31 May

Double Dose of Inspiration

first_imgIt was just after 10 a.m. on Saturday when the Army veteran amputee sidled up to the two-time heart transplant recipient. A chilly breeze floating through the air, the sun yet to fully warm up the Nicklaus Private Course at PGA West, this seemed as good a time as any for a moment of truth between the two. “I appreciate what you’ve done,” the amputee said. “Hearing your story and stories like yours are inspiring for me. You’re an inspiration for me and an example for me to set my goals.” “Thank you,” the transplant recipient replied, considering their separate journeys to this point. “I had time to heal. You didn’t.” If the fourth green during a pro-am doesn’t sound like a fitting place for a meeting of this mutual inspiration society, then you don’t know Chad Pfeifer and Erik Compton. The 35-year-old Compton underwent his first heart transplant when he was 12 years old; his second came 16 years later. Though his story has been widely told, it never fails to amaze. Compton was on his deathbed – twice. He’s not only lived, he’s thrived, working his way up through the developmental tours to become a top-level player. Last year he finished in a share of second place at the U.S. Open, the best result of his career. Challenged Tour: Pfeifer’s goal to win on PGA Tour Big Break The Palm Beaches, FL: Meet Chad Pfeifer Pfeifer, 33, is seeking a similar endgame. On April 12, 2007, while serving in the Army during the Iraq War, a buried explosive was triggered beneath the ground’s surface. His left leg would soon be amputated. While in a Texas hospital, a friend suggested he take up golf as part of the recovery process. He’d never played before. That was seven years ago. He’s now a professional, with an eye toward someday becoming a PGA Tour regular. And so when the amputee found himself standing beside the transplant recipient during a brief moment of downtime in the Humana Challenge’s third round, he felt the need to point out their connection. “I don’t know if it took him by surprise a little bit or he wasn’t expecting it,” Pfeifer recalls. “But I could tell he was thankful that I would say something like that.” They don’t keep records for things like this, but it’s difficult to believe there have ever been two more inspirational golfers in the same foursome. When he’s not playing or practicing, Pfeifer’s work often includes encouraging fellow wounded veterans. His words, though, are as much an advertisement for golf as motivational monologue. “Golf saved my life,” he says. “I was introduced to golf when I was going through therapy. There were a lot of days before I was introduced to golf that most of the guys go through – depression and darker days, when you’re not sure how life is going to be. Golf was the one thing at the time that just kept me looking forward to the next day and kept me positive. I could always look forward to my next time playing. In all honesty, golf itself was my biggest form of therapy.” Compton similarly understands inspiring others through the game. Two days after that U.S. Open runner-up finish, he found himself at Hartford Hospital, speaking with patients awaiting transplants. This wasn’t some photo op on the heels of his impressive week. It was just another in a long line of hospital visits that he’s been doing for years. When one woman bemoaned having a window in her room because it was a constant reminder of an outside world she couldn’t experience, the room fell silent. Only Compton knew the right words to say, pointing to that window as encouragement toward returning to full health. If anyone knows about inspiration, it’s him – but standing on that fourth green, he was the one being inspired. Just after Pfeifer lipped out for a natural eagle, settling for birdie to quickly move to 2 under for the day, Compton joked about whether he was a tournament competitor rather than just part of the pro-am portion. “I [was] kind of speechless, because I see him with a huge adversity that he’s gone through and it speaks volumes,” says Compton. “I’ve never been in a group where you have two players who have been through so much,” adds John Rollins, who was Pfeifer’s partner this day. “Just enjoying the game and everything that they have.” If any golfer ever gets too angry about a wayward tee shot or a missed putt, he can simply look at these respective stories to help alter that attitude. “My big deal is trying to inspire wounded veterans and people with disabilities,” says Pfeifer, “but if I can impact PGA Tour players to have some perspective and have a little fun with it, that would be great. I would like for my story and Erik’s story to have an impact on these guys, as well.” One day after they played together, the amputee watched the transplant recipient contend for his first career title. He came close, at one point holding sole possession of the lead, but eventually finishing in 10th place. What he lost in tangible results, though, he might have made up for in inspiration. Not that they keep records for things like this.last_img read more

31 May

Munoz extends lead at Greenbrier; Love 4 back

first_imgWHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. – PGA Tour rookie Sebastian Munoz has found a comfortable routine at The Greenbrier Classic – go play golf, then watch a movie at night. After catching ”Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” following an opening-round 61, Munoz kept it going Friday, shooting a 3-under 67 for a three-stroke lead over Ben Martin and Hudson Swafford heading into the weekend on the Old White TPC. On Friday night, his plans were the same. ”I’m here with one of my best buddies, so we’re just going to hang out and watch a movie and be ready for tomorrow,” Munoz said. Munoz has been in this situation before. At the St. Jude Classic last month, Munoz was tied for the lead through 36 holed, but he played the final two rounds in 11 over and finished tied for 60th. ”I feel like Memphis taught me that maybe I was caring too much, trying to hit too many perfect shots all the time,” Munoz said. ”(I’ll) just take those past experiences and use them this week.” The Greenbrier Classic: Articles, photos and videos The 24-year-old Colombian played his college golf at North Texas and said he got a wake-up call when his coach threatened to take away his scholarship for his senior year. Then, former college teammate Carlos Ortiz won three times in his first season on the Web.com Tour in 2014. ”I talked to him and was like, ‘Hey, man, I know you’re good, but come on. Like, I can get you sometimes,”’ Munoz said. ”So that really helped me kind of push through and realize I was good as well.” Munoz won the Conference USA individual title in 2015 and earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour last year. He’s still looking for his first top-10 finish. Starting his second round on the back nine, Munoz birdied four of his first seven holes, making three putts of over 20 feet. After two bogeys on the front nine, he made a 13-footer for birdie from the fringe on the par-4 seventh. He was at 12-under 128. No first-round leader has won at Old White TPC since the tournament debuted in 2010. Munoz’s closest challengers all have victories on tour. Swafford, who hit 17 of 18 greens in regulation Friday, won the CareerBuilder Challenge in January and has two other top 10 finishes this season. Martin, who won in Las Vegas in 2014, is coming off his first top 10 finish of the year last week at the Quicken Loans National. Martin shot 67 and Swafford had a 66. Both were at 9 under. Davis Love III, seeking to become the oldest-ever winner on the PGA Tour, followed up his first-round 63 with a 69. He was at 8 under, along with defending champion Danny Lee (68) and Russell Henley (64). Phil Mickelson accomplished one thing he never managed with longtime caddie Jim ”Bones” Mackay on the bag – he made the cut at The Greenbrier Classic. He did not play the weekend in three previous starts. Mickelson had five bogeys and three birdies to shoot 72 and make the cut on the number at 1 under. ”This has been probably the two worst putting days I’ve had this year,” Mickelson said. ”The greens are perfect. I just haven’t putted well.” Mickelson and Mackay announced after the U.S. Open they were parting ways. Tim Mickelson is carrying his brother’s bag for the rest of the year. Mackay has signed to do on-course commentary for NBC and Golf Channel.last_img read more

31 May

McCarron leads Champs. Tour in Pebble Beach

first_imgPEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Scott McCarron shot an 8-under 63 to take a one-stroke lead Friday after the first round of the PGA Tour Champions’ Pure Insurance Championship. McCarron had seven birdies and an eagle to go along with a bogey on the par-71 Poppy Hills course. Bernhard Langer was in second, followed Kevin Sutherland another two shots back after a 66. Russ Cochran and Scott Parel were next at 67, joined at 4 under by Jerry Kelly and Scott Dunlap, who shot 68s on the par-72 Pebble Beach course. McCarron, who started off on the back nine, began his round with two birdies, and was at 3 under after another one on No. 15. He then birdied Nos. 1 and 2 and added an eagle on the par-4 No. 5 to move to 7 under. A bogey on the next hole was followed by two birdies on his last three. Fran Quinn, Jesper Parnevik, Davis Love III, Colin Montgomerie, Joe Durant, Tom Kite, Duffy Waldorf and Lee Janzen each shot 68s on Poppy Hills, and were joined at 3 under by Brandt Jobe, who had a 69 on Pebble Beach.last_img read more

