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August 17, 2004

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Religion in the News

DNA research and Mormon scholars changing basic beliefs
Plant geneticist Simon Southerton was a Mormon bishop in Brisbane, Australia when he woke up the morning of Aug. 3, 1998 to the shattering conclusion that his knowledge of science made it impossible for him to believe any longer in the Book of Mormon. Two years later he started writing Losing a Lost Tribe: Native Americans, DNA and the Mormon Church, published by Signature Books and due in stores next month. By Patty Henetz, Associated Press SALT LAKE CITY.

'Evangelical Christianity Has Been Hijacked':
An Interview with Tony Campolo.

Police to probe pastor's Islam outburst
Police today launched an investigation into comments by a Norwich religious leader branding Islam "an evil religion" (Evening News, Norwich, England).

When My Son Was Arrested for Murder
Finding faith under unthinkable circumstances. An excerpt from When I Lay My Isaac Down, by Carol Kent.

Christian Athletes to Watch in the Olympics
Sports Spectrum magazine has their eye on the believers competing in Athens this year. Interview by Rob Moll.

7 Habits of Racially Mixed Churches
How to achieve ethnic diversity—and die (to self) trying. Reviewed by Douglas R. Sharp.

Battle of the true faiths
It's Islam vs. Christianity at ye olde Speakers Corner (Newsweek International).

The silent (Christian) majority
James Dobson on Bush, Kerry, Thune, gay marriage and the impact of Christians on the 2004 election (Hugh Hewitt, The Weekly Standard).

Pregnant by Jesus?
They're called "miracle babies" and for some childless couples in Britain, they're a dream come true. But doctors and Church of England officials are worried the babies aren't miracles at all, but either a shortcut adoption process or a baby-trafficking scheme (BBC).

'No fraud' in weeping Virgin Mary hoax
A suburban Brisbane community centre did not commit fraud or gain financially from a weeping Virgin Mary statue hoax, the Catholic Church has found (AAP, Australia).

Jesus credit card raises a few eyebrows
A new credit card featuring the Calvary's three empty crosses begs the question: What's in God's wallet? (KCRG, Iowa City).

It's rock with redemption
Christian fest offers kids secular sounds, spiritual meaning (The Denver Post).

The social history of the afterlife
From heavenly choirs to the circles of Hell, from sitting shiva to waiting for resurrection, the peoples of the book have evolved their ideas of the afterlife as they traveled through history. A conversation with Alan Segal, author of Life After Death : A History of the Afterlife in Western Religion (Talk of the Nation, NPR).

Science in the News


John the Baptist cave Discovered?
Archaeologists claim they have found a cave where they believe John the Baptist anointed many of his disciples – a huge cistern with 28 steps leading to an underground pool of water. See also John the Baptist's cave 'found' .

Digging up the Bible
A new cadre of Bible scholars and archaeologists, some with an overtly political agenda, has argued that the great Israelite kingdom, depicted in the books of Samuel, Kings and Chronicles, never really existed (Forward).

US Army helps restore antiquities associated with Nineveh
Two major historic sites dating back to the 8th century B.C. – the Nergal Gate and King Sennacherib’s palace – are being restored with help from the 416th Civil Affairs Battalion.

The largest seated statue of the 19th-Dynasty Pharaoh Ramses II yet found is being unearthed in Akhmim.


Old Galaxies In The Young Universe. Firenze, Italy (SPX) Aug 06, 2004
Current theories of the formation of galaxies are based on the hierarchical merging of smaller entities into larger and larger structures, starting from about the size of a stellar globular cluster and ending with clusters of galaxies.

Chandra Catches Early Phase Of Cosmic Assembly. Huntsville AL (SPX) Aug 16, 2004
A NASA Chandra X-ray Observatory image has revealed a complex of several intergalactic hot gas clouds in the process of merging. The superb Chandra spatial resolution made it possible to distinguish individual galaxies from the massive clouds of hot gas.

Space agency plans studies on human hibernation.

Out From the Shadows: Two New Saturnian Moons. Pasadena CA (JPL) Aug 17, 2004
With eyes sharper than any that have peered at Saturn before, the Cassini spacecraft has uncovered two moons, which may be the smallest bodies so far seen around the ringed planet.

Saturn's Moon Titan: Prebiotic Laboratory. Moffett Field CA (SPX) Aug 12, 2004
Jonathan Lunine, professor of planetary science and physics at the University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory in Tucson, Arizona, has a longtime fascination with Saturn's largest moon, Titan. Astrobiology Magazine's Managing Editor Henry Bortman spoke recently with Lunine about the Huygens mission slated to descend into Titan's thick atmosphere in early 2005.

