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September 21, 2003

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Religion in the News

13 Hindu Extremists Convicted of Murdering Missionary Graham Staines and His Sons
Compiled by Ted Olsen.

Focus on the Family can sue over rejected ads, court says
In 2001, a Florida bus company refused to post advertisements for a Focus on the Family conference on homosexuality called "Love Won Out." Focus sued, but the case was thrown out. Now it's back in, thanks to a decision from the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals (the same court that Focus on the Family founder James Dobson castigated for its decision against Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore and his Ten Commandments monument).

Is Buddhism good for your health?
Researchers are making the case that Eastern-style meditation is good not just for your emotional well-being but also for your physical state (The New York Times Magazine).

Ailing Pope ends trip amid concern it may be his last
John Paul II is unable to complete a speech or sermon on his four-day visit to Slovakia (Los Angeles Times).

Garner Ted Armstrong dies at 73
TV evangelist formed own church after break with father (Los Angeles Times).

The prophet of profit sows the seeds of wealth
Encouraged to "sow seeds" of prosperity, followers attending E. Bernard Jordan's services in Manhattan and, since July, at the church's new retreat in the Sullivan County hamlet of Woodbourne, donate or pledge sums of as much as $10,000—contributions that they expect to bring them greater wealth (The Record, Middletown, N.Y.).

The Church's Hidden Jewishness
Hebrew thinking in a Greek world. In the Shadow of the Temple, reviewed by David Neff.

Breaking Down the Faith/Learning Wall
How the history of Christians in higher education has stacked the deck against Robert Sloan's "new Baylor." By Collin Hansen

The Ph.D. Octopus, 100 Years On
How Christians can make a difference in the upside-down world of graduate school. By Wilfred M. McClay.

Science in the News


Radiometric Dating & the RATE Study. Are young-earth creationists right? Listen to this discussion at

Speakers focus on evolution
Although not exactly the Scopes "monkey trial," scores of sometimes-unruly critics and proponents of modern evolutionary theory squared off Wednesday before the Texas State Board of Education (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram).

Board to hear exemption request again
Pastor wants to eliminate evolution being taught in public schools (The Morning News, Springdale, Ark.).

The evolutionary inheritance of elemental stoichiometry in marine phytoplankton Nature 9/18/03 p.291.

Plasma blobs hint at new form of life
Researchers recreating the atmosphere of the early Earth have made "cells" that reproduce and communicate - but they are made of gas.


Biblical Archaeology's Dusty Little Secret
The James bone box controversy reveals the politics beneath the science. By Gordon Govier.

Unearthing the Bible
Dallas exhibit traces evolution of the holy book and displays parts of the Dead Sea Scrolls (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram).

Inside job
Below the high altar of St. Peter's, investigators have found sheep bones, ox bones, pig bones, and the complete skeleton of a mouse. Was Peter himself ever there? (Tom Mueller, The Atlantic).

Egyptian Quarries:
Investigations at the granite quarries of Aswan, Egypt, have revealed seven great quarried depressions where obelisks were cut out of the rock, painted scenes on a harbor wall (the god Bes, a group of ostriches, and swiming fish are depicted), and a hieroglyphic inscription that records an order from Tuthmosis III telling the headman of the quarry to cut two obelisks for the temple of Amun-Re at Karnak. The work was carried out as part of a project to make the quarry more accessible and informative to visitors.

The Greeks stole math from the Egyptians?
A new study suggests the ancient Greek counting system was actually a hand-me-down from Egypt.

Archaeological Find Provides Insight Into Northeast 9,000 Years Ago.
University of Vermont archaeologists have identified what is unequivocally the first Late Paleoindian site (10,000-9,000 B.P.) in the state--and one of very few known to exist in the eastern United States--near Sunderland Brook in Colchester. The site was discovered last week during an archaeological investigation of property that will be impacted by the construction of an off-ramp for the proposed Chittenden County Circumferential Highway.


Historic Galileo Mission Nears End. Pasadena - Sep 15, 2003
Following eight years of capturing dramatic images and surprising science from Jupiter and its moons, NASA's Galileo mission draws to a close September 21 with a plunge into Jupiter's atmosphere.

Solar Flares From The Galactic Deep. Huntsville - Sep 15, 2003
On August 24, 1998, there was an explosion on the sun as powerful as a hundred million hydrogen bombs. Earth-orbiting satellites registered a surge of x-rays. Minutes later they were pelted by fast-moving solar protons. Our planet's magnetic field recoiled from the onslaught, and ham radio operators experienced a strong shortwave blackout.

Chemist suggests that Sun is stringy
Sun's magnetic fields may behave like polymer chains. 10 September 2003.

Lunar Prospecting With Chandra. Huntsville - Sep 16, 2003
Observations of the bright side of the Moon with NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory have detected oxygen, magnesium, aluminum and silicon over a large area of the lunar surface. The abundance and distribution of those elements will help to determine how the Moon was formed.

Early Mars Was Frozen: But Habitable. Moffett Field - Sep 18, 2003
Early Mars was cold - very cold, says Chris McKay, a planetary scientist at the NASA Ames Research Center. But that doesn't mean it was incapable of supporting life.

