making it harder to treat and hastening mortality.. They have published their findings in the journal Cancer Research, sadly behind a paywall.

The Weill Cornell Medicine news release gives details:

Wednesday 28 December 2022

Creationsm in Crisis - How A New Plant Species Evolved

Ethereal color variant of mysterious plant is actually a new species | Research at Kobe
Figure 1. Morphological comparison of the aboveground parts of M. kirishimense and M. humile:
(a-c) M. kirishimense, (d-e) M. humile, (f). M. humile f. roseum (color variant of M. humile). The arrowheads indicate spreading sepals.
Photographed by Masayuki Sato (a), Katsumi Iwahori (b), Shuichi Kurogi (c), Shin Terui (d), Kazushige Uemori (e), and Kenji Suetsugu (f).
Giving the lie yet again to Creationists' absurd claim that the Theory of Evolution (TOE) is being increasingly rejected by mainstream scientists and is about to become the first scientific theory to be replaced by a superstition based on magic and an unproven supernatural entity, Bronze Age Creationism, scientists in Japan have discovered that what was thought to be a colour variant of a parasitic plant, is in fact a new species. They have suggested how this new species could have evolved from the parent species.

The new species is the rosy pink form of the parasitic plant known to science as Monotropastrum humile. These plants as found throughout the woods of East and Southeast Asia and have lost their ability to photosynthesise, depending instead on the hyphae of soil fungi which are themselves in a symbiotic relationship with other plants. These soil fungi connect to the roots of other plants and help breakdown organic molecules in the soil into nutrients the plans can use. In return the plants supply the fungi with the sugars they produce in their leaves. Monotropastrum humile however, is a free loader on this system and not only takes the nutrients but also the sugars, while giving nothing in return.

But it's not this parasitic relationship which is under consideration here, but the newly-discovered status of the rosy pink form, which close examination and 20 years of study have shown to be a different species. The Kobe University scientists who identified it as a new species have named it M. kirishimense, after Kirishima, in Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan, where it was first found growing.

From the Kobe University news release:

Tuesday 27 December 2022

Creationism in Crisis - The Evolution of Complex Life Forms

Shedding light on the origin of complex life forms
Figure 1: Cryo-electron tomography provided insight into the cellular structure of a newly cultured Asgard archaeon illustrated here. Remarkable are the extensive actin cytoskeleton filaments (orange) in the cell bodies and cell protrusions, as well as the unique cell envelope (blue).
© Margot Riggi, The Animation Lab, University of Utah
The problem with Creationism, and the main reason it is rejected by evolutionary biologists and an overwhelming majority of other scientists, is because it requires its believers to not only believe in magic and unproven supernatural entities, but also to believe demonstrably false dogmas. They also believe the Theory of Evolution (TOE) is being increasingly rejected by mainstream scientists in favour of their evidence-free Bronze Age, magical superstition.

For example, one absurd dogma is that it is impossible for complexity to increase by an evolutionary process because this needs an increase in genetic information and the Second Law of Thermodynamics [sic] forbids it. It does nothing of the sort, of course, as anyone who understands the 2LOT and genetics will tell you. The Creationist cults work hard to ensure their dupes understand neither.

A casual and unintentional refutation of these absurdities was provided a few days ago by a team of researchers at Universität Wien and Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule (ETH) Zürich, who cultivated a special archaeon, a member of the Asgard archaea, and examined it in microscopic details, noting that it contained unique cellular characteristics suggesting that it could be the evolutionary link to more complex forms such as animals and plants.

According to the Vienna University news release:

Saturday 24 December 2022

Amazing Science - James Webb Space Telescope Images

10 times this year the Webb telescope blew us away with new images of our stunning universe
James Webb Space Telescope
The James Webb Space Telescope
The more we look at the Universe and the more detail we see, the more majestic it becomes. In the words of the late, great carl Sagan:

How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, "This is better than we thought! The Universe is much bigger than our prophets said, grander, more subtle, more elegant?” Instead they say, “No, no, no! My god is a little god, and I want him to stay that way.” A religion, old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the Universe as revealed by modern science might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths.

Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space
And another quote from Carl Sagan, referring to the famous photo of Earth seen as a tiny pale blue dot from beyond Pluto, because one is never enough:

Ann Druyan suggests an experiment: Look back again at the pale blue dot of the preceding chapter. Take a good long look at it. Stare at the dot for any length of time and then try to convince yourself that God created the whole Universe for one of the 10 million or so species of life that inhabit that speck of dust. Now take it a step further: Imagine that everything was made just for a single shade of that species, or gender, or ethnic or religious subdivision. If this doesn’t strike you as unlikely, pick another dot. Imagine it to be inhabited by a different form of intelligent life. They, too, cherish the notion of a God who has created everything for their benefit. How seriously do you take their claim?

Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space.
What would Carl Sagan have made of the images now coming from the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST)? The final one in the following article is of a segment of sky a fraction the size of a full moon. Tens of thousands of points of light in it each represent a single galaxy. Each of those will contain upwards of half a trillion stars, around each of which there is a good chance of a planetary system and possibly an Earth-like planet orbiting.

Are we so arrogant as to assume this was all made just for us and that a mind-reading creator god scrutinises this one small pixel, watching to see if anyone touches their genitalia, loves the wrong person, works on a Sunday, gets pleasure from sex or has the temerity to question what the priests tell us and to think for ourselves?

The article is by Colin Jacobs, Postdoctoral Researcher in Astrophysics, and Karl Glazebrook, ARC Laureate Fellow & Distinguished Professor, Centre for Astrophysics & Supercomputing, both of Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, Australia, lookt at how the JWST images have blown us away over the past year, revealing a Universe never before seen in this stunning detail. It is reprinted here under a Creative Commons license, reformatted for stylistic consistency. The original can be seen here.

Friday 23 December 2022

Creationism in Crisis - A Small Feathered Dinosaur Fossil with A Small Mammal Foot in its Stomach

The other paleo diet: Rare discovery of dinosaur remains preserved with its last meal - McGill University
Fossilized remains of a mammalian foot in the fossil of a <i>Microraptor</i>
Close up photograph of the mammal foot among the ribs of Microraptor.
© Hans Larsson.
Image may be used in any article in association with this story.
A paper published recently contains so many casual refutations of Creationist claims that it's hard to know where to begin.

