February 22, 2001
From MSNBC: New clues in biggest extinction mystery? "What triggered Earth's most severe mass extinction? The Permian-Triassic event, 250 million years ago, was more devastating than the catastrophe that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago."
The culprit? Another comet or asteroid say researchers from the University of Washington, as indicated by concentrations of "buckyballs" at the extinction horizon. Another overview (via the AP) can be found here at CNN's web site. The NASA press release can be obtained via ftp by clicking here.
I find all of this very interesting, but I have to say I'm skeptical until I see the data. That comes out tomorrow in the journal Science. Stay tuned....
February 20, 2001
From the Associated Press: DNA links teacher to 9,000-year-old skeleton. "Using DNA from a tooth, scientist have established a blood tie between a 9,000-year-old skeleton known as "Cheddar Man" and an English schoolteacher who lives just a half mile from the cave where the bones were found." This is actually old news, but a colleague of mine saw a re-run of a show about this. I had never heard about it. I find totally incredible. The power of mitochondrial DNA!
February 19, 2001
From CNN.com (I couldn't resist...) NASA debunks moon landing hoax conspiracy "Did NASA land men on the moon? "Yes, we did," the space agency proclaimed Monday on the Internet, rebutting newly boosted claims from conspiracy theorists that the Apollo missions were faked." One of the lines of evidence supporting the moon walk is, of course, the samples collected. To quote CNN..."NASA adds another line of defense. The program never raised the issue of more than 800 pounds (363 kg) of lunar rocks that astronauts brought back to Earth. "Geologists worldwide have been examining these samples for 30 years, and the conclusion is inescapable. The rocks could not have been collected or manufactured on Earth"" For the full text of NASA comments check out this link. And remember..."the truth is out there."
Wither the Snows of Kilimanjaro? Check out "Glacier Loss Seen as Clear Sign of Human Role in Global Warming" from the New York Times. "The icecap atop Mount Kilimanjaro, which for thousands of years has floated like a cool beacon over the shimmering plain of Tanzania, is retreating at such a pace that it will disappear in less than 15 years, according to new studies. The vanishing of the seemingly perpetual snows of Kilimanjaro that inspired Ernest Hemingway, echoed by similar trends on ice-capped peaks from Peru to Tibet, is one of the clearest signs that a global warming trend in the last 50 years may have exceeded typical climate shifts and is at least partly caused by gases released by human activities, a variety of scientists say." Impressive....
February 17, 2001
From Scientific American: Volcanic accomplice to the KT Mass-extinction? "The Chicxulub Crater, sprawled across the Gulf of Mexico and the Yucatan Peninsula, is an approximately 180-kilometer-wide remnant of the impact of a 10-kilometer-wide meteorite. It has been called the smoking gun in the extinction of the dinosaurs between the Cretaceous and Tertiary periods 65 million years ago. Some geologists, though, are starting to believe the meteorite didn't act alone." Check out this article to find out why.
February 15, 2001
From the New York Times: Kansas Puts Evolution Back Into Public Schools "In the beginning, there was the theory of evolution. That was until the Kansas State Board of Education voted two years ago to remove it as the sole explanation of the origin of man from the state's public school curriculum. But in a 7-to-3 vote today, the board reversed that decision, reinstating evolution with the adoption of new state science standards and essentially mandating that evolution be taught in public schools throughout the state." This is a very good thing.
February 13, 2001
From Scientific American: Reading the Book of Life. "We have only about twice as many genes as a worm or fly--far fewer than anyone guessed." Here's a nice summary article on what some of the latest research finds are in the effort to understand the human genome. Apparently, some of genetic material is very much similar to that of bacteria - a fascinating find with major evolutionary implications.
February 06, 2001
From the BBC: Planet Earth on the move
"Moving 5.972 sextillion tonnes is relatively "simple..." "Mankind will soon have the ability to move the Earth into a new orbit, say a team of astronomers. The planetary manoeuvre may more than double the time life can survive on our planet, they believe."