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The Panda's Thumb is the virtual pub of the University of Ediacara. The patrons gather to discuss evolutionary theory, critique the claims of the antievolution movement, defend the integrity of both science and science education, and share good conversation. Movable Type Pro 4.381
Updated: 22 hours 43 min ago

Groundless Annual Ritual of ID Self-Congratulation

Fri, 2014-12-19 20:46
(Reprinted from Recursivity.) As each year draws to a close, we can expect being treated to the annual ritual of self-congratulation by intelligent design advocates. Why, they have accomplished so much in the last year! The movement is simply overflowing with ideas! And honest, god-fearing people! And real scientists! And publishing successes! Not at all like those dogmatic, liberal, communistic, intolerant, censoring, Nazi-like evolutionists! 2014 is no different. Here we have the DI's official clown,... Jeffrey Shallit http://www.math.uwaterloo.ca/~shallit
Categories: Pro-Science News

Ohio House Bill 597 dead, for now

Thu, 2014-12-18 08:30
The authors of House Bill 597, the anti-common core science distorting bill introduced in the Ohio legislature, is dead for now. According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer (via NCSE), the bill won’t be debated or voted on this term. However, according to the bill’s author, Republican State Representative Andy Thompson, the issue will be revived in the next term of the Legislature. I’ll note that the Bill’s co-author, Republican Speaker Pro Tem Max Huffman, will... Richard B. Hoppe
Categories: Pro-Science News

Phylogenomic Fallacies

Thu, 2014-12-18 08:30
This is the fourth in a series of articles for the general public focused on understanding how species are related and how genomic data is used in research. Today, we talk about some common fallacies in phylogenomics. Where do humans fit on the evolutionary tree of life? This is an important topic in evolutionary biology. A lot of people believe humans are the most important and highly-evolved organisms, but in reality, all modern species are... Emily Thompson
Categories: Pro-Science News

Libellula pulchella forensis

Thu, 2014-12-18 08:30
Libellula pulchella – eight twelve-spotted skimmer, Elmer’s Two-Mile Creek, Boulder, Colorado. See here for eight-spotted skimmer, L. forensis.... Matt Young http://www.mines.edu/~mmyoung
Categories: Pro-Science News

Ark Encounter threatens to sue state

Thu, 2014-12-18 08:30
Update, 12/11/2014, 12:30-ish MST: A Lexington Herald-Leader editorial has a [f]ew questions for Answers in Genesis, not least, Why does God need so much taxpayer help? Really, has God been so lame spreading the good news that AIG must “counter the myths floating around about the Bible-upholding Ark Encounter,” on a digital video board in New York’s Times Square? Does God need to be defended with the demagogic language AIG and its founder Ken Ham... Matt Young http://www.mines.edu/~mmyoung
Categories: Pro-Science News

High-power laser hints at origin of RNA

Thu, 2014-12-18 08:30
The Hebrew Bible says that God made humans from dust,* but maybe it was a slurry of clay and water. That is a tentative conclusion you might draw from an experiment that used a (very) high-powered laser beam to zap a suspension of clay in an aqueous solution of formamide, a very simple organic compound. The result has been reported in the press, but there is a somewhat more-precise article in Science magazine. (You may... Matt Young http://www.mines.edu/~mmyoung
Categories: Pro-Science News

Meditation on The Mind's Eye

Thu, 2014-12-18 08:30
I am a physicist, with a specialty in optics, so I was especially interested in The Mind’s Eye, by Oliver Sacks (not to mention the less well known The Island of the Colorblind). The Mind’s Eye is a fascinating book about the visual system, many of the things that can go wrong with it, and what we learn from them. It is also the book in which Dr. Sacks reveals that he suffers from prosopagnosia,... Matt Young http://www.mines.edu/~mmyoung
Categories: Pro-Science News

Coyote Buttes

Wed, 2014-12-03 05:18
Photograph by Vivian Dullien. Coyote Buttes, Arizona.... Matt Young http://www.mines.edu/~mmyoung
Categories: Pro-Science News

Was that Jesus (or Elvis) in that piece of toast?

Wed, 2014-12-03 05:18
Credit: Abnormal Interests. Creative Commons copyright CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 US. Kang Lee, a 2014 Ig Nobel Prize* winner, asks, “Have you ever seen the face of Jesus on toast? No? … Your brain is completely normal if you see nonexistent faces in everyday objects. In fact, if you don’t, your brain may actually lack the essential ingredients for a vivid imagination.” The research was actually mildly interesting, if unsurprising. I could not read the original... Matt Young http://www.mines.edu/~mmyoung
Categories: Pro-Science News

Ham-handed attack on governor of Kentucky

Fri, 2014-11-28 09:35
Joe Sonka reported the other day in Insider Louisville that Ken Ham has now attacked his old friend, Steve Beshear, the governor of Kentucky. As Mr. Sonka puts it, Mr. Ham “penned a fundraising letter last week claiming the governor is launching a ‘massive attack’ on their religious freedom and persecuting his organization ‘because of our Christian message.’” Mr. Ham blames atheists and “secularists” for putting pressure on state government officials and avers that “our... Matt Young http://www.mines.edu/~mmyoung
Categories: Pro-Science News

Analyzing the Genome with Statistics

Mon, 2014-11-24 20:04
This is the third in a series of articles for the general public focused on understanding how species are related and how genomic data is used in research. Today, we talk about the challenges of using statistics to analyze phylogenomic data. Suppose you were a door manufacturer trying to figure out the average height of a population living in a certain country. You might conduct an experiment where you ask a group of people... Emily Thompson
Categories: Pro-Science News

Gilbert, Arizona, school district to abort page from biology textbook ...

