Is E.T. calling us? Stay tuned!

New Scientist magazine reports on a paper by Hippke, Domainko and Learned, suggesting that fast radio bursts, which were first discovered in 2001, may be artificial signals produced by alien – or human – technology. Ten fast bursts of radio waves have been detected within the past 15 years, and the delay between the arrival of the first and last waves is always very close to a multiple of 187.5. The authors claim there is a 5 in 10,000 probability that the line-up is coincidence, and they argue that no known natural process can explain this curious fact. They conclude that if the signals are not due to “a [natural] galactic source producing quantized chirped signals” (which would be “most surprising”) then “an artificial source (human or non-human) must be considered, particularly since most bursts have been observed in only one location (Parkes radio telescope).” The authors consider the possibility that fast radio bursts are “Earthly noise” – a strong possibility, since they “show arrival times with a strong correlation to Earth’s integer second,” which “hints at some man-made device, such as mobile phone base stations.” The article in New Scientist points out that if the signals are produced by aliens, “the aliens would have to be from what SETI scientists call a Kardashev Type II civilisation” – one which “has a star’s worth of output at its disposal,” and is capable of capturing all its sun’s radiation, throwing material into a black hole and sucking up the radiation, or alternatively, traveling to many planets and stripping them of resources.

What do readers think about these curious radio signals? Are they human, alien or natural? Whatever your conclusion may be, this is a clear-cut case of Intelligent Design reasoning at work in the scientific realm.


#extra-terrestrial, #science-fictions, #science-news


Cambrian Genomics has figured out how to print DNA in a process that greatly reduces the cost.  They make the first hardware/systems for laser printing DNA.  As company CEO, Austen Heinz puts it “We print life. Life is very simple, it’s just code. Four letters — we print that.”  He invented a 3D laser printer that prints custom DNA sequences.  The idea behind the company is that everything that’s alive is simply code.  If you remember back to your biology class, the primary nucleobases — adenine (A), cytosine (C), thymine (T), and guanine (G) — form base pairs in a specific order to create strands of DNA.

Cambrian Genomics uses proprietary process to assemble ACTG to create custom DNA for customers. The process is truly revolutionary.  You can either alter current DNA to create characteristics like a plant that glows in the dark, or create brand new DNA.  The process lets you play God in creating things that don’t currently exist in nature.

It’s currently much easier to alter existing DNA than to create new DNA into a new lifeform, but the possibility exists.  As you can imagine, there are significant government clearances that are needed for these processes, and Cambrian Genomics leaves that part to the customers to deal with.

However, think about the possibilities.  Heinz proposes “Plants can be made to take out much more carbon out of the atmosphere. We can make humans that are born without disease that can live much longer. We can make humans that can interface directly with computers by growing interfaces into the brain.”

3D DNA printing is not without its obvious controversy though.   There is a larger movement dedicated to banning all GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms).   There is also significant concern about what effects there could be of releasing GMOs into the environment–also known as the Jurassic Park Effect.  There are current government safeguards in effect to help prevent this now.  All GMO products must first go through a rigorous approval process before a project can be started.  Then, there is government testing that occurs after the product is created to assure that there no ill effects of creating such a product.

Heinz explains how the current regulatory environment in America is fairly open for plant life, but locked down for animal and human life.  However, in Europe they are locked down on plant life, but much more open on human life.  In the UK has the first 3 parent child which is in a sense a GMO.  Heinz presented the possible paradox that GMO people could be anti-GMO activists in the future, but ironically be a GMO themselves.

#science-controversy, #science-fictions, #science-news

Black holes do (not) exist and the Big Bang Theory is wrong ?

  • Scientist claims she has mathematical proof black holes cannot exist
  • She said it is impossible for stars to collapse and form a singularity
  • Professor Laura Mersini-Houghton said she is still in ‘shock’ from the find
  • Previously, scientists thought stars much larger than the sun collapsed under their own gravity and formed black holes when they died
  • During this process they release a type of radiation called Hawking radiation
  • But new research claims the star would lose too much mass and wouldn’t be able to form a black hole
  • If true, the theory that the universe began as a singularity, followed by the Big Bang, could also be wrong

When a huge star many times the mass of the sun comes to the end of its life it collapses in on itself and forms a singularity – creating a black hole where gravity is so strong that not even light itself can escape.

At least, that’s what we thought.

A scientist has sensationally said that it is impossible for black holes to exist – and she even has mathematical proof to back up her claims.

