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April 11, 2005

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Religion in the News

Thinking Straighter
Why the world's most famous atheist now believes in God. By James A. Beverley.

How the Pope Turned Me into an Evangelical
A Christianity Today associate editor recalls growing up Catholic in John Paul II's Poland.

Is It Ever Okay to Pull a Feeding Tube?
An interview with Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity president John Kilner.

'Antichrist' No More: Evangelicals Praise Pope
Most are unreserved in their praise on political, social, and even theological matters, but critique of papacy remains. Compiled by Ted Olsen.

Signs of the Reformation's Success?
Reformation scholar Timothy George discusses Pope John Paul II's historical significance and this 'momentous' era of Catholic-evangelical dialogue. Interview by Collin Hansen.

Therapeutically Incorrect
Atheist psychiatrist argues that gays can change. Interview by Douglas LeBlanc.

Muslims insist on polygamy
Thousands of Muslims marched through Kampala city yesterday and declared a jihad (holy war) against the Domestic Relations Bill (DRB) 2003, which is yet to be enacted into law (New Vision, Uganda)

Rethinking the use of Muslim law
The imposition of corporal punishment, stoning, and execution in the name of religious texts on an entire society is unacceptable. We must all condemn such repressive practices carried out without due legal process (Tariq Ramadan, The Boston Globe)

Israel court expands conversion definition
Israel's Supreme Court agreed Thursday to recognize non-Orthodox conversions to Judaism partially performed in Israel, delivering a blow to the Orthodox monopoly over religious affairs in the country (Associated Press

Jane Fonda revisits past in new memoir
She's a "feminist Christian" now (Associated Press)

'Head' Welch to 50 Cent: 'You're a huge force for the Devil right now'
Ex-Korn guitarist releases lyrics to 'A Cheap Name,' which he calls 'personal letter from God' to 50 (

Jesus doll ready for market
Press button, hear figure repeat Scripture (Los Angeles Daily News

Quick reviews of new books. Reviewed by Cindy Crosby.

More students applying to America's religious colleges
For a growing number of such students, school choice is based on religion as well as academics (Voice of America)

Science in the News


Father Brown Fakes the Shroud
Start with a piece of glass and some white oil paint. By N. D. Wilson

What Do the Stones Cry Out?
Beware of claims that archaeology disproves—or proves—the Bible is true. By Christian M.M. Brady.

Expert questions artifacts' credentials
Educator discusses how forgers feed on faith "The Question of Forged Inscriptions of Antiquity: From the James Ossuary to the Marzeah Papyrus."  (Knoxville News-Sentinel, Tenn.)

Ancient Texts as "Fossils": How They Survive
Medieval manuscripts "behave" like organisms, concludes one researcher who applied population biology theory to calculate the survival rate of ancient texts.

Salt Central to Ancient Maya Business
Excavations of a number of saltworks suggests that the ancient Maya business world centered on salt and was much more extensive than archaeologists though.

Neandertal Advance: First Fully Jointed Skeleton Built

Facelift seals standing of oldest hominid
Computer reconstruction and new fossils cement place in history for Toumaï.


Astronomers Obtain First Image Of Extra-Solar Planet Jena, Germany (SPX) Apr 06, 2005
German astronomers have obtained the first photograph of a planet beyond our solar system.

Era Of Galaxy And Black Hole Growth Spurt Discovered Cambridge, UK (SPX) Apr 07, 2005
Distant galaxies undergoing intense bursts of star formation have been shown by NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory to be fertile growing grounds for the largest black holes in the Universe.

When The Lights Came On In The Universe

Galaxy Clusters, Near And Far, Have A Lot In Common

From Galaxy Collisions To Star Birth: ISO Finds The Missing Link Paris (ESA) Mar 30, 2005
Data from ISO, the infrared observatory of the European Space Agency (ESA), have provided the first direct evidence that shock waves generated by galaxy collisions excite the gas from which new stars will form.

Old Star's "Rebirth" Gives Astronomers Surprises

Swift Mission Nabs Its First Distance Measurement To Star Explosion University Park PA (SPX) Apr 06, 2005
The NASA-led Swift mission has measured the distance to two gamma-ray bursts - back to back, from opposite parts of the sky - and both were from over nine billion light years away, unleashed billions of years before the Sun and Earth formed.

Clues To Supernova Origin Found In Dusty Stellar Wind London, UK (SPX) Apr 05, 2005
Scientists from Imperial College London have detected a dusty wind emitted by a star that, at the end of its life, turned into a white dwarf and then exploded as a supernova.

