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September 7, 2003

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Religion in the News

Egyptian law dean plans suit against "all the Jews of the world" for Exodus theft
When, after the Ten Plagues, Pharaoh finally let Moses lead the Israelites out of Egypt, says the book of Exodus, the former slaves "plundered the Egyptians." Now, more than three millennia later, Egypt wants its stuff back.

Family Christian Stores to open on Sunday
Noting a company poll that found 80 percent of its customers shop on Sundays, with 89 percent of these eager to shop at its stores if they were open, Family Christian Stores, the country's largest Christian retail chain, announced that it would open on the traditional day of rest.

Lebanon acquits Canadian missionary
Citing a "lack of evidence," a Lebanese military tribunal on Monday cleared Canadian missionary Bruce Balfour, who went to the country to replant its biblical cedars, of charges that he was a spy for Israel.

Black music from Scotland? It could be the gospel truth 
Willie Ruff, an Afro-American professor of music at Yale, is adamant—he has traced the origins of gospel music to Scotland (Scotland on Sunday).

VeggieTales Creators File for Bankruptcy
Bob the Tomato and friends sold to company that already has Lassie, Lone Ranger, and Rudolph.

House wrapping up billon faith-based charities 
One of the first items on the House agenda this month is a scaled-down version of President Bush's faith-based plan, consisting largely of tax incentives to encourage donations to religious charities (The Washington Times).

Why Don't They Listen?
John Stott on the most pernicious obstacles to effective world evangelism.
Interview by Gary Barnes.

Florida executes unrepentant abortion-clinic murderer Hill
His last words were a call to arms for abortion opponents (The Orlando Sentinel).

Lowering the Baby Boom
A new book helps Christians make wise birth control decisions.
Reviewed by Cindy Crosby.

Homeschooling: A web site for basics at Resource Helper at

The Lord of the Rings: What Harvest?
A reader's guide to the best of epic fantasy.

In defense of God
A number of liberal atheists condemn belief in God as destructive nonsense, but their simplistic arguments are no better than the religious zealots they deplore (Bradford R. Pilcher, Jewsweek).

Q & A with David Wilkinson: 'Science is exploring what God has done'
The ordained Methodist minister holds a doctorate in theoretical astrophysics and has received a number of scientific honors including the Chalmers Prize for Theoretical Physics and the Reidel Research Prize (The Dallas Morning News).

Science in the News


RENEGADE CODE: For most people, Candida albicans, the cause of "thrush" literally evokes intense irritation. But among scientists, this loathsome creature is now an awe inspirer. About 270 million years ago, its ancestor achieved what was deemed impossible. It changed its genetic code. And it's not alone, other code-changers have been discovered alive and kicking. They are a slap in the face for one of the most basic tenets of biology: the unshakable stability and ubiquity of the universal genetic code. The implications are enormous. See New Scientist latest magazine issue.

Evolution of cooperation and conflict in experimental bacterial populations

40 Texas scientists join growing national list of scientists skeptical of Darwin

J.P. Moreland on the age of the earth


Israelites Found in Egypt
Manfred Bietak
A sharp-eyed excavator notes something striking on an old Egyptian dig report—a house plan long associated with the Israelites in Canaan. His “find” may require a major revision of the chronology of the Exodus.

Eyewitness Testimony
Baruch Halpern
A Bible scholar explains how to date Biblical texts—and shows that parts of the Exodus story were written within living memory of the event.

The Storm over the Bone Box
The Israel Antiquities Authority has declared the inscription on the James ossuary to be a fake. But many are far from convinced. An update on a fast-changing—and acrimonious—dispute.

The Old Testament wars: Is the Bible history or fiction?
New archaeology, revisionist interpretations confront traditional interpretations (The Baltimore Sun).

Tracking the first Americans
A new study of skulls from Mexico is encouraging us to reconsider our view of the ancestry of the first Americans.

Meat eating is an old human habit
A study of our ancestors' teeth suggests humans evolved beyond their vegetarian roots around 2.5 million years ago.

When Clothing First Appeared:
Two species of human lice have provided the first estimate of when fashion was born. According to the research, published in the latest issue of the journal Current Biology, humans might have first worn clothes around 42,000 to 72,000 years ago.


Europan Ice Domes Could Be First Place To Look For Life. Boulder - Sep 03, 2003
A new University of Colorado at Boulder study of Jupiter's moon Europa may help explain the origin of the giant ice domes peppering its surface and the implications for discovering evidence of past or present life forms there.

Asteroid 2003 QQ47's Potential Earth Impact in 2014 Ruled Out. Pasadena - Sep 03, 2003
Newly discovered asteroid 2003 QQ47 has received considerable media attention over the last few days because it had a small chance of colliding with the Earth in the year 2014 and was rated a "1" on the Torino impact hazard scale, which goes from 0 to 10.

Red planet's hue due to meteors, not water
Mars's distinctive colour may have come a dusting of tiny meteors, rather than by liquid water rusting its rocks, suggests a US study.

NASA's New Telescope Transmits First Images. Sept. 4, 2003
The infrared telescope launched last month by NASA has transmitted its first images and is functioning perfectly, the U.S. space agency said Thursday.

