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February 1, 2004

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Religion in the News

Time Probes Azusa Pacific University as Christian College Archetype
Article is no news but good news for California school. Compiled by Ted Olsen.

At the Crossroads
Evangelicals have become major players in American culture, and that may be their biggest problem. By Martin E. Marty.

My Enemy, Myself
What brings evangelicals together is also what pulls us apart. By Telford Work.

Intolerance spans the religious divide
Lack of religious devotion should not be a basis for a smear. But neither should religious belief—and the truth is that the intolerance of the religious right can be fully matched by that of the secular left. (Cathy Young, The Boston Globe).

School board reinstates student suspended for saying "God bless"
The top story in St. Louis today is that James Lord has been reinstated as the closed-circuit television reader of the daily bulletin at Dupo High School in nearby Dupo, Illinois. Lord's crime? Signing off his December 17 broadcast with "Have a safe and happy holiday, and God bless."

Aramaic, language of Jesus, lives on in Cyprus
A Maronite village, isolated by the island's division, struggles to carry on the tongue (The Christian Science Monitor).

Making Disciples by Sacred Story
Biblical storytelling conveys the realities of our faith better than almost any other form of communication. By Walter Wangerin Jr.

Books & Culture's Book of the Week: A Rose Among Thorns
A new novel by the author of Father Elijah illumines the spiritual consequences of our simplest decisions.
Reviewed by Albert Louis Zambone.

The radiant dish
A dish? A chalice? A casket? Or just a flying saucer? Everyone has a theory about the Holy Grail, and Richard Barber's book explores them all. Nicholas Shakespeare salutes the "thorough, sane and sceptical" approach of what Noel Malcolm calls a "valuable and fascinating book" (The Daily Telegraph, London).

Show me heaven
As more and more people come forward with accounts of near-death experiences, new research is about to examine the out of body experience to see whether mind and body really do separate at the point of death (BBC).

Science in the News

Free Courses offered by Wagner Free Institute of Science:


Origins debate deeper than Darby.
Intelligent-design theory part of national push to re-evaluate coursework in U.S. classrooms (Missoulian, Mont.).

Cox: 'Evolution' a negative buzzword
State schools superintendent defends purge of word from proposed biology curriculum (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution).

Ignorance excludes evolution
We do not compromise history education for those who deny the Holocaust; why should we compromise biology education for those who deny evolution? (Reed A. Cartwright, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution).

New Study Shows Neanderthals Were Not Our Ancestors. New York - Jan 29, 2004
In the most recent and mathematically rigorous study to date determining whether Neanderthals contributed to the evolution of modern humans, a team of anthropologists examining the skulls of modern humans and Neanderthals as well as 11 existing species of non-human primates found strong evidence that Neanderthals differ so greatly from Homo sapiens as to constitute a different species. See also Neanderthal Extinction Pieced Together.

Gene May Be Key To Evolution Of Larger Human Brain. Chevy Chase - Jan 21, 2004
Howard Hughes Medical Institute researchers have identified a gene that appears to have played a role in the expansion of the human brain's cerebral cortex -- a hallmark of the evolution of humans from other primates.

Oxygen Triggered The Evolution Of Complex Life Forms. London - Jan 29, 2004
Oxygen played a key role in the evolution of complex organisms, according to new research published in BMC Evolutionary Biology. The study shows that the complexity of life forms increased earlier than was thought, and in parallel with the availability of oxygen as an energy source.

Genomic Changes Reveal Evolution Of SARS Virus.
Careful study of changes in the genetic make-up of the SARS virus through the recent epidemic has allowed researchers from China and the University of Chicago to bolster the evidence for the animal origins of SARS and to chart three phases of the virus's molecular evolution as it gradually adapted to human hosts, becoming more infectious over time.

Rare Ant May Help Solve Some Mysteries Of Social Evolution. COLUMBUS, Ohio
Last fall, ecologists at Ohio State University cracked open an acorn they had found in an Ohio park and discovered a colony of extremely rare ants. L. minutissimus is a unique social parasite in that it lives entirely within the colonies of other ant species. But unlike parasitic slave-maker ants, which raid and virtually destroy the colonies of unsuspecting hosts, L. minutissimus appears to move in and live amiably with its host. Such organisms are called inquilines.

The new website launched
The new website,, features dynamic content which will change every day and a greatly improved navigation system that will allow you to quickly access selected authors and topics. The Metanexus Institute advances research, education and outreach on the constructive engagement of science and religion.

Genesis Proclaimed Association
Finding Harmony in Bible, Science, and History.

New Book: The Design Revolution by William Dembski.
Dembski lines up 60 of the toughest questions and objections amassed against Intelligent Design and mows them down one-by-one in a succinct, readable style.


