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July 10, 2004

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Religion in the News

'Womb Walking' Ultrasound, Stats Prompt U.K. Abortion Rethink.

Staying on Course
Southern Baptists reaffirm their conservative positions. By Adelle M. Banks, RNS, in Indianapolis.

Vatican budget in red, but church offerings up
The Holy See reported on Wednesday its third budget deficit in as many years with restoration works at the Vatican taking their toll on 2003 accounts despite a small increase in global church offerings (Reuters).

What John Edwards Believes
John Kerry's Methodist running mate oversees his church's urban ministries, but can he win evangelicals' votes? Compiled by Ted Olsen.

Bush Wants Church Support, Opponents Cry Foul
Plus: Taliban kills Christian in Afghanistan, court rejects judge's ruling in lesbian custody case, and more articles from online sources around the world. Compiled by Rob Moll.

Q&A: James Dobson
The chairman of Focus on the Family speaks about the need for the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment. Interview by Stan Guthrie.

Discreet and Dynamic
Why, with no apparent resources, Chinese churches thrive. By Philip Yancey.

C.S. Lewis, the Sneaky Pagan
The author of A Field Guide to Narnia says Lewis wove pre-Christian ideas into a story for a post-Christian culture. Interview by Rob Moll.

Saving Strangers
The journey of one Somali Bantu family in the largest group resettlement of African refugees in U.S. history. Photo essay by Denise McGill.

Fools' Gold
Christians lured into buying 'rare' coins. By Rob Moll.

Books & Culture Corner: Tending the Garden
Evangelicals and the environment. By John Wilson.

Book club bullies
Fundamentalists want to intimidate into silence all those who don't share their interpretation of a text (Giles Fraser, The Guardian, London).

God's Number Is Up
Among a heap of books claiming that science proves God's existence emerges one that computes a probability of 67 percent.

Science in the News


IS the Exodus a fusion of a Hyksos and Ramesside expulsion as preserved by Manetho.

Explorers of Noah's Lost Ark
Citing new satellite images, team seeks to 'solidify the faith of many Christians.' By Gordon Govier.

Ancient African Skull Fills Gap, Fuels Debate
Remains of the hominids that lived in Africa between a million and half a million years ago are frustratingly rare in the fossil record. Bones from this time period have been recovered in Europe and Asia, but the paucity of finds from Africa has prevented a full understanding of just what members of the species Homo erectus looked like. A new discovery is helping to fill the fossil gap.

64,800-Year-Old Hair Yields DNA. June 23, 2004
Hair and fur could be our window to the past, according to scientists who have just extracted and cloned DNA from a 64,800-year-old bison and hairs purportedly from famed physicist Sir Isaac Newton.

Egyptian Mummy Unwrapped in 3D By Rossella Lorenzi, Discovery News. July 5, 2004
Cutting-edge computer technology and state-of-the-art medical scanning techniques have turned a 2,800-year-old mummy into a fully interactive 3-D experience, London's British Museum has announced.


Mars Rain Carved Valleys. July 2, 2004 — Mars was not only awash with water, it also once had rainfall, according to a French study published on Friday. The evidence comes from infrared imaging, which probed under dust deposited over the millions of years and found dense networks of dry valleys, whose branching bear the hallmarks of having been carved out by rain.

Northern Rim Of Hellas Basin. Paris (ESA) Jul 09, 2004
These images of the rim of the Hellas basin on Mars were obtained by the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) on board ESA's Mars Express spacecraft.

Saturn's Rings In Ultraviolet. Moffet Field CA (SPX) Jul 09, 2004
The best view ever of Saturn's rings in the ultraviolet indicates there is more ice toward the outer part of the rings, hinting at ring origin and evolution, say two University of Colorado at Boulder researchers involved in the Cassini mission.

Titan's Strange Surface Pasadena - Jul 05, 2004
Cassini spacecraft instruments have peered through the orange smog of Titan and glimpsed the surface below. Images sent back to Earth reveal dark areas and lighter, fuzzy areas. Data from the Visual Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS) indicate that the dark areas are pure water ice. The bright fuzzy regions have several different types of non-ice materials, and may include organic materials such as hydrocarbons.

