first_imgYou have to give credit to anyone who tackles a big problem head-on, regardless of whether you agree with their solution.  Two recent papers take on one of evolution’s biggest challenges: the Cambrian Explosion.  Assuming the evolutionary timeline, this represents a “brief” 5 million year period back 530 million years ago when most of the major animal phyla appeared.  It was called an “explosion” of evolutionary emergence even decades ago, when scientists thought the interval was eight times longer, or 40 million years.  More refined dating estimates have only exacerbated this problem which was known even in Darwin’s time.  Somewhere between 48% and 82%, most likely around two thirds, of all animal phyla (major groupings) and subphyla appeared in this period, fully formed, and without ancestors.  At most four had possible precursors up to 40 million years earlier in the Precambrian, but these are doubtful (e.g., see 08/19/2004, 12/23/2002).    How brief was this explosion of life?  According to Meyer, Ross, Nelson and Chien,1 if the entire evolutionary timeline were compressed into a 24-hour day, the Cambrian Explosion would represent one minute, or 0.11% of the timeline.  Even if that estimate were an order of magnitude off – ten minutes, representing 50 million years – the comparative brevity of the interval would be still be remarkable.  In that blink of a geologic eye, the world saw the emergence of molluscs, echinoderms, brachiopods, jellyfish, worms, arthropods (like trilobites) and many other complex organisms, compared to the prior three billion years or more when, except for a few multicelled organisms like flatworms and sponges, single-celled organisms ruled the world.    To be fair, the Cambrian examples of the new phyla seem primitive by comparison to later representatives.  The first chordates (those with a notochord or simple nerve chord) looked like worms, although representatives of early jawless fish (subphylum vertebrata) have been found recently in the early Cambrian strata (01/30/2003, 08/21/2002).  Think how diverse the vertebrates became: everything from giraffes to turtles to hummingbirds and horses.  Later arthropods in the fossil record include flying insects and lobsters and spiders.  Still, to have over two-thirds of all animal body plans appear so abruptly is astonishing.    The new Cambrian animals had specialized tissues and organs, presupposing that huge increases in biological information and specialized functions appeared almost overnight.  Evolution isn’t supposed to happen this way.  Darwin’s book presented a slow, gradual tree of life branching from ever more primitive ancestors.  Where are the transitional forms?  Punctuated equilibria theory has a similar problem – just on a more jerky scale.  Since the Origin of Species, evolutionists have admitted that the Cambrian Explosion is one of their most vexing problems (see 07/29/2004, 12/22/2005).  Intelligent design theorists and creationists have not hesitated to remind them that the Cambrian fossil record doesn’t look like evolution; it looks like creation.    A recent paper tackling this problem was published by Eric Davidson (Caltech) and Douglas Erwin (National Museum of Natural History, DC) in Science.2  They mention the difficulty somewhat delicately: “A notable feature of the paleontological record of animal evolution is the establishment by the Early Cambrian of virtually all phylum-level body plans.”  (Emphasis added in all quotes.)  Their explanation revolves around gene regulatory networks (GRNs).  “Development of the animal body plan is controlled by large gene regulatory networks (GRNs), and hence evolution of body plans must depend upon change in the architecture of developmental GRNs,” they begin.  Some of these networks appear hierarchical, and the “kernels” are resistant to change.  Consequently, they argue, “Conservation of phyletic body plans may have been due to the retention since pre-Cambrian time of GRN kernels, which underlie development of major body parts.”  This, however, seems to focus on what didn’t change, not what did.  Nevertheless, they think they are on the right track, compared with earlier explanations:Classic evolutionary theory, based on selection of small incremental changes, has sought explanations by extrapolation from observed patterns of adaptation.  Macroevolutionary theories have largely invoked multi-level selection, among species and among clades.  But neither class of explanation provides an explanation of evolution in terms of mechanistic changes in the genetic regulatory program for development of the body plan, where it must lie.Photos in the article show some of the diverse body plans of Cambrian animals.  