First, and perhaps most obviously, is the age of the fossil, although that isn't relevant to the paper in question, which is about what it ate, not when it lived. Microraptor zhaoianus is one of three known species in the Microraptor genus previously dated to between 125 and 113 million years ago - over 100 million years before Earth was created, according to YEC superstition.

Secondly, there is the evidence of feathered theropod dinosaurs, supporting the idea that birds evolved from feathered dinosaurs and were not created as is, by magic.

And thirdly, there is the assumption by the palaeontologists that evolution is the explanation for the observations, giving the lie to Creationist claims that scientists are increasingly rejecting the TOE as the best explanation for the observable evidence, in favour of a Bronze Age origin myth with no supporting evidence and dependant on magic and an unproven supernatural entity.

The paper, by a team lead by Professor Hans Larsson of Redpath Museum, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, describes a fossil discovered at Liaoning, China, in the early 2000s. It is of Microraptor zhaoianus, with the fossilized remains of a small mammal's foot in its stomach.

From the McGill University press release:

How Religion Muddles Along Because it Doesn't Have Any Evidence to Go By

Are Christian souls gendered?
In a fascinating analysis of how the Christian notion of the 'soul' evolved to suit local political needs and to pander to popular demand, Professor Philip C. Almond, Emeritus Professor in the History of Religious Thought, The University of Queensland, explains how Christian ideas about the soul have changed since the notion was adopted from the Greek Platonists in the late second century CE, the idea of an immortal soul being absent from both the Old and New Testaments. Until then, Christians had used the Hebrew notion of a human being a single entity composed of both spiritual and physical parts.

For 'spiritual' parts read 'magic ingredient' making it alive. In fact we can see remnants of the lack of belief in immortality in verses such as this The following bible verses that seem to have escaped the editors' notice and been included in the modern editions.

From the Old Testament from a time when ideas of God's omniscience hadn't formed and death was seen as the end:
Man that is born of a woman is of few days and full of trouble. He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down: he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not.

And doth thou open thine eyes upon such an one, and bringest me into judgment with thee? Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one.

Seeing his days are determined, the number of his months are with thee, thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass; Turn from him, that he may rest, till he shall accomplish, as an hireling, his day. For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof will not cease. Though the root thereof wax old in the earth, and the stock thereof die in the ground; Yet through the scent of water it will bud, and bring forth boughs like a plant.

But man dieth, and wasteth away: yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he? As the waters fail from the sea, and the flood decayeth and drieth up: So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep.
Job 14:1-12:

So I reflected on all this and concluded that the righteous and the wise and what they do are in God’s hands, but no one knows whether love or hate awaits them.

All share a common destiny—the righteous and the wicked, the good and the bad, the clean and the unclean, those who offer sacrifices and those who do not.

As it is with the good, so with the sinful;
as it is with those who take oaths, so with those who are afraid to take them.

This is the evil in everything that happens under the sun: The same destiny overtakes all. The hearts of people, moreover, are full of evil and there is madness in their hearts while they live, and afterward they join the dead. Anyone who is among the living has hope — even a live dog is better off than a dead lion!

For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no further reward, and even their name is forgotten.
Ecclesiastes 9:1-5:
Clearly, the idea that it didn't matter how you lived your life as it made no different in the long run, was not what the church authorities needed the masses to believe. What they needed was the ability to promise a reward for good behaviour, unquestioning obedience and compliance with dogma, which the dead couldn't complain about and couldn't report back to the living and reveal that it was a false promise and what they'd been sold was a pig in a poke.

So, the idea of an immortal soul was pinched from the Greek Platonists and inserted into Christianity, complete with the idea that the soul doesn't have a gender.

The following article is reprinted from The Conversation under a Creative Commons licence and reformatted for stylistic consistency. The original may be read here:

Thursday 22 December 2022

Creationism in Crisis - Rappid Evolution of Spermatogenesis

Rapid Evolution of Spermatogenesis - Universität Heidelberg
The evolution of mammalian spermatogenesis. The image illustrates a sperm cell and the evolutionary relationship of mammalian species covered in the study.
Illustration: Florent Murat (icons partly adapted from Murat et al., Nature 2022, 10.1038/s41586-022-05547-7 | CC BY 4.0)
News that scientists have now shown how spermatogenesis in mammals is the result of a rapid evolutionary process and that mammals share many of the same genes, indicating common descent, as predicted from the Theory of Evolution (ToE), should come as a shock to Creationists fooled into thinking that the ToE is being increasingly rejected as the best available explanation for biodiversity and much else in nature, if only they could take their hands away from their eyes and read about it.

In fact, as this research shows, the ToE is fundamental to understanding biology and interpreting what can be observed.

The research was carried out by an international team of researchers led by Prof. Dr Henrik Kaessmann from the Center for Molecular Biology of Heidelberg University. The results are reported in Nature.
The research and its significance is explained in the Heidelberg University press release:

Wednesday 21 December 2022

Creationism in Crisis - Early Humans May Have Evolved Upright Walking in Trees

Early humans may have first walked upright in the trees | UCL News - UCL – University College London
Wild chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) in the Issa Valley, Tanzania, within the region of the East African Rift Valley.

In an interesting example of how science constantly revises what it thinks it knows and changes its mind when the information changes, and quite incidentally, routinely refutes Creationists claims, a team of researchers from UCL, the University of Kent, and Duke University, USA, has found what they believe is evidence that bipedalism evolved in remote human ancestors because they walked upright in trees, rather than because they abandoned the trees and took to living in open, relatively treeless savanna. This is the reverse of that is commonly accepted.

Briefly, the scientific consensus was that climate change led to a reduction of the African forests and left the ancestors of the hominins stranded in open savanna and isolated from their forest-dwelling cousin, the ancestral chimpanzee, where they evolved upright walking and the hominin foot, while retaining much of the upper body of their chimpanzee cousins with whom they shared a common ancestor. This suggested that they brachiated in trees using their arms an upper body, while they walked upright on the ground.

However, by observing a troupe of modern chimpanzees living in the Issa Valley of western Tanzania, within the region of the East African Rift Valley, the scientists noted that 85% of the time they spent walking upright was in trees, rather than on the ground. The Issa Valley is what is known as 'savanna-mosaic’ – a mix of dry open land with few trees and patches of dense forest, much like the environment it is believed the earliest hominins inhabited and in which bipedalism evolved.