First Supernovae Quickly Seeded Universe With Stuff Of Life. Boston - Sep 16, 2003
The early universe was a barren wasteland of hydrogen, helium, and a touch of lithium, containing none of the elements necessary for life as we know it. From those primordial gases were born giant stars 200 times as massive as the sun, burning their fuel at such a prodigious rate that they lived for only about 3 million years before exploding. Those explosions in turn spewed elements like carbon, oxygen and iron into the void at tremendous speeds.

Opening Up the Dark Side of the Universe. London - Sep 11, 2003
Physicists in the UK are ready to start construction of a major part of an advanced new experiment, designed to search for elusive gravitational waves.

"Iron-Clad" Evidence For Spinning Black Hole. Boston - Sep 17, 2003
Telltale X-rays from iron may reveal if black holes are spinning or not, according to astronomers using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton Observatory. The gas flows and bizarre gravitational effects observed near stellar black holes are similar to those seen around supermassive black holes. Stellar black holes, in effect, are convenient 'scale models' of their much larger cousins.

Giant star caught swallowing three planets
Each "meal" was accompanied by massive eruptions, making the star briefly the brightest in the Milky Way.

Astrophysicists Discover Massive Forming Galaxies. LIVERMORE, Calif.
A Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory astrophysicist, in collaboration with international researchers, has found evidence for the synchronous formation of massive, luminous elliptical galaxies in young galaxy clusters.The forming galaxies were detected at sub-millimeter wavelengths. Emission at these wavelengths is due to dust from young stars that is heated by the stars or by active black holes. The galaxies were grouped around high-red shift radio galaxies, the most massive systems known, suggesting that they all formed at approximately the same time.

Was The Universe Born In A Black Hole?
The universe may have been created by an explosion within a black hole, according to a new theory by two mathematicians recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the U.S.A. In the new model, the Big Bang is an actual explosion within a black hole in an existing space. The shock wave of the explosion is expanding into an infinite space, leaving behind it a finite amount of matter. The universe is emerging from a white hole. The opposite of a black hole, a white hole throws matter out instead of sucking it in.


Cloning By Some Marine Invertebrate Larvae Not Overly Rare. Edmonton - Sep 11, 2003
After more than a century of intensive study, scientists have assumed that larvae of non-parasitic invertebrates reproduce only very rarely, but new research by University of Alberta scientists overthrows this conventional wisdom.

Old Drug Works New Tricks For Iron Overload Heart Disease.
Researchers at the University of Toronto and Toronto General Hospital have made a discovery that could prevent damage to the heart, pancreas and pituitary gland from excess iron with a simple pill. This could save many lives around the world and spare patients from the cumbersome treatments currently available.

New Blood Test Could Detect Lung Cancer In Its Earliest Stages. DURHAM, N.C.
Lung cancer is often deadly by the time doctors have detected it, but scientists at Duke University Medical Center are developing a non-invasive test that could detect lung cancer in its earliest stages, while it is still treatable.

A Cheap And Easy Way To Treat Parkinson Disease.
A team of researchers, led by Serge Przedborski, at Columbia University in New York, have demonstrated that infusion of D-beta-hydroxybutyrate (D-beta-HB) to mice suffering from Parkinson disease restored impaired brain function and protected against neurodegeneration and motor skill abnormalities. D-beta-HB, already utilized in the treatment of epilepsy, may represent a cheap and easy way to treat Parkinson disease.

Earth Science

A rodent the size of a buffalo
A "pretty spectacular" fossil.
Scientists have found fossils of what they say is the largest rodent that ever lived, a nine-foot-long, buffalo-sized creature with a long tail and powerful teeth that foraged along the riverbanks of Venezuela about eight million years ago. Scientists said Phoberomys pattersoni probably weighed up to 1,545 pounds, about 10 times the size of today's largest rodent, the South American capybara, and nearly 2,500 times bigger than a 10-ounce rat. See also

Is This What Killed The Dinosaurs? New Evidence Supports Volcanic Eruption Theory.
The extinction of the dinosaurs – thought to be caused by an asteroid impact some 65 million years ago – was more likely to have been caused by a 'mantle plume' – a huge volcanic eruption from deep within the earth's mantle, the region between the crust and the core of the earth.

Fragments of the earliest land plants Nature 9/18/03 p.282

Inferring the palaeoenvironment of ancient bacteria on the basis of resurrected proteins Natue 9/18/03 p.285

High CO2 levels in the Proterozoic atmosphere estimated from analyses of individual microfossils Nature 9/18/03 p.279

Liquids fold according to density-viscosity ratio
New theory sheds light on plate tectonics and pancake batter. 15 September 2003


Buckyball Carbon Brings Light Into Line. Toronto - Sep 15, 2003
Using molecules resembling 60-sided soccer balls, a joint team of researchers from the University of Toronto and Carleton University has created a new material for processing information using light.


'Jurassic Insect' Breeds at Melbourne Zoo. Sept. 11, 2003
What is believed to be the world's rarest insect has begun breeding at Australia's Melbourne Zoo, officials said Tuesday.