Their explanation of body plan diversification takes on a distinctive cybernetic flavor.  By picturing genetic networks as “kernels” resistant to change (because “change in them is prohibited on pain of developmental catastrophe”), with “plug-ins” that get co-opted to developmental programs, “switches” that turn on these programs and so act as “input/output (I/O) devices” within the network, and even “differentiation gene batteries,” they envision a multi-level architecture, in which changes can have anywhere from dramatic to fine-tuning effects depending on what level it occurs.    All this computer lingo, however, still sounds more like design than evolution.  Smart people design computers and networks.  Do Davidson and Erwin succeed in getting unaided natural forces to surprise the world with the sudden appearance of new complex animals?  A key to their answer lies in assuming a “deep divergence” in genetic networks a hundred million years earlier.  (Another key must, alas, await future discoveries.)We predict that when sufficient comparative network data are available, there will be found conserved network kernels similar in complexity and character to those of Fig. 2 [examples of “putative GRN kernels”], which program the initial stages of development of every phylum-specific body part and perhaps of superphylum and pan-bilaterian body parts as well.  It would follow [sic] that these kernels must have been assembled during the initial diversification of the Bilateria [animals with bilateral symmetry]and have retained their internal character since.  Critically, these kernels would have formed through the same processes of evolution as affect the other components, but once formed and operating to specify particular body parts, they would have become refractory to subsequent change.  Molecular phylogeny places this evolutionary stage in the late Neoproterozoic when Bilateria begin to appear in the fossil record, between the end of the Marinoan glaciation at about 630 million years ago and the beginning of the Cambrian.  Therefore the mechanistic explanation for the surprising fact that essentially no major new phylum-level body parts have evolved since the Cambrian may lie in the internal structural and functional properties of GRN kernels: Once they were assembled, they could not be disassembled or basically rewired, only built on to.    Between the periphery of developmental GRNs and their kernels lies the bulk of the network architecture.  Here we see skeins of special cross-regulatory circuitry, plug-ins, and I/O connections; and here is where have occurred the changes in network architecture that account for the evolutionary novelties [sic] attested in the fossil record of animals.Their conclusion is that there are at least three hierarchical levels of network architecture, “with extremely different developmental consequences and rates of occurrence.”  The alert reader will notice, however, that the explanation above focuses on stasis of the kernels, and elsewhere only assumes that evolution somehow came up with all the highly diverse body plans in the other parts of the network.  Meyer et al. pre-criticized this explanation by saying that the amount of genetic information required would be astronomical, and by saying the “deep time” supposition lacks any fossil evidence.  They also pointed out that the molecular comparisons used to support divergence in deep time give highly different results, depending on whose data compares which genes.    One notable part of Davidson and Erwin’s conclusion is that it differs markedly from “current microevolutionary thinking” that assumes change occurs in a “temporally homogeneous way.”  They argue, instead, that “different levels of change that have occurred in evolution are imperfectly reflected at different levels of Linnean classification,” i.e., from species up through families up to phyla, “and we think that these inhomogeneous events have been caused by architectural alterations in different locations in the underlying GRNs.”  Architectural alterations – is that a euphemism for mutations?  They use the word alterations for all the other levels of the network, too.  Here comes their cadenza.  Amidst all the machine and network language, look for any unguided mechanisms that explain the origin of new body plans:To the extent that kernel formation underlies critical morphological innovations, some kernels must indirectly be responsible for major events in Neoproterozoic niche construction.  Motility, predation, digestion, and other canonical features of the Bilateria followed from the evolutionary appearance of the genetic programs [sic] for the respective body parts.  