Mon, 2014-11-24 20:04
… because it (gasp!) uses the word, “abortion.” But wait – there is a glimmer of hope: The new superintendent, who was ordered to offer a plan for redacting the textbooks, says that the books comply with the law already and instead plans to hold a public discussion. Meanwhile, as a service to the affected high-school students, Rachel Maddow has posted the offending page on a blog, ArizonaHonorsBiology.com, which her show apparently owns. If you... Matt Young http://www.mines.edu/~mmyoung
Categories: Pro-Science News

Lenticular clouds

Mon, 2014-11-24 20:04
Interesting cloud formation, Boulder, Colorado. The camera is facing south, and the wind is coming from the west, or right. One hour later, in Golden,... Matt Young http://www.mines.edu/~mmyoung
Categories: Pro-Science News

Philae craft lands on comet

Sat, 2014-11-15 04:21
Rosetta headquarters announced a few moments ago that the Philae lander is now sitting on the surface of the comet and transmitting data. Unfortunately, the European Space Agency is not exactly releasing a trove of pictures. I know this is not biology, but where did you think those hydrocarbons came from in the first place?... Matt Young http://www.mines.edu/~mmyoung
Categories: Pro-Science News

Phylogenomics: Deciphering a Billion-Piece Puzzle

Sun, 2014-11-09 00:23
This is the second in a series of articles for the general public focused on understanding how species are related and how genomic data is used in research. Today, we talk about phylogenomics, the application of whole genome sequencing to understand evolutionary relationships among species. DNA Chemical Structure. Source: Madeleine Price Ball The haploid human genome is 3.2 billion DNA bases long, and each base can be one of four nucleotides: A, T, C, and... Emily Thompson
Categories: Pro-Science News

Michael Peroutka elected to county council

Sun, 2014-11-09 00:23
Or, as Right-Wing Watch puts it, Neo-Confederate Republican Michael Peroutka Wins Maryland Election. Mr. Peroutka operates the family foundation that donated the allosaurus fossil to the Creation “Museum,” as we reported here. I will not synopsize the Right-Wing Watch article, but I think that you will find that being a neo-Confederate is the least of Mr. Peroutka’s problems; if he is not completely crackers, he is giving a convincing imitation.... Matt Young http://www.mines.edu/~mmyoung
Categories: Pro-Science News

Andreas Wagner: Arrival of the Fittest: Solving Evolution's Greatest Puzzle

Sun, 2014-11-09 00:23
I started this post thinking I’d write a review of Andreas Wagner’s recent book “Arrival of the Fittest: Solving Evolution’s Greatest Puzzle” (links below), an engrossing book about how biological innovation arises from the structure of metabolic, genotype, and protein networks, and how robustness–the stability of phenotypes in the face of underlying genetic variability–is critical in evolutionary innovations. But there are several excellent reviews already out there, so another would be redundant. I’ll mention only... Richard B. Hoppe
Categories: Pro-Science News

Delicious sex chromosomes

Sun, 2014-11-09 00:23
Plants have sex? Yes, they totally do. A brief overview:  Plants have female reproductive organs (carpels) and male reproductive organs (stamens), but several different ways of determining sex. There are two main groups of seed-producing plants. Gymnosperms are plants without covered seeds, and include those that produce cones. Gymnosperms and are split with about 75% exhibiting monoecy (having male and female sex organs on the same plant), and 25% exhibiting dioecy (having separate male plants and... M. Wilson Sayres http://mathbionerd.blogspot.com
Categories: Pro-Science News

Phelsuma laticauda

Sun, 2014-11-09 00:23
Photograph by Tony Gamble. Photography contest, Honorable Mention. Phelsuma laticauda – gold dust day gecko.... Matt Young http://www.mines.edu/~mmyoung
Categories: Pro-Science News

Kent Hovind in trouble again

Thu, 2014-10-30 02:07
I haven’t got time to investigate further, but Hovind watchers might be interested that Mr, Hovind (Dr. Dino) has been charged with filing a lien on property that had already been forfeited. Or something. A Forbes columnist, Peter Reilly, suggests that the government is piling on, and I suspect he is right; you may read about it here. Acknowledgement. Link provided by the truly indefatigable Dan Phelps.... Matt Young http://www.mines.edu/~mmyoung
Categories: Pro-Science News