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May 30, 2004

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Religion in the News

Bush Calls for 'Culture Change'
In interview, President says new era of responsibility should replace 'feel-good.' By Sheryl Henderson Blunt.

Sudan's Biblical History
Sudan's ongoing civil war isn't the only reason Christians should be familiar with the region. Interview by Rob Moll.

Calif. lawmakers stage 'domestic revolt'
State lawmakers staged a "domestic revolt" Monday, some donning kitchen aprons and scarlet "M's" to protest a pastor who characterized female legislators with young children at home as sinners (Associated Press).

Fascinated with The Passion
Gibson film draws big Muslim crowds. By Deann Alford.

'Saved!' skewers teen movie conventions
Mandy Moore stars in this tale of a Christian high school (MSNBC).

Log on for salvation
 If people won't come to church, the church will have to come to them—or, at least, to their computers (Newsweek).

Online journal offers forum for Catholic views
Australia's Catholics awoke yesterday to a new online journal dedicated to restoring liberal debate to the church. The journal plans to open up to debate issues suppressed by the church's official leadership (The Age, Melbourne, Australia).

Give 'em that new-time religion
 Before celebrities flocked to Kabbalah, there was Scientology (USA Today).

New theory suggests people are attracted to religion for 16 reasons
People are not drawn to religion just because of a fear of death or any other single reason, according to a new comprehensive, psychological theory of religion (Press release, Ohio State University). patents matchmaking formula | Can the elusive art of matchmaking be reduced to equations and databases? (Associated Press).

The Dick Staub Interview: Finding God in the Questions
ABC News Medical Editor, Dr. Timothy Johnson, decided to rethink his faith, and found God by asking questions.

Science in the News


Evidence of Ancient University Unearthed in Alexandria.
A team of Polish archaeologists has recently uncovered the first material evidence of the ancient University of Alexandria in Egypt. Known as the intellectual center of the ancient world, Alexandria was home to the famous library that was founded in 295 B.C. and burned to the ground in the fourth century A.D.

Ancient tombs of royal standard discovered in Shaanxi.
A large-scale tomb group of the Western Zhou Dynasty (11th century B.C.- 771 B.C.) was discovered at the Zhougong Temple site in Qishan County in northwest China's Shaanxi Province, Chinese archaeologists said Tuesday.

The James L. Kelso Bible Lands Museum, in the basement of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, is a "small archaeological treasure." Its collection of 16mm movies show Kelso and early archaeological luminaries on digs going back to the 1920s and the daily life of the local Arabs at that time.

Microbes Found In Mayan Ruins May Deteriorate Stone From Inside Out. NEW ORLEANS – May 27, 2004
Researchers from Havard University have discovered the presence of a previously unidentified microbial community inside the porous stone of the Maya ruins in Mexico that may be capable of causing rapid deterioration of these sites. They present their findings at the 104th General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology.


Raw Ingredients For Life Detected In Planetary Construction Zones. Washington (SPX) May 27, 2004
NASA has announced new findings from the Spitzer Space Telescope, including the discovery of significant amounts of icy organic materials sprinkled throughout several "planetary construction zones," or dusty planet-forming discs, which circle infant stars.

Milky Way Churning Out New Stars At A Furious Pace. Madison WI (SPX) May 27, 2004
Some of the first data from a new orbiting infrared telescope are revealing that the Milky Way - and by analogy galaxies in general - is making new stars at a much more prolific pace than astronomers imagined.

Loneos Discovers Asteroid With The Smallest Orbit. Flagstaff AZ (SPX) May 24, 2004
The ongoing search for near-Earth asteroids at Lowell Observatory has yielded another interesting object. Designated 2004 JG6, this asteroid was found in the course of LONEOS (the Lowell Observatory Near-Earth Object Search) on the evening of May 10 by observer Brian Skiff.

Seven Years To Saturn. Pasadena - May 24, 2004
As Cassini nears its rendezvous with Saturn, new detail in the banded clouds of the planet's atmosphere are becoming visible.

From Under Gran Sasso Mountain, Universe Seems Older. Rome (SPX) May 24, 2004
Some nuclear fusion reactions inside stars occur more slowly than we thought and, as a consequence, stars themselves, as well as galaxies and the entire universe are a bit older than expected.

Chandra Observations Confirm Existence of Dark Energy
NASA recently announced results from the Chandra telescope that offer independent confirmation that three quarters of the universe is made up of dark energy. "Dark energy is perhaps the biggest mystery in physics," says team leader Steve Allen of the University of Cambridge in England. "As such, it is extremely important to make an independent test of its existence and properties."

Titan's Big Future In Plastics. Tucson AZ - May 25, 2004
While the Cassini spacecraft has been flying toward Saturn, chemists on Earth have been making plastic pollution like that raining through the atmosphere of Saturn's moon, Titan.

Dust rocks martian river theory
Signs of water may really be slumping sand. Gullies on Mars that appear to have been carved by flowing water could instead have been created by landslides of dry powdery material, scientists have found.


Shortened Chromosomes Linked To Early Stages Of Cancer Development
Scientists at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center say they have evidence that abnormally short telomeres - the end-caps on chromosomes that normally preserve genetic integrity -appear to play a role in the early development of many types of cancer.

Loyola Decides To Test New Blood Substitute In Trauma Patients At The Scene Of Injury
Loyola University Health System plans to test PolyHeme, an investigational oxygen-carrying blood substitute designed to increase survival of critically injured and bleeding trauma patients at the scene of injury.


