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October 10, 2004

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Religion in the News

Wind of Terror, Wind of Glory
We cannot know God's majesty without his terrible holiness. By Daniel Tomberlin

It's Not About Stem Cells
Why we must clarify the debate over harvesting embryos. A Christianity Today editorial

The Ecstatic Heresy
Seeking a superficial unity, some denominational leaders opt for feelings over facts. By Robert Sanders

Spain Wants to Be Free of Catholic Church
Summarizing the country's mood, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, the new Socialist prime minister, said the other day that Spaniards wanted more freedom, less dogma and a greater separation of church and state. "They want more sports, less religion,'' he said.

Preacher Jakes' film tackles abuse
Bishop T.D. Jakes isn't easily intimidated. He is, after all, a best-selling author of 29 books, a Grammy-winning gospel singer, a nationally renowned preacher and the subject of a 2001 Time magazine cover story that asked: ``Is This Man The Next Billy Graham?''(Associated Press)

New Pax show is religion, O'Reilly style
In a program that its creator describes as "O'Reilly meets religion," Christians, Muslims, Jews, atheists and even animal rights activists verbally duke it out over who is right about God and God's intentions. The new Pax TV show is "Faith Under Fire," created by Lee Strobel. It debuts Saturday night. (The Hartford Courant, Conn.) Also see

Da Vinci Code author is accused of plagiarism
The author of a thriller that has sold more than 12 million copies is being accused of plagiarising two books published more than 20 years ago. (Times, London)

Preacher who produces 'miracle babies' wanted by Kenyan police
An evangelical preacher who claims to help infertile couples in his congregation have "miracle babies" but is alleged to be at the centre of a child-trafficking racket could try to claim political asylum in Britain. (The Guardian, UK)

'Miraculous' Christ washes up in Texas Rio Grande
A fiberglass statue of Christ that washed up on a sandbar in the Rio Grande three weeks ago is attracting scores of devout pilgrims to a police department lost-and-found and being hailed as a miracle. (Reuters)

Living goddess makes rare outing
A seven-year-old girl revered by Hindus and Buddhists as a living goddess has had a rare festive excursion from the house where she is usually confined in the Nepalese capital, Kathmandu. (BBC)

Bible understood differently in two new Quran translations
English-speaking Muslims, and non-Muslims who want to explore Islam's holy book, can cheer the arrival of two worthy translations. They differ, however, on passages about the Bible (Associated Press)

Scientists Debunk Mediums' Claims to Spirit World. Sept. 24, 2004
For centuries, their seemingly uncanny ability to discern private facts about strangers have bolstered the claims of spiritualist mediums to be able to contact the dead. Nonsense, according to a new and rigorous scientific test in Britain which has concluded that most mediums simply use a series of relatively simple psychological tricks to fool people.

Life After Death?
Western religions that believe in the one God traditionally teach that after the present life, individuals will exist eternally in resurrected bodies. Eastern religions believe the soul is embodied in either human or animal forms in numerous past and future lives. Now comes Alan F. Segal of Barnard College in New York with the latest if not the last word on the Jewish, Christian and Muslim concepts: Life After Death: A History of the Afterlife in Western Religion (Associated Press)

Who really wrote the Bible?
The solid faith of Ashkenaz Hasidim in the 12th and 13th centuries did not keep them from reaching some bold conclusions on the writing style and authorship of Judaism's holiest texts (Ha'aretz, Israel)

Science in the News


Bible texts on silver amulets dated to First Temple period
U.S. and Israeli researchers claim to have discovered proof that the Five Books of Moses were in existence during the First Temple period. (Ha'aretz, Israel) In a scholarly report published this month, the research team concluded that the improved reading of the inscriptions confirmed their greater antiquity. The script, the team wrote, is indeed from the period just before the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. by Nebuchadnezzar and the subsequent exile of Israelites in Babylon.

Dead Sea Scrolls coming to Houston
They have been called a window in time. Some of the earliest surviving Biblical texts will be on exhibit in Houston beginning Friday. (KHOU, Texas)

Incas Destroyed Own Site Before Leaving. Sept. 21, 2004
Incan pilgrims smashed and burned their own temple, and a tower containing a golden statue of a king, rather than let them fall into Spanish hands, says an Australian archaeologist.

Lice tell mankind's story
Study of head louse suggests that Homo erectus transmitted parasite to Homo sapiens.


SpaceShipOne Wins Big Prize, Opens New Frontier Of Private Space Travel. Mojave CA (AFP) Oct 04, 2004
The world's first private rocketship blasted into space for the second time in five days Monday, snatching a 10-million-dollar prize and ushering in a new era of space tourism. It's stubby, made out of fabric and glue and is powered by laughing gas and tyre rubber, but SpaceShipOne on Monday streaked into history as the herald of a brave new space age.