Concentrated Dark Matter At The Cores Of Fossil Galaxies Birmingham, UK (SPX) Apr 06, 2005
Researchers at the University of Birmingham have used the new generation of X-ray space observatories to study "fossil galaxies" - ancient galaxy groups in which all of the large galaxies have gradually merged to form one central giant galaxy.

Solving The Mystery Of Solar Flares London, UK (SPX) Apr 06, 2005
An international group of scientists led by the Mullard Space Science Laboratory (MSSL), University College London, has discovered important new evidence that points to the cataclysmic events that trigger a solar flare and the mechanisms that drive its subsequent evolution.

Case Of Sedna's Missing Moon Solved Cambridge MA (SPX) Apr 06, 2005
When the distant planetoid Sedna was discovered on the outer edges of our solar system, it posed a puzzle to scientists.  Sedna appeared to be spinning very slowly compared to most solar system objects, completing one rotation every 20 days.

Moon Fountains Huntsville AL (SPX) Mar 31, 2005
It's astonishing how prophetic some science fiction has been. Back in 1956, two years before NASA was even created, Hal Clement published a short Sci-Fi story called "Dust Rag", about two astronauts descending into a crater on the Moon to investigate a mysterious haze dimming stars near the lunar horizon.

First "Private" Lunar Mission Succeeded Despite NASA Roadblocks
Tucson AZ (SPX) Apr 04, 2005 - "Lunar Prospector Against All Odds," by Alan Binder, Ph.D., is the highly personal and engaging story of how the Lunar Prospector orbital mapping mission was developed and carried out by the author between late 1989 and 2001.

Ground-Based Telescopes Have An Extremely Large Future London, UK (SPX) Apr 11, 2005
The largest ground-based optical telescopes in use today use mirrors that are 10 m (33 ft) across. But the prospects for future Extremely Large Telescopes (ELTs) are looking up.

Lego Biology Moffett Field CA (SPX) Apr 07, 2005
Chris McKay, a planetary scientist at the Ames Research Center, has long been investigating the coldest and driest places on Earth. These harsh environments - and the ability of life to adapt there - could point the way to finding life on Mars.


The Alternative Genome
Contrary to the old "one gene, one protein" axiom, complex organisms coax more flexibility from their DNA by having small numbers of genes do the work of many. 

Animal-Human Hybrids Spark Controversy
Scientists have begun blurring the line between human and animal by producing chimeras—a hybrid creature that's part human, part animal.

Crippling a single protein combats arthritis
Drugs that target a cartilage enzyme could treat joint decay.

Leafy Letdown
Eating vegetables seems to do little in warding off cancer. 

Bionic suit offers wearers super-strength
The motor-driven exoskeleton offers its wearer freedom of movement and power - it may help those with disabilities to walk or lift heavy objects.

Human blood cells coaxed to produce insulin
The treatment returned blood sugar levels to normal in mice - it may mean humans with diabetes could be cured with their own cells.

Genetic patch treats 'bubble-boy' disease
Targeting sequences may prove key to successful gene medicine.

Once-Daily Asthma Inhaler Approved
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved Schering-Plough's once-daily asthma inhaler Asmanex (mometasone furoate).

Zinc Hones Teens' Thinking Skills
Zinc may give your teenager a mental edge. Researchers found that adding the mineral to the diets of middle schoolers led to improvements in their memories and attention spans.

New Protein Treatment Could Curb Cat Allergies
Allergies can cause some would-be cat lovers to avoid having feline friends. Now researchers have engineered a protein that could be used as a treatment to block cat allergies.


Woolly Mammoth Resurrection, "Jurassic Park" Planned
Scientists say they'll bring woolly mammoths back to life and create a Jurassic Park-style refuge for resurrected species. Critics aren't so sure.

Horse Evolution Followed Twisty Trail, Study Says
New research suggests the horse varied considerably in form and size over time, following an evolutionary path fraught with unexpected turns.

Reproduction Speeds Up Evolution, Study Finds 

New ID Website: 

The Fossil Fallacy

Life's top 10 greatest inventions

Fish Diversity Tied to Evolution of Diving Ability
From clownfish to catfish, grouper to great white, the diversity of fish in the sea is nothing short of astonishing. Now scientists have managed to account for this wide assortment, at least in part, by tracing the evolution of the organ that allows the creatures to swim at different depths.