Chimps are not like humans
Whole-chromosome comparison reveals much greater genetic differences than expected.

Michael Shermer reflects on his debate with Kent Hovind.
“Who won the debate? Intellectually, I did, with Hovind once again conceding defeat on the last question of the evening: “What is the best evidence for the creation?” He answered: “The impossibility of the contrary” (evolution). In that simple statement, Hovind confessed the scientific sin of all creationists: Disproving evolution does not prove the creationist contrary.”

Duplicate genes increase gene expression diversity within and between species.
Nature: Genetics June 2004, Volume 36 No 6 pp577 - 579 Zhenglong Gu, Scott A Rifkin, Kevin P White & Wen-Hsiung Li.

How microsporidia evolve
Genes evolve rapidly but genomes don't, suggesting that space constraints play a role.

Tiny Microbes In Greenland Glacier May Define Limits For Life On Earth. New Orleans LA (SPX) May 26, 2004
The discovery of millions of micro-microbes surviving in a 120,000-year-old ice sample taken from 3,000 meters below the surface of the Greenland glacier will be announced by Penn State University scientists on 26 May 2004 at the General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Mammalian genome special.
This special issue of Nature is a snapshot of genome research and medical applications, featuring the first sequenced chimpanzee chromosome and an accompanying web focus, and several additions to our ongoing human genome web focus, with chromosomes 9 and 10, as well as a new analysis of the quality of the human genome sequence. All content is available free online.

Genetics help hound health
DNA test maps evolution of dog breeds. 21 May 2004.

Expanding The Genetic Code. San Diego CA (SPX) May 25, 2004
A team of investigators at The Scripps Research Institute and its Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology in La Jolla, California has modified a form of the bacterium Escherichia coli to use a 22-amino acid genetic code.

Inconstant Multiverse, by R.B. Mann
The question of why there is something rather than nothing has occupied philosophers and theologians from the very beginning.  However, Robert Mann suggests that recent findings in cosmology have raised a different, but perhaps even more intriguing question:  Why is there something rather than everything?  This question is posed by cosmological exploration due to two properties of our universe.  The first is the apparent prejudice for life in the universe, that the natural constants of physical laws admit the development of life for only a very narrow range of a logically infinite set of values…and yet there is life!  The second is evidence of causal action over vast distances in the universe, without any apparent causal contact.  General accounts of both the “anthropic principle” and the “inflationary universe” tend to rely on the concept of the “multiverse,” the idea that anything that can exist does exist in some “universe,” some particular subset of the set of all possible universes, i.e., of the multiverse.  Mann argues that this implication of the multiverse theory poses significant problems for both science and theology.  He proposes instead the concept of a “altiverse,” which he defines as “a set of possible alternatives that logically exist but are not physically realized.”

Earth Science

Dinosaurs Died Within Hours After Asteroid Hit Earth. Boulder CO (SPX) May 26, 2004
According to new research led by a University of Colorado at Boulder geophysicist, a giant asteroid that hit the coast of Mexico 65 million years ago probably incinerated all the large dinosaurs that were alive at the time in only a few hours, and only those organisms already sheltered in burrows or in water were left alive.

Ancient continents sent flying
Shifting core may have accelerated land movements. Seven hundred million years ago our planet experienced sudden contortions that sent whole continents flying across the equator in just a few million years. This idea has been controversial, but is now on a much firmer footing after a new analysis of magnetic signatures in ancient rocks. 21 May 2004.

Thick Siderite Marine Beds Suggest High CO2 Levels In Early Atmosphere. University Park PA - May 27, 2004
Carbon dioxide and oxygen, not methane, were prevalent in the Earth's atmosphere more than 1.8 billion years ago as shown by the absence of siderite in ancient soils but the abundance of the mineral in ocean sediments from that time, according to a Penn State geochemist.

Ancient Pebbles Contain Evidence Of A Hotter World. Stanford CA (SPX) May 26, 2004
Analysis of 3.2-billion-year-old pebbles has yielded perhaps the oldest geological evidence of Earth's ancient atmosphere and climate. The findings, published in the April 15 issue of the journal Nature, indicate that carbon dioxide levels in the early atmosphere were substantially above those that exist today and above those predicted by other models of the early Earth.

Mountain Scars Proof Of Conflict Between Tectonic Plates And Climate. Blacksburg (SPX) May 26, 2004
Across the world, rivers wash mountains into the sea. In the beautiful and rugged mountains of southeast Alaska, glaciers grind mountains down as fast as the earth's colliding tectonic plates shove them up.

Scientists Look At Moon To Shed Light On Earth's Climate. Greenbelt MD (SPX) May 27, 2004
According to a new NASA-funded study, insights into Earth's climate may come from an unlikely place: the moon. Scientists looked at the ghostly glow of light reflected from Earth onto the moon's dark side. During the 1980s and 1990s, Earth bounced less sunlight out to space. The trend reversed during the past three years, as the Earth appears to reflect more light toward space.


Into the dark state
For centuries we have struggled to exploit the properties of light. Though we have succeeded to some degree, it has always been slippery and elusive, a fast-moving sprite. But not any more. Thanks to something called the dark state, where the boundary between light and matter becomes blurred, we can now slow and even stop photons of light. And this means we can use them to carry and process information with unprecedented ease: thanks to the mysterious dark state, we can at last put light on a leash.


Nanotech Improving Energy Options. New York (UPI) May 27, 2004
Nanotechnology could help revolutionize the energy industry, producing advances such as solar power cells made of plastics to environmentally friendly batteries that detoxify themselves, experts told United Press International.