If true, her research could force physicists to scrap their theories of how the universe began.

A scientist from University of North Carolina states she has mathematical proof that black holes (illustrated) can't exist. She said it is impossible for stars to collapse and form a singularity. Previously, scientists thought stars  larger than the sun collapsed under their own gravity and formed black holes as they died

A scientist from University of North Carolina states she has mathematical proof that black holes (illustrated) can’t exist. She said it is impossible for stars to collapse and form a singularity. Previously, scientists thought stars larger than the sun collapsed under their own gravity and formed black holes as they died

The research was conducted by Professor Laura Mersini-Houghton from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the College of Arts and Scientists.

She claims that as a star dies, it releases a type of radiation known as Hawking radiation – predicted by Professor Stephen Hawking.


One of the biggest unanswered questions about black holes is the so-called information paradox.

Under current theories for black holes it is thought that nothing can escape from the event horizon around a black hole – not even light itself.

Inside the black hole is thought to be a singularity where matter is crushed to an infinitesimally small point as predicted by Einstein’s theory of gravity.

However, a fundamental law of quantum theory states that no information from the universe can ever disappear.

This creates a paradox; how can a black hole make matter and information ‘disappear’?

Professor Mersini-Houghton’s new theory manages to explain why this might be so – namely because black holes as we know them cannot exist.

However in this process, Professor Mersini-Houghton believes the star also sheds mass, so much so that it no longer has the density to become a black hole.

Before the black hole can form, she said, the dying star swells and explodes.

The singularity as predicted never forms, and neither does the event horizon – the boundary of the black hole where not even light can escape.

‘I’m still not over the shock,’ said Professor Mersini-Houghton.

‘We’ve been studying this problem for a more than 50 years and this solution gives us a lot to think about.’

Experimental evidence may one day provide physical proof as to whether or not black holes exist in the universe.

But for now, Mersini-Houghton says the mathematics are conclusive.

What’s more, the research could apparently even call into question the veracity of the Big Bang theory.

Most physicists think the universe originated from a singularity that began expanding with the Big Bang about 13.8 billion years ago.

If it is impossible for singularities to exist, however, as partially predicted by Professor Mersini-Houghton, then that theory would also be brought into question.

THIS is what a black hole looks like – simulation shows disc…

During the collapse process stars release a type of radiation called Hawking radiation (shown). But Professor Mersini-Houghton claims this process means the star loses too much mass and can't form a black hole. And this also apparently means the Big Bang theory, that the universe began as a singularity, may not be correct

During the collapse process stars release a type of radiation called Hawking radiation (shown). But Professor Mersini-Houghton claims this process means the star loses too much mass and can’t form a black hole. And this also apparently means the Big Bang theory, that the universe began as a singularity, may not be correct


Earlier this year Professor Stephen Hawking shocked physicists by saying ‘there are no black holes’.

In a paper published online, Professor Hawking instead argues there are ‘grey holes’

‘The absence of event horizons means that there are no black holes – in the sense of regimes from which light can’t escape to infinity,’ he says in the paper, called Information Preservation and Weather Forecasting For Black Holes.

He says that the idea of an event horizon, from which light cannot escape, is flawed.

He suggests that instead light rays attempting to rush away from the black hole’s core will be held as though stuck on a treadmill and that they can slowly shrink by spewing out radiation.

One of the reasons black holes are so bizarre is that they pit two fundamental theories of the universe against each other.

Namely, Einstein’s theory of gravity predicts the formation of black holes. But a fundamental law of quantum theory states that no information from the universe can ever disappear.

Efforts to combine these two theories proved problematic, and has become known as the black hole information paradox – how can matter permanently disappear in a black hole as predicted?

Professor Mersini-Houghton’s new theory does manage to mathematically combine the two fundamental theories, but with unwanted effects for people expecting black holes to exist.

‘Physicists have been trying to merge these two theories – Einstein’s theory of gravity and quantum mechanics – for decades, but this scenario brings these two theories together, into harmony,’ said Professor Mersini-Houghton.

‘And that’s a big deal.’

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#big-bang-theory, #black-holes, #fantastic-discovery, #florida-state-university, #laura-mersini-houghton, #new-theory, #science-news

World First As Message Sent From Brain To Brain

A man wears a brain-machine interface, e

A technique known as electroencephalogry recorded thoughts.

In a world first, a team of researchers has achieved brain-to-brain transmission of information between humans.