Spacecraft Fleet Tracks Blast Wave Through Solar System Huntsville AL (SPX) Jul 09, 2004
A fleet of spacecraft dispersed throughout the solar system gave the most comprehensive picture to date of how blast waves from solar storms propagate through the solar system and the radiation generated in their wake.

Glimpse At Early Universe Reveals Surprisingly Mature Galaxies. Mauna Kea HI (SPX) Jul 08, 2004
A rare glimpse back in time into the universe's early evolution has revealed something startling: mature, fully formed galaxies where scientists expected to discover little more than infants.

Tau Ceti System, Asteroid Alley - An Inhospitable Neighbour United Kingdom (SPX) Jul 06, 2004
UK astronomers studying the Tau Ceti system have discovered that it contains ten times as much material in the form of asteroids and comets as our own solar system. Their discovery, suggests that even though Tau Ceti is the nearest Sun-like star, any planets that may orbit it would not support life as we know it due to the inevitable large number of devastating collisions.

Hubble Studies Star Formation In Nearby Large Magellanic Cloud. Chicago IL (SPX) Jul 02, 2004
Our neighbourhood galaxy the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) lies in the Constellation of Dorado and is sprinkled with a number of regions harbouring recent and ongoing star formation. One of these star-forming regions, N11B, is shown in this Hubble image.

Astronomers Reveal Extinct Extra-Terrestrial Fusion Reactor. Cambridge MA (SPX) Jun 29, 2004
An international team of astronomers, studying the left-over remnants of stars like our own Sun, have found a remarkable object where the nuclear reactor that once powered it has only just shut down.

Astronomers Use Novel Camera To Hunt For Extrasolar Planets. Tucson (SPX) Jun 23, 2004
Their camera has already made stunning images of Saturn's moon, Titan, and discovered an object just 27 times the mass of Jupiter. They hope the camer will be the first to directly photograph faint gas-giants similar to Jupiter in solar systems beyond our own.


Scans uncover secrets of the womb.
A new type of ultrasound scan has produced vivid pictures of a 12 week-old foetus "walking" in the womb. The new images also show foetuses apparently yawning and rubbing its eyes.

"Mighty mouse" gene found in humans
A gene that doubles muscle in mice shows similar effects in a strapping young boy, offering treatment hope for muscle wasting diseases.

Introduction to Bioinformatics. by Robert Jones. 06/11/2004
Bioinformatics is the intersection of molecular biology and computer science. For software developers, it's a fascinating and challenging area in which to work.

Bioinformatics and Comparative Genomics. by Robert Jones 06/29/2004
The complete DNA sequence of the Human Genome is a remarkable achievement for molecular biology and represents the work of many people in a number of large sequencing centers. Far from resting on their laurels, those centers have gone on to sequence the genomes of the mouse, rat, pufferfish, zebrafish, chicken, chimpanzee ... you name it they're sequencing it. 



Writing in the latest issue of Nature, Henry Gee contemplates "The tyranny of design." The recent discovery of the lamprey's evolutionarily distinct adaptive immune system, Gee suggests, corroborates a diagnosis of "intelligent design" as driven by a misguided concentration on model organisms and structures.

Evolution of innate immunity
Lamprey study shows distinct mechanisms of lymphocyte receptor diversity among vertebrates.

How yeasts evolve
Publication of four more genomes confirm disputed whole genome duplication theory.

Epigenetics: Genome, Meet Your Environment
As the evidence accumulates for epigenetics, researchers reacquire a taste for Lamarckism.

Reflections on Human Origins
by William A. Dembski.

Earth Science

Antarctica's Lake Vostok Has Two Distinct Parts Washington (SPX) Jul 08, 2004
Deep in the Antarctic interior, buried under thousands of meters [more than two miles] of ice, lies Lake Vostok, the world's largest subglacial lake. Scientists believe that the waters of Lake Vostok have not been disturbed for hundreds of thousands of years, and there are tantalizing clues that microbes may exist there that have been isolated for at least as long.