As explained in UCL News:

Tuesday 20 December 2022

Creationism in Crisis - Science Moves Closer to Understanding How Intelligence Evolved

Untangling the Evolution of Complex Life | Dartmouth
Dartmouth researchers report octopuses have high numbers of molecules linked to advanced cognition.

Photo by Pia via Pexels
An international team of scientists lead by researchers from Dartmouth College, New Hampshire, USA and the Max Delbrück Center in Germany, believe they are a step closer to understanding how intelligence evolved. The key is the occurrence of microRNA molecules. These are small RNA units that are not involved in making proteins but regulate the expression of proteins. They tend to occur in highly specialised cells such as the neurones in brains.

MicroRNAs are found in are found in brain tissues of mammals and other vertebrates, especially humans, and now, for the first time in an invertebrate, in the two species of octopus examined in this study.

Octopuses are known to be highly intelligent, able to use tools, solve problems and engage in creative play, so the occurrence of microRNAs in these creatures as well as humans is highly significant.

As the News release from Dartmouth explains:

Monday 19 December 2022

After 12 Years of Tory Neglect, Under-Funding and Political Hostility, The NHS Now Needs YOU

'It's like being in a warzone' – A&E nurses open up about the emotional cost of working on the NHS frontline
J-Type Beford 'Dreadnaught' ambulance from about 1975

As a background to the current industrial disputes in the UK NHS with nurses and ambulance staff striking or planning to strike in the next few days, this is a potted history of the Ambulance service, and particularly my role in it during in the 35 years from 1975 to 2010 when I finally retired.

On Easter Sunday, April 3, 1988, about an hour past what should have been the end of a 12 hour might shift, I was advising a young police constable about what he needed to do to secure the crime scene where a mother had, for no obvious reason, decided to strangle her 5 year-old son with his dressing gown cord, stab her 7 year-old daughter 21 times in the chest with a kitchen knife, stab herself, try to cut her own throat, then run half a mile across a field and drown herself in a nearby pond.

About 30 years ago, five days before Christmas on the last day of the school term, I found myself under a school bus with its back wheel parked on the chest of a 12 year-old boy. Under the bus with me were his mother and father who lived just along the road. What would you say to them? We waited together for the half hour it took for the local fire brigade to arrive and jack the bus up enough to pull the body from under the wheel.

In 1989, on a cold and frosty winter morning, I found myself in the back seat of a car which had gone under the front of a lorry, crushing both the driver’s legs and trapping them under the dashboard, pushed down by the weight of the lorry. The driver, a young woman of about 20 was on her way to start a new Job in Aylesbury. She was not familiar with the country road and lost control on a bend. Both vehicles were on the grass verge. To get to them, the fire brigade needed to remove a section of the hedge with a chainsaw. No-one thought to warn me and my patient of the noise that was about to start not three feet from us.

I had her on a drip and had set up a heart/pulse monitor and fitted a blood pressure cuff so I could monitor her condition. Trying to keep us both warm I had wrapped her and myself in blankets. It took the fire service about three quarters of an hour to pull the car out from under the lorry and remove the roof. My patient survived the ordeal and the orthopaedic team managed to save her legs..

These, and a thousand other similar jobs are dealth with every day by the crews of the UK Ambulance Services and most of the patients from them end up in the NHS being cared for by nurses and doctors backed up by an army of ancilliary staff, cleaners, porters, radiographers, physiotherapists, laboratory technicians, etc. All of these are now bearing the brunts of 12 years of Tory underfunding, continuous reorganization, unfilled vacancies and economic mismanagement and, for the last three years, a raging, life-threatening pandemic for which innadequate personal protection equipment was provided by chums of ministers handed tens of millions of our money to supply PPE that never materialised or, if it did, was unuseable, even being salvaged from the clinical waste of Turkish hospitals.

"Oh! Don't worry! You can keep the money anyway. Thanks for trying!"

Saturday 17 December 2022

Catholic Priest Sex Abuse - And Still They Come

Archdiocese of Chicago list of alleged sex abusers who are priests, clergy expands by 72 names - ABC7 Chicago
Archbishop Blase Cupich of Chicago.
"Regretted our failure to qddress the scourge of clerical sexual abuse"
You might think a 28-page list of Catholic priests from the Chicago Catholic archdiocese alone, against whom substantiated allegations of the sexual abuse of minors have been made, would more or less cover the scale of the danger the church and its priests represent to the children of Chicago.
But not a bit of it!

A further 72 names are to be added to the list. These are of deceased priests who have been posthumously accused of sexual abuse.

So does that total of 150 names cover it?

Not according to SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) who point out that the attorney’s office has said there at at least another 500 [sic] names that have not yet been made public!

And this is just one American Catholic diocese.

Nor is that likely to be an end to the matter, since each release of names normally results in even more people finding the courage to come forward with yet more allegations against yet more priests. The Catholic Church is paying the price for decades of acting as a de facto paedophile ring with coverup and facilitation the norm. The question isn't so much whether there had been abuse in any Catholic diocese or institution but by who and how many victims there were?

Religion - Providing Excuses for People Who Need Excuses

Creationism in Crisis - Order From Chaos, Fundamentally

Chaos Gives the Quantum World a Temperature | TU Wien
A central plank of Creationist pseudoscience, is the assertion, designed to appeal to those arrogant fools who believe their ignorant intuition is the best available measure of reality, is that you can't get order from chaos.

That this is just plain wrong can be seen by looking at clouds, where apparent form has emerged from increased order in the chaotic movement of molecules of water in water vapour. This is even more apparent in raindrops where the chaos of water droplets in clouds condenses into water droplets which fall under gravity to produce rain.

Another example of order from chaos results in an internal combustion engine working.
The working of the internal combustion engine depends primarily on one of the gas laws, Boyle's Law, which states that the volume of a given mass of gas is inversely proportional to the pressure when the temperature remains constant. When the compressed mixture of fuel and air is ignited the result is a very rapid increase in the number of molecules in the gas, which results in a rapid increase in volume, so the pressure rises, driving the piston down.

So, what has this to do with chaos?

