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November 23, 2003

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Religion in the News

Life after 'Mac'
Promise Keepers names new leader, looks ahead. Interview by Stan Guthrie.

The End of Traditional Marriage?
Religious activists say Massachusetts decision is monumental—and may be cause for revolt. Compiled by Ted Olsen.

Hugh Hefner's Hollow Victory
How the magnate won the culture war, lost his soul, and left us with a mess to clean up. By Read Mercer Schuchardt.

Reinhard Bonnke, Benny Hinn, and Others Reportedly Bilked of $160M+ in Ponzi Scheme.
Christ for All Nations board member, four others arrested. Compiled by Ted Olsen.

Dispatch from Atlanta: What Fireworks?
Anxieties and attack turn to grace and truth as the Evangelical Theological Society votes on Open Theism proponents' membership. By David Neff.

Evangelical Scholars Remove Robert Gundry for His Views on Matthew
Did Matthew embellish his work with nonhistorical additions? By Leslie R. Keylock in Dallas.

Science in the News

It's a scoop!
In the highly competitive world of cell and molecular biology, there are no prizes for coming second. But is the pressure to be the first to publish 'hot' results distorting scientific progress? Helen Pearson investigates.


Major Mutations, Not Small Changes, May Lead To New Species. Seattle - Nov 17, 2003
Hummingbirds visited nearly 70 times more often after scientists altered the color of a kind of monkeyflower from pink – beloved by bees but virtually ignored by hummingbirds – to a hummer-attractive yellow-orange.

The GISP2 Ice Core: Ultimate Proof that Noah's Flood Was Not Global
by Paul Seely in Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith (Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation) December 2003 issue pages 252-260. Not yet available online. Paul also explains the Lost Squadron argument that Kent Hovind loves to cite. Their web site is at

Researchers Kevin Laland and John Odling-Smee argue for nothing less than a rethink of the evolutionary process. Their studies have convinced them that "niche construction" should rival natural selection as a contributory factor in evolution. By accepting that organisms shape environments as surely as environments shape organisms, evolution is transformed from a linear to a cyclic process. This feedback allows organisms to influence the adaptations that successive generations need to make to survive. See New Scientist, November 15, 2003.

Researchers Design And Build First Artificial Protein (November 21, 2003)
Using sophisticated computer algorithms running on standard desktop computers, researchers have designed and constructed a novel functional protein that is not found in nature. The achievement should enable researchers to explore larger questions about how proteins evolved and why nature "chose" certain protein folds over others.

Who was history's greatest scientific hoaxer?
It's been fifty years since Piltdown Man was exposed as a fake. To mark the occasion, the Natural History Museum in London will be exhibiting the "fossils" for the first time since the hoax became public.


Scholars Discover Parts of New Testament Verse on Facade of Israeli Funeral Monument.
An inscription referring to "Simeon who was a very just man," thought to be the Simon of Luke 2:25, has been identified on the fourth-century Absalom's Tomb in Jerusalem.


Sun Sheds Skin And Flips. Greenbelt - Nov 20, 2003
Research with the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) spacecraft has revealed the process that may implement the reversal in the direction of the Sun's magnetic field that is known to occur every 11 years. This newly recognized factor in the Sun's magnetic flipping is the cumulative effect of more than a thousand huge eruptions called Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs). (Note that Kent Hovind does not believe a magnetic field can reverse especially on earth)

Is The Sun An Iron-Rich Powerhouse. Rolla - Nov 18, 2003
The spate of solar storms to hit Earth in recent days may be caused by the sun's iron-rich interior, says a UMR researcher who theorizes that the sun's core is made of iron rather than hydrogen.

Most Distant X-Ray Jet Discovered Provides Clues To Big Bang (November 18, 2003)
The most distant jet ever observed was discovered in an image of a quasar made by NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory. Extending more than 100,000 light-years from the supermassive black hole powering the quasar, the jet of high-energy particles provides astronomers with information about the intensity of the cosmic microwave background radiation 12 billion years ago.


Rebuilding the Heart: Marrow cells boost cardiac recovery.
Inserting a person's own bone marrow stem cells into an ailing heart via a catheter can improve heart and lung function in such patients.

Biofilm Antibiotic Resistance May Be Susceptible To Genetic Approach (November 20, 2003)
Biofilms, slimy clusters of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics, may have a genetic chink in their armor that could be exploited to combat the infections they cause. A study led by Dartmouth Medical School (DMS) researchers used a genetic-based approach to begin to understand how biofilms can withstand antibacterial treatments.

