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April 4, 2004

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Religion in the News

Kerry's Catholicism, Bible quoting are now center of campaign
Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry has cranked up the religion talk this week, criticizing President Bush on biblical grounds and giving a lengthy interview with Time magazine on his Catholic beliefs. See also A Test of Kerry's Faith.

Bush signs Unborn Victims of Violence Act
The president's first bill signing ceremony of the year was for the Unborn Victims of Violence Act. "Any time an expectant mother is a victim of violence, two lives are in the balance, each deserving protection, and each deserving justice," President Bush said (text | audio | video).

Backing Israel for different reasons
Most evangelical Christians support the state of Israel, but not always for the same reasons (The Washington Post).

Wheaton College denies it knew of abusive cult.
Wheaton College officials deny knowing about any abuse committed by a former graduate student against several other former students who say they were members of a physically abusive cult controlled by the older student, according to a statement released by the school (Chicago Sun-Times).

'The Mystery of Jesus'
Liam Neeson narrates new CNN documentary on life of Christ (CNN).

Peter Jennings Goes Back to the Bible
The ABC news anchor talks about Monday's three-hour special, Jesus and Paul: The Word and the Witness. Interview by Darrell Bock.

Christian History Corner: How Will It All End?
Left Behind is neither the first nor the last word on "last things." By Steven Gertz.

Rock, roll & religion.
PS150 center brings skateboarding, concerts and Christian beliefs to Iosco County's youth (The Bay City Times, Mi.).

She hath made a disturbance.
By daring to preach and teach, Anne Hutchinson posed the first great threat to Puritan government in the New World (The Christian Science Monitor).

Science in the News


Dating Water and Tracing Bones.
Dating water and tracing bones to high precision will be more widely available for geological and biomedical applications thanks to state-of-the-art atom counting techniques. In a pair of new papers, Zheng-Tian Lu of Argonne National Laboratory ( and his colleagues have demonstrated two new applications of Atom Trap Trace Analysis (ATTA; see Update 460), in which researchers trap desired isotopes with lasers and magnetic fields and then count them with laser techniques.

Artifacts support evolution of symbolic thinking in Middle Stone Age. Tempe - Apr 01, 2004
New finds from an open-air archaeological site in the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania have intriguing implications for the evolution of modern human behavior, including further indications that symbolic thinking developed in humans earlier than the currently accepted date of about 35,000 years ago.

First Frontal Portrait of Pharaoh Found in Egypt
CAIRO (Reuters) - Egyptologists have pieced together fragments of the first known ancient portrait of a pharaoh drawn from the front rather than in profile, a Spanish archaeologist said on Thursday.


Quasar Studies Keep Fundamental Physical Constant -  Constant. Paris - Apr 01, 2004
New studies, conducted using the UVES spectrograph on Kueyen, one of the 8.2-m telescopes of ESO's Very Large Telescope array at Paranal (Chile), secured new data with unprecedented quality. These data, combined with a very careful analysis, have provided the strongest astronomical constraints to date on the possible variation of the fine structure constant. They show that, contrary to previous claims, no evidence exist for assuming a time variation of this fundamental constant.

NASA Goes Hypersonic In X-43a Test. Dulles - Mar 29, 2004
Orbital Sciences Corporation announced today that its Hyper-X Launch Vehicle was successfully launched on Saturday, March 27 in a flight test that originated from NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center located at Edwards Air Force Base, California. The Hyper-X launch vehicle uses a modified first stage rocket motor, originally designed and flight-proven aboard Orbital's Pegasus space launch vehicle, to accelerate NASA's X-43A air-breathing scramjet to seven times the speed of sound.

Methane on Mars. Moffett Field  - Mar 31, 2004
Considered suggestive of life, an atmosphere of methane on another planet is considered one of the four best candidates for detecting habitable conditions using remote sensing and telescope spectrographs.

Spirit Finds Multi-Layer Hints Of Past Water At Mars' Gusev Site. Pasadena - Apr 02, 2004
Clues from a wind-scalloped volcanic rock on Mars investigated by NASA's Spirit rover suggest repeated possible exposures to water inside Gusev Crater, scientists said Thursday.

Hubble's Successor - UK Takes A Leading Role. London - Mar 29, 2004
The Hubble Space Telescope has brought the wonder and spectacle of the Universe into every home. Its successor, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) due to be launched in 2011, will have a 6.5 metre diameter mirror - 2.5 times larger than Hubble's - enabling it to produce even sharper and more spectacular images from the farthest depths of the cosmos.

Titanic waves break on Saturn's sludgy moon.

A New Moon for Earth? March 26, 2004
Earth has acquired a "quasi-moon" — an asteroid that will encircle our planet for the next couple of years while it orbits the sun on a horseshoe-shaped path, according to a report to be published on Saturday in New Scientist. The asteroid, 2003 YN17, "is probably a chunk of debris" from an impact between a larger space rock and the surface of the moon, the British weekly said.

Radio Astronomers Lift 'Fog' On Milky Way's Dark Heart; Black Hole Fits Inside Earth's Orbit
Thirty years after astronomers discovered the mysterious object at the exact center of our Milky Way Galaxy, an international team of scientists has finally succeeded in directly measuring the size of that object, which surrounds a black hole nearly four million times more massive than the Sun.


Self-Assembling Proteins Could Help Repair Human Tissue. Baltimore - Mar 29, 2004
Protein hydrogels can be genetically engineered to promote the growth of specific cells Johns Hopkins University researchers have created a new class of artificial proteins that can assemble themselves into a gel and encourage the growth of selected cell types. This biomaterial, which can be tailored to send different biological signals to cells, is expected to help scientists who are developing new ways to repair injured or diseased body parts.

