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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: 1 day 17 hours ago

Maroon Bells

Tue, 2015-01-27 15:04
Maroon Bells, Aspen, Colorado.... Matt Young http://www.mines.edu/~mmyoung
Categories: Pro-Science News

Giant panda cubs to be featured on PBS

Mon, 2015-01-26 09:36
A new PBS series, Earth: A new wild, will highlight China’s breeding of giant pandas with the intention of introducing them into the wild. One goal of the series is to demonstrate that humans and nature are interdependent, according to its producer, M. Sanjayan. The 5-part series will begin on February 4. You may see a 1.5-min clip from the show at the link above. You may also see photographs of newborn panda triplets here.... Matt Young http://www.mines.edu/~mmyoung
Categories: Pro-Science News

Ark Park attendance estimates way down

Mon, 2015-01-26 09:36
Ark Park attendance is estimated to be no more than 640,000 visitors in its best year, down from 1.24 million, according to a report by Tom Loftus in The (Kentucky) Courier-Journal. That is not as bad as it appears – or as good as it appears, depending how you look at it – considering that the project has been scaled back from $172.5 million with many additional attractions to $73 million without. The Kentucky Secular... Matt Young http://www.mines.edu/~mmyoung
Categories: Pro-Science News

No, two-thirds of all cancers are not caused by bad luck

Sun, 2015-01-18 17:56
I am sure we all read it in the papers several weeks ago: Two-thirds of all cancers are caused by bad luck. The New York Times said so. Science magazine, which published the original article said so too. Only problem, the original article did not say that, and to her credit, Jennifer Couzin-Frankel, the Science reporter who “said so too,” corrected the record in a sort of meditation on the difficulty of getting difficult scientific... Matt Young http://www.mines.edu/~mmyoung
Categories: Pro-Science News

Phylogenomics Produces New and Improved Tree of Birds

Fri, 2015-01-16 10:26
What do flamingoes and pigeons have in common? You might say very little—after all, flamingoes are long–legged, vibrantly–colored water–dwellers and the pigeons we often see inhabiting our cities appear to be completely the opposite. But according to a study published last month in Science magazine, flamingoes and pigeons are more closely related than previously thought. The groundbreaking new study used phylogenomics to compare the genes of 48 bird species. It is the first study of... Emily Thompson
Categories: Pro-Science News

Between Migdol and the Sea: book review

Fri, 2015-01-16 10:26
The subtitle of this book by frequent PT commenter Carl Drews is “Crossing the Red Sea with faith and science.” Mr. Drews achieved a modicum of fame a few years ago for his master’s thesis, in which he speculated that Moses and his followers had crossed the Sea of Reeds during a wind setdown, that is, an event where the wind blows so hard on a body of water that the water level on the... Matt Young http://www.mines.edu/~mmyoung
Categories: Pro-Science News

Equus quagga burchellii

Tue, 2015-01-13 00:46
Photograph by Alice Levine. Equus quagga burchellii – Burchell’s zebra, Namibia.... Matt Young http://www.mines.edu/~mmyoung
Categories: Pro-Science News

Would the Supreme Court defend public education from the religious right?

Sat, 2015-01-03 14:02
Anyone who relies on the Supreme Court to guarantee that creationism will not be taught in public school or that the Ark Park’s threatened lawsuit will necessarily fail might want to read an article by Erwin Chemerinsky in the January 1 issue of The Washington Spectator. In that article, which I take to be a longish abstract of his book, Chemerinsky argues that the Court has generally not lived up to its “lofty expectations” and... Matt Young http://www.mines.edu/~mmyoung
Categories: Pro-Science News

Best ID Takedown of 2014 - Perhaps Ken Miller's Demolition of "Edge of Evolution"?

Sat, 2015-01-03 14:02
Michael Behe is very thrilled that a PNAS paper published this year “confirms a key inference I made in 2007 in The Edge of Evolution.” The Discovery Institute is also thrilled, enough so to reprint Behe’s July 14, 2014 op-ed on ENV as this year’s #4 in the top-story countdown. Says Behe, regarding what he describes as “the need for multiple, specific changes in a particular malarial protein (called PfCRT) for the development of resistance... Dave Thomas http://www.nmsr.org
Categories: Pro-Science News

Proterozoic schists

Sat, 2015-01-03 14:02
Photograph by Jim Kocher. Photography contest, Honorable Mention. Painted Wall – Black Canyon of the Gunnison River, Montrose, Colorado, May, 1999; Kodachrome 64. Proterozoic schists intruded by pegmatite dikes (~1.25 Ga). Vertical relief is ~2,200 ft.... Matt Young http://www.mines.edu/~mmyoung
Categories: Pro-Science News

Color vision may be 300 Ma old

Mon, 2014-12-29 01:48
According to a blurb in Science yesterday, researchers have discovered a fossilized fish whose eyes show traces of pigment and also fossilized rods and cones. The existence of the cones suggests that color vision developed at least 300 Ma ago. You may read the full article, which appears in Nature Communications, by following the link from the Science article; you can read it only on screen – a pdf will cost you $32. _____ P.S.... Matt Young http://www.mines.edu/~mmyoung
Categories: Pro-Science News

Nature to make many articles widely available

Mon, 2014-12-29 01:48
I would not exactly call it a Christmas present, but today I happened to learn of a press release circulated by the Nature Publishing Group on December 2 of this year. The press release was not exactly a model of clarity, but if I understand it correctly, subscribers to any of a number of the publishing group’s journals can legitimately make articles available to individual colleagues who are not subscribers. In addition, readers of “100... Matt Young http://www.mines.edu/~mmyoung
Categories: Pro-Science News

Are men idiots?

Mon, 2014-12-22 23:51
That is, are male members of the species Homo sapiens idiots? No, but according to a recent article, they are more likely to be idiots than women are. The only thing surprising about this conclusion is that it is so unsurprising. For years now, whenever my daughter or I see a bicyclist dash madly across 4 lanes of traffic, we announce to each other, “Another male trying to improve the gene pool.” We are uncertain... Matt Young http://www.mines.edu/~mmyoung
Categories: Pro-Science News

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