Motion Of Primordial Universe Unveiled. Chicago IL (SPX) Oct 08, 2004
New results from an instrument located high in the Chilean Andes are giving Canadian, American and Chilean researchers a clearer view of what the universe looked like in the first moments following the Big Bang.

Sopping Salts Could Reveal History Of Water On Mars Bloomington IN (SPX) Oct 07, 2004
Epsom-like salts believed to be common on Mars may be a major source of water there, say geologists at Indiana University Bloomington and Los Alamos National Laboratory. In their report in this week's Nature, the scientists also speculate that the salts will provide a chemical record of water on the Red Planet.

The Forensics of Genesis Houston TX (SPX) Oct 07, 2004
Eileen Stansbery, assistant director of astromaterials research and exploration science at NASA's Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, has been working on the Genesis collector materials since September 8, when the space capsule crash-landed to Earth.

Massive Merger Of Galaxies Is Most Powerful On Record. Baltimore MD (SPX) Sep 24, 2004
Scientists have now officially witnessed the perfect cosmic storm. Thanks to the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton observatory, they watched a nearby head-on collision between two galaxy clusters. The clusters smashed together thousands of galaxies and trillions of stars in one of the most powerful events ever witnessed.

Hubble Approaches The Final Frontier: The Dawn Of Galaxies. Baltimore MD (SPX) Sep 24, 2004
Detailed analyses of mankind's deepest optical view of the universe, the Hubble Ultra Deep Field (HUDF), by several expert teams, have at last identified what may turn out to be some of the earliest star-forming galaxies.

New Star-Type Stillborn. Tucson AZ (SPX) Oct 05, 2004
Astronomers using the Gemini North and Keck II telescopes have peered inside a violent binary star system to find that one of the interacting stars has lost so much mass to its partner that it has regressed to a strange, inert body resembling no known star type.

Reconstruction of the red planet's past reveals acid rain and briny seas.

Saturn's Moon And Its Flock. Pasadena CA (JPL) Oct 01, 2004
In its own way, the shepherd moon Prometheus (102 kilometers, 63 miles across) is one of the lords of Saturn's rings. The little moon maintains the inner edge of Saturn's thin, knotted F ring, while its slightly smaller cohort, Pandora, (84 kilometers, or 52 miles across) guards the ring's outer edge.

Great Observatories May Unravel 400-Year-Old Supernova Mystery Baltimore MD (SPX) Oct 07, 2004
Four hundred years ago, sky watchers, including the famous astronomer Johannes Kepler, best known as the discoverer of the laws of planetary motion, were startled by the sudden appearance of a "new star" in the western sky, rivaling the brilliance of the nearby planets.

Radio Astronomers Remove The Blindfold Manchester, UK (SPX) Oct 08, 2004
UK radio astronomers at the Jodrell Bank Observatory, working with colleagues from Europe and the USA, have demonstrated a new technique that will revolutionise the way they observe. To create the very best quality images of the sky, they routinely combine data from multiple telescopes from around the world – a technique called Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI).

Colorado Proposal For Imaging Distant Planets Funded Further. Boulder CO (SPX) Oct 01, 2004
A NASA institute has selected a new University of Colorado at Boulder proposal for further study that describes how existing technologies can be used to study planets around distant stars with the help of an orbiting "starshade."

New Horizons For Planetary Exploration. Boulder CO (SPX) Oct 05, 2004
In late September, the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee added funding to study a new Kuiper Belt mission to its NASA 2005 budget—New Horizons II. The Senate's move, and the strong support it implies for the kind of frontier planetary exploration that only the United States can perform, is welcome news.


New Drug Treatments Offer Hope to Leukemia Patients. TUESDAY, Sept. 28 (HealthDayNews)
Scientists call them "molecularly targeted" drugs, and they represent a remarkable gain in the war against blood cancers.

Plea to clone human embryos
The scientist who created Dolly the sheep applied yesterday for a licence to clone human embryos to try to find a cure for motor neurone disease. (Times, London)

Scientists Sequence Genome Of Organism Central To Biosphere's Carbon Cycle. Berkeley CA (SPX) Oct 04, 2004
The first ever genomic map of a diatom, part of a family of microscopic ocean algae that are among the Earth's most important inhabitants, has yielded surprising insights about the way they may be using nitrogen, fats and silica in order to thrive.

Olfactory research wins Nobel
Prize in Physiology or Medicine awarded to Axel and Buck for research into the sense of smell.


Young Earth PowerPoint presentation online by Christopher Sharp.