Individual molecules of gas don't have any pressure in themselves, all they have is thermodynamic energy making them move. The faster they move the more they will impart that energy to the walls of the container (in this case the cylinder) and to one another when they collide. The distribution of the velocity (energy) of the population of molecules can be described by a bell-curve. In any mass of gas, individual molecules will have more or less energy around a mean and their direction of movement will be random. In other words, it is a system in chaos, from which order emerges by the operation of a few fundamental laws. The downward stroke of the piston is an emergent property from the chaos in the system. It is so well ordered that it is entirely predictable, and can be altered by changing the amount of fuel and air mixture injected into the combustion chamber, and yet it was caused by nothing more than basic thermodynamic and the chaotic movement of gas molecules.

There are many other examples of order from chaos in nature, of course. The swirls and eddies of water flowing round an obstacle or through a bridge; the graded order of grains of sand and pebbles on a beach; the organic shapes formed by drifting snow, etc.
And now we have a research paper by quantum physicists from the Institute for Theoretical Physics, Vienna University of Technology that (UT) argues that elementary laws of thermodynamics, and thus the behaviour of matter as we know it, ONLY exists because the underlying structure from which they emerge is chaotic.

Admittedly, this is an area of science which is not easy to understand, especially for someone like me with no background in physics and quantum theory, so it is something for which most people like me, are ill equipped to judge intuitively. As I argued in my book, What Makes You So Special: From The Big Bang To You, Intuition is a very unreliable measure of reality and not the best available measure of it as Creationists like to imagine. Having the humility to ignore intuition and go with the science is what distinguishes a good scientist from a Creation pseudoscientist. So, this is the explanation for why chaos is responsible for the existence of fundamental laws, and so of chemistry, cosmology, biology and just about all science and technology, provided by UT Vienna:

Chaos Gives the Quantum World a Temperature

Two seemingly different areas of physics are related in subtle ways: Quantum theory and thermodynamics. How chaos theory mediates between them has now been studied at TU Wien.

A single particle has no temperature. It has a certain energy or a certain speed - but it is not possible to translate that into a temperature. Only when dealing with random velocity distributions of many particles, a well-defined temperature emerges. How can the laws of thermodynamics arise from the laws of quantum physics? This is a topic that has attracted growing attention in recent years. At TU Wien (Vienna), this question has now been pursued with computer simulations, which showed that chaos plays a crucial role: Only where chaos prevails do the well-known rules of thermodynamics follow from quantum physics.

Boltzmann: Everything is possible, but it may be improbable

Physically, it would be possible for all the energy in this space to be transferred to one single particle, which would then move at extremely high speeds while all the other particles stand still, But this is so unlikely that it will practically never be observed.

Prof. Iva Brezinova, co-author.
Institute for Theoretical Physics
Vienna University of Technology, Vienna, Austria
The air molecules randomly flying around in a room can assume an unimaginable number of different states: Different locations and different speeds are allowed for each individual particle. But not all of these states are equally likely. The probabilities of different allowed states can be calculated - according to a formula that the Austrian physicist Ludwig Boltzmann set up according to the rules of classical physics. And from this probability distribution, the temperature can then also be read off: it is only determined for a large number of particles.

In quantum physics, the entire system is described by a single large many-particle quantum state. How a random distribution and thus a temperature should arise from this remained a puzzle for a long time.

Prof. Joachim Burgdörfer, co-author Institute for Theoretical Physics
Vienna University of Technology, Vienna, Austria
The whole world as a single quantum state

However, this causes problems when dealing with quantum physics. When a large number of quantum particles are in play at the same time, the equations of quantum theory become so complicated that even the best supercomputers in the world have no chance of solving them.

In quantum physics, the individual particles cannot be considered independently of each other, as is the case with classical billiard balls. Every billiard ball has its own individual trajectory and its own individual location at every point in time. Quantum particles, on the other hand, have no individuality - they can only be described together, in a single large quantum wave function.

Chaos theory as a mediator

A team at TU Wien has now been able to show that chaos plays a key role. To do this, the team performed a computer simulation of a quantum system that consists of a large number of particles - many indistinguishable particles (the "heat bath") and one of a different kind of particle, the "sample particle" that acts as a thermometer. Each individual quantum wave function of the large system has a specific energy, but no well-defined temperature - just like a single classical particle. But if you now pick out the sample particle from the single quantum state and measure its velocity, you can surprisingly find a velocity distribution that corresponds to a temperature that fits the well-established laws of thermodynamics.

Whether or not it fits depends on chaos – that is what our calculations clearly showed. We can specifically change the interactions between the particles on the computer and thus create either a completely chaotic system, or one that shows no chaos at all - or anything in between.

Prof. Iva Brezinova.
And in doing so, one finds that the presence of chaos determines whether a quantum state of the sample particle displays a Boltzmann temperature distribution or not.

Without making any assumptions about random distributions or thermodynamic rules, thermodynamic behavior arises from quantum theory all by itself - if the combined system of sample particle and heat bath behaves quantum chaotically. And how well this behavior fits the well-known Boltzmann formulae is determined by the strength of the chaos.

Prof. Joachim Burgdörfer.
This is one of the first cases in which the interplay between three important theories has been rigorously demonstrated by many-particle computer simulations: quantum theory, thermodynamics and chaos theory.
The group's findings are published, open access, in the journal, Entropy:

One key issue of the foundation of statistical mechanics is the emergence of equilibrium ensembles in isolated and closed quantum systems. Recently, it was predicted that in the thermodynamic (N → ∞) limit of large quantum many-body systems, canonical density matrices emerge for small subsystems from almost all pure states. This notion of canonical typicality is assumed to originate from the entanglement between subsystem and environment and the resulting intrinsic quantum complexity of the many-body state. For individual eigenstates, it has been shown that local observables show thermal properties provided the eigenstate thermalization hypothesis holds, which requires the system to be quantum-chaotic. In the present paper, we study the emergence of thermal states in the regime of a quantum analog of a mixed phase space. Specifically, we study the emergence of the canonical density matrix of an impurity upon reduction from isolated energy eigenstates of a large but finite quantum system the impurity is embedded in. Our system can be tuned by means of a single parameter from quantum integrability to quantum chaos and corresponds in between to a system with mixed quantum phase space. We show that the probability for finding a canonical density matrix when reducing the ensemble of energy eigenstates of the finite many-body system can be quantitatively controlled and tuned by the degree of quantum chaos present. For the transition from quantum integrability to quantum chaos, we find a continuous and universal (i.e., size-independent) relation between the fraction of canonical eigenstates and the degree of chaoticity as measured by the Brody parameter or the Shannon entropy.

