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October 12, 2003

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News Clippings From Around the World

Triassic Park Work Day: We have set aside Saturday October 18, 2003 as a work day at Triassic Park in St. Peters, PA. Everyone that wants to help out is welcome to come and lean a hand. We want to put up some fence, put down some gravel, clear some brush, knock down some blocks, and pick up trash. If it rains, we will postpone it until October 25, 2003. Bring some work gloves. Come any time between 11 AM and 5 PM. See for directions. If you might be able to help you can send us an e-mail at

Religion in the News

Pope to Anglican head: "New and serious difficulties have arisen on the path to unity"
In comments universally seen as critical of the Episcopal Church USA's confirmation of a gay bishop, Pope John Paul II Saturday warned Archbishop Rowan Williams that ecumenical efforts between the two leaders' churches were in danger.

Medicine cured 'miracle' woman - not Mother Teresa, say doctors
The elevation of the Albanian-born Agnes Gonxha Bojahiu into Blessed Teresa of Calcutta has its detractors (The Daily Telegraph, London).

Supreme Court watch
It's going to be a busy year for religion at the Supreme Court, as the justices will consider both the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision against the use of the phrase "under God" in classroom recitations of the Pledge of Allegiance, and a challenge to Washington state's constitutional prohibition against scholarships for religious studies. But it could have been an even bigger year. This week, amid various protests, the Supreme Court rejected several other cases, which could have widespread consequences. In turning aside Jacoby v. Prince, the Supreme Court allows the World Changers Bible club to meet at Spanaway Lake High School, a public school in Washington state, during class time.

'Jesus Tax' Plan Dies
Alabama's fiscal debate exposes a divide between Christians.
By Collin Hansen.

Influential Things Come in Small Packages
Three friends, four spiritual laws, and other legacies of Bill Bright.
By Josh McDowell, Dave Hannah, and Rick Warren.

Promise Keepers to shift direction under new chief
Undeterred by recent setbacks, the new president of Promise Keepers says the Christian men's ministry is planning a gradual expansion into other countries and the creation of smaller life-skills seminars to complement its trademark arena rallies in the United States (The Denver Post).

Baylor Reaps the Enlightenment Whirlwind
Ultimately, the challenge to creating a top-level Christian research university lies in combating individualism gone awry. By Ralph C. Wood.

Man jailed for 'honor killing'
A businessman was jailed for life yesterday for murdering his daughter's boyfriend because he was a Christian (PA, U.K.).

Paul's letters of tolerance
Thanks to Paul, Christianity has never really been a religion that used the Bible as a code of law (Christopher Rowland, The Guardian, London).

When Denominations Divide
The two-century-old "Unitarian controversy" suggests a grim prognosis for the current crisis in the Episcopal Church. By Collin Hansen.

Science in the News


Did Nobel Committee Ignore MRI Creator Because of Creationism?
The Nobel Committee on Monday announced that the prize would be awarded to Paul C. Lauterbur and Peter Mansfield, for their discoveries concerning magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI scans. But when you ask Google who invented the MRI, the most common answer is Raymond V. Damadian. What's up? The controversy has been percolating, and The Wall Street Journal reported last year that "a ferocious battle in the scientific community over who gets credit" probably held up an MRI-related Nobel for years. A full-page ad in yesterday's The Washington Post said the Nobel committee was "attempting to rewrite history" and "did one thing it has no right to do: It ignored the truth." But Knox, along with Reason magazine's Ronald Bailey, suggested another reason Damadian may have been disregarded: He's a devout Christian (see this 1997 profile in Christianity Today sister publication Christian Reader) who believes in creationism. In fact, he's on the Technical Advisory Board for the Institute for Creation Research, and on the reference board for Answers in Genesis's upcoming Creation Museum.

The Big Bang and death before the fall.
Audio discussion by Hugh Ross and others at Reasons to Believe.

Animal Death Before the Fall by Lee Irons.

Evolutionist science journal gives exciting support to creationist cosmology!
Is the wind beginning to shift against the big bang? by Carl Wieland. See also Hugh Ross's comments on this at under Hezekiel's Tunnel.

