Monday, October 23, 2017

World’s Oldest Tree is World’s Most Complex Tree

Makes Perfect Sense

We have often discussed the problem of “early complexity,” and how as we peer back in time—whether in the geographic strata or by phylogenetic reconstruct—things don’t get simpler. This makes no sense on evolution and this week’s news of a fossil specimen in northwest China, revealing and ancient, and highly complex, tree, just makes it worse. As one of the authors admitted:

This raises a provoking question: why are the very oldest trees the most complicated?

Fortunately evolution is a fact.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Welcome to Alt-Science


Sometimes it’s obvious, as in the case of the scientific research paper that was rejected after it was accepted. While the paper was well accepted and given positive comments from peer reviewers, certain members of the editorial board of a seemingly scientific journal noticed that the results had negative implications for evolution. And so months after the editor had told the authors he was happy “to proceed with publication,” the paper suddenly was, “on further reflection and discussion,” summarily rejected.

And what exactly was the “discussion” about? That “the unspoken implication of the article is that, probabilistically, random undirected evolution is impossible.”

And that, dear scientists, is not allowed.

Random undirected evolution is, by definition, a fact. Break that ground rule, and pay the price. This isn’t about science or truth. This is the alt-science that seeks to control everything from publications and textbooks to careers and funding.

Religion drives science, and it matters.

Monday, October 2, 2017

But, But, But, … The Origin Of Life Was All But Solved!

“The origin of life is among the greatest open problems in science”

With everyone from the National Academy of Sciences to science writers such as Carl Zimmer proclaiming that the origin of life problem has essentially been solved, we wonder why we continue to find researchers, this time Yehuda Zeiri at Ben-Gurion University, admitting that:

Despite decades of research, how life began on Earth remains one of the most challenging scientific conundrums facing modern science.

and Sara Walker resorting to hope and luck:

The origins of life stands among the great open scientific questions of our time. While a number of proposals exist for possible starting points in the pathway from non-living to living matter, these have so far not achieved states of complexity that are anywhere near that of even the simplest living systems. A key challenge is identifying the properties of living matter that might distinguish living and non-living physical systems such that we might build new life in the lab. This review is geared towards covering major viewpoints on the origin of life for those new to the origin of life field, with a forward look towards considering what it might take for a physical theory that universally explains the phenomenon of life to arise from the seemingly disconnected array of ideas proposed thus far. The hope is that a theory akin to our other theories in fundamental physics might one day emerge to explain the phenomenon of life, and in turn finally permit solving its origins. […] If we are so lucky as to stumble on new fundamental understanding of life that allows us to solve our origins, it could be such a radical departure from what we know now that it might be left to the next generation of physicists to reconcile the unification of life with other domains of physics, as we are now struggling to accomplish with unifying general relativity and quantum theory a century after those theories were first developed.

But “hope” is not a good science strategy.

One sign of this problem is the proliferation of hypotheses, indicating, as we have pointed out many times, the lack of any good solution. Or as Alex Berezow a bit more bluntly puts it:

The origin of life is a profound mystery. Once life arose, natural selection and evolution took over, but the question of how a mixture of various gases created life-giving molecules that arranged into structures capable of reproducing themselves remains unanswered. Many theories have been proposed, some of which are popular (e.g., RNA World), and some of which are a far-fetched (e.g., aliens). Unlike politics, more ideas are not necessarily better; in science, a diversity of theories tends to betray the reality that scientists have no idea what's going on.

No idea what’s going on? It must be time for Jeremy England to find another Ilya Prigogine idea.