Electricity–only a theory?

Lest we forget: science was denounced from the pulpit when it advanced a theory of the physical nature of electricity.

little girl using a hair dryer

Electricity: Goddidit!

Electricity: According to this religious textbook, no one has ever observed it.

Except for sparks. And lightning. And in Tesla machines. And as measured by voltmeters, ammeters, and ohmmeters. And as cathode rays and in cathode ray tubes, the screens of your televisions and video display monitors. And making heating elements glow in your stoves and electric heaters. And lighting up neon signs. And directly in plasma globes. But remember, children–Goddiddit!

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Newly discovered signs of a old society in the Amazon

Newly detected ditching in the Amazon hints at a lost civilization.

Aerial view of green fields with ditching

Mysterious ditches in Amazon

These ditches could have mystical or ceremonial meaning. Or they could have been just ditches around gardens.

Lawsuits dismissed: complainant is delusional

Serial litigant Toni Patricia Irons Burley’s suits against U.S. government and President Obama were dismissed. Six of her lawsuits were dismissed by U.S. District Judge Richard Leon. The linked article has links to the judgements. Two of them contain these statements:

A complaint may be dismissed under 28 U.S.c. § 1915(e)(2) as frivolous when it describes fantastic or delusional scenarios, contains “fanciful factual allegation[s],” Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319,325 (1989), or lacks “an arguable basis in law and fact.” Brandon v. District of Columbia Bd. of Parole, 734 F.2d 56, 59 (D.C. Cir. 1984). This complaint qualifies for such treatment. A separate Order of dismissal accompanies this Memorandum Opinion.

The other says this:

Pro se litigants must comply with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Jarrell v. Tisch, 656 F. Supp. 237, 239 (D.D.C. 1987). Rule 8(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires complaints to contain “( 1) a short and plain statement of the grounds for the court’s jurisdiction [and] (2) a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a); see Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1950 (2009); Ciralsky v. CIA, 355 F.3d 661, 668-71 (D.C. Cir. 2004). The Rule 8 standard ensures that defendants receive fair notice of the claim being asserted so that they can prepare a responsive answer and an adequate defense and determine whether the doctrine of res judicata applies. Brown v. Califano, 75 F.R.D. 497, 498 (D.D.C. 1977).

Plaintiff, a resident of Kingston, New York, sues the United States, President Barack Obama “and administration,” and the State of New York. She seeks $60 million “and property and land back.” Compl. at 3. In the complaint, plaintiff mentions fraud, bribery, conspiracy, and constitutional violations, but she states no coherent facts to provide any notice of a claim. A separate Order of dismissal accompanies this Memorandum Opinion.

I hope that she can get some medical help.

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Transitional fossils: halfway flat fish

National Geographic’s 2009 roundup of transitional fossils included a fish that is evolving to lie concealed on the ocean floor. Modern flatfish are born symmetrical, with eyes an other side of their head, but as they age one eye moves around to the other side so that the fish can watch for danger with both eyes while lying flat on the sea floor.  The lack of “halfway” forms has been used to argue against evolution. Now, one has been found. This one appears to have one eye just over the midline. I wait for anti-evolutionists to acknowledge that the theory of evolution has been confirmed once again: Amphistium, transitional fossil, a half-way flat fish.

fossil fish

Amphistium, a transitional fossil in flatfish evolution

Evolution of the bacterial flagellum

Dr. Ian Musgrave

Pace Michael Behe and William Dembski, bacterial flagella are not irreducibly complex. Here is Ian Musgrave’s clear explanation, “Evolution of the Bacterial Flagellum.”

Dr. Musgrave points out, “The specification of “ an outboard motor,” which provided the IC [irreducibly complex] system description of motor, shaft, and propeller, is a flawed human analogy to the actual flagellar system.” He also points out that Behe’s own definition of irreducibly complex systems excludes flagella, whose original function was not motility but secretion. Dembski, by building on Behe’s flawed description, in my opinion goes further astray into “Why bumblebees can’t fly” territory.

There’s much more! Read the article.

A hair-dryer kids in a toaster-brained world

This series of articles, from MOM – Not Otherwise Specified, gives an insight into autistic children’s feelings & behaviour: A hair-dryer kid in a toaster-brained world.

Even older fossils at 3.4 billion years

fossil bacteria

Fossil bacteria from 3.4 billion years ago are the world’s oldest fossils.

The microfossils were found in a remote part of Western Australia called Strelley Pool. They are very well preserved between the quartz sand grains of the oldest beach or shoreline known on Earth, in some of the oldest sedimentary rocks that can be found anywhere.

They are from a billion years before plants generated our oxygen atmosphere.

The fossils are very clearly preserved showing precise cell-like structures all of a similar size. They look like well known but much newer microfossils from 2 billion years ago, and are not odd or strained in shape.

The fossils suggest biological-like behaviour. The cells are clustered in groups, are only present in appropriate habitats and are found attached to sand grains.

And crucially, they show biological metabolisms. The chemical make-up of the tiny fossilised structures is right, and crystals of pyrite (fool’s gold) associated with the microfossils are very likely to be by-products of the sulphur metabolism of these ancient cells and bacteria.

UPDATE:  Jerry Coyne has more details, and more photos, about these fossils. (They may be primitive single-celled organisms rather than bacteria.)  Newly found: the world’s oldest fossils . Larry Moran explains the biochemistry that tells us these bacteria digested sulphur in The Oldest Cells.

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