Fossils Confirm Cold Spell Doomed Dinos. June 25, 2004
Plankton fossils dating from 65 million years ago help confirm the theory that a long, dark winter doomed the dinosaurs, according to international research.

Pterosaur Part of Dino's Diet July 1, 2004
Fish-loving dinosaurs known as spinosaurs also had a taste for pterosaurs, an unusual fossil found in Brazil has shown. The fossil comprises vertebrae of the flying reptile with the tooth of a spinosaur imbedded in one of them.


Speed of light may have changed recently.
The speed of light, one of the most sacrosanct of the universal physical constants, may have been lower as recently as two billion years ago - and not in some far corner of the universe, but right here on Earth. A varying speed of light contradicts Einstein's theory of relativity, and would undermine much of traditional physics. But some physicists believe it would elegantly explain puzzling cosmological phenomena such as the nearly uniform temperature of the universe. It might also support string theories that predict extra spatial dimensions.

Dark Matter And Dark Energy May Be Different Aspects Of Single Force. Nashville TN (SPX) Jul 02, 2004
In the last few decades, scientists have discovered that there is a lot more to the universe than meets the eye: the cosmos appears to be filled with not just one, but two invisible constituents - dark matter and dark energy - whose existence has been proposed based solely on their gravitational effects on ordinary matter and energy.

Standard Model Upended With Discovery Of Neutrino Oscillation, Mass Boston MA (SPX) Jul 09, 2004
A team of nearly 100 physicists from around the world have achieved results verifying that the elementary particle known as the neutrino exhibits a distinctive pattern of oscillation.

Fundamental physics constants stay put
A new study casts doubt on an earlier claim that the fine-structure constant varied as the Universe evolved.


C. Everett Koop on "Medicine, Mind, and Meaning," by Eve A. Wood
C. Everett Koop, former U.S. Surgeon General and McInerny Professor of Surgery, Dartmouth Medical School, writes the foreward to Medicine, Mind, and Meaning (2004), a new book by noted psychiatrist, professor and speaker, Eve A. Wood. The book is a step-by-step guide that combines traditional psychiatric approaches and spiritual principles. Not typically given to publicly endorsing work, Koop's exception in this case marks the importance and urgency he attaches to this text. Koop writes, "I have seldom been so moved by a book. This is the only healing model that makes sense."


GE Develops High Performance Carbon Nanotube Diode. Niskayuna NY (SPX) Jul 08, 2004
GE Global Research, the centralized research organization of the General Electric Company, announced the development of the world's best performing diode built from a carbon nanotube, which will enable smaller and faster electronic devices with increased functionality. The nano-diode is one of the smallest functioning devices ever made.


'Blob Monsters' are Whale Remains. June 23, 2004
One of the myths of the sea has been skewered by gene researchers, who say that huge "blobs" of weird tissue that have washed up on shorelines and sparked tales of sea monsters are in fact the remains of whales. A 13-ton lump of boneless tissue that came ashore at Los Muermos, Chile, in July last year ignited speculation that it could be the body of a new species of deep-sea giant octopus. Alas, tests of fragments of its DNA prove that the tissue came from a sperm whale, say University of Southern Florida biologists. The team also checked preserved samples from other blobs. They found that the "Giant Octopus of St. Augustine" from 1896, the "Tasmanian West Coast Monster" of 1960, as well as three blobs that were found in Bermuda and Nantucket in the 1990s were all washed-up whale remains. See also Microscopic, Biochemical, and Molecular Characteristics of the Chilean Blob and a Comparison With the Remains of Other Sea Monsters: Nothing but Whales and Beach blob mystery solved at last.

New Fish May Be World's Smallest Vertebrate. AFP / Discovery News. July 8, 2004
Australian scientists claimed Wednesday they had discovered the world's smallest fish, which lives for just two months and does not grow fins, teeth or scales.