The team managed to send messages from India to France – a distance of 5,000 miles – without performing invasive surgery on the test subjects.

There were four participants in the study, aged between 28 and 50.

One was assigned to a brain-computer interface to transmit the thought, while the three others were assigned to receive the thought.

The first participant, located in India, was shown words translated into binary, and had to envision actions for each piece of information.

For example, they could move their hands for a 1 or their legs for a 0.

A technique known as electroencephalogry – which monitors brain signals from the outside – was used to record the thoughts as outgoing messages and send them via the internet.

At the other end, electromagnetic induction was used to stimulate the brain’s visual cortex from the outside and pass on the signal  successfully to the three other participants in France.

The report’s co-author, Alvaro Pascual-Leone, said: “We wanted to find out if one could communicate directly between two people by reading out the brain activity from one person and injecting brain activity into the second person, and do so across great physical distances by leveraging existing communication pathways.

“One such pathway is, of course, the internet, so our question became, ‘Could we develop an experiment that would bypass the talking or typing part of internet and establish direct brain-to-brain communication between subjects located far away from each other in India and France?”

The research team was made up of researchers from Harvard University, as well experts from France and Spain.

#brain-to-brain-transmission, #news, #science

Self-Folding Robot Suggests Answer to Common Objection to Intelligent Design

An article that recently appeared on Google News, “Origami robot doesn’t need a human to assemble itself and start working,” has a fascinating video of a self-folding robot that mimics the way proteins or insect wings spontaneously fold into their functional form.

This suggests an answer to a common objection to the theory of intelligent design. The objection, stated in various forms by thinkers dating back to David Hume, goes something like this:

We do observe that intelligent designers build complex technology. But they never build things that grow, reproduce, or evolve — i.e., we humans never produce things like life. Thus it’s inappropriate to analogize between human-designed technology and living organisms because human-designed technology lacks key features of life. This causes the argument for design in nature based upon nature’s similarities to human designs to break down.

This objection has always seemed less than compelling to me. Consider reproduction. True, humans haven’t (yet) produced technology capable of self-replication or reproduction in the biological sense, but why should that count against the argument for design? Surely something that cannot reproduce or self-replicate is less complex than something that can. But if human technology (which cannot reproduce) is less complex than biological systems, yet it is designed, doesn’t that suggest a fortiori that living organisms — which are more complex and can reproduce — were designed? In other words, the flaw in the analogy seems to strengthen the argument for design rather than weaken it.

Moreover, the objection is based upon the presumption that human technology will never reproduce. Who is to say what human technology will be able to do in the future? We’re now starting to build self-folding robots. Why is it so hard to imagine that in the future, human technology might reproduce and grow and self-assemble? (In fact, computer simulations can reproduce all of these capacities already.) This objection seems to retreat into the gaps as human technology becomes more and more advanced. And, incidentally, much of that progress comes as human technology mimics nature.

In short, the objection claims that differences between human technology and natural structures count against intelligent design in nature. But I think the logic of the objection is backwards. Here’s how I would frame it:

  • (a) If intelligent causes make more complex and efficient designs than unintelligent causes,
  • then (b) if nature’s designs are more complex and efficient than human technology, and
  • (c) human technology is designed,
  • then (d) nature’s features must also exhibit some design.

True, human technology and natural features are not always identical. But those differences tend to point towards design in nature rather than against it.

#intelligent-design, #news, #science

Fire and water – how global warming is making weather more extreme and costing us money

Trees burn as flames move towards the City of Berkeley's Toulumne Family Camp near Groveland, California in August 2013. Global warming creates conditions that intensify wildfires and the costs of fighting them.
Trees burn as flames move towards the City of Berkeley’s Toulumne Family Camp near Groveland, California in August 2013. Global warming creates conditions that intensify wildfires and the costs of fighting them. Photograph: Noah Berger/EPA

Connecting the dots between human-caused global warming and specific extreme weather events has been a challenge for climate scientists, but recent research has made significant advances in this area. Links have been found between some very damaging extreme weather events and climate change.

For example, research has shown that a “dipole” has formed in the atmosphere over North America, with a high pressure ridge off the west coast, and a low pressure trough over the central and eastern portion of the continent.