NSF'S 'FIBR' To Mix Disciplines, Use Breakthroughs On 5-Year Explorations Into Biology's Mysteries (October 8, 2003)
How do species arise? Do they even matter among microbes? And what does genetic recombination—do for Daphnia? These questions are among those to be pursued by six five-year projects, each established by the National Science Foundation's (NSF) new Frontiers in Integrative Biological Research (FIBR) program.


Ancient Tombs Reveal Bronze Age Civilization. Oct. 6, 2003
Archaeologists could soon unveil the social structure of a mysterious Bronze Age civilization from northern Italy, according to ongoing anthropological and archaeological research. The study centers on a large necropolis discovered in the Casinalbo village near Modena. Dating between 1500 and 1200 B.C., it consisted of more than 2,000 tombs belonging to the people of the "terramare" — prehistoric flat-topped mounds left by a Bronze Age pile-dwelling settlement built on dry land.

Older Layers Of Pompeii Unearthed. Oct. 2, 2003
After three years of research, the Pompeii that Mount Vesuvius did not bury is coming to light, according to Italian archaeologists. Hidden in layers beneath the town overwhelmed by lava and ash by the most famous eruption in history, the ancient settlement dates back to the third century B.C.

Minoan Ship Replica To Sail Seas. Oct. 3, 2003
A Greek admiral is realizing a dream to build the world's only replica of the Minoan ships that some 3,500 years ago helped the ancient civilization win dominance over the seas and travel as far as Asia and Africa.


Evidence For Hydrocarbon Lakes On Titan Found. Arecibo - Oct 07, 2003
The smog-shrouded atmosphere of Titan, Saturn's largest moon, has been parted by Earth-based radar to reveal the first evidence of liquid hydrocarbon lakes on its surface. The observations are reported by a Cornell University-led astronomy team working with the world's largest radio/radar telescope at the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Arecibo Observatory.

Scientists Hunting For Alien Life.
In the past 30 years, however, our knowledge of life in extreme environments has exploded. Scientists have found microbes in nuclear reactors, microbes that love acid, microbes that swim in boiling-hot water. Whole ecosystems have been discovered around deep sea vents where sunlight never reaches and the emerging vent-water is hot enough to melt lead.

Our Lonely Galaxy: Part II. Moffett Field - Oct 08, 2003
The Drake equation was developed as a means of predicting the likelihood of detecting other intelligent civilizations in our galaxy. At the forum, Frank Drake, who formulated the equation 42 years ago, moderated a debate between Peter Ward and David Grinspoon.

Saturn-Bound Spacecraft Tests Einstein's Theory. Pasadena - Oct 07, 2003
An experiment by Italian scientists using data from NASA's Cassini spacecraft, currently en route to Saturn, confirms Einstein's theory of general relativity with a precision that is 50 times greater than previous measurements.

Dodecahedral space topology as an explanation for weak wide-angle temperature correlations in the cosmic microwave background Nature 10/11/2003 p. 593

Universe Is Shaped Like A Soccer Ball. Paris (AFP) Oct 08, 2003
A team of astrophysicsts have taken a kick at the conventional view that the Universe is flat and endless, suggesting instead that the cosmos is shaped like... a football. The notion of a Universe made of curved pentagon-shaped panels is derived from a satellite mapping of the radiation that was released by the Big Bang billions of years ago and which still washes through space in the form of microwave energy.

Tantalising evidence hints Universe is finite
The data suggest the Universe is relatively small but other work seems to contradict the idea - scientists are now busy trying to resolve the conundrum.

Star 37 Gem: The Best Bet For Finding E.T. Paris (AFP) Oct 08, 2003
If there is any life out there other than on Earth, the best bet is a star called 37 Gem, according to a US astrobiologist who is drawing up a list of potential targets for a NASA deep-space telescope. 37 Gem -- the 37th brightest star in the constellation of Gemini -- tops a shortlist of 30 candidate stars that are relatively easy to observe and may have the potential for alien life, University of Arizona's Maggie Turnbull is quoted by New Scientist as saying. See also

Super Data: Hail the cosmic revolution.
Ten extremely distant supernovas recently discovered by the Hubble Space Telescope provide evidence that something is pushing objects in the cosmos apart at an ever-faster rate.


Dogs Genetically Closer to Man Than Mouse.
Dogs are genetically closer to man than mice, U.S. researchers said Thursday, detailing a partial sequencing of the dog genome. The project found that more than 25 percent, or 650 million base pairs, of DNA overlap between human and dog. "Comparing the dog sequence data with current drafts of the human and mouse genome sequences showed that the dog lineage was the first to diverge from the common ancestor of the three species," they said in results published in the review Science.