These innovations became an engine of change that irreversibly altered the Earth’s environment and, thus, the probability of success of subsequent evolutionary changes.  We believe that experimental examination of the conserved kernels of extant developmental GRNs will illuminate the widely discussed but poorly understood problem of the origination of animal body plans in the late Neoproterozoic and Cambrian and their remarkable subsequent stability.So, in other words, we have the framework for a new theory, and a lot of work remains to be done – stay tuned.  But would this answer be enough to silence the ID critics?  Paul Nelson of the Discovery Institute doesn’t think so.  He posted an anecdote on Evolution News about how he had met Eric Davidson years ago and heard him admit that single base-pair mutations would not produce genetic networks.  He also quoted Davidson asserting that “Neo-Darwinism is dead.”  After reading this latest Davidson paper, Nelson noticed a problem for getting new information into the system: “If changing the wiring takes down the whole system, well, then, obviously the wiring can’t change – a developmental instance of what has come to be known as the Principle of Continuity.”     Another, more complete survey of the Cambrian Explosion and possible solutions has been made available in a preprint to the upcoming 2006 Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Science.  Visit a future entry for a look at whether this paper succeeds in countering what Darwin called “the most obvious and serious objection which can be urged against the theory.”31Stephen C. Meyer, Marcus Ross, Paul Nelson and Paul Chien, “The Cambrian Explosion: Biology’s Big Bang,” Darwin, Design and Public Education (ed. John Angus and Stephen C. Meyer), Michigan State Univ. Press, 2003, pp. 323-402.  This is a good semi-technical overview of the Cambrian Explosion problem and evolutionary attempts to explain it away.  The timeline analogy by paleontologist Jun-Yuan Chen is mentioned on p. 326.  See also the Discovery Institute Fact Sheet (PDF) about the Cambrian Explosion.2Eric Davidson and Douglas Erwin, “Gene Regulatory Networks and the Evolution of Animal Body Plans,” Science, 10 February 2006: Vol. 311. no. 5762, pp. 796 – 800, DOI: 10.1126/science.1113832.3Charles Darwin, Origin of Species, ch. 10: “But just in proportion as this process of extermination has acted on an enormous scale, so must the number of intermediate varieties, which have formerly existed, be truly enormous.  Why then is not every geological formation and every stratum full of such intermediate links?  Geology assuredly does not reveal any such finely-graduated organic chain; and this, perhaps, is the most obvious and serious objection.  The explanation lies, as I believe, in the extreme imperfection of the fossil record.”  Yet 140 years has not filled in these gaps, as Darwin had hoped; in fact, the situation has only become worse.  Most paleontologists now admit that the fossil record is essentially complete; most new finds fit within existing categories and do not fill in the gaps; see 10/25/2002 2nd entry and 02/14/2005 entry).Ha!  Another example of Darwinian hand-waving.  It’s worth the effort of learning a little scientific jargon to see how these spinmeisters work their magic.  Imagine some hypothetical “architectural alterations” coming up with the inconceivably complex functions of motility, predation, digestion and every other piece of hardware and software a Cambrian animal needed to live and reproduce.  Unbelievable faith.    The bottom line: this paper is constructed on euphemisms for random mutations and natural selection, sprinkled with plagiarized jargon about networks, engines, I/O modules, kernels, plug-ins and other intelligent-design concepts.  Any fossil evidence?  Nope.  Any realistic genetic mechanism that could produce a trilobite with complex eyes (09/18/2003) or a starfish, or a calcified shell (06/26/2003), or an animal with a backbone and nervous system?  Nothing but a vivid imagination, verbal magic and the power of belief (e.g., 10/25/2002).  Go get ’em, ID.(Visited 17 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

