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July 13, 2003

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Religion in the News

Larry Burkett dies
Christian financial adviser Larry Burkett died Friday in Gainesville, Georgia, after a long battle with kidney cancer and heart problems. Earlier last week, doctors at the Mississippi Medical Center found him free of cancer, The Clarion-Ledger of Jackson, Mississippi, reported. See

When Larry Burkett Spoke, Evangelicals Listened
After a long struggle with cancer, "evangelicalism's financial answer man" died last week at age 64. See

Bush Africa visit lifts hopes of U.S. missionaries | Many hope a trip by President Bush to Africa this week will help advance their version of God's cause (Reuters). See

Watch that Invocation
Prayer in Jesus' name forbidden in California legislative meetings. See

How 'under God' got in there | With Eisenhower present, D.C. pastor's sermon sparked quest to change pledge (The Washington Post). See

Are Evangelicals Fueling Teen Fascination with the Powers of Darkness?
The horror of Buffy Summers and the fantasy of Harry Potter draw from conservative religious imagery while fans feed on conservative opposition, says the author of From Angels to Aliens. See

Life has a spiritual side, even without faith in God | Many secularists I've met over the years care just as deeply about life's enduring values as the believers who surround them (David Crumm, Detroit Free Press). See

Book of the Week: One-Hit Wonder
The long swansong of Madalyn Murray O'Hair. See

Science in the News


Reviewing the books | Validity of evolution at issue as state considers adopting new biology texts (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, Tex.). See

'Intelligent design' theory debated at hearing | Board of Education hears from both sides during discussion on adoption of new texts (Houston Chronicle). See

Mystery Ape-Like Beast Spotted in China. June 30, 2003 — An investigation has begun after sightings of a legendary "ape-like" beast in the forests of central China, state press said Monday. The mythical creature was apparently seen by six people, including a journalist, in the Shennongjia Nature Reserve in China's Hubei province Sunday afternoon, the Xinhua news agency reported. The reserve is well known as a place where local legend has it that the half-man, half-ape creatures live. See

Deciding the world does not revolve around Galileo | In the confrontation between Galileo and the Catholic Church, Wade Rowland maintains that the church's position is more defensible (The New York Times). See


Satellites hunt for buried treasure
Radar sensing can allow satellites to peer through the ground to reveal ancient watercourses and archaeological wonders, suggests new research. See

Tomb references John the Baptist's father | The discovery was a stroke of luck: the light of the setting sun hit an ancient tomb at just the right angle and revealed hints of a worn inscription, unnoticed for centuries, commemorating the father of John the Baptist (Associated Press). See

Gold Dust and James Bond
The Israel Antiquities Authority has declared the James ossuary and Jehoash inscription fake. See

Nazareth construction crew finds cistern | Crusaders might have built it 1,000 years ago, archaeologists said (Associated Press). See

Migration out of Africa (9 Jul) - How long ago did our ancestors begin to migrate from Africa? Evidence from a massive volcanic explosion 74,000 years ago in South-east Asia is giving researchers clues about these first colonists, says Stephen Oppenheimer. See

Stonehenge (8 Jul) - Stonehenge is a massive fertility symbol, according to Canadian researchers who believe they have finally cracked the mystery of the ancient monument in southern England. See

New Technique Helps Solve Mystery Of Ancient Figurines
Thanks in part to new spectroscopic technology, researchers have solved a great mystery concerning some of North America's oldest pieces of sculpture. See


Newfound, ancient planet challenges age-old theories
Astronomers said yesterday that the oldest and most distant planet yet found was a huge, gaseous sphere 13 billion years old and 5,600 light-years away, a discovery that could change theories about when planets formed and when life could have evolved. See

Hawaiian Telescope Team Makes Debut Discovery. Kamuela - Jul 7, 2003 - Astronomers have observed a young star ringed by a swirling disc that may spin off planets, marking the first published science observation using two linked 10-meter (33- foot) telescopes in Hawaii. See

Stellar Occultations Reveal Drastic Expansion Of Pluto's Atmosphere. Paris - Jul 10, 2003 - Moving on its eccentric orbit, Pluto is presently receding from the Sun; between 1979 and 1999 it was inside Neptune's orbit, but since then it has again been the planet most distant from the Sun. As it moves outward, the amount of solar energy that reaches its surface decreases, so its surface is expected to cool. See