The delicious irony is that the Laws of Thermodynamics are emergent laws from the underlying chaos of the quantum universe and thus utterly refute their mindless chant, "You can't get order from chaos!". The Second Law of Thermodynamics is what you often see squawked by Creationists like a parrot squawks words and phrases without the slightest understanding of the noises it makes, because their cult has told them they mean evolution can't happen, despite the fact that it does, and can be observed.

Creationism can only continue to exist if it can recruit enough intellectually dishonest and arrogant people into the cult who are ignorant of most of science and intend to stay that way, believing that ignorance is a short-cut to expertise.

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Thursday 15 December 2022

Malevolent Designer News - How Creationists' Favourite Sadist Kills Its Victims With Plague

Oropsylla montana (a ground squirrel flea) infected and blocked with Yersinia pestis
Creationism's divine malevolence is now using the microorganism, Yersinia pestis, with which it killed 30%-60% of European humans and 75-200 million humans worldwide between 1346 and 1353, to have periodic bouts of killing rodents such as rats, mice, gerbils, squirrels, marmots and prairie dogs.
Having created these rodents, according to Creationists, it then designed Yersinia pestis to kill them, using different species of flea as vectors to make sure the plague spreads quickly and widely.

Now scientists have worked out why it changes periodically from an enzootic to an epizootic disease. It's all down to what happens in the gut of infected fleas which spread the disease. They have published their findings today in the open access journal, PLOS Pathogens.

According to information provided ahead of publication:

Wednesday 14 December 2022

Creationism in Crisis - An Extinct "Giant Wombat" From 80,000 Years Ago

For the first time ever, we have a complete skull description of a true fossil giant wombat
Diprotodon optatum
Source: Australian Museum - © Anne Musser
A giant marsupial resembling a giant wombat was wandering the grasslands of Australia, 80,000 years ago. That's 74,000 years before Creationists believe Earth was magically conjured up from nothing with magic words.

The species finally went extinct about 25,000 years ago, and so co-existed for several thousand years with the first human inhabitants of Australia - the existence of whom is another major embarrassment for Creationists, but that's another story.

From Australian Museum:
Evolutionary relationships

Diprotodontids first appear in the late Oligocene, about 25 million years ago. These early diprotodontids were probably descended from late Oligocene to early Miocene wynyardiids (small marsupials with a dentition intermediate between that of possums and diprotodontids) and were about the size of sheep.

The subfamily Diprotodontinae, including Diprotodon optatum, are a Pliocene-Pleistocene group. Diprotodon may have evolved from the Pliocene diprotodontine Euryzygoma during the late Pliocene. A recent study based on dentition has found that there is just a single variable species of Diprotodon, Diprotodon optatum (Price 2008).

Exact reasons for the extinction of Diprotodon remain unclear. It seems to have co-existed with Aboriginal people for over 20,000 years, so the 'blitzkrieg' model (extinction upon the arrival of humans) does not hold for Diprotodon. Human activity may have had an effect, either through habitat change ('firestick farming') or perhaps via a slow decrease in numbers through selected hunting of juveniles. Aboriginal people did not have 'big game' weapons, and most likely did not target adult Diprotodon. Climate change may have also been a significant factor. During the Pleistocene, Australia experienced droughts that were much worse than today's, and much of inland Australia was barren, inhospitable and waterless.

In the following article, reprinted from The Conversation under a Creative Commons licence, some of the team who identified the fossil remains, describe how they were identified and their significance in understanding the history of Australian fauna. The article is reformatted for stylistic consistency. The original can be read here:

Sunday 11 December 2022

Creationism in Crisis - How Modern Papuans' Immune System Was Shaped By Denisovans.

A paper published in PLOS Genetics will make grim reading for Creationists. It reports that a population of humans has an immune system at least partly inherited from an archaic species of Hominin - the Denisovans.
Papuan children
Papuan children. Denisovan immune system?
The problem with a superstition that says all humans are descended from a single couple who were magicked into existence just a few thousand years ago, is that this would mean every human alive should have pretty much identical physiology, even allowing for the warp-speed evolution in the few thousand years since a supposed flood exterminated everyone save eight related individuals who survive on a wooden boat for about a year.

Some credulous Creationists have been fooled into believing that, to account for all the extant species and so little room on the wooden boat.

Seriously! I'm not making this up! There really are grown adults who believe that really happened, and that the Bronze Age myth that tells the tale is real history, even though it entails believing in a rate of evolution far in excess of anything proposed by science, or even considered feasible, with multiple new species evolving sometimes in a single generation.

Sadly for these deluded individuals, real-world facts keep on refuting their superstition, needing greater and greater mental gymnastics to cope with the cognitive dissonance stemming from reality and their preferred view of reality being so divergent.

One of those pieces of evidence is that that the people of Papua New-Guinea have remnants of the DNA of archaic humans who lived several hundred thousand years before Creationists believe humans were created, and who were extinct by the time this creation supposedly happened, so there is no way they could have interbred with Denisovans, if the Creationist origin myth had even a modicum of truth about it, and yet the evidence is that they did.

Real world evidence shows us that when modern Homo sapiens expanded their range out of Africa, they met up with and interbred with the descendants of an earlier migration out of Africa, probably by H. erectus or one of its descendants such as H. heidelbergensis. Two of these descendant species were the Neanderthals of Western Eurasia and their sister species, the Denisovans of Eastern and South-eastern Eurasia. So, all modern non-African humans have some Neanderthal and/or some Denisovan DNA. In other words, modern non-African humans not only don't have a founding couple, as per Creationist mythology; they don't even have a founding species, being hybrids of at least three different Homo species
According to information provided by PLoS:

Ecology News - How Photos From Space Have Changed Our View of Earth And Our Place In The Cosmos

Looking back from beyond the Moon: how views from space have changed the way we see Earth
Earth is a bright pixel when photographed from "Voyager 1" six billion kilometres out (past Pluto).
Updated by Kevin M. Gill using modern image-processing techniques, 2020
In the words of the late, great Carl Sagan, looking at a picture of a tiny image of Earth seen through one of the rings of Saturn:
Consider again that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it, everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever lived, lived out their lives. The aggregate of all our joys and sufferings, thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilizations, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, every hopeful child, every inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every superstar, every supreme leader, every saint and sinner in the history of our species, lived there on a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam.

The earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and in triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner of the dot. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light.

Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity — in all this vastness — there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves…… It is up to us. It’s been said that astronomy is a humbling, a character-building experience. To my mind, there is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another and to preserve and cherish that pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.
The ludicrous Creationist claim that the Universe is somehow 'fine-tuned' for life is given the lie by the simple realisation that, a short distance from the surface of our planet, life becomes completely untenable in a very hostile environment. Life is 'fine-tuned for Earth because the process of evolution, by which living things became the way they are, is the tuning process.

In the following article reprinted from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license, Professor Alice Gorman, Associate Professor in Archaeology and Space Studies, Flinders University, Australia, looks at the way images of Earth taken from space, have influenced our thinking about Earth and our place in the Cosmos.

The article is reformatted for stylistic consistency. The original can be read here:

Creationism in Crisis - How Intensive Agriculture Enabled a Pervasive Weed to Evolve

How intensive agriculture turned a wild plant into a pervasive weed | UBC Science - Faculty of Science at the University of British Columbia
A 155-year-old waterhemp herbarium specimen from the Missouri Botanical Garden Herbarium
One of the easiest ways to refute Creationism, and especially their preposterous claim that the Theory of Evolution (TOE) is about to be overthrown by mainstream science in favour of a primitive Bronze Age superstition involving imaginary supernatural entities and magic, is to show examples of evolution being observed over time.

This is exactly what an international team led by researchers from the University of British Columbia (UBC), Canada, did with regard to the common waterhemp, Amaranthus tuberculatus which has changed over time from being a relatively unimportant North American wild plant which grows near lakes and streams to becoming a pervasive agricultural weed which is almost impossible to eradicate from fields, having evolved even herbicide resistance. This adaptation has also enabled the southwestern variety to spread eastwards, interbreeding with the eastern variety and so spreading the evolved genes. Environmental change has allowed incompletely speciated varieties to come back together, interchange genes and merge back into a single variety again, in a process analogous to Homo sapiens, Denisovans and Neanderthals merging into modern humans.

In order to understand how this transformation occurred, the scientists compared 187 modern waterhemp plants, sampled from fields and neighbouring wetlands with over 100 samples preserved in herbaria since 1820. What they ended up with was a complete evolutionary history showing changes in hundreds of genes across the species genome over time. The surprising thing was that this evolution had occurred so rapidly over such a short period of time.

These had been produced by natural selection which fitted the plant to exploit the new niche produced by intensive human agriculture. A significant environmental change had resulted in a significant evolutionary change in the plant's genome, just as the TOE predicts.
The evolutionary adaptations included an ability to tolerate drought, an ability to grow rapidly and so out-compete crops, and herbicide resistance.

The research is outlined in the UBC news release:

Saturday 10 December 2022

Creationism in Crisis - Belief in Creationism Falls to a New Low in Australian University Students

"Adam and Eve,” detail by Giulio Clovio from the Book of Hours of Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, 1546

Pierpont Morgan Library, New York City, USA
Fewer Australian university students than ever before believe in creationism

In a stunning refutation of the Creationist claim that the Theory of Evolution (TOE) is being increasingly rejected in favour of the Bronze Age superstion related in the ancient origin myths in the Bible, a 2017 survey of Australian University students, shows exactly the oposit to be true. The survey revealed an accelerating decline in Creationism and a rapidly growing acceptance that the TOE is the best explanation for human existence.

The researchers have surveyed the opinions of first year students at the University of New South Wales concerning their views about evolution and creationism. The results are alost a mirror image of the increasing rejection of religion amognst Australian adults, with a relentless increase in 'nones' over the same period.

The findings were published in the open access journal, Evolution: Education and Outreach and reported in The Conversation by lead author, Professor Mike Archer of the Pangea Research Centre, UNSW, Sydney, Australia. His report is reprinted here under a Creative Commons license, reformatted for stylistic consistency. The original can be read here:

Creationism in Crisis - How The TOE Predicts and Explains Convergent Evolution

Crabs have evolved five separate times – why do the same forms keep appearing in nature?

Given that the main driver of evolution is the environment which selects for characteristics which give the species an enhanced ability to reproduce, or against characteristics which reduce reproductive ability, it is predictable the similar environments will result in similar solutions to the problem of survival. We would expect then that, especially when starting from the same basic body plan, that similar species will arise in different places, in taxons that are only distantly related.

That this prediction of the Theory of Evolution is what we can readily observe, would be taken by rational people as good evidence that the TOE is correct. Not so, with Creationists, however, for whom no evidence will dissuade them from an opinion that isn't based on evidence.

Curiously, Creationist cult leaders continue to tell their credulous dupes that it is actually the TOE that is being increasingly rejected by mainstream science, despite the abundant evidence that it can make accurate predictions, and the evidence of articles such as the following recent article, reprinted from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license, that biologists regard the TOE as the fundamental theory underpinning biology and making sense of what can be observed.

The article by Professor Matthew Wills, Professor of Evolutionary Palaeobiology at the Milner Centre for Evolution, University of Bath, UK, explains why the same forms recur in living organisms. It has been reformatted for stylistic consistency. The original can be read here:

Unintelligent Design - How XY Sex Determination Causes Speciation to Avoid Extinction

Did sex drive mammal evolution? How one species can become two
Wild platypus in a Tasmanian stream
Wild platypus, in a Tasmanian stream.
Within a few million years, humans will either be extinct or will have diversified into two or more species. As I explained in my previous post, the gradual degeneration of the Y chromosome, that is carried only by males and which is essential to trigger the development of a male foetus, is degenerating at a rate which will see it disappear altogether within about 5 million years. Since our lineage split from that of the platypus, some, 845 genes have been lost, leaving only 55 active genes and a lot of non-functional junk DNA.

Disappearance of the Y chromosome has already happened in an unknown number of mammals, particularly those with a short generation time such as many rodents, leading to their extinction. With no DNA, there is no way to determine if this was the cause of extinction, and in any case, extinction, at least locally, could occur very quickly if caused by a lost Y chromosome or at least the one remaining essential gene responsible for sex determination.

However, some rodents, especially some Eastern European and Asian mole voles and Japanese spiny rats evolved an alternative method of sex determination, so, unless humans evolve a similar replacement, they too will go extinct.

The replacement in the rodents was a sequence of DNA adjacent to a gene known as the SOX9 gene located on one of the autosomes which controls the development of maleness in the developing foetus. This gene is activated by the SRY gene on the Y chromosome, so, with no Y chromosome and no replacement, no males and no reproduction.

