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Sunday, September 27, 2009
REAL Science Marches On

Another amazing fossil discovery:

posted by Jeremy Mohn

Friday, September 25, 2009
Too Awesome Not To Post Here


posted by Jeremy Mohn

Wednesday, September 16, 2009
1st Rocky Exoplanet Discovered


This planet is too close to its star - 23 times closer than Mercury is to our Sun - to have liquid water, so it's been ruled out as a host for life.

Here's a brief description from the article of how the data was collected and interpreted:

To make this measurement astronomers used the High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS) spectrograph on the European Southern Observatory's 3.6-meter telescope at La Silla Observatory in Chile. The new data revealed that CoRoT-7b has a mass about five times that of Earth, making it one of the lightest exoplanets yet found.

With the planet's mass and radius, the researchers calculated its density (about 4.7 grams per cubic centimeter), which placed it in firm rocky territory.

"This is the first proof of the detection of a rocky planet," planet-formation theorist Alan Boss of the Carnegie Institution of Washington told

"It shows that rocky planets really are commonplace," said Boss, who was not involved in the new research. "The estimates are that about 30 percent of sun-like stars have these hot and warm super-Earths, and now that we know the density of one of them, it is easy to make the claim that most of the rest of them are probably rocky too. The evidence is becoming overwhelming that we live in a crowded universe."

Those who assume we're the only (sometimes) intelligent lifeform in the universe sound increasingly ignorant and arrogant.

posted by Cheryl Shepherd-Adams

Saturday, September 12, 2009
Another Evolutionary Prediction Fulfilled

This e! Science News article has the story:

Painting by Carl Buell

Darwin argued that all organisms are descended from one or a few organisms and that natural selection drives evolutionary change. The fossil record demonstrates that the first mammals had teeth with enamel. Mammals without enamel therefore must have descended from mammals with enamel-covered teeth.

"We could therefore predict that nonfunctional vestiges of the genes that code for enamel should be found in mammals that lack enamel," Springer said. "When we made our predictions, however, we did not have sequences for the enamelin gene in toothless and enamelless mammals. Since then my lab worked on obtaining these sequences so we could test our prediction."

Interestingly, the article features Carl Buell's painting of Aetiocetus weltoni, one of the transitional whale fossils that is included in my Fossil Evidence of Evolution PowerPoint.

Sigh...time to add another slide.

posted by Jeremy Mohn

Eugenie Scott Reviews 'Creation'

Eugenie Scott has written a review on Panda's Thumb of Creation, the upcoming dramatic film about the life of Charles Darwin.

Here's an intriguing snippet:

By telling an interesting story, and making Darwin human, Creation will I think encourage some viewers to find out more about the historical Darwin and his ideas. From my standpoint as director of NCSE, that's useful, indeed. The more people know about evolution and its most famous proponent, the less they will fear it. I'd like to see this movie get distributed in the US. Unfortunately, although Canadians and British will see it, there is not yet a US distributor. We can only speculate why, but the well-known American nervousness about evolution is probably and unfortunately part of the mix.

This movie deserves to be seen in movies, not relegated merely to Netflix on DVD. I hope the reviews following the North American premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 10 are good, and also the reviews following the British premiere October 25. If a bomb like Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed can get a distributor, a well-made movie with an excellent script, actors, direction, and cinematography like Creation surely should.

Go read the rest.

Watch the trailer below:

posted by Jeremy Mohn

Friday, September 11, 2009
New Season - Science Cafe!

Poster by
Brendan Arnold

Who would have predicted that more than 50 people would show up for a monthly science gathering out here in the middle of (almost) nowhere? It's exciting to be kicking off a new season of Science Cafes here in Hays!

Tuesday, September 15 7 pm-ish
Cafe Semolino's, 110 W. 11th, Hays KS


Dr. Mike Herman, Department of Biology, Kansas State University

Dr. Herman is using resident nematode populations sampled from the Konza Tallgrass Prairie Biological Station near Manhattan, Kansas to link the responses of organisms to environmental change at the genetic level. He hypothesizes that different species may have varying genetic capacities to respond to changes in the environment; either by differences in the genes they possess or in how those genes are regulated. Learn more at his website.

Nematodes have successfully adapted to nearly every ecological niche from marine to freshwater, from the polar regions to the tropics, as well as from the highest to the lowest of elevations. They are ubiquitous in freshwater, marine, and terrestrial environments, where they often outnumber other animals in both individual and species counts, and are found in locations as diverse as Antarctica and oceanic trenches. They represent, for example, 90% of all life on the seafloor of the Earth. (cited from WIKIPEDIA.ORG)

This Science Cafe is sponsored by the FHSU Science & Mathematics Education Institute,, Kansas Citizens for Science, and Cafe Semolino's.

Sneak peek: October's Science Cafe (Tu 10/20) will feature research about violence in women.

posted by Cheryl Shepherd-Adams

Thursday, September 3, 2009
My New Favorite Song

From Here Comes Science, a new CD/DVD by They Might Be Giants

posted by Jeremy Mohn

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© Jeremy Mohn, 2006