Frozen Stars. Black holes may not be bottomless pits after all. Demolishing stars, powering blasts of high-energy radiation, rending the fabric of spacetime: it is not hard to see the allure of black holes. They light up the same parts of the brain as monster trucks and battlebots do. They explain violent celestial phenomena that no other body can. They are so extreme, in fact, that no one really knows what they are. See

Einstein's Gravitational Waves May Set Speed Limit For Pulsar Spin
Gravitational radiation, ripples in the fabric of space predicted by Albert Einstein, may serve as a cosmic traffic enforcer, protecting reckless pulsars from spinning too fast and blowing apart, according to a report published in the July 3 issue of Nature. See

Dark matter may be undetectable
Super-WIMPs might hide ninety percent of the universe. See

Accelerating Universe theory dispels dark energy
Tweaking gravity does away with need for strange forces.
3 July 2003 See


Memory (8 Jul) - Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania have found new support for the age-old advice to "sleep on it." Mice allowed to sleep after being trained remembered what they had learned far better than those deprived of sleep for several hours afterward. See

Sleep disorders (8 Jul) - Chemical imbalances in the brain may be partly to blame for some life-disrupting sleep disorders, scientists have found. See

Napping (4 Jul) - Two new studies suggest that a mid-day nap is more than just an indulgence. One group of researchers reports that napping makes people better learners. Another study says that humans may be genetically programmed to take an afternoon siesta. NPR's Joe Palca reports. See

Scientists Focusing On How Exercise Raises Immunity
An increasing number of doctors and other health experts have been encouraging older adults to rise from their recliners and go for a walk, a bike ride, a swim, or engage in just about any other form of physical activity as a defense against the potentially harmful health consequences of a sedentary lifestyle. See

Rare Versions Of Immune System Genes Stave Off HIV Infection
Researchers have new answers as to why some HIV-infected individuals don't progress to full-blown AIDS as rapidly as other HIV-positive people. See

Earth Science

Earliest Sauropod Dino Identified. July 3, 2003 — Fossil remains of a slow, hefty, claw-wielding dinosaur have just been identified as belonging to the world's earliest known sauropod. The newly recognized dinosaur, named Antetonitrus ingenipes after the Latin words for "massive paw," provides clues as to how sauropods emerged and later evolved to become the largest terrestrial animals ever to have existed on Earth. See

Secrets of Dung: Ancient poop yields nuclear DNA. Researchers have extracted remnants of DNA from cells preserved in the desiccated dung of an extinct ground sloth. See (members only).

Charting Seismic Effects On Water Levels Refines Earthquake Science. Seattle - Jul 7, 2003 - Through many decades, stories about earthquakes raising or lowering water levels in wells, lakes and streams have become the stuff of folklore. Just last November, the magnitude 7.9 Denali earthquake in Alaska was credited with sloshing water in Seattle's Lake Union and Lake Pontchartrain in New Orleans, and was blamed the next day when muddy tap water turned up in Pennsylvania, where some water tables dropped as much as 6 inches. See

Galactic dust cooling Earth?
Controversial climate claim exonerates carbon dioxide. See


Mate choice (7 Jul) - Not looks or money but rather life-long fidelity is what most people seek in an ideal mate, according to a Cornell University behavioral study that also confirmed the "likes-attract" theory: We tend to look for the same characteristics in others that we see in ourselves. See

Depression (5 Jul) - New findings suggests that some people with depression might have problems metabolizing the B vitamin folate -- supporting the idea that supplements could help ward off the condition, researchers say. See


Dung beetles push by the light of the Moon
Insects use nocturnal polarisation to stay on the straight and narrow. See

Mystery Sea Creature Appears on Chile Beach. July 3, 2003 — Puzzled scientists are examining the mysterious remains of a gelatinous sea creature found washed up on a Chilean beach. The remains, 12.4 meters (41 feet) in length and weighing 13 tons, was first thought to be the skin of a whale when it was discovered June 24 near Maullin on the Pacific Ocean coast. See

Web-Footed Birds Use Two Strokes. July 2, 2003 — Web-footed birds use a fancy two-stroke method of propulsion when they swim, according to a study published Thursday in Nature, the British science weekly. See