However, there is a problem which will arise during the replacement of Y with some other mechanism, and that mechanism could vary by region. During that period there will be at least two mutually exclusive methods for determining the sex of the offspring, during which any hybrids will be unable to reproduce even if they are viable. This means there will be an evolutionary 'war' between these two methods, during which any mechanism which acts as a barrier to hybridization will give the carriers an advantage because they won't be producing sterile offspring.

These evolving barriers will quickly cause the emerging species to diversify, so, even if humans survive the loss of their Y chromosome, there will inevitably be two or more species of humans.

This has already happened in those families of rodents such as the Eastern European mole voles and the Japanese spiny rats where some species have an alternative sex determination mechanism involving a SOX9 enhancer in males on the same chromosome as the SOX9 gene and the loss of the Y chromosome, so the chromosome with the SOX9 enhancer has picked up the sex-determining baton, while related species have retained the XY method.

The enhancer consists of a simple duplication of a short sequence of DNA that is present in mice but in which it has no known function. Somehow, this activates the SOX9 gene at the right time, taking over the function of the Y Chromosome’s SRY gene.

In the following article reprinted from The Conversation under a Creative Commons licence, professor Jenny Graves Jenny Graves, Distinguished Professor of Genetics, La Trobe University, Australia, explains that it could have been the cause of divergence between the marsupials and the monotremes and between the marsupials and the placental mammals, and so this played a key role in major steps in our own evolution.

The article has been reformatted for stylistic consistency. The original can be read here:

Friday 9 December 2022

Unintelligent Design - Humans On The Path To Extinction, By Design!

Men are slowly losing their Y chromosome, but a new sex gene discovery in spiny rats brings hope for humanity

Northern mole vole
Northern mole vole, Ellobius talpinus.
Males have lost their Y chromosome

Credit: Mikhail Kolesnikov and Marina Korobchenko), Free Software Foundation
Unless the intention was the eventual extinction of the species, no intelligent designer, especially one granted the power of omniscient foresight, would design sex-determinism by a method that guarantees extinction will happen eventually, unless a new method is devised just in time to prevent it.

And yet that appears to be the result of the current XY chromosomes method used by all mammals except the monotremes and a few exceptional rodents of which more later. The problem is that the Y chromosome, which is carried by males, is a degenerate and degenerating chromosome, unlike its sex-determining pair, the X Chromosome, of which females have two copies.
Over time, almost all the genes formerly carried by the Y chromosome have been lost, so, unlike the X Chromosome with about 900 genes, the Y chromosome in humans only has 55 genes and a lot of junk DNA that does nothing at all. The platypus, on the other hand, in which the X and Y chromosomes are perfectly normal paired chromosomes like all the other mammalian chromosomes, both pairs have the full complement of genes. (Sex determination in platypuses is more like that of birds and involves other chromosome pairs). Se we can deduce that in the 166 million years since humans and platypuses diverged from a common ancestor, the Y chromosome has lost 845 genes. If this rate of loss is projected into the future, the human Y chromosome will disappear in 11 million years.

Why does the Y Chromosome tend to degenerate and lose genes if this is disadvantageous? The answer is connected to the way normal chromosomes get rid of deleterious mutations and unwanted intrusions of junk 'jumping genes', and one of the advantages of sexual reproduction - they replace the unwanted stuff for the good stuff on the other one of the pair. However, the Y chromosome has no pair, so is stuck with mutations and junk. Meanwhile, functional genes can migrate to other chromosomes, so the Y chromosome tends to lose quality and quantity over time.

Thursday 8 December 2022

Creationism in Crisis - 275,000 Year-Old Neanderthal Footprints From Spain

Recently found 'Neanderthal footprints' in the South of Spain could be 275,000 years old
Homo heidelbergensis (The Broken Hill skull)
One of the suspect species
The Natural History Museum, London, UK
Some 270,000 years before Creationists believe Earth was magicked into existence, hominins were walking about in what is now Southwestern Spain, leaving footprints in mud that were quickly covered over and preserved by blown sand gto form a protective sand dune. Over time the sand dune solidified into the Asperillo cliff

When first discovered the footprints at Matalascañas, Huelva , Southwest Spain, were dated to around 106,000 ± 19,000 years based on a previous study to determine the age of the Asperillo cliff.

Embarrassing though even that relatively recent dating is for Creationists, the team have now revised the date of the footprints by dating the surface in which they were made, using a technique called Optically Stimulated Luminescence, which basically measures when the surface was last exposed to sunlight before being buried for a prolonged period. This gave a date of 295,800 ± 17,000 years.
The significance of this new date is that rather than being made by Neanderthals from the Upper Pleistocene as was first thought, these tracks were made by ancestor of the Neanderthals, or early Neanderthals from the Middle Pleistocene, during a period known to geologists as the transition from Marine Isotope Stage 9 (MIS-9) to MIS-8 when there was a sudden cooling then warming of the climate in the Iberian Peninsula.
The authors have published their revised findings, open access, in the journal Scientific Reports and written an article in The Conversation. That article is reprinted below under a Creative Commons license, reformatted for stylistic consistency. The original article can be read here:

Tuesday 6 December 2022

Biodiversity News - How Man-Made Climate Change is Damaging German Beech Forests.

Press release: Climate change in the forests of northern Germany - Georg-August-Universität Göttingen
Typical north German beech forest
Typical beech forest in northern Germany: the scientists took samples of wood from dominant trees at 30 locations.

Photo: Banzragch Bat-Enerel
Scientists from Germany have shown the negative effects of man-made climate change on the health of beech trees in German forests. These forests are important wild-life refuges with a rich and complex ecosystem, so any damage to the health of the trees will have a major impact of the biodiversity of Central Europe.

The scientists took samples of wood from major trees in 30 different locations so that comparisons could be made between areas with different average rainfall levels. They then analysed the tree rings to obtain a retrospective measure of tree growth.

The news release from Georg-August-Universität, Göttingen, describes the study and its significant findings:

Human Rights News - Women Fighting Back Against the Chritian Fundies Who Took a Basic Human Right Away

Pro Roe protestors outside the Supreme Court Building
SCOTUS overturned Roe v Wade, despite strong popular support for retaining it.
Pro-choice crowdfunding has surged in the U.S. — but donating that way has risks

America women, who had the basic human right to bodily autonomy taken away from them by Christian extremists who now dominate SCOTUS, are fighting back through crowdfunding.