Pollen traces shipwrecks' roots
Serge Muller, of the University of Montpellier II in France, says the range of pollen found on a shipwreck gives a snapshot of the plant species local to the boat's birthplace. The sticky resin used to seal a boat's hull can catch and trap pollen, giving the boat a biological 'birth certificate'.

Mexico Scientists Find Ancient Settlement. MEXICO CITY
Archaeologists say they have discovered an ancient Teotihuacan settlement in central Mexico City, 30 miles from the pyramids where the culture flourished nearly 2,000 years ago.

World's first bowling alley discovered
The Italian team excavating at Madi city in Fayyoum has unearthed an open structure dating back to the Ptolemaic age that might be the first bowling alley.


NASA scientists awed by new Mars images. Pasadena (AFP) Jan 26, 2004
NASA scientists said they hit a "scientific jackpot" Sunday as Opportunity, the second of two roving US Mars probes, transmitted astonishing images from the planet's surface. The 820-million-dollar mission's scientific director, Steve Squyres, was left gasping for words as Opportunity sent back to Earth pictures of what he described as an "alien landscape."

Layered rocks tantalize Mars scientists
New images suggest rocks dead ahead of the rover Opportunity are sedimentary - that could prove the planet once had lakes or oceans.

SwRI Goes Suborbital In Search Of Mercury And The "Vulcanoids" Boulder - Jan 27, 2004
A new major scientific payload flew in space last week after launching aboard a NASA suborbital Black Brant rocket. The payload, consisting of a telescope/spectrometer combination and an image-intensified imaging system, successfully explored the ultraviolet spectrum of the planet Mercury and also searched for the long-sought belt of small bodies called Vulcanoids that may lie even closer to the Sun than Mercury. Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) provided the payload and is responsible for data analysis.

A Colorful Life In The Outer Planets. Baltimore - Jan 27, 2004
Atmospheric features on Uranus and Neptune are revealed in images taken with the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph and the Advanced Camera for Surveys aboard NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. A wider view of Uranus reveals the planet's faint rings and several of its satellites. The observations were taken in August 2003.

Rosetta A New Target To Solve Planetary Mysteries. Paris - Jan 27, 2004
Rosetta is scheduled to be launched on board an Ariane-5 rocket on 26 February from Kourou, French Guiana. Originally timed to begin about a year ago, Rosetta's journey had to be postponed, as a precaution, following the failure of a different version of Ariane-5 in December 2002.

Four Keys to Cosmology
In what is widely regarded as the most important scientific discovery of 1998, researchers turned their telescopes to measure the rate at which cosmic expansion was decelerating and instead saw that it was accelerating. They have been gripping the steering wheel very tightly ever since. As deeply mysterious as acceleration is, if you just accept it without trying to fathom its cause, it solves all kinds of problems. Before 1998, cosmologists had been troubled by discrepancies in the age, density and clumpiness of the universe. Acceleration made everything click together. It is one of the conceptual keys, along with other high-precision observations and innovative theories, that have unlocked the next level of the big bang theory.


Self-assembling scaffold for spinal-cord repair
'Liquid' bridge could help severed nerve cells grow. 23 January 2004

Sleep boosts lateral thinking
Study shows the value of sleeping on a problem. 22 January 2004

How fluoride firms up teeth
Computer models show that fluoride locks calcium into your pearly whites. 22 January 2004

Do plants act like computers?
Leaves appear to regulate their 'breathing' by conducting simple calculations. 21 January 2004

Molecular Level Discovery Could Play Role In Development Of New Antibiotics. CHAMPAIGN, Ill.
Chemists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have uncovered the molecular activity of an enzyme responsible for naturally turning a small protein into a potent antibiotic known as a lantibiotic.

Earth Science

New NASA Data Release Invites You To Explore Two Vast Continents. Bethesda - Jan 27, 2004
Marco Polo. Alexander the Great. They were some of history's most prolific explorers, each trekking across sweeping stretches of Europe and Asia in their lifetimes. But these greats of world history have nothing on you, thanks to a new topographic data set from NASA and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. One interesting picture is of Mount Ararat (Noah's Ark landing site??) at

How to Put the rex into Tyrannosaurus
Indeed, before T. rex hit the scene, tyrannosaurs were relatively petite. Weighing one to two metric tons and standing several meters tall, these were not animals to be met in a dark alley or kept as pets. But in fact, T. rex broke the tyrannosaur mold, nearly tripling in body mass over its predecessors. A new model aims to explain how.

Earliest Land Animal Fossil Found. Jan. 26, 2004
A millipede whose fossilized remains were discovered last year in eastern Scotland is the earth's oldest known land-dwelling creature, according to scientists quoted in the Scottish press on Sunday. Paleontologists from the Scottish National Museums and Yale University in the United States have concluded that the creature is more than 420 million years old, the weekly Sunday Herald reported.

Why do snowflakes crystallize into such intricate structures?