31 May

Monday Scramble: Many happy returns

first_imgPhil Mickelson and Michelle Wie finally get their trophies, Justin Thomas somehow continues to improve, Tiger Woods adds to his schedule, the governing bodies talk distance and more in this week’s edition of Monday Scramble: The drama Sunday was not limited to the Oscars. It was a banner weekend for marquee golfers breaking out of notable winless droughts, as Wie surged to her first victory since 2014 with a 72nd-hole birdie in Singapore. Of course, that turned out to simply be an amuse-bouche for the main course: a sudden-death playoff in Mexico where Mickelson topped Thomas for his first win since 2013. While they’re separated by nearly 20 years, both Wie and Mickelson have traveled a similar path of late. Wie has battled a barrage of injuries as she largely faded from prominence, while Mickelson was almost out of the top 50 in the world rankings for the first time in 25 years last month. Suddenly they’re both smiling and hoisting hardware, a reminder that perseverance will get you a long way in this game. Given enough time, adversity hits every player regardless of ability. It’s the great ones who find a way to stand back up on the other side. 1. Let’s kick things off with Mickelson, who has been saying for weeks that he’s playing some of the best golf in his career and finally has tangible proof of that confidence. The 47-year-old seemed visibly nervous down the stretch, but he was able to keep the butterflies at bay while chasing down Thomas, who had posted the clubhouse lead. It’s win No. 43 of his career, but given the toils of the last five years it likely won’t rank much below his five major wins on the personal power rankings. It’s been amazing to watch Mickelson go toe-to-toe with Father Time in recent years, digging in for a fight that he knows will take every ounce of talent, strength and focus he can muster. But Sunday’s win in Mexico was his fourth straight top-6 finish – the first such run of his career. It seems that Mickelson is not only keeping up with players half his age, but he has found a way to chisel out some of his very best golf at a time when many of his peers might be counting down until their PGA Tour Champions card arrives in the mail. 2. Mickelson’s win is appropriate given the fact that it came during a vintage Lefty week. The Phil highlights included, but were not limited to: Mistaking the 54-hole leader for a member of the media Asking one of his playing partners to clarify the pronunciation of his name Hitting a shot in the final round from deep within a shrub Hitting another shot Sunday through a seemingly non-existent gap in the trees Helping a playing partner understand his options during a rules situation Explaining to Mexican fans en español that he’ll sign autographs after the round Last but certainly not least, offering during an interview that he may have been a bumblebee in a past life 3. Following the round, Mickelson was asked if he’ll get seven more wins to reach 50 for his career before calling it quits. “No, I will,” he said before the question was even fully formed. “I’ll get there.” There’s reason to believe, at the very least, that Mickelson isn’t done with his latest title. Players have gone on mini-tears before – look no further than Thomas last year, and last fall Justin Rose finally got back into the winner’s circle after a year of strong play only to win again the very next week. As the memories of Muirfield became more distant, Mickelson’s next win was always going to be the toughest one to get. Now that he has it, don’t be surprised if he finds No. 44 in short order. 4. Mickelson’s overtime victory transformed Thomas’ jaw-dropping, 121-yard eagle on the 72nd hole into simply an exciting footnote. Fresh off his win at the Honda Classic, Thomas seemed like an also-ran after two rounds of even-par play. But he found a new gear over the weekend, going 62-64 and jarring his final approach in regulation to nearly steal his third win of the young season. Thomas rightly viewed his playoff runner-up as a bonus given his slow start, and last week’s win likely helped soften the blow of defeat. But the weekend rally is another example of incremental improvement for a player who, despite coming off a breakthrough campaign that featured five wins and a major, seems to only be getting better. 5. Thomas’ results in 2018: T-22, T-14, T-17, T-9, Win, P-2. He’s now up to No. 2 in the world rankings, past both Jon Rahm and Jordan Spieth. It might only be a matter of time before he supplants Dustin Johnson – either as world No. 1 or as the favorite to win the Masters. 6. You have to think that former PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem was beaming with pride over the product last week in Mexico, as the dream of what a WGC event might become was realized. Yes, the tournament was decided in a playoff between two Americans. But before that it put 21-year-old Shubankhar Sharma on the map, and it nearly featured a breakthrough win for England’s Tyrrell Hatton. The leaderboard at Chapultepec became a whirring blur of flags from various nationalities, all leading up to an edge-of-your-seat finish. It made the WGC-Mexico Championship the most captivating Tour event of 2018, and it served as a wonderful showcase for just how global the game has become. 7. In the early morning hours Sunday, Wie laid out a blueprint for a star returning to the peak that Mickelson would follow later in the day. Her one-shot victory at the HSBC Women’s World Championship came in style, as she sunk a 36-foot birdie putt on the final hole that set off a raucous celebration. When Wie won the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open at Pinehurst, the thought was that it could serve as a career highlight but would also lead to many more wins. The second half of that equation hasn’t exactly panned out, as the former teen prodigy has battled her body for long stretches and her form and confidence both waned as a result. But now she’s back to her winning ways, and while it feels like she’s been around the game for an eternity, Wie is only 28 years old – for perspective, that’s six months younger than Rory McIlroy. There’s still plenty of time for her to write many more chapters. 8. Wie’s victory was also a big win for the LPGA. It came on the heels of a sensational victory from Jessica Korda the week prior, and it came over a star-studded leaderboard that included major champs Brooke Henderson and Danielle Kang as well as Nelly Korda, who was seeking a sisterly back-to-back. It’s often hard for the LPGA to steal the spotlight from the men, especially when up against a WGC event. But Wie’s victory certainly did that for a part of the day, and the most recent Asian fortnight has flashed the potential of the highs the ladies’ tour can reach when some of its best players are both winning and producing captivating storylines. 9. So, Tiger’s back. Again. The fact that Woods committed to next week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational, where he has won eight times, came as no surprise. But his decision to sneak in a trip to the Valspar Championship beforehand qualifies as an unexpected treat. Woods hasn’t played Innisbrook since teaming with Kelli Kuehne for a co-ed team event back in 1996. But given a week off after his 12th-place showing at PGA National, he (and more importantly, his body) are ready to hop back inside the ropes. It’s an enticing prospect to have Woods tussle with the tree-lined Copperhead Course, where his shot-making will be put to the test. But it’s a great long-term sign for Woods’ health that he feels ready for another back-to-back, and his mere appearance in Tampa should ratchet up the Masters fervor a few notches. 10. Woods’ appearance is also a great win for Valspar officials, including tournament director Tracey West, who have quietly compiled the strongest field in the history of the event. Woods’ 11th-hour commitment was mirrored by that of 2015 winner Spieth, as the two join a field that already included the likes of Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia. A tournament that was relegated to the fall for a stretch in the early 2000s now has a surplus of big names, including the biggest draw in the game. Helped in part by the Tour’s new 1-in-4 rule that calls for stars to add new events to their schedule, the Travelers Championship saw a dramatic increase in field strength last year and produced one of the season’s best finishes. It seems the Valspar could be getting a similar bump this time around. 11. After years of a “slow creep,” distance gains have finally caught the attention of the governing bodies. The USGA and R&A released a joint study Monday that found driving distance has increased across seven major tours by more than three yards on average. That comes after the same study last year found that drives had increased a paltry 0.2 yards per year since 2003. It’s the latest move in a calculated game of chess between the governing bodies, the professional tours and the equipment manufacturers regarding the eye-popping distances achieved by some of the game’s elite. More studies and reports are sure to follow, and only one thing remains certain: this topic isn’t going away anytime soon. 12. The study sparked quick responses from both the PGA Tour and PGA of America, with both organizations downplaying the need for sweeping change. Tour commissioner Jay Monahan’s reasoning was especially interesting. In a letter to Tour members, Monahan outlined the “strong correlation” between increased distance and increased club head speed. The latter increase, in turn, was tied to non-equipment factors like player athleticism, improved fitting and increased launch monitor data. Monahan even pointed out that Tour players, on average, are getting both younger and taller. So don’t expect Ponte Vedra Beach to line up behind a possible roll back of the ball anytime soon. Tyrrell Hatton’s bid to win his first WGC event was derailed by a poorly-placed spike mark on the final green, but it nearly came to an end much earlier in the week. Hatton was one of several players to struggle last year with the … digestive challenges an event in Mexico can create, and his tweets after the first couple rounds showed that he was once again dealing with off-course issues: Thankfully for Hatton, his stomach cooperated – and nearly helped him to one of the more unexpected wins in recent memory. This week’s award winners …  Comeback kid: Steve Stricker. Believe it or not, the longest victory drought ended on Sunday belonged to Stricker, who won the Cologuard Classic for his first PGA Tour Champions title and his first win since the 2012 Tournament of Champions. Soaking up the stage: Shubankhar Sharma. While the final round didn’t go as planned, the 21-year-old turned plenty of heads while racing to the top of the leaderboard in Mexico. His earnest zeal was evident, and his potential to serve as a success story for future Indian golfers is clear. Disaster artist: This one goes to the photographer who nearly stepped on Justin Thomas’ ball during the playoff, and would have had it not been for a timely shove from Thomas himself. It can get chaotic inside the ropes down the stretch, but there was no reason for the cameraman to get that close to the ball – and nearly alter the outcome of the tournament with one size-11 stomp. Still seeking reps: Tony Romo, who withdrew from a 36-hole mini-tour event in Texas after 27 holes after a rocky start that included a quintuple-bogey 10 in the opening round. T-minus three weeks until his PGA Tour debut in the Dominican Republic. Nice little offseason: Larry Fitzgerald. After teaming with Kevin Streelman to win the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, the Cardinals wideout paired with Jon Rahm at the Seminole Pro-Member on Monday and then teed it up with Tiger Woods later in the week. Who needs two-a-days? Father of the year: Brandt Snedeker, who soldiered on at his daughter’s school despite a mis-spelled cake that might have been the demise of lesser men: Blown fantasy pick of the week: Rickie Fowler. He gets the nod for the second straight week after a back-nine 41 Sunday led to a closing 75 that dropped him from a solid paycheck all the way into a tie for 37th among the 64-man field. While Mickelson and Thomas lit it up, Fowler made only two birdies over his final 27 holes.last_img read more