Cosmic Cowboy. Moffett Field CA (SPX) Aug 06, 2004
A brand of researcher can now breathe life into the aura of a patient nomad who searches the horizon for signs of a new world. McDonald Observatory astronomer Bill Cochran discusses how a West Texas telescope has begun chalking up discoveries of extrasolar planets.

What Is A Comet Made Of? Davis CA (SPX) Aug 10, 2004
A new method for looking at the composition of comets using ground-based telescopes has been developed by chemists at UC Davis. Remnants from the formation of our solar system, the makeup of comets gives clues about how the Earth and other planets formed.

Spirit's Sojourn Leaves Ancient Lake Hypothesis High and Dry
The Mars Exploration Rover Spirit covered 637 meters in its first 90 Martian days, or sols (a sol is 40 minutes longer than an Earth day). Its trek through the Gusev crater has not revealed any evidence for the ancient lakebed that geologists thought might be there, but water may have played some part in the formation of certain observed rock features.

Spirit continues its heroic climb up the Columbia Hills.

Scientists Discover Ganymede Has A Lumpy Interior. Pasadena CA (JPL) Aug 16, 2004
Scientists have discovered irregular lumps beneath the icy surface of Jupiter's largest moon, Ganymede. These irregular masses may be rock formations, supported by Ganymede's icy shell for billions of years.

Hubble Peers Inside A Celestial Geode. Paris (ESA) Aug 13, 2004
Real geodes are handball-sized, hollow rocks that start out as bubbles in volcanic or sedimentary rock. Only when these inconspicuous round rocks are split in half by a geologist, do we get a chance to appreciate the inside of the rock cavity that is lined with crystals.


British researchers receive stem-cell licence.

Mentally stimulating careers may protect against dementia.

How bacteria fight antibiotics
Two mechanisms of antibiotic tolerance are demonstrated in separate studies in Science.


Why is our universe so exquisitely tuned to host life? using the anthropic principle to explain the world might be a tempting alternative to invoking God, but it_s not science, says Philip Ball.

Sloppy proteins may help organisms adapt.

Molecules Point To Probable Pathways For Chemical Evolution In Space. Green Bank WV (SPX) Aug 06, 2004
A team of scientists using the National Science Foundation's Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT) has discovered two new molecules in an interstellar cloud near the center of the Milky Way Galaxy. This discovery is the GBT's first detection of new molecules, and is already helping astronomers better understand the complex processes by which large molecules form in space.

Ozone Loss Caused Genetic Mutations At Time Of Mass Extinction. London (SPX) Aug 11, 2004
Research into the world's worst mass extinction, which led to the loss of 90 per cent of living species 250 million years ago, has found that the historical tragedy also involved some disturbing genetics mutations.

Genetic analysis of genome-wide variation in human gene expression

Diverse sequences will illuminate human evolution and the tree of life.

Surrogate sperm technique allows cross-species fatherhood.

ISCID is pleased to announce that its members now receive access to our online research library featuring electronic access to various science journal articles. See

Earth Science

Greenland Ice Core Project Yields Probable Ancient Plant Remains. Greenland (SPX) Aug 16, 2004
A team of international researchers working on the North Greenland Ice Core Project recently recovered what appear to be plant remnants nearly two miles below the surface between the bottom of the glacial ice and the bedrock.

Skull scan confirms Archaeopteryx had the mind for flight. See also Early Bird Had the Brains to Fly.

Bone analysis sheds light on dinosaur development.

Alvin's successor will be able to reach 99% of the ocean floor.


Physicists To Mark 20th Anniversary Of First String Theory Revolution. Chicago IL (SPX) Aug 11, 2004
Twenty years have passed since the first superstring revolution started in the Aspen Center for Physics in Colorado. Approximately 75 scientists will meet for a symposium at the center Aug. 12 to celebrate the revolution, including Jeffrey Harvey, the Enrico Fermi Distinguished Service Professor in Physics at the University of Chicago.


Codependent No More
When Pleasing Others Is Hurting You addresses the need to be needed. Reviewed by Cindy Crosby.

Assertive rats sprout extra nerve cells.

Switching off key gene turns layabout primates into keen workers.


RNA Could Form Building Blocks For Nanomachines. West Lafayette IN (SPX) Aug 12, 2004
Microscopic scaffolding to house the tiny components of nanotech devices could be built from RNA, the same substance that shuttles messages around a cell's nucleus, reports a Purdue University research group.