UCLA Astronomers Obtain "Molecular Fingerprints" For Celestial "Brown Dwarfs," Missing Link Between Stars And Planets
Elusive brown dwarfs, the missing link between gas giant planets like Jupiter and small, low-mass stars, have now been "fingerprinted" by UCLA astronomy professor Ian S. McLean and colleagues, using the Keck II Telescope at the W.M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii.

Infrared Halo Frames A Newborn Star (September 1, 2003)
A small and dark interstellar cloud with the rather cryptic name of DC303.8-14.2 is located in the inner part of the Milky Way galaxy. It is seen in the southern constellation Chamaeleon and consists of dust and gas. Astronomers classify it as a typical example of a "globule".


Blood Pressure Flags Revised
A blood pressure reading that was once regarded as normal may now bear watching for signs of hypertension, according to Marion County Medical Center. New guidelines issued by the National High Blood Pressure Education Program set lower targets for the treatment of hypertension. Any reading from 120/80 to 139/89 is now defined as pre-hypertension, requiring lifestyle changes. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute recommends the DASH diet, a regimen high in fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products. Restricted salt intake, weight loss and exercise are also advised.

Mouse, Stripped Of A Key Gene, Resists Diabetes (September 3, 2003)
An engineered mouse, already known to be immune to the weight gain ramifications of a high-calorie, high-fat diet, now seems able to resist the onset of diabetes. The mouse, stripped of a gene known as SCD-1, is apparently impervious to the negative effects of the type of diet that, for many people, has significant health and social consequences.

Study Provides New Insights Into Emerging Theory Of Gene Regulation (September 2, 2003)
With the full sequence of the human genome now in hand, scientists are turning renewed attention to the molecular processes that regulate the genes encoded by DNA. Estimates are that only a tenth of all genes are expressed at any given time. What controls when and where genes are activated?

Study Shows Brain Activity Influences Immune Function
Staying healthy may involve more than washing hands or keeping a positive attitude. According to a new study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, it also may involve a particular pattern of brain activity.

Earth Science

Analysis Of Stratospheric Air Resolves Enigma Of Hydrogen Balance In Earth's Atmosphere
(September 2, 2003) — Discovery of the last piece of a long-standing puzzle -- what happens to hydrogen gas in the atmosphere -- will help scientists assess the impact of additional hydrogen escaping into the atmosphere if America moves to hydrogen-fueled vehicles.

Unexpected Discovery About Core. Stockholm - Sept 01, 2003
The core of the earth doesn't look the way it was expected to. Scientists at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden, KTH, can now show that iron, under extremely high pressure, such as that found in the inner earth, takes on unexpected properties, and this can be of importance in understanding the movements of the earth, such as, earthquakes. The results are being presented in the new issue of the British scientific journal Nature.

Oldest ever ice core promises climate revelations
The continuous Antarctic ice core dates back at least 750,000 years - it may even cover the Earth's last magnetic reversal.

Earth science: Just add water Nature September 4, 2003 p.24
A new model could explain why Earth's upper mantle is depleted of many trace elements. At a certain depth, minerals might release water, creating a molten filter that traps trace elements in the mantle beneath.

Whole-mantle convection and the transition-zone water filter Nature September 4, 2003 p.39


Dr. Andrea's Top Five Stress Busters!
The same fight-or-flight instinct that saved your prehistoric ancestor could be killing you slowly by creating stress. Dr. Andrea Pennington explains what's going on inside your body, and has some great ways to outsmart those stress-causing hormones.

Therapy (7 Sep)
Pouring your emotions out on paper could help wounds heal quicker, researchers say. It is thought that writing about troubling experiences helps people deal with them.

Drug Use Impairs Ability to Learn from Future Experiences. There's another reason to say no to drugs. The results of a recent rat study indicate that past use of amphetamines and cocaine can impair the brain’s ability to learn from new experiences.

Hungry Humans React Like Pavlov's Dogs
Most people would probably consider their tastes more discerning than those of the family pet. But according to new research, humans can be trained to crave food in a manner reminiscent of Pavlov's dogs. The results may help scientists better understand compulsive eating disorders and substance addiction.


Silkworm's Secret Unraveled
Scientists have long envied the lowly silkworm's ability to spin the strongest natural fiber known to man. Now they are one step closer to understanding just how the creature manages the feat. New research reveals that the key lies in the animal's ability to carefully control the water content in its silk glands. The findings should help improve future artificial silk-making techniques.

Japan To Show World's Only 'Zenkey'. Aug. 28, 2003
A Japanese safari park is to put a zebra-donkey hybrid, believed to be the world's only living "zenkey," on public view next week, officials said Thursday.

Fishing For Photos Of Rare Or Unknown Deep-sea Creatures With An Electronic Jellyfish Lure (September 3, 2003) —
Using a new lighted jellyfish lure and a unique camera system, researchers from HARBOR BRANCH are working to reveal for the first time life in the deep sea unaltered by the cacophony of sound and light that have been an integral part of most past research there. From Sept 2-5 a team will be using the lure for the first time in the dark depths of California's Monterey Bay.

New Fish Species Discovered In Venezuela (September 1, 2003)
Conservation International announced the discovery of a tiny fish with a blood red tail in Venezuela's Upper Caura River. Previously unknown to science, the bloodfin tetra (Aphyocharax yekwanae), is described in the March 2003 edition of the journal, "Ichthyological Exploration of Freshwaters."