31 May

Perry leads Cologuard; O’Meara ties record

first_imgTUCSON, Ariz. — Kenny Perry shot an 8-under 65 on Friday to take the Cologuard Classic lead, Mark O’Meara matched the PGA Tour Champions record with eight straight birdies in a 66, and former baseball star John Smoltz failed to build on a strong start in his tour debut. Smoltz birdied three of the first eight holes on Omni Tucson National’s Catalina Course, then played the final 10 in 3 over for an even-par 73. After birdieing the par-5 eighth, the 51-year-old Hall of Fame pitcher dropped strokes on the par-4 ninth and 10th. Playing on a sponsor exemption, he had a double bogey on the par-5 15th, birdied the par-5 17th and bogeyed the par-4 18th. Perry made a 20-foot eagle putt from the fringe on the 17th — his eighth hole — in a bogey-free round. The 58-year-old Kentucky player has 10 victories on the 50-and-over tour after winning 14 times on the PGA Tour. “Just played steady,” Perry said. “I drove it nice, made some good quality putts, and I think I only missed one, maybe two greens today in regulation. So, I had a lot of opportunities and I hit a lot of fairways. Got a good score out of it.” Full-field scores from the Cologuard Classic The 62-year-old O’Meara opened with a par on No. 1, then ran off the eight straight birdies for a front-nine 28 — one off the tour record. He followed the streak with eight straight pars and bogeyed the last after driving into the water. “Anytime you shoot 7 under, I guess you can’t be too disappointed, but certainly when you’re 8 under after nine holes, you would like to do a little better,” O’Meara said. O’Meara tied the tour record for consecutive birdies set by Chi Chi Rodriguez in the 1987 Silver Pages Classic and matched by Jim Colbert in 2000, Dana Quigley in 2005 and Joe Ozaki in 2006. “I hit some good drives, I hit some good iron shots, I made the putts that you would hope to make,” O’Meara said. “And then I hit a 3-iron to about 2 inches on hole No. 7, birdied 8, and then 9 I hit a big curling putt.” Defending champion Steve Stricker, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Jeff Maggert and Willie Wood matched O’Meara at 66, and Scott McCarron opened with a 67. Jimenez won the Chubb Classic two weeks ago in Florida for his for his seventh PGA Tour Champions title. Woody Austin had a 70 for his 37th consecutive rounds at par or better, one off the tour record shared by Jay Haas and Colin Montgomerie. Fred Couples shot 73, playing alongside Stricker and David Toms (71).last_img read more