Departure of the November 2013 – January 2014 250 hPa geopotential height from the normal climatology.
Departure of the November 2013 – January 2014 250 hPa geopotential height from the normal climatology. Source: Wang et al. (2014), Geophysical Research LettersPhotograph: Wang et al. (2014), Geophysical Research Letters

These sorts of pressure ridges in the atmosphere are linked to “waves” in the jet stream. Research has shown that when these jet stream waves form, they’re accompanied by more intense extreme weather. The high pressure zone off the west coast or North America has been termed the “Ridiculously Resilient Ridge” due to its persistence over the past two years. It’s been the main cause of California’s intense drought by pushing rain storms around the state.

California drought as of 26 August 2014.  58% of the state is in 'exceptional drought' conditions.
California drought as of 26 August 2014. 58% of the state is in ‘exceptional drought’ conditions. Source: United States Drought Monitor

A paper led by S.-Y. Wang of Utah State University found the high pressure ridge is linked to a precursor of the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO), but also that human-caused global warming has amplified the strength of these ridges. The authors concluded,

It is important to note that the dipole is projected to intensify, which implies that the periodic and inevitable droughts California will experience will exhibit more severity.

Similarly, a recent paper led by Kevin Trenberth and published in Nature Climate Change concluded,

Increased heating from global warming may not cause droughts but it is expected that when droughts occur they are likely to set in quicker and be more intense.

Another study recently published in the Journal of Climate examined data from past climate changes, and found that climate models are underestimating the likelihood of intense droughts in the southwestern USA due to global warming.

In the US Southwest, for instance, state-of-the-art climate model projections suggest the risk of a decade-scale megadrought in the coming century is less than 50%; our analysis suggests that the risk is at least 80%, and may be higher than 90% in certain areas. The likelihood of longer lived events (> 35 years) is between 20% and 50%, and the risk of an unprecedented 50 year megadrought is non-negligible under the most severe warming scenario (5-10%).

There are several ways in which global warming intensifies drought. Hotter temperatures increase evaporation from soil and reservoirs. They cause more precipitation to fall as rain and less as snow, which for a region like California that relies on the snowpack in the Sierra Nevada mountains as its natural water storage system, is problematic. Hotter temperatures also cause the snowpack to melt earlier in the year. The problem can be alleviated by building more water storage infrastructure, but that costs money.

On top of all that, there’s the apparent strengthening of high pressure ridges off the coast, pushing rain storms around California. Research suggests that there may be a connection between these ridges and the decline in Arctic sea ice, although this connection is debated among climate experts.

#climate, #disaster, #publication, #science

Metaspriggina: Vertebrate Fish Found in Cambrian Explosion


Now that some months have passed since the discovery of another rich trove of Cambrian fossils 26 miles from the Burgess Shale, scientists are starting to publish findings from the new Marble Canyon site. One amazing find just published by Simon Conway Morris and Jean-Bernard Caron is putting more bang in the Cambrian explosion.

Not so long ago, evolutionists emphasized that no vertebrates existed in the Cambrian. They knew that vertebrates were too advanced for that first appearance of multicellular body plans. Primitive chordates, maybe — but nothing like fish till many millions of years later.

Metaspriggina (originally named after an Ediacaran species Spriggina but later determined to be unrelated) was earlier thought to be a primitive chordate — an ancestor of vertebrates. Now, Conway Morris and Caron have examined a hundred more fossils of Metaspriggina and compared them with similar fossils from China and the Burgess Shale. The greater detail seen in the Marble Canyon specimens (thought to be earlier than the Burgess Shale) confirms that this animal was far more than a chordate: it was a vertebrate fish, right there in the Lower Cambrian! Imagine a vertebrate fish, with a skeleton, binocular vision, muscles, nerves, gut and blood vessels: it is so complex compared to what came before, it makes the suddenness and explosive increase in complexity undeniable.

Just as remarkable is the range of this species. Since it correlates with specimens in China’s Chengjiang deposits, it’s clear this fish was already “cosmopolitan” (Conway Morris’s term) when it was buried in Canada — it spanned the globe! The abstract in Nature catalogs the surprises as the authors “redescribe” Metaspriggina:

Knowledge of the early evolution of fish largely depends on soft-bodied material from the Lower (Series 2) Cambrian period of South China. Owing to the rarity of some of these forms and a general lack of comparative material from other deposits, interpretations of various features remain controversial, as do their wider relationships amongst post-Cambrian early un-skeletonized jawless vertebrates. Here we redescribe Metaspriggina on the basis of new material from the Burgess Shale and exceptionally preserved material collected near Marble Canyon, British Columbia, and three other Cambrian Burgess Shale-type deposits from Laurentia. This primitive fish displays unambiguous vertebrate features: a notochord, a pair of prominent camera-type eyes, paired nasal sacs, possible cranium and arcualia, W-shaped myomeres, and a post-anal tail. A striking feature is the branchial area [gills] with an array of bipartite bars. Apart from the anterior-most bar, which appears to be slightly thicker, each is associated with externally located gills, possibly housed in pouches. Phylogenetic analysisplaces Metaspriggina as a basal vertebrate, apparently close to the Chengjiang taxa Haikouichthys and Myllokunmingia, demonstrating also that this primitive group of fish was cosmopolitan during Lower-Middle Cambrian times (Series 2-3). However, the arrangement of the branchial region in Metaspriggina has wider implications for reconstructing the morphology of the primitive vertebrate. Each bipartite bar is identified as being respectively equivalent to an epibranchial and ceratobranchial. This configuration suggests that a bipartite arrangement is primitive and reinforces the view that the branchial basket of lampreys is probably derived. Other features of Metaspriggina, including the external position of the gills and possible absence of a gill opposite the more robust anterior-most bar, arecharacteristic of gnathostomes and so may be primitive within vertebrates.(Emphasis added.)

The cladogram shows Metaspriggina right on the same branch as the Chinese specimens, suggesting that they were “close to” each other in time and traits, even though found on opposite sides of the globe. Conway Morris says the Chinese specimens are “slightly older,” but from his descriptions, they are similar to Metaspriggina in most important respects. Whether these creatures had bony or cartilaginous skeletons is not clear.

This relationship strengthens the identification of the Chinese species as vertebrate fish. Wikipedia had reservations about that description, saying of Myllokunmingia (announced in 1999) that it is “thought to be a vertebrate, although this is not conclusively proven,” and ofHaikouichthys (found in 2004), that it has been “popularly characterized as one of the earliest fishes…but does not possess sufficient features to be included uncontroversially even in either stem group” of craniates or chordates. Well, now it’s essentially proven.

Another surprise is that Metaspriggina has a bipartite gill structure “characteristic of gnathostomes” — the jawed vertebrates. Gnathostomes were thought to be further down the evolutionary timeline, but here are gnathostome-like traits found at the time of the Cambrian explosion. This means (in evolutionary terms) that the gill arrangements of lampreys (jawless fish) are “derived” rather than intermediate to the gnathostomes.

Needless to say, a creature that has “a pair of prominent camera-type eyes” and paired nasal sacs show this to be a sophisticated animal. Conway Morris does not hesitate to call it a fish and a vertebrate. The drawing in the paper shows “possible blood vessels” and a mouth. Fins were not preserved, making it look a bit like a tapering tonguefish, but the lack of fins could be an artifact of preservation.

Fins notwithstanding, Metaspriggina was a good swimmer, based on its muscle structures called myomeres. These are the W-shaped sheets of muscle you see on store-bought salmon filets; they allow fish to bend their bodies in wave-like motions to swim. Metaspriggina was apparently more advanced than Pikaia, an eel-like animal found in 1911 by Charles Walcott at the Burgess Shale: “The myomeres, totalling at least 40, are considerably more acute than in Pikaia and, in contrast to this chordate, Metaspriggina was evidently an effective swimmer.

All these traits show that Metaspriggina was not a primitive chordate intermediate to lampreys or other extinct Cambrian swimmers, but was in fact more “derived” (advanced) in some respects than some of the alleged descendants. The Editor’s Summary agrees, stating clearly that vertebrate fish are now unquestionably part of the early Cambrian:

The Cambrian Burgess Shale of Canada has produced some of the most intriguing and spectacular fossils of early animal life, although fossil vertebrates have been rare to non-existent. New exposures close to the classic locality have remedied that deficiency with many spectacular fossils of the hitherto enigmatic fossilMetaspriggina, revealed in this study — by Simon Conway Morris and Jean-Bernard Caron — as one of the earliest known and most primitive fishes, basal to extant vertebrates whether jawed or jawless. The structure of the gills of Metasprigginaare revelatory, showing a simple structure that presages that of the jawed vertebrates in many ways, suggesting that the branchial basket seen in modernjawless vertebrates such as lampreys is a highly derived structure.

A vertebrate swimming fish with camera eyes, blood vessels, digestive system, muscular swimming, and gills in the Lower Cambrian: for Darwinists, it should hardly be more surprising to find than a Precambrian rabbit.

Image source: Wikipedia.

#evolution, #id, #metaspriggina, #science