Mosquitoes could fight malaria
Researchers identify gene that makes insects attack parasite. 26 March 2004.

HIV discovery allows targeting of vaccines
Researchers identify virus strains that frequently infect victims. 26 March 2004.

Too Much Sleep Not a Good Thing SATURDAY, March 27 (HealthDayNews)
Like most everything else, sleep is best done in moderation. Spending too many hours in bed each night can cause as many problems as getting too few hours of sack time, according to a University of California, San Diego study in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine. The study found people who sleep more than eight hours a night (long sleepers) and people who get less than seven hours of slumber both report more sleep complaints than people who get just the right amount of shuteye -- between seven and eight hours per night.

Embryonic Stem Cells Induced To Develop Into Bone Marrow And Blood Cells.
Researchers at Northwestern University have devised a method to induce embryonic stem cells to develop into bone marrow and blood cells.


The Dick Staub Interview: William Dembski's Revolution
The author of Intelligent Design set out to answer the toughest questions about the movement he helped promote.

Is Evolution Just Another Religion?
Within the debate surrounding evolution and religion, some say evolution is just another religion. Taking up this question in the essay below, Michael Ruse says something to the effect that evolution and religion both split paths and share some common ground. Ruse takes us through a brief history of evolution's ascendancy as a biological theory, making claims to its objectivity, but also showing its frequently imported ideological baggage.

Rat genome reveals supercharged evolution
Researchers also think the draft genetic code will speed the identification of key human genes and the creation of disease treatments. See also the rat genome.

Molecular Midwives Hold Clues To The Origin Of Life. Atlanta - Apr 01, 2004
Adding a small molecule, dubbed a "molecular midwife," researchers increased the rate of DNA formation in a chemical reaction 1,000 fold over a similar reaction lacking a midwife.

Study Clarifies Evolutionary History Of Early Complex Single-Celled Life. Tysons Corner VA - Mar 27, 2004
A billion years ago (the Neoproterozoic age), complex single-celled organisms, the acritarchs, began to develop, grow, and thrive. Almost a billion years later, the study of the evolutionary history of acritarchs began to bog down amid inconsistencies in the reporting of the diversity of species.

Fin bone tells of early life on land
Scientists call the fossil a link to fishy ancestors. From a road-cut in Northern Pennsylvania, researchers dislodged the finlike arm of an ancient creature - one that is helping reveal how our very early aquatic ancestors first dragged themselves out of the sea and colonized the land. See also New Fossil Links Four-legged Land Animals To Ancient Fish.

Jaw-dropping theory of human evolution
Did mankind trade chewing power for a bigger brain? 25 March 2004. See also

Earth Science

Dino Prints:
Along the shores of a lake in southern Utah a 20 foot dinosaur sat down got back up and staggered away.

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Miles. Blacksburg - Mar 29, 2004
The body size of ancient creatures, bivalves and brachiopods, could tell geoscientists a lot about the creatures' life history and about the ecology of the times in which they lived. However, traveling the world to measure these creatures' fossils would take several life-times and more travel funds than scientists usually have.


Evicting Einstein. Huntsville - Mar 29, 2004
Sooner or later, the reign of Einstein, like the reign of Newton before him, will come to an end. An upheaval in the world of physics that will overthrow our notions of basic reality is inevitable, most scientists believe, and currently a horse race is underway between a handful of theories competing to be the successor to the throne.

The weirdest link
Entanglement - the defining trait of quantum theory - is no longer just a curiosity of the quantum world. Physicists are now finding that entanglement between particles exists everywhere all the time, and have recently found evidence that its effects can even be measured from the everyday world we inhabit. It is a discovery that might have far-reaching consequences - it could even be the key to understanding what gives rise to the phenomenon of life.

Bright Light Yields Unusual Vibes. Montreal - Mar 29, 2004
By bombarding very thin slices of several copper/oxygen compounds, called cuprates, with very bright, short-lived pulses of light, Ivan Bozovic, a physicist at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory, and his collaborators have discovered an unusual property of the materials: After absorbing the light energy, they emit it as long-lived sound waves, as opposed to heat energy.


The Brain in Love
Most people think of romantic love as a feeling. Helen Fisher, however, views it as a drive so powerful that it can override other drives, such as hunger and thirst, render the most dignified person a fool, or bring rapture to an unassuming wallflower.

Banished Thoughts Resurface in Dreams
"Wishes suppressed during the day assert themselves in dreams," Sigmund Freud wrote more than a century ago. Now new research provides evidence suggesting that not just wishes but all kinds of thoughts we bar from our minds while awake reappear when we sleep.


Sea change for tidal power
New underwater turbines could be cheap and eco-friendly. 24 March 2004.

Scientists create fifth form of carbon
Magnetic carbon 'nanofoam' could find medical applications. 23 March 2004.

Ethanol To Power The Future Of Hydrogen Fuel Cells. Palo Alto - Mar 30, 2004
Hydrogen fuel cell technology's potentially strong future as a fuel for automobiles and various other applications is likely to be weakened by issues regarding its availability and the expenses involved in storage. Bio-based products such as ethanol are expected to open up new areas for research.

Duke Chemists Describe New Kind Of Nanotube Transistor Anaheim - Mar 30, 2004
Duke University researchers exploring ways to build ultrasmall electronic devices out of atom-thick carbon cylinders have incorporated one of these "carbon nanotubes" into a new kind of field effect transistor.