30 May

A One-Man Clade

first_img(3) Willi Hennig, Grundzüge einer Theorie der phylogenetischen Systematik, Berlin: Deutscher Zentralverlag, 1950. No real cladist, it goes without saying, would ever refer to the English translation of this book. Let me see: I notice that Matzke never once refers to the German original. Readers must draw their own conclusions. David BerlinskiWriter, Thinker, Raconteur, and Senior Fellow, Discovery InstituteDavid Berlinski received his Ph.D. in philosophy from Princeton University and was later a postdoctoral fellow in mathematics and molecular biology at Columbia University. He is currently a Senior Fellow at Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture. Dr. Berlinski has authored works on systems analysis, differential topology, theoretical biology, analytic philosophy, and the philosophy of mathematics, as well as three novels. He has also taught philosophy, mathematics and English at such universities as Stanford, Rutgers, the City University of New York and the Universite de Paris. In addition, he has held research fellowships at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Austria and the Institut des Hautes Etudes Scientifiques (IHES) in France.Follow DavidWebsiteTwitter Share (2) Depicted in Matzke, ‘Meyer’s Hopeless Monster, II,’ op cit. Brysse, Keynyn (2008). “From weird wonders to stem lineages: the second reclassification of the Burgess Shale fauna.” Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences. Legg, David A.; Sutton, Mark D.; Edgecombe, Gregory D.; Caron, Jean-Bernard (2012). “Cambrian bivalved arthropod reveals origin of arthrodization.” Proceedings of the Royal Society, Series B: Biological Sciences. 279(1748), 4699-4704. (9) “It is easy to calculate statistics such as CI and RI,” Matzke writes, “and compare them to CI and RI statistics calculated based on data reshuffled under a null hypothesis where any possible phylogenetic signal has been obliterated.” True enough. It is easy. “In virtually any real case, one will see substantial phylogenetic signal, even if there is uncertainty in certain portions of the tree.” True enough again. The question of what the signal is signaling remains. Had Stephen Meyer better appreciated the tools of modern cladistics, Nick Matzke believes, he would not have drawn the conclusions that he did in his book Darwin’s Doubt, or argued as he had. Meyer is in this regard hardly alone. It would seem that Stephen Jay Gould was just slightly too thick to have appreciated, and the eminent paleontologist James Valentine just slightly too old to have acquired, the methods that Matzke, writing at Panda’s Thumb, is disposed to champion. Should Valentine be appointed to Matzke’s dissertation committee at UC Berkeley, we at Discovery Institute will be pleased to offer uninterrupted prayers on his behalf. We can offer no assurance of success, of course, but then again, when it comes to cladistic methods, neither can Matzke. These are terminological disputes among us experts. A bloop is not necessarily a blunder. Let me refer in what follows to Anomalocaris X, where X designates whatever it is that Matzke had in mind. Does Anomalocaris X enter the fossil record after the first representatives of the arthropod crown make their appearance? It is in that case, a little late, one might think, to be a transitional form. Anomalocaris X could hardly be ancestral to itself nor ancestral to the trilobites and other crown group arthropods. Before then? It is in that case, a little too complex to be the ancestor of the trilobites, possessing as do all such vile bugs compound eyes more sophisticated than anything exhibited by the trilobites — more sophisticated than anything except the eyes of various dragonflies, in fact. What, then, is the ancestor of Anomalocaris X? This is just the question that Stephen Meyer asks, again and again, as it happens. It is a part of the Cambrian mystery. Cladistic methods thus suggest a number of reservations. Character matrices are the method’s heart and soul, ineliminable in practice and theory. It is precisely because character matrices are finite and discrete that cladists believe that they have on hand a body of data that they can master. “Cladistics breaks up the bodyplan characters,” as Matzke observes, “and shows the basic steps they evolved in, and also which parts of the “bodyplan” are actually shared with other phyla.”10 This is precisely what cladistics does, but what it does is at least open to the suspicion that when it comes to these issues, cladistic analysis is driven more by what cladists can do than what they should do. “No experienced naturalist,” Stephen Jay Gould remarked, “could ever fully espouse the reductionist belief that all problems of organic form might be answered by dissecting organisms into separate features …”11 By the same token, no experienced linguist would ever claim that the order in which Latin, French or German words entered the English language explains very much, if anything, about its fundamental structure. A cladistic system expresses a complicated jumble of assumptions and definitions, these expressed most often in the baroque and oddly beautiful vocabulary of Greek and Latin technical terms. No taxonomist with access to words such as paraphyletic, plesiomorphy, or synapomorphy would ever be satisfied by a description of Anomalocaris as some bug-eyed monster shrimp. Not me, for sure.Assumptions and definitions in cladistics sheathe a sturdy but simple skeleton, nothing more than a graph, lines connected to points in the plane. The blunt, no-nonsense language of graph theory is quite sufficient. A graph G = is a collection of vertices and edges. A given vertex may be either an intersection or a terminal point of a graph. A Steiner tree is a graph spanning its terminal points. Although Steiner trees are designed to be unobtrusive, like any skeleton, they make demands all their own, most obviously because they are finite and discrete. These cladograms preserve the hierarchical structure of Figure 1, but they fail notably to keep intermediate taxa where they once belonged. Rotations preserve some of the structure of the original, but not all of it. Similarity in structure may well be an assumption governing the identity of various cladograms; but as these examples show, structural similarity along one dimension does not preserve structural similarity along another. A cladist championing Figure 1 in his PhD dissertation is apt to see intermediates in the fossil record that his colleagues, and so his competitors, regard as nothing more than so many graph-theoretic artifacts. Never mind. Championing Figures 1 and 2 in their dissertations, they have artifacts all their own to exhibit or to hide. It is a very good thing that these people are seldom armed and rarely dangerous. If this is so, how, then, to define transitional forms? If no definition is possible, then the relevance of cladistic analysis to Darwinian biology might be more limited than often thought. It is in any case an obvious question to ask, the more so when assessing a book calling attention to the absence of transitional forms in the Cambrian era.6 Ghost lineages are often defended, rarely extolled. Like much in cladistic analysis, they represent the withdrawal of a theory from any very robust confrontation with the evidence. They simply cannot be used to defend a view of the Cambrian that begins by questioning whether there is anything behind these ghosts beyond the cladist. No wonder that Schmidt is eager to affirm that “phylogenetics does not claim to prove or explain evolution whatsoever.”8 If this is so, a skeptic might be excused for asking what it does prove or might explain? Nick Matzke is not about to go all hopeless on his supporters either. Witness his discussion of the otherwise hideous Anomalocaris. “Anyone actually mildly familiar with modern cladistic work on arthropods and their relatives,” Matzke writes, “would realize that Anomalocaris falls many branches and many character steps below the arthropod crown group….” As it happens, Anomalocaris does not fall anywhere: It is the anomalocaridids that do the falling. They in turn are folded within Radiodonta, which makes for an order and comprises a stem-group arthropod. Their most evident character in common with the arthropod crown group is what in a lobster would be called a bony claw. It is not much, but cladists are not fussy. The anomalocaridids include the genera Anomalocaris, Peytoia, Schinderhannes, Amplectobelua and Hurdia; the arthropod stem group, the gilled lobopodians, dinocaridids, the taxon incorporating Radiodontia, fuxianhuiids and canadaspidids. It is here that characters drift between Onychophora and the arthropod crown group itself. The relationship between cladistics and Darwin’s theory of evolution is thus one of independent origin but convergent confusion. “Phylogenetic systematics,” the entomologist Michael Schmitt remarks, “relies on the theory of evolution.” To the extent that the theory of evolution relies on phylogenetic systematics, the disciplines resemble two biologists dropped from a great height and clutching at one another in mid-air. Tight fit, major fail.7 There is thus A cladogram of cladists is no different from the real thing, a cladogram by cladists. But Willi Hennig is not the last common ancestor of contemporary cladists, the gorgeous apparatus of cladistics notwithstanding, and no cladistic unter-Mensch ever existed. Common characters and common descent are not the same thing. Figure 2 When cladistic analysis is applied to Cambrian paleontology, the imponderables of the method reappear as obscurities in the result, an interesting example of descent with modification. In this regard, Matzke writes, “… the arthropods are instructive.” And so they are. Let us be instructed. Let us be instructed by Gregory D. Edgecombe of the Department of Paleontology at the Natural History Museum in London. “Arthropod phylogeny,” he writes cheerfully, “is sometimes presented as an almost hopeless puzzle wherein all possible competing hypotheses have support …” His conclusions hardly amount to a ringing rejection of the hopeless puzzle school. The best that he can say for his field is that it is false that “anything goes.”12 I am sure this is so. TagsResponse to Criticismscience,Trending A man who believes in ghost lineages is demonstrably inclined, after all, to believe in ghosts. (12) Gregory D. Edgecombe, ‘Arthropod Phylogeny: An Overview from the Perspective of Morphology, Molecular Data, and the fossil record.’ Arthropod Structure & Development 39 (2010) 74-87. This is not a paper that lends itself to Twitter. Edgecombe is not alone. The characters Matzke thinks homologous, Legg calls into question. See the caption, Legg op. cit. Legg is Matzke’s witness and not ours. Valentine and Erwin do as much. Another witness, this one expert: ” … the lobopodians all share fairly simple, unspecialized legs, yet Opabinia and anomalocaridids lack legs but have paired, lateral flaps that, particularly in Opabinia, have gills along the upper aspect of the flap. Beyond the Radionta, however, well-sclerotized jointed appendages reappear. Are arthropod appendages homologous to those of lobopods, as Budd has argued? Are they homologous to the lateral flaps of Radionta [the group that includes anomalocaridids]? Or are they entirely novel structures? This debate is far from settled, illustrating the complexities of understanding the evolutionary pathways among these groups.” Douglas Erwin and James Valentine, The Cambrian Explosion: The Construction of Animal Biodiversity (Roberts and Company, 2013) (internal citations removed), p. 195. Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord. (6) See Wagner G.P., Stadler P.F.. 2003. ‘Quasi-independence, homology and the unity of type: a topological theory of characters.’ Journal of Theoretical Biology 220: 505-527. Matzke acknowledges the point without grasping its meaning. “… [P]hylogenetic methods as they exist now,” he writes, “can only rigorously detect sister-group relationships, not direct ancestry, and, crucially, … this is neither a significant flaw, nor any sort of challenge to common ancestry, nor any sort of evidence against evolution.” But there can be no sisters without parents, and if cladistic analysis cannot detect their now mythical ancestors, it is hard to see what is obtained by calling them sisters. No challenge to common ancestry? Fine. But no support for common ancestry either. Questions of ancestry go beyond every cladistic system of classification, no matter the character states. It follows that questions with respect to the ancestry of various Cambrian phyla cannot be resolved by any cladistic system of classification, however its characters are defined. We are now traveling in all the old familiar circles. The claim made by Darwin’s Doubt is that with respect to the ancestors of those Cambrian phyla, there is nothing there. (1) Günter Wagner, The Character Problem in Evolutionary Biology, Academic Press, 2000, preface. A cladogram does not by itself justify anything of the sort: The inference remains a non-starter because it exhibits a non-sequitur. “Evolution[ary theory] is not a necessary assumption of cladistics,” the biologist, A.V.Z. Brower once remarked.5 Neither is it sufficient, I would add. A cladogram is one way of depicting the information resident in a character matrix, and given the open-ended relationship between a matrix and its depiction in a cladogram, it is by no means unique. Intermediates that are clear as sunshine in a given cladogram disappear into darkness when the cladogram is rotated. Intelligent Design A One-Man CladeDavid BerlinskiJuly 18, 2013, 2:35 PM References 1234A� 0001B� 0011C� 1011D� 1111E� 1111 Origin of Life: Brian Miller Distills a Debate Between Dave Farina and James Tour Without ever mentioning just which shrimp he has mind, Matzke writes that “it is one of many fossils with transitional morphology between the crown-group arthropod phylum, and the next closest living crown group, Onychophora (velvet worms).” With this remark, he solidifies his reputation as a man capable of making the same mistake twice. Common characters? Or at least one in that bony claw? Yes, of course. Transitional morphology? Ah but no. At best, an intermediate morphology. Nor can it be intermediate between the crown arthropods and Onychophora. That would be rather like placing a carrot as an intermediate between the United States and Bolivia. Wrong classification. It is Radiodonta as a taxon that is intermediate between taxa.center_img Recommended It is with a question such as this that the cladistic method achieves a triumph uniquely its own. We may allow Edgecombe the last word. It is in his Figure 1 that he displays a cladogram for stem and crown group arthropoda. The figure includes Onychophora, which falls outside these stem groups but is nonetheless hoping for cladistic glory. Thick black lines move downward from various stem groups and then they stop abruptly where the evidence leaves off. The cladogram nonetheless continues recklessly down through the muck and mist of the early Cambrian, thick black lines now replaced by lines that are thin. These mark the ghost lineages of the cladist’s art, the artifacts of his method and not the imperatives of the evidence. While the last common ancestor of Radiodonta is basal to the last common ancestor of the arthropod crown, both are imaginary. Jane Goodall Meets the God Hypothesis or even this It was the German entomologist Willi Hennig who with the publication of Grundzüge einer Theorie der phylogenetischen Systematik introduced biologists to his scheme of classification.3 Matzke is surely right to remark that drawing up character sets is a detailed and tedious business. But so is the work involved in alphabetizing the names of all those residents in Moscow in 1937. It is in either case no great recommendation. The great merit of cladistic analysis is just the work that it makes for cladistic analysts.4 Like so much in Darwinian biology, it is a gift that keeps on giving. (8) M. Schmitt, ‘Claims and Limits of Phylogenetic Systematics.’ Z. zool. Syst. Evolu.-forsch. 27 (1989) 181 -190. Schmitt is curator of Coleoptera and Head of Department of Arthropoda at the Zoologisches Forschungsmuseum Alexander Koenig. What he does not know about beetles is apparently not worth knowing. Figure 1 Evolution (4) Make-work for jerks, as a distinguished figure was heard uncharitably to remark. The cladistic classification of the living and the dead proceeds by means of a character matrix, one whose elements are bright but isolated morphological or genetic bits. Fingers are ideal. They can be counted. No organism person (typically) has more than five of them. And fingers are discrete. No one need wonder where one begins and the other ends, a point not lost on short-tempered motorists. When character sets are expressed as graphs, the result is a cladogram. Requesting a (Partial) Retraction from Darrel Falk and BioLogos (7) A point made vividly by Matzke’s own source, which he cites in solemn incomprehension: Whatever the character matrix, Brysse observes, “…� there is only enough reliable information available to construct cladograms, not trees.” Brysse, Keynyn (2008). “From weird wonders to stem lineages: the second reclassification of the Burgess Shale fauna.” Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences. 39(3), 298-313. (10) Matzke, op cit. By “bodyplan” Matzke means bodyplan. His remarks as written suggest someone about to dissect a word. The translation of a character matrix into a cladogram can in this simple case be done by hand. Anything more complicated requires a computer program. The clade of cladists and the clade of computer programmers are on the best of terms. One clade washes the other, as professionals so often observe. Terminal points in a cladogram are occupied by the names of taxa, and vertices by their characters. Why, Matzke wonders, did Stephen Meyer not include within his book cladograms such as those he himself displays in his critique, one due to Brysse, the other to Legg? He is in asking this question in full Matzke mode: Sleek with satisfaction. Meyer may well have refrained from including these cladograms because they are topologically in conflict, and display virtually no agreement with one another. Matzke’s inability to discern what is directly beneath his nose is hardly evidence of his own competence in cladistic analysis.2 (11) Stephen Jay Gould, The Structure of Evolutionary Theory, Harvard University Press, 2002, p. 1057. (5) Brower A.V.Z. ‘Evolution is not a necessary assumption of cladistics.’ Cladistics, 2000, 16: 143-154. Later in his paper, Brower remarks that “systematics provides evidence that allows inference of a scientific theory of evolution.” What doesn’t? Image credit: Wsytan/Flickr. Five taxa in all: A, B, C, D, and E, individuals, species, or whole slobbering groups of them. Assume that this is so. And in 1, 2, 3, and 4, four characters. A four by five matrix suffices to display the distribution of characters, with 1 indicating that a character is present in a taxon, and 0, that it is not: A Physician Describes How Behe Changed His MindLife’s Origin — A “Mystery” Made AccessibleCodes Are Not Products of PhysicsIxnay on the Ambriancay PlosionexhayDesign Triangulation: My Thanksgiving Gift to All Email Print Google+ Linkedin Twitter Share Aber sei vorsichtig, as Willi Hennig himself might have said, and, no doubt, would have said had he read Matzke’s critique. It is remarkably difficult to read a cladogram without reading something into it, more than the graph conveys, a bit of Darwinian doggerel most often. A, B, C, D and E are labels marking points in the plane; the taxa that they designate are found in nature. There is a difference. That A is to the left of B is a fact about graphs and labels. It makes no sense to say of two taxa that one is to the left of the other. Very few taxonomists are known widely to confuse their left and their right hands — no more than one or two. This is reassuring. That B is between A and C is otherwise. It is tempting. It is tempting precisely because it invites the taxonomist to undertake an inference from the premise that B is between A and C to the conclusion that B is somehow a descendent of A, an ancestor of C. Figure 3 Email Print Google+ Linkedin Twitter Share The graphs and trees of cladistic analysis are when examined statistically capable of recording strong signals. Matzke is right to say this.9 He is himself so alert to them that he resembles an old-fashioned commodore peering beyond mist and mizzen and hoping to see flags. While those signals may be strong, it is often unclear what they are signaling. We may imagine the world’s living cladists sorted by a complex character matrix, one involving graduate degrees, publications, tenure, citations, beard length, night sweats, beady eyes, prison records and trans-gendered identity. Their crown group comprises the living cladists together with their last common ancestor and all of his descendents. Cladistic analysis indicates, I am at liberty to disclose, that Will Hennig is the last common ancestor of all living cladists, and so an Ur-Mensch, another reason for the respect in which he is held. Having branched off early, Sokal and Sneath make for a sister group. Extinct stem groups may be seen as well, tracing their ancestry to an unter-Mensch, as German cladists say, one lost in the fog of time and more basal, if not more base, than Willi Hennig himself. “A Summary of the Evidence for Intelligent Design”: The Study Guide Congratulations to Science Magazine for an Honest Portrayal of Darwin’s Descent of Man Photo by Adam Calaitzis on Adobe StockThe problems associated with the biological character problem [cladistics] are so complex and multifaceted and this issue is so conceptually immature that any single author’s account is doomed to be too narrow and lopsided to be of much use.Günter Wagner1last_img read more