first_imgThe discovery is one of the most important natural gas fields discovered in the last 10 years, with long-term benefits for Mozambique, Anadarko chief executive Jim Hackett said. 30 November 2011 This was the third appraisal by Houston-based Anadarko since August. Focus of exploration boom Mozambique lies at the southern tip of a fault line running along the east African coast to Somalia, forming a geologically inviting region for natural gas that has become the focus of an exploration boom in recent years. The company’s announcement came a month after Italian energy giant ENI announced the discovery of off-shore natural gas deposits in Mozambique to the tune of 22-trillion cubic feet – the largest find in the company’s history. South Africa stands to benefit from the discovery, Business Report said in an article on Tuesday, with Cape Chamber of Commerce president Michael Bagraim telling the paper that a complete rethink of South Africa’s energy and electricity plans was called for in light of the massive new natural gas discoveries.center_img The finds by the two companies have the potential to launch impoverished Mozambique into the top tier of African gas exporters. Italian and US companies have announced the discovery of massive natural gas fields off Mozambique in the last month, promising huge long-term benefits for Mozambique, and potentially significant spin-off benefits for neighbouring South Africa. The latest drilling activities revealed new finds “significantly expanding the estimated recoverable resource range to 15- to 30-plus trillion cubic feet of natural gas,” the company said in a statement on Monday. US-based Anadarko Petroleum said on Monday that natural gas reserves in its Mozambican fields could be three times larger than earlier estimated, at up to 30-trillion cubic feet. Sapa, with additional reporting by SAinfolast_img read more

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest I look forward to them every year — the stories from visits to Ohio Century Farms.In my estimation, taking a couple of hours to step back in time to the earliest days of Ohio agriculture is time vastly better spent compared to watching any reality television, soap opera or televised sporting event that can be conjured up. And, the stories are real — not a statement that applies to reality television.Seriously, there could be some really good “based upon actual events” movies made from Century Farm stories that were instrumental in shaping the state’s top economic driver today. The stories of these seldom-noticed gems of Ohio history are sitting right under our noses and are vastly more entertaining, informative and incredible than the most dynamic sporting matchup or even a hotly debated interview with a man who decided he wanted to be a lady.The Ohio Century Farm program started in 1993 as a joint effort between the Ohio History Connection, Ohio’s Country Journal and the Ohio Department of Agriculture. As you read the stories, take a few moments to put into perspective what these people actually did to make a new life on an Ohio farm. It is truly amazing to think about leaving everything you have known behind to hop on a ship and carve out a life for yourself and your descendants amid the some harshest conditions imaginable. They left what they knew for a chance of success in the unknown. Put yourself in their well-traveled shoes. Would you do it? Could you do it?My guess is that most people in our modern society would have a pretty tough time matching the determination, grit and work ethic of the founders of these farms who — let’s face it — had to be half crazy to do what they did. What drove them to seek out such hardship and sacrifice? What gave them the strength to carry on?Without fail, every Century Farm has a story that offers a perspective that seems to be increasingly rare in today’s society. The Blausey family farm started out in the middle of a terrible swamp that few others were determined enough to inhabit. The Good-Woodruff Farm has its roots in an incredible love story that spanned an ocean and defied the conventions of the day.These stories are fascinating to hear in person and I hope their value and the perspective they offer comes through the pages of this publication. Hopefully you get the chance to let these stories take you to a time and place that offers stark contrasts to our modern lives.Think about how our forefathers lived. Even once they settled on the farms after daunting journeys to get there, there was drama in simply surviving from one day to the next through most of their lives. Food didn’t come from a take out window or a store — it came from the garden and the barn and the cellar. They didn’t need to seek entertainment via the remote control or a trip to the movie theater. They lived real life movies against the elements every day. They faced head on the struggles of life and death, love and loss, heat and cold, and rain and shine that we have been working hard to insulate ourselves from ever since. They toiled endlessly because their very survival depended upon it.After hearing the arduous tales of Century Farms, it never fails to make me appreciate all that we have today a little bit more. We are incredibly fortunate that our ancestors worked so hard to create better lives for their children. Now we get to enjoy the fruits of their labor and hopefully we can heed the lessons they teach us that are more valuable than anything that can be learned on reality TV.last_img read more

