Posts of the Month for 2001
- January: Walk Like an Australopithecine
- How do we know that early hominids such as Lucy walked upright on two legs like us with only their partial skeletons to go on? Floyd untangles this riddle and tells us what lessons we can learn from the bones.
- February: How to Measure Information
- Mark C. Chu-Carroll defines two distinct information theories used by scientists, Shannon and Kolmogorov-Chaitin, and illustrates how creationists have mixed the two in a nonsensical way to come up with their argument that randomness can never generate new information.
- March: Modifications of Nuclear Beta Decay Rates
- David Ewan Kahana refutes creationist John Woodmorappe's argument that natural conditions could have altered nuclear beta-decay rates and thus thrown off the geologic timescale.
- April: An Evolved Watch
- William Paley's infamous "watchmaker" argument states that, if in crossing a field he happened to step on a pocketwatch, he could immediately recognize it as an intelligently designed object due to its high degree of order and complexity. Ian Musgrave shows how this analogy is irrelevant to evolution by describing a different watch, one that actually is the product of blind natural forces.
- May: Cosmology and Quantum Gravity
- Could the same tiny quantum fluctuations that cause the attractive Casimir force also be responsible for the existence of our universe? Nathan Urban discusses several approaches in the ongoing attempt to unite the very large with the very small.
- June: Naturalism-Materialism-Reductionism
- Is there more to the universe than scientists can explain? Is science itself inherently atheistic, unable to recognize the fingerprints of a supernatural higher power? Should researchers admit the possibility of miracles? Steven J. tackles these tricky epistemological questions.
- July: Barriers to Evolution
- Reed Cartwright debunks the creationist argument that the genome itself contains inherent barriers to macroevolution, giving a history of how this claim was actually originated by evolutionists long ago, during the early years of the science of genetics, and disproven soon thereafter.
- August: Macroscopic and Molecular Entropy
- The Second Law of Thermodynamics argument against evolution is one of the most enduring misunderstandings in the creationist arsenal. Here Gordon Davisson attempts to put it to rest by explaining why the connection between the macroscopic organization of an object and its entropy is not in the direction one might think, and why it is in any case swamped by entropy considerations at the molecular level.
- September: The Universe Looks Old
- Creationists are often heard to argue against radiometric dates and other dating methods by claiming the universe was created with an "appearance of age." eyelessgame enthusiastically agrees, pointing out why the concession implicit in this argument hurts the creationist cause rather than helps it.
- October: The Constancy of Constants
- Steve Carlip spells out how we know that the fundamental constants of nature, such as the speed of light or the charge of the electron, have not undergone any dramatic changes in the past fifteen billion years or so, in contrast to the creationist claim that unaccounted-for alterations in physical constants could throw off radiometric and other dating methods.
- November: Testing Scientific Theories
- Chris Ho-Stuart argues that evolution is no less certain a fact than gravity, taking time along the way to describe what it means to scientifically test a theory and clear up some common misconceptions about the importance of direct observation.
- December: Genome Building
- In response to a creationist's query, Prof Weird provides us with examples of evolution causing beneficial, sustainable increases in the genomes of species under study.
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