30 May

The Hidden City

first_imgPicture a hidden city, that though it cannot be seen, is everywhere. Sound crazy? It’s real. And it is the most antic, madcap, crowded yet fantastically efficient city you could ever picture. It’s like Hong Kong sped up to an almost unimaginably manic pace, with all kinds of independent, apparently purposeful activities going on — fast, fast, fast! — conducted by a huge cast of actors (enzymes and other intricately sophisticated molecular machines made of proteins) that go about their business as if it were their business. There, I gave it away. This mysterious city I write about is a microscopic cell, made of DNA, RNA, proteins, and membrane. No doubt you were taught to think of a cell more or less statically, but it is a highly dynamic ever changing entity. How is all this activity coordinated and directed? The answer remains largely mysterious, and the more we find out the more the mystery grows.Grand Central Library of the CellWe do know this much. The nucleus is where DNA, the cell’s information storage system, resides. It serves as the cell’s Grand Central Library, where a good deal of the coordination takes place. DNA, the chief orchestrator, looks like a tangled mess, but it isn’t, it’s quite organized. It has to be. Supercoiled DNA packs tightly against the nuclear wall, inactive. Nearer the center, active chromosomes stake out territories, so that in the center, their unwound loops of DNA can partner with others in an intricate dance. Clouds of signal molecules surround these loops, looking for binding sites near genes. Most genes have multiple binding sites near them. When occupied, the binding sites send signals — yes, no, no, yes, yes — that get integrated into one overall signal. When it adds up to yes! a cascade of events begins — another kind of binding protein sits down on the DNA like a rider in a saddle, right in front of the gene, and attracts other proteins to itself, one by one. Then the cluster attracts a wandering machine called an RNA polymerase, which will copy (transcribe) the DNA into RNA. The whole complex waits like a race horse in the starting gate until the signal is given, then bang! the polymerase whizzes off, transcribing DNA into RNA at an astonishing clip of 30 nucleotides per second.Sometimes the polymerase jumps between strands, forming an RNA made from two separate chromosomes. Sometimes polymerases racing in opposite directions run into each other, like Keystone cops. And sometimes polymerases run into what are called replication forks, the places where DNA is being duplicated in order for the cell to divide. The RNA polymerase politely steps aside.You are probably wondering what the RNA is good for. It gets processed and shipped out to the cytoplasm, where it is turned into proteins like the polymerase and binding proteins, or the thousands of other proteins the cell requires. Proteins are the actors that accomplish things in the cell, and the building blocks from which things are made. You will meet other examples as we go.A ConundrumHere’s a conundrum, though. These proteins are all specified by the DNA — as we have seen, DNA is copied into RNA, then RNA is translated into protein. Consequently, proteins cannot exist without DNA. However, if you think about it, DNA cannot exist without proteins either. For example, to replicate DNA, one protein unwinds the DNA, creating a fork with two strands; another protein duplicates the strand to the right, while another casts off loops from the strand to the left so it can be copied backward (!); then another stitches the left-hand strand together. Meanwhile, thirty or so other proteins keep watch over the DNA, proof-reading, correcting, and ensuring very few errors — about 1 mistake per billion nucleotides copied. It’s a chicken and egg problem — which came first, proteins or DNA?Another Puzzle RemainsEven if that problem could be solved, another puzzle would remain — how the link between DNA, RNA and protein came about. We know how it’s done — ribosomes — just not how it came to be. Born in the nucleus, ribosomes are indispensable, efficient, self-correcting, decoding machines and protein factories. They are made of proteins woven together with RNA into tangled knots that somehow work together. Out in the cytoplasm where they do their work, a messenger RNA finds a ribosome and feeds through it like ticker tape. The ribosome reads the message as it feeds through and translates it to amino acids by matching the message to the right transfer RNAs (tRNAs), sliding each tRNA into place — click, click, click — and then stitching together the amino acids they carry to make a protein. (That went by fast!) Though not as fast as transcription, the ribosome manages a respectable rate of six to nine amino acids per second.There is much more to this story than I have time to tell — suffice it to say that the genetic code, its replication, transcription, and translation, are at the center of life: They are interdependent highly optimized processes that are essential to life.But these processes are not the only highly optimized ones in the cell. Mitochondria are the microscopic power plants of the cell whose sole purpose is to take glucose and convert it to ATP, the cell’s energy currency. Resembling miniature blimps with corrugated double membranes, they carry out an interlocking series of chemical reactions that squeeze out every last possible ATP from the breakdown of glucose. It’s a highly efficient, environmentally friendly process. Everything is recycled — one part of the process is called the citric acid cycle because it regenerates itself with each new round. Even the last high-energy electrons from the breakdown process are not wasted: a chain of proteins in the inner membrane passes these electrons like little hot potatoes from one to another, causing the energy of each transfer to pump hydrogen ions across the membrane, so that a molecular machine called ATP synthase can take advantage of the hydrogen gradient to create even more ATP. Like a turbine in a hydroelectric plant, ATP synthase lets the hydrogen ions flow back across the membrane through itself, rotating as the ions pass through, and generating ATP.Do the MathOverall, if you do the math, for every molecule of glucose that is broken down, 30 to 32 ATP are produced, representing an efficiency of about 40 percent. That’s two to four times better than an automobile engine and about as good as the best of all our power-producing methods except hydroelectric power.Now let’s zoom through the constantly bustling, very crowded byways of the cellular city to see how that energy is used. Microtubules span the cell in all directions like reinforcing beams, serving as structural supports and highways. Microfilaments, delicate webs of protein, lie under the cell’s membrane to give it shape. The formation of these structures requires energy (ATP). A maze-like network of membranous tubules (with the unwieldy name of endoplasmic reticulum) stretches out from the nucleus, some with ribosomes embedded in them. As the ribosomes manufacture proteins (using more ATP), they are extruded into the tubules. The tubules then bud off little vesicles to be transported (more ATP) to a large layer of stacked pancake-like membranes between the nucleus and the surface of the cell — this place, the cell’s post office (also called the Golgi apparatus) is where proteins get processed and sorted for delivery, using ATP.Outside, the cytoplasm is packed with hundreds to thousands of mitochondria (the power plants we discussed before) and free-floating ribosomes (protein factories). Ramifying networks of signal molecules transmit information from the cell surface to the nucleus and back again. Enzymes (a kind of protein) manufacture and tear down structures and compounds the cell needs, literally reshaping the cell to order (using yet more ATP — I’m going to stop here, you get the idea). Messenger RNAs look for ribosomes, newly minted proteins are chaperoned through the process of folding correctly (you don’t want to get that wrong — the consequences can be severe: Alzheimer’s is a due to misfolded protein), and clean-up crews mop up incomplete proteins and degraded RNA. Short and long interfering RNAs pair with complementary RNAs — this attracts slicer and dicer patrols looking for RNAs foolish enough to be caught double-stranded, to chop them up into nucleotides. I could go on. But I will give you just one more — kinesin.Delivery for You, Ma’amKinesin has an odd shape — two long legs, two feet, and a stalk-like body — that is eminently suited for its work. When it receives a package to carry, it attaches itself to one of the many microtubule highways of the cell and begins to stride, one foot over the other, dragging its cargo behind it and looking for all the world like a little stick man walking down a road with a great big bundle on his back. Kinesin is the UPS delivery man of the cell — a molecular motor that can muscle its way through the jostling tangle of the cytoplasm, dragging its cargo with it. Because of its amazing tenacity kinesin is rarely dislodged, placing one foot securely after the other; by working in teams it is able to transport cellular objects as large as mitochondria. When it encounters an obstacle it can’t get around, kinesin will first recruit more kinesin motors to help. Failing that, it partners with another motor traveling in the opposite direction. They rock back and forth taking turns pulling in opposite directions, like a driver caught in a snow drift, until finally they dislodge their cargo. Then the original kinesin resumes travel in its old direction.How does kinesin know which package to carry and what road to take? Apparently there are labels that kinesin recognizes, saying “Carry me!” but no one knows what the map is or how kinesin reads it.How You GrewI’ve shown you how a cell is like a city — but there is one special thing your cells do that a city can’t. At some point in your history you were a single cell that grew and became two, then four, then eight, all the way to a hundred trillion cells. All those cells remained one — a single individual. To do this, your cells specialized, some in manufacture, some in transport, some in signaling, some in energy storage, and some in waste management. All those cells now live together as a stable, cooperating, whole organism. Here’s the amazing thing — they do it because it is their nature, for the good of the whole. Absolutely no selfishness is possible here or all perish — rogue cells that defy the rules and break free to live without restraint are known as cancer. So cells are madcap, frenetic, bustling, efficient places — but places with rules. The final rule is this: the good of the whole before my own good. Not a bad rule to live by.Photo: Portland Street in Hong Kong, by UCLARodent at English Wikipedia [CC BY-SA 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons.Cross-posted with permission from Dr. Gauger’s website, Making Notes of the Moment. A Physician Describes How Behe Changed His MindLife’s Origin — A “Mystery” Made AccessibleCodes Are Not Products of PhysicsIxnay on the Ambriancay PlosionexhayDesign Triangulation: My Thanksgiving Gift to All Tagsamino acidsATPcell biologycitric acid cyclecytoplasmDNAenzymesglucoseGolgi apparatushighwaysHong Konghydroelectric plantintelligent designkinesinmitochondriamolecular machinenucleotidesnucleusproteinsribosomesRNAsignal moleculesstructural supports,Trending Email Print Google+ Linkedin Twitter Share Congratulations to Science Magazine for an Honest Portrayal of Darwin’s Descent of Man Ann GaugerSenior Fellow, Center for Science and CultureDr. Ann Gauger is Director of Science Communication and a Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute Center for Science and Culture, and Senior Research Scientist at the Biologic Institute in Seattle, Washington. She received her Bachelor’s degree from MIT and her Ph.D. from the University of Washington Department of Zoology. She held a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University, where her work was on the molecular motor kinesin.Follow AnnProfile Share Origin of Life: Brian Miller Distills a Debate Between Dave Farina and James Tour Jane Goodall Meets the God Hypothesiscenter_img Requesting a (Partial) Retraction from Darrel Falk and BioLogos Intelligent Design Email Print Google+ Linkedin Twitter Share Recommended “A Summary of the Evidence for Intelligent Design”: The Study Guide Life Sciences The Hidden CityAnn GaugerNovember 21, 2019, 4:48 AM last_img read more