Evolution defenders anticipate new fight
For supporters of teaching evolution in Kansas public schools, the best defense is a good offense. In January, the balance of power on the state Board of Education is expected to shift to social conservatives who want to include creation science and intelligent design among the theories taught in science classes, or remove evolution from the classroom. (Lawrence Journal World, Kansas)

The star man
'Nova' host has always had his eyes on the skies. Though he works in an area of science that often comes into conflict with fundamentalist Christianity, at least those branches that insist on a literal interpretation of the Bible regarding Creation, he's found at the Hayden that "people who are religious look at [the stars] as the handiwork of God and come out more religious. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

"The crusade against evolution,"  The cover story in the October 2004 issue of Wired magazine is Evan Ratliff's "The crusade against evolution," with the tag line: "In the beginning there was Darwin. And then there was intelligent design.

Professors wrestle question: creation, evolution
More than 200 people crammed themselves into a classroom to hear a discussion on one of the oldest but still hottest philosophical debates -- creationism versus evolution. (Red and Black, University of Georgia)

Volcano gas, amino acids make life
Study in Science is important in understanding transformation of monomers into polymers.

Volcanic Gas May Have Played A Significant Role In Life's Beginning San Diego CA (SPX) Oct 08, 2004
Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies are reporting a possible answer to a longstanding question in research on the origins of life on Earth - how did the first amino acids form the first peptides?

"The Origin of Biological Information and the Higher Taxonomic Categories". by Stephen Meyer.

Taxonomy isn't black and white
DNA barcoding method put to the test reveals new cryptic bird and butterfly species Modelling the recent common ancestry of all living humans. DOUGLAS L. T. ROHDE, STEVE OLSON & JOSEPH T. CHANG.

3.4-billion-year-old controversy
Evidence for life 3400 million years ago, but hydrothermal proponents still don't agree.

Understanding Evolution

Giant Ape May Be New Species
An elusive giant ape has been spotted in remote forests in central Africa, sparking theories that it could be a new species of primate, a finding that would be the most astonishing wildlife discovery in decades, New Scientist says.

Earth Science

Mt. St. Helens Lets Off More Steam. Oct. 5, 2004
Restive Mount St. Helens let off more steam on Tuesday as hot rock pushing toward the surface melted the peak's glaciers, scientists monitoring the mountain said.

New Structure Found Deep Within West Antarctic Ice Sheet. Bristol, UK (SPX) Sep 24, 2004
Scientists have found a remarkable new structure deep within the West Antarctic Ice Sheet which suggests that the whole ice sheet is more susceptible to future change than previously thought.

Ice Shelf Loss Sped Up Glacier Movement
Two years ago, Antarctica's Larsen B ice shelf collapsed over the course of 35 days; 3,250 square kilometers of shelf area--an area larger than that of Rhode Island--disintegrated. Two new reports have traced the effects of the collapse on the continent's remaining glaciers and found that they are flowing ever faster into the surrounding Weddell Sea.

New Hydrothermal Vents Discovered As "South Pacific Odyssey" Research Begins. University Park PA (SPX) Sep 24, 2004
A team of 27 U.S. marine scientists beginning an intensive program of exploration at the Lau Basin, in the South Pacific, has discovered a new cluster of hydrothermal vents along a volcanically active crack in the seafloor.

Ancient Long-Necked Reptile Was Stealthy Suction Feeder 
Scientists have unearthed the fossil of an ancient aquatic reptile that sported a neck almost twice as long as its meter-long body. The 1.7-meter-long neck appears to have been too rigid to twist around in search of prey, however, so its function was at first uncertain. 

Climate Change Plus Human Pressure Caused Large Mammal Extinctions.

Fallout from fraud
Plagiarism rattles the paleontology world; researcher has suffered a fatal heart attack.


Researchers Use Semiconductors To Set Speed Limit On Light. San Francisco CA (SPX) Sep 28, 2004
In a nod to scientific paradox, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, have slowed light down in an effort to speed up network communication.

Table Top Particle Accelerators One Step Closer. Washington DC (SPX) Sep 29, 2004
Scientists from the UK and the USA have successfully demonstrated a new technique that could help to shrink the size and cost of future particle accelerators for fundamental physics experiments and applications in materials and biomedicine.

Nobel Physics Winners Explain Tiny Matter
U.S. scientists David J Gross, H. David Politzer and Frank Wilczek on Tuesday won the 2004 Nobel Physics Prize for developing a theory that explains quarks, nature's tiniest building blocks, the Nobel jury said.


Pollsters may be aided by test of how judgmental voters are.


Next-generation disks could hold hundreds of hours of footage.