New Treatment Improves Long-term Outlook For Breast Cancer Survivors
A Canadian-led international clinical trial has found that post-menopausal survivors of early-stage breast cancer who took the drug letrozole after completing an initial five years of tamoxifen therapy had a significantly reduced risk of cancer recurrence compared to women taking a placebo.

New Engineering Center Focuses On Implantable Prosthetics (October 9, 2003)
Implantable microelectronic devices for overcoming blindness, paralysis, and stroke damage are the focus of a new center in which engineers from UCSC are collaborating with scientists at the University of Southern California and the California Insitute of Technology.

HIV Vaccine In Worldwide Trial (October 8, 2003)
Vanderbilt University Medical Center is participating in worldwide tests of a potential vaccine that can stimulate important immune responses against the virus that causes AIDS. This is the first candidate vaccine against the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) to be studied simultaneously in so many locations, from Brazil to Thailand, according to Merck & Co. Inc., which developed the vaccine.

Researchers Identify Novel Treatment For Polycystic Kidney Disease In Animals (October 6, 2003)
The drug OPC31260 stops the development of cysts and prevents kidney function loss in rats and mice, according to a Mayo Clinic and Indiana University School of Medicine study published in the October 2003 issue of Nature Medicine.

Restoring Recall: Memories may form and reform, with sleep.
Two new studies indicate that memories, at least for skills learned in a laboratory, undergo a process of storage and restorage that depends critically on sleep.

When Genes Escape: Does it matter to crops and weeds?
The focus of the debate over transgenic crops has changed from whether genes will escape to what difference it will make when they do.

Earth Science

Ancient eruption marks today's tortoises
The genes of some Galapagos tortoises bear the stamp of a volcanic eruption 100,000 years ago that nearly wiped them out. Only a few tortoises survived the ash to repopulate the area, suggests Powell. The DNA of today's giants indicates that the entire population of 3,000 to 5,000 now on Alcedo could be descended from a single female.

Plants detonated Cambrian explosion
Global cooling may have allowed complex animals to flourish. The first land plants might have triggered a rush of animal evolution. German researchers are proposing a controversial theory that the plants cooled Earth, making it conducive to complex life.

Himalayas age nine times overnight
Birth of world's highest mountains may date back 500 million years. The Himalayas may be more than 450 million years old - nine times older than previously estimated - according to a controversial new dating study.

Growth of early continental crust by partial melting of eclogite Nature 10/11/2003 p.605

Large Cretaceous sphenodontian from Patagonia provides insight into lepidosaur evolution in Gondwana  Nature 10/11/2003 p.609

Ancient 'Jaws' Discovered In Canada. Oct. 3, 2003
What might be dubbed the original "Jaws" — the world's oldest fossil of a toothed shark from Canada — has been found intact in a rare discovery that is expected to shed new light on the evolution of both teeth and sharks.

Hot Fire In Cold Ice: Searching For Volcanic Eruptions In Antarctic Snow.
The project started two years ago and involves investigating major volcanic eruptions over the last 1,500 years. The research goal is to determine if and how they are related to changes in the earth’s climate.


Physicists Close In on a New State of Matter
It occurs in objects as diverse as superconductors, atomic nuclei and neutron stars. Several research groups are in a race to recreate it in the laboratory in microscopic specks of ultracold gas. If they succeed, it will enable experimental studies of processes that have heretofore been the domain of theorists. "It" is a superfluid state of matter predicted to occur when quantum particles that normally shun one another pair up and behave en masse as a single body of fluid. This superfluid state involves a broad class of quantum particles called fermions. According to quantum mechanics, all particles in nature are either bosons or fermions.

New Glass Can Replace Expensive Crystals In Some Lasers And Bring High Power To Small Packages (October 8, 2003)
Researchers have developed a new family of glasses that will bring higher power to smaller packages in lasers and optical devices and provide a less-expensive alternative to many other optical glasses and crystals, like sapphire. Called REAlTM Glass (Rare-earth – Aluminum oxide), the materials are durable, provide a good host for atoms that improve laser performance, and may extend the range of wavelengths that a single laser can currently produce.