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Last week was the single best week for fieldwork of the 2019 growing season, according to Cheryl Turner, State Statistician, USDA NASS, Ohio Field Office. There were 4.5 days suitable for fieldwork for the week ending June 30. The week was the warmest week in the 2019 growing season and most areas saw their first 90 plus degree day this year. Farmers pushed themselves and their equipment hard to try and make up for time lost to an otherwise cold and very wet planting season. Through the whirlwind of activity, farmers were able to make progress on cutting an overly ripe first cutting of hay, plant soybeans at a fast pace, spray for weeds, and apply much needed fertilizer. Wheat harvest began in earnest for some growers in southern Ohio, while growers in northern Ohio readied themselves for the impending harvest. Wheat condition going into harvest was much worse than last year. Growers dealt with poor stands and downed-out spots. Corn planted last week was noted to be for silage and some farmers had abandoned hope for getting all of their corn for grain planted. Some earlier planted soybeans that were flooded out got replanted.Click here to read the full report.last_img read more

first_imgNew Zealand beat Pakistan by nine wickets in the first Test on Sunday to take a 1-0 lead in the two-Test series and move closer to ending a 31-year losing streak to the tourists on home turf. (Scorecard)Leading by 67 runs after the first innings, New Zealand bowled out Pakistan for 171 in their second innings and reached their victory target of 105 runs in less than an hour after lunch.Captain Kane Williamson scored 61 to lead New Zealand’s chase on Sunday before being caught at short fine leg with only one run needed for victory. Jeet Raval, making his New Zealand debut, followed with a boundary from Yasir Shah in the 32nd over to post the winning runs and finish 36 not out.New Zealand’s win in less than two and a half days was only their sixth in a Test match against Pakistan at home.Pakistan haven’t lost a Test series in New Zealand since 1985, winning five and drawing three during that time, but the hosts now have a chance to end that streak with another victory in the second Test beginning Friday in Hamilton.”In terms of our performance, where we really stepped it up was the second innings with the ball,” Williamson said. “The surface was very good, it didn’t do too much and the boys put it in the right areas for a long period of time.”New Zealand were coming off four straight losses in their most-recent Test matches – one in South Africa and three in India.advertisement”Naturally, it’s tough coming off the back of a few losses, but it’s nice to be back at home,” Williamson said. “The boys kept it up and put some of those feelings of defeat behind us to play a very good test match.”The teams only managed a combined 612 runs in four innings of a match dominated by seam bowlers.While Williamson played a decisive role on Sunday to close out New Zealand’s victory, the course of the match was determined by two players making their Test debut.After the entire first day was lost to rain, New Zealand won the toss and bowled in conditions which saw the ball seam and swing. The 30-year-old all-rounder Colin de Grandhomme took 6/41 as New Zealand dismissed Pakistan in 55.5 overs in their first innings to claim the best innings figures by a New Zealander on Test debut.Raval then made 55 to help New Zealand reach 200 in their first innings and take a lead of 67. He backed up that effort taking four catches in the match – three in the first innings – and by supporting Williamson on Sunday in a partnership of 85 for New Zealand’s second.The match was weighted heavily in New Zealand’s favor when Pakistan only managed to reach 129/7 at stumps on the third day, taking a slim 62-run lead.Sohail Khan and Asad Shafiq provided some resistance in a 53-run stand for the eighth wicket, but their partnership ended at 158/8 and New Zealand wrapped up the innings only an hour after the start of play on Sunday.New Zealand lost opener Tom Latham (9) before lunch when they were 19/1, but Williamson played the best innings of the match to lead his team to victory. He reached his 24th half century in Tests in 67 minutes from 56 balls, hitting four fours and a six.Pakistan ended the match without captain Misbah-ul-Haq who had to return home because his father-in-law is seriously ill.”As a professional team and the No. 2 team in the world in Tests, we should be better than that,” said stand-in captain Azhar Ali. “Things didn’t really go according to plan and I think we should have put in a better batting performance, especially in the first innings.”last_img read more