30 May

Cosmos 3.0 with Neil deGrasse Tyson Arrives Tonight at 8 PM, Somewhat Dented

first_img“A Summary of the Evidence for Intelligent Design”: The Study Guide Email Print Google+ Linkedin Twitter Share Physics, Earth & Space Cosmos 3.0 with Neil deGrasse Tyson Arrives Tonight at 8 PM, Somewhat DentedDavid KlinghofferMarch 9, 2020, 12:09 PM But the charismatic Tyson does return as host in “Possible Worlds.” And Evolution News will be tuning in to see how he performs.Mandatory in Schools?Our staff’s critique and analysis of Cosmos 2.0 appeared in book form as The Unofficial Guide to Cosmos: Fact and Fiction in Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Landmark Science Series, which I edited. Many of the themes of Cosmos, in both its iterations, were examined at much greater scholarly depth by Discovery Institute science historian Michael Keas in his book Unbelievable: 7 Myths About the History and Future of Science and Religion. Our motivation in this work was partly the concern that the series would end up being used in schools. The same worry might well apply to Cosmos 3.0. As a commenter on the trailer enthuses, it is a “A documentary that should be mandatory at school.” Says another, “Cosmos should be made mandatory in school curriculum[s].”The trailer is well done, and no doubt the production values for the season as a whole will be high. Tyson on screen is never less than an enjoyable personality. You can watch, too, at 8 pm/7 pm Central. Let me know what you think!Image: Host Neil deGrasse Tyson glimpsed in a screenshot from the trailer for Cosmos 3.0, “Possible Worlds.”  Image: Host Neil deGrasse Tyson glimpsed in a screenshot from the trailer for Cosmos 3.0, “Possible Worlds.” The third season of the Cosmos franchise arrives tonight on Fox and National Geographic, somewhat dented in my opinion by the second season’s loose approach to the scientific and historical facts. At one point, due to personal controversies around host Neil deGrasse Tyson, it seemed uncertain that Cosmos 3.0, “Possible Worlds,” would be released at all. But here it is at last.The second season (2014) spun a misleading narrative celebrating the triumph of rational, secular scientific culture over benighted, supposedly irrational and anti-science religion. That the new season debuts amid a culture-wide panic attack over a little-known virus, complete with a stock market crash and toilet-paper hoarding, is not what you would call the best timing.Oddly, in the trailer, Dr. Tyson is barely glimpsed, and not heard at all. Instead, the narrating here is all done by Carl Sagan, star of the iconic, original Cosmos (1980), who died in 1996: Origin of Life: Brian Miller Distills a Debate Between Dave Farina and James Tour Congratulations to Science Magazine for an Honest Portrayal of Darwin’s Descent of Man Jane Goodall Meets the God Hypothesiscenter_img Recommended A Physician Describes How Behe Changed His MindLife’s Origin — A “Mystery” Made AccessibleCodes Are Not Products of PhysicsIxnay on the Ambriancay PlosionexhayDesign Triangulation: My Thanksgiving Gift to All TagsCarl SagancoronavirusCosmos (series)Cosmos: Possible WorldsFox Broadcasting CompanyhoardingMichael KeasNational Geographic ChannelNeil deGrasse Tysonstock marketThe Unofficial Guide to CosmosUnbelievable,Trending Requesting a (Partial) Retraction from Darrel Falk and BioLogos Email Print Google+ Linkedin Twitter Share David KlinghofferSenior Fellow and Editor, Evolution NewsDavid Klinghoffer is a Senior Fellow at Discovery Institute and the editor of Evolution News & Science Today, the daily voice of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture, reporting on intelligent design, evolution, and the intersection of science and culture. Klinghoffer is also the author of six books, a former senior editor and literary editor at National Review magazine, and has written for the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Seattle Times, Commentary, and other publications. Born in Santa Monica, California, he graduated from Brown University in 1987 with an A.B. magna cum laude in comparative literature and religious studies. David lives near Seattle, Washington, with his wife and children.Follow DavidProfileTwitter Sharelast_img read more

30 May

Down to the Wire: Applications Due Today for Summer Seminars on Intelligent Design