They need to do this to raise money for travel out of a Repugnican-run state that doesn't respect their basic human rights, to a Democrat-run state where pregnancy termination services are still legal and a woman’s right to choose is recognised and valued over a Christian fundamentalist's assumed right to control others.
However, there are risks, not the least of which are retaliatory measures by extremists seeking to constrain even the right to travel in order to restrict a woman's right to choose, and pressure on social media platforms to deny women the ability to crowdfund their freedom-seeking trips. In an ominous foreshadowing of what a fundamentalist theocracy would be like, not content with forcing their religion on the people in the states they run, extremists also seek to impose it on people who have rejected them at the ballot box.

In the following article reprinted from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license, Professor Jeremy Snyder, Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University, Canada, examines the sharp increase in crowd-sourced funding by women seeking abortion services outside their home states. The article is reformatted for stylistic consistence. The original may be read here:

Monday 5 December 2022

Trumpanzee Cult News - Trump or Desantis? The Nutjobs May Decide It.

Evangelical Christians are crucial voters in Republican primaries. Would they support DeSantis or Trump?
The American Christian far right now has two dogs in the fight for the position of Repugnican candidate in 2024 - the odious, epitome of a sore loser, former president, Donald Trump and the evangelical white supremacist, governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, who emerged the stronger of the two in the mid-term disaster for Trumpanzee Repugnicans, where candidates who publicly bought into Trump's Big Lie of a stolen election, fared badly.

But is there much to choose between them? To someone like me from outside the USA, there doesn't appear to be a fag-paper's difference between Trump and DeSantis. They both appeal to the hate-filled, neo-fascist, human rights denying, white Christian evangelicals and misogynistic pro-life hypocrites who blame God and the Bible, and thank Trump and his stooges in SCOTUS, for their legalised denial of a woman's right to bodily autonomy.

What will come next? A ban on contraception? Legalised persecution of anyone who isn't heterosexual? Prohibitions on voting for anyone who isn't a white evangelical Christian? The abolition of democracy itself?

Seems a bit exaggerated? All of these have been advocated by the Christian far right at various time very recently and many of them see it as the entire reason for the 'culture war'!

Dominating the judiciary isn't enough for these privileged extremist who will only settle for a Taliban-style self-selecting theocracy which dominates both the Executive and the Legislature, which will be mere rubber stamps for the dictates of the self-appointed evangelical cult leaders. At least one popular televangelist with a huge following has already claimed to a cheering audience that God told him the government should be accountable to him, not the people.

How these extremists, who still form a significant block of American voters, despite the growing rejection of organised religions in the USA, will divide between the two candidates, then unite behind the winner, is still an open question, as is the question of how far their repugnant extremism will push people into the Democrat camp.

One frightening aspect of Christian fundamentalism the USA, is that many of them, the so-called dispensationalists, saw the relocation of the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem by Trump as the first move in setting the precondition for an apocalyptic war, and believe Donald Trump will complete that process. In that war they believe they alone will be saved and 'raptured' to a place of safety until it is safe to return to Earth where they will have everything for themselves and all those who disagreed with them will be dead - the greatest thing they can imagine!

If these self-possessed, entitled nutters gain the political powers they crave, they will have control of the biggest nuclear arsenal on the planet, with enough warheads to destroy all life several time over, all under the command of a narcissistic psychopath with an acute personality disorder, the self-control of a toddler and his own private nuclear bunker.

The stakes in 2024 really are that high!
In the following article reprinted from The Conversation, Professor David Smith, Associate Professor in American Politics and Foreign Policy, US Studies Centre, University of Sydney, gives his assessment of the prospects, and to what extent the unpopular (even amongst Repugnicans) state bans on abortion will affect the outcome of November 2024.

The article, which can be read here, has been reformatted fos stylistic consistency.

Saturday 3 December 2022

Malevolent Designer News - How Creationism's Favourite Sadist is Spreading Antimicrobial Resistance

Genomic analysis of sewage from 101 countries reveals global landscape of antimicrobial resistance | Nature Communications
 global map of antimicrobial resistance
During the COVID-19 pandemic, scientists realised the value of analysing the sewerage outflow from major population centres to monitor the prevalence of the virus and its variants in the population. This technique can also be used to monitor microbial prevalence and variants such as antimicrobial resistance.

Now a team of researchers at the Danish Technical University (DTU) has used data from these analyses to produce a map of microbial resistance at the level of resistance genes, rather than of resistant species.

From a Creationist perspective, what this is measuring is how well their pestilential malevolence is doing in its arms race against medical science to ensure its pathogens retain their ability to make us sick.

The results of the meta-analysis were surprising in that it showed the same genes were present in different species and in different places, indicating that exchange of genes between species is more frequent and extensive than was previously thought.

From the DTU News release:

Creationism in Crisis - How Evolution Evolved Intelligently Without a Creator

Intelligent design without a creator? Why evolution may be smarter than we thought

The evolution of evolvability is a fascinating aspect of the Theory of Evolution. For example, the evolution of sexual reproduction seems counter-intuitive because it involves two copies of each allele, with the original often dominating, so any advantage from a beneficial mutation can be lost because it isn't expressed in the phenotype, while a deleterious mutation can be shielded from selection by a dominant allele.

However, because it also involves cross-over between chromosomes it can give rise to new combinations of alleles allowing evolution to 'experiment', with different evolutionary lines coming together to produce synergy where the total is greater than the sum of the parts, so sexual reproduction almost certainly evolved because it gave greater evolvability, i.e. it gave the organisms greater resilience in a changing environment.

Evolution is a process, not an event, and, as such, it can be improved (evolved) to maximise efficiency. Indeed, the mechanism of random change being tested in a selective environment makes that evolution inevitable. In the same way that machine learning is the process which underpins artificial intelligence, so evolution is the process by which species respond to environmental changes. Both processes can be improved by a natural evolutionary process, without the need for supernatural intervention.

In the following article from 2016, reprinted from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license, Professor Richard A. Watson, Associate Professor, Institute for Life Sciences/Electronics and Computer Science, University of Southampton, UK, explains how evolution could be evolving with an evolved natural intelligence which enables it to solve problems without the ability to look ahead the way an intelligent designer would work.

The article has been reformatted for stylistic consistence. The original can be read here:
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