Cocoa Froths With Cancer-preventing Compounds (November 19, 2003)
Beyond the froth, cocoa teems with antioxidants that prevent cancer, Cornell University food scientists say. Comparing the chemical anti-cancer activity in beverages known to contain antioxidants, they have found that cocoa has nearly twice the antioxidants of red wine and up to three times those found in green tea.

Regeneration Of Insulin-producing Islets May Lead To Diabetes Cure (November 17, 2003) — Cells from an unexpected source, the spleen, appear to develop into insulin-producing pancreatic islet cells in adult animals.

Study Suggests New View Of Gene Activation As A Dynamic Process (November 17, 2003)
With the sequence of the human genome largely in hand and the majority of genes now available for study, scientists have increasingly turned their attention to better understanding the process of gene regulation. How is a gene turned on? How is a gene turned off?

Earth Science

Uncovering Mysteries Beneath The Earth's Surface. Boston - Nov 19, 2003
Back in the old days, when doctors looked for tumors, exploratory surgery was the only option. Today they use CAT scans, x-rays, ultrasound, and other non-intrusive methods for checking out what lies beneath the skin's surface. But how do we determine what is beneath the Earth's surface? Invasive surgery on the Earth is just as dated as doctors' old methods of finding tumors, if you ask Eric Miller, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Northeastern University.

Volcanoes Help Unleash El Nino Disaster: Study. Paris (AFP) Nov 19, 2003
Volcanoes are a prime cause for El Nino, the climate phenomenon that can catastrophically disrupt weather patterns across the Pacific and beyond, a study says. A major eruption doubles the chance that an El Nino will be unleashed in the following winter, according to the research, which is published on Thursday in the British scientific journal Nature.

New Evidence Says Earth's Greatest Extinction Caused By Ancient Meteorite (November 21, 2003)
Long before the dinosaurs ever lived, the planet experienced a mass extinction so severe it killed 90 percent of life on Earth, and researchers at the University of Rochester think they've identified the unlikely culprit.

Formation Of Lava Bubbles Offers New Insight Into Seafloor Formation (November 19, 2003)
Scientists studying the formation of the sea floor thousands of feet below the surface have a new theory for why there are so many holes and collapsed pits on the ocean bottom.


Quest Begins To Unmask Dark Matter-And Perhaps Supersymmetry. Batavia - Nov 13, 2003
Using detectors chilled to near absolute zero, from a vantage point half a mile below ground, physicists of the Cryogenic Dark Matter Search today (November 12) announced the launch of a quest that could lead to solving two mysteries that may turn out to be one and the same: the identity of the dark matter that pervades the universe, and the existence of supersymmetric particles predicted by particle physics theory.

Quantum Pileup: Ultracold molecules meld into oneness.
Scientists have for the first time transformed molecules into an exotic state of matter called a Bose-Einstein condensate.


It's All in Your Mind: What's Behind Psychosomatic Illness? TUESDAY, Nov. 4 (HealthDayNews)
People who suffer trauma injuries and show signs of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression immediately after are more likely to be afflicted with psychosomatic ailments a year later.

Do Angry People Live Longer? FRIDAY, Nov. 14 (HealthDayNews)
If you're mad and you show it, you might just live longer than those who simply seethe, new findings from an ongoing study of elderly priests and nuns show. Researchers report those who failed to vent their spleens were twice as likely to die over a five-year study period.

Smoking Students Get Bad Grades. WEDNESDAY, Oct. 29 (HealthDayNews)
Smoking and asthma and poor grades seem to go hand in hand. An American study found inner-city students in schools with the poorest academic ratings have a much higher rate of tobacco exposure and experimentation than students at other schools.

Bullied Children Suffer Behavioral Problems. THURSDAY, Nov. 13 (HealthDayNews)
Young students plagued by bullying may be at greater risk for developing depression and antisocial behavior, says a study in the current issue of Child Development.


New whale species found in museum
The stunning discovery follows an analysis of a few leviathan skeletons that have been gathering dust for 30 years in a Japan.

Mantis Shrimp Fluoresce To Enhance Signaling In The Dim Ocean Depths (November 18, 2003)
The tropical mantis shrimp has the most sophisticated eyes of any creature on the planet, yet it often lives at murky depths where the only light is a filtered, dim blue. Why does it need such complex vision?