first_imgOrigin of Life: Brian Miller Distills a Debate Between Dave Farina and James Tour Intelligent Design Down to the Wire: Applications Due Today for Summer Seminars on Intelligent DesignDavid KlinghofferMarch 4, 2020, 5:06 AM Congratulations to Science Magazine for an Honest Portrayal of Darwin’s Descent of Man It’s down to the wire. The Summer Seminars on Intelligent Design are coming to Seattle for 9 days, July 10 to 18, 2020. It’s an entirely free opportunity for undergrad and graduate students to study ID with the stars of the field: Meyer, Axe, Nelson, Wells, Gauger, Sternberg, West, and more. Travel scholarships are available, too.There are two tracks to choose from. Look for online applications here:The C.S. Lewis Fellows Program on Science and Society; andThe CSC Seminar on Intelligent Design in the Natural SciencesIt’s an amazing experience, as past students and current instructors testify:“A Summer Seminar Grad Tells How Her Life Was Changed”“‘Safe to Question’ — Another Graduate of Summer Seminars on Intelligent Design Shares Her Story”“In the Beginning: How the Summer Seminars on Intelligent Design Got Their Start”“Summer Seminars on Intelligent Design Were a Turning Point for Me”“From Intelligent Design Summer Seminar to Faculty Lounge”We leave space for a few professionals, as well, including professors and teachers. Discovery Institute is seeding the future of ID science and scholarship! But to participate, you need to complete your application by close of business today.Got questions? Contact Daniel Reeves at [email protected]!Photo: Evolutionary biologist Richard Sternberg leads a discussion at the Summer Seminars on Intelligent Design, by Daniel Reeves. Email Print Google+ Linkedin Twitter Share Requesting a (Partial) Retraction from Darrel Falk and BioLogos Education TagsAnn GaugerdeadlineDouglas Axegraduate studentsinstructorsintelligent designJohn WestJonathan WellsPaul NelsonprofessorsRichard SternbergSeattleStephen MeyerSummer Seminarsundergraduates,Trendingcenter_img David KlinghofferSenior Fellow and Editor, Evolution NewsDavid Klinghoffer is a Senior Fellow at Discovery Institute and the editor of Evolution News & Science Today, the daily voice of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture, reporting on intelligent design, evolution, and the intersection of science and culture. Klinghoffer is also the author of six books, a former senior editor and literary editor at National Review magazine, and has written for the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Seattle Times, Commentary, and other publications. Born in Santa Monica, California, he graduated from Brown University in 1987 with an A.B. magna cum laude in comparative literature and religious studies. David lives near Seattle, Washington, with his wife and children.Follow DavidProfileTwitter Share Email Print Google+ Linkedin Twitter Share “A Summary of the Evidence for Intelligent Design”: The Study Guide Jane Goodall Meets the God Hypothesis Recommended A Physician Describes How Behe Changed His MindLife’s Origin — A “Mystery” Made AccessibleCodes Are Not Products of PhysicsIxnay on the Ambriancay PlosionexhayDesign Triangulation: My Thanksgiving Gift to Alllast_img read more

30 May

Still Clueless about the Origin of Life

first_img A Physician Describes How Behe Changed His MindLife’s Origin — A “Mystery” Made AccessibleCodes Are Not Products of PhysicsIxnay on the Ambriancay PlosionexhayDesign Triangulation: My Thanksgiving Gift to All Editor’s note: As an alternative to what you are getting pretty much everywhere else in the media at the moment, Evolution News is proud to offer inspiration, pointing to purpose and meaning in life. The profoundest mystery and thus the deepest inspiration is life itself. Discovery Institute Press has just published a greatly expanded edition of the 1984 classic of intelligent design science literature, The Mystery of Life’s Origin. Below is an excerpt adapted from a brand new chapter in the book by distinguished Rice University synthetic organic chemist James Tour.Organisms have well-defined molecular assemblies, redox potentials across membranes, and metabolic pathways — all operating in exquisite states that we call “life.” Chemistry, by contrast, is utterly indifferent to whether anything is alive or not. Without a biologically derived entity acting upon them, molecules have never been shown to “evolve” toward life. Never.While organisms exploit chemistry for their own ends, chemicals have never been seen to assemble themselves into an organism. Origin-of-life research keeps attempting to make the chemicals needed for life, and then to have those assemble toward something to which they are inherently indifferent. But try as they might, without preexisting life no researchers have ever seen molecules assemble into a living cell, or anything even remotely resembling a living cell. Contrary to the hyperbole of press reports, any synthetic molecularly derived structures that have been touted as being cell-like are in reality far from it. This situation might change in the future, but it is unlikely to change under the current course of research. Scientists have no data to support molecular “evolution” leading to life. The research community remains clueless. Led Astray by Researchers’ ClaimsMany scientists and professors who are outside boutique origin-of- life circles have been led astray by researchers’ claims and the subsequent press, thinking that far more is known about life’s origin than really is known. This has affected the highest seats in the academy where even some science professors confuse origin of life with biological evolution. Like a muddy prebiotic cesspool, confusion abounds in the academy. Two-thirds of a century since the 1952 Miller-Urey experiment, where some racemic amino acids were formed from small molecules and an electrical discharge, the world is no closer to generating life from small molecules — or any molecules for that matter — than it was in 1952. One could argue that origin-of-life research is even more befuddled now than it was in 1952 since more questions have evolved than answers, and the voluminous new data regarding the complexity within a cell makes the target much more daunting than it used to be.Consider the Progress in Other FieldsConsider what has occurred in other fields in the past sixty-seven years since Miller-Urey performed their experiments: human space travel, satellite interconnectivity, unlocking DNA’s code and its precise genetic manipulation, biomedical imaging, automated peptide and nucleotide synthesis, molecular structure determination, silicon device fabrication, integrated circuits, and the Internet, to name just a few. By comparison, origin-of-life research has not made any progress whatsoever in addressing the fundamental questions of life’s origin. Two-thirds of a century and all that has been generated are more suggestions on how life might have formed — suggestions that really show how life probably did not form. Nothing even resembling a synthetic cellular structure has arisen from its independent components, let alone a living cell. Not even close. Perpetual Motion MachinesIn 1775, the French Academy in Paris refused to entertain any further proposals for perpetual motion machines; the devices just did not work as advertised. No one knew why not — the mature science of thermodynamics, which gave us a theoretical account for why the perpetuum mobile schemes failed, lay nearly one hundred years in the future — but the machines clearly failed. Today we need a French Academy-like directive toward origin-of-life proposals; for, like perpetual motion machines, such proposals just do not work as advertised. Instead we should explore why scientists have failed to produce life. Clearly life can exist — unlike perpetual motion machines, we have the ubiquity of life surrounding us on this planet. But there needs to be a wholly different scientific approach to reveal life’s origin. This is an appeal to the origin-of-life research community: Step back and consider the claims within the research, the true state of the field, the retarded state of the science relative to other research areas, and the confusion or delusion of the public regarding life’s origin. Many researchers in origin-of-life organic synthesis are superb scientists. However, overly confident assertions, exaggerated and spread by the over-zealous press, have led to gross public misconceptions regarding what is and is not known concerning the beginning of life.Read the rest in The Mystery of Life’s Origin: The Continuing Controversy, from Discovery Institute Press.Photo: Stanley Miller of Miller-Urey fame, by NASA via Wikimedia Commons. Jane Goodall Meets the God Hypothesis Congratulations to Science Magazine for an Honest Portrayal of Darwin’s Descent of Man Requesting a (Partial) Retraction from Darrel Falk and BioLogos James TourProfessor of Chemistry, of Computer Science, and of Materials Science and Nano-EngineeringJames Tour is the T. T. and W. F. Chao Professor of Chemistry, Professor of Computer Science, and Professor of Materials Science and Nano-Engineering at Rice University. A synthetic organic chemist, he received his BS in Chemistry from Syracuse University, his PhD in synthetic organic and organometallic chemistry from Purdue University, and postdoctoral training in synthetic organic chemistry at the University of Wisconsin and Stanford University. He has served on the faculty of the University of South Carolina and as a visiting scholar at Harvard University. Tour has over 700 research publications and over 130 patent families.Follow JimProfileWebsite Share Tagsamino acidsbiomedical imagingcesspoolDiscovery Institute PressDNAelectrical dischargeevolutionFrench Academyintegrated circuitsInternetliving cellmembranesmetabolic pathwaysMiller-Urey experimentmolecular structuremoleculesorigin of lifeorigin-of-life researchParisperpetual motion machineprofessorsredox potentialresearchersscientistssilicon devicesStanley MillerThe Mystery of Life’s Origin,Trending Email Print Google+ Linkedin Twitter Share “A Summary of the Evidence for Intelligent Design”: The Study Guide Evolution Still Clueless about the Origin of LifeJames M. TourMarch 26, 2020, 12:51 PM Origin of Life: Brian Miller Distills a Debate Between Dave Farina and James Tour Recommended Email Print Google+ Linkedin Twitter Sharelast_img read more