first_imgDistrict Attorney Jerry D. Jones at his desk discussing the dropped charges of Alabama football players.KNOE.comAlabama football got huge news this afternoon, when Monroe, La. district attorney Jerry Jones announced that he has dropped the drug and gun charges against Cam Robinson, one of the nation’s best tackles, and reserve safety Hootie Jones. KNOE News has more from Jones, including a very interesting quote regarding this decision.Jones says, “I want to emphasize once again that the main reason I’m doing this is that I refuse to ruin the lives of two young men who have spent their adolescence and teenage years, working and sweating, while we were all in the air conditioning.”In the station’s video report on the story, reporter Nicholas Picht says that the DA could not prove who, between Robinson, Jones, and two other men arrested with them, was in possession of the marijuana or the gun, and cited a 2001 case that necessitates a connection between the two offenses.We’ll continue to update this story as more is released.[KNOE]MORE FROM COLLEGE SPUN:The 10 Most Aggressive Fan Bases In CFBIn Photos: Golfer Paige SpiranacESPN Makes Decision On Dick Vitalelast_img read more

first_imgReaction has been pouring in on social media following a mass shooting late Sunday night where two people were killed and at least 12 others were injured in Toronto’s Greektown neighbourhood.The shooting happened near Danforth and Logan Ave. just after 10 p.m.Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders said early Monday that police arrived at the scene and quickly identified the suspect, who was armed with a handgun. An exchange of gunfire ensued, and Saunders said the 29-year-old shooter likely died of gunshot wounds. Advertisement Advertisement Many celebrities took to social media to react to the tragedy, with the hashtags #Danforth and #TorontoStrong.Canadian actor Patrick J. Adams wrote, “Another night of senseless loss and brutality in my home town.”Another night of senseless loss and brutality in my home town. Praying that some of these reported injuries from the shooting don’t turn into fatalities. Thank you to all the officers and doctors working hard tonight to deal with the aftermath. #danforth— Patrick J Adams (@halfadams) July 23, 2018Canadian actress Laura Vandervoort wrote, “Heart broken to hear about the #Danforth shooting this morning. My love and condolences to the victims and their families.”Another senseless shooting in my home town. Heart broken to hear about the #Danforth shooting this morning. My love and condolences to the victims and their families. Praying those injured are able to recover not only physically but emotionally. #toronto— Laura Vandervoort (@Vandiekins22) July 23, 2018Canadian actor Jay Baruchel wrote, “A few years ago I chose to move to the east end of Toronto, first to East York and then the beach. Every day I’ve been reminded why I made that choice. I truly love it here. What happened on the Danforth last night was ugly, opportunistic barbarism.”A few years ago I chose to move to the east end of Toronto, first to East York and then the beach. Every day I’ve been reminded why I made that choice. I truly love it here. What happened on the Danforth last night was ugly, opportunistic barbarism.Toronto can and will endure.— Jay Baruchel (@BaruchelNDG) July 23, 2018Canadian racing driver Robert Wickens wrote, “Something needs to change! My thoughts go out to all the victims.”Just got back to Indianapolis to read about what happened in Toronto tonight. Something needs to change! My thoughts go out to all the victims. Thank you to the emergency response staff for there hard work in trying to keep the fatality rate as low as possible tonight. #Danforth— Robert Wickens (@robertwickens) July 23, 2018Canadian former women’s ice hockey player Hayley Wickenheiser wrote, “Oh Toronto…  #Danforth.”Oh Toronto…??#Danforth— Hayley Wickenheiser (@wick_22) July 23, 2018Former Barenaked Ladies frontman wrote, “‘This is where we used to live.’ For 25 years. And it’s where my kids live. What an awful, violent year for Toronto. #Danforth.” Facebook LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment Advertisement Login/Register With: Twitterlast_img read more