Teachers feel pressed to teach creationism
A new U.S. survey has found about one third of science teachers feel pressured to present creationism and other non-scientific alternatives to evolution (UPI)

Teaching Darwin splits Pennsylvania town
The pastoral fields and white frame houses appear at peace, but this Pennsylvania farm town is deeply at war over teaching Darwin or Christian creationism in its schools (AFP)

Intelligent Design, unintelligent me
For me and many other students, biology as it is usually taught, one complicated fact or term after another, is deadly dull. Introducing a little debate would excite teenagers, just as the attacks on conventional wisdom launched by my favorite high school history teacher, Al Ladendorff, always got me walking fast to that class so I wouldn't miss anything (Jay Mathews, The Washington Post)

Science and religion
'Talk more about life's mystery' (Brian Walden, BBC)

The real conflict between religion and science
Science needs moral guidance that religious values can help shape (The Charlotte Observer, N.C.)

Not intelligent, and surely not science
The term "intelligent design" is nothing more than a linguistic place-filler for something unexplained by science (Michael Shermer, Los Angeles Times)

Would you Adam and Eve it?
A teachers' union has said it is alarmed by an increase in lessons which teach that Adam and Eve was the literal truth, rather the fable which science believes it to be. The rise in creationism is not just an American phenomenon (BBC)

Creation conflict in schools
How some biology teachers are handling the hot button debate over the theory of evolution, creationism and intelligent design (NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, PBS)

Earth Science

Probing the Geodynamo
Studies of our planet's churning interior offer intriguing clues to why the earth's magnetic field occasionally flips and when the next reversal may begin.

Drilling Vessel Recovers Rocks From Earth's Crust Far Below Seafloor Washington DC (SPX) Apr 07, 2005
Scientists affiliated with the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) and seeking the elusive "Moho" - the boundary, which geologists refer to as the Mohorovicic discontinuity, between Earth's brittle outer crust and its hotter, softer mantle - have created the third deepest hole ever drilled into the ocean bottom's crust.

Study Shows Early Earth Atmosphere Hydrogen-Rich, Favorable To Life Boulder CO (SPX) Apr 08, 2005
A new University of Colorado at Boulder study indicates Earth in its infancy probably had substantial quantities of hydrogen in its atmosphere, a surprising finding that may alter the way many scientists think about how life began on the planet.

Changes In Earth's Tilt Control When Glacial Cycles End Woods Hole MA (SPX) Mar 30, 2005
Scientists have long debated what causes glacial/interglacial cycles, which have occurred most recently at intervals of about 100,000 years.

Explosions In Space May Have Initiated Ancient Extinction On Earth Lawrence KS (SPX) Apr 07, 2005
Scientists at NASA and the University of Kansas say that a mass extinction on Earth hundreds of millions of years ago could have been triggered by a star explosion called a gamma-ray burst.

Extreme Climate Preserves Fossil Trove
Paleontologists have discovered that an extreme climate pattern may be responsible for a rich trove of well-preserved Cretaceous period mammal, crocodile, bird and dinosaur bones in northern Madagascar.

"Popeye" Jurassic Mammal Found, Had "Peculiar Teeth"
Paleontologists have unearthed the fossil remains of an ancient, chipmunk-size mammal with enormous forearms. The find could alter ideas about early mammal evolution.

Climatologists Discover Deep-Sea Secret Cardiff, UK (SPX) Apr 04, 2005
Climate changes in the northern and southern hemispheres are linked by a phenomenon by which the oceans react to changes on either side of the planet.


Black holes 'do not exist'
These mysterious objects are dark-energy stars, physicist claims.

Low-Temperature Superconductivity Is Warming Up
Magnesium diboride is not merely an unexpectedly good superconductor. Properly prepared, it outperforms the materials that are currently industrial favorites.

Picking On Einstein Huntsville AL (SPX) Mar 29, 2005
This year marks the 100th anniversary of a revolution in our notions of space and time. Before 1905, when Albert Einstein published his theory of special relativity, most people believed that space and time were as Sir Isaac Newton described them back in the 17th century.

LISA And The Search For Elusive Gravity Waves Birmingham, UK (SPX) Apr 05, 2005
For almost 100 years, scientists have been searching for direct evidence of the existence of gravity waves - faint ripples in the fabric of spacetime predicted in Albert Einstein’s theory of General Relativity.


Exploding the Self-Esteem Myth 

TV may turn four-year-olds into bullies
New research suggests this age group is particularly influenced by the violence in kids' TV - the more they watch, the higher the risks.

How Animals Do Business
Humans and other animals share a heritage of economic tendencies, including cooperation, repayment of favors and resentment of unfair pay.


Sounds Guide Young Fish toward Home