_New Scientist_ bonanza
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (James G. Acker)
The 30 October 1993 issue of _New Scientist_ has numerous
articles with relevance to origins. The cover is a deep blue
representation of submersibles exploring volcanoes on the ocean floor,
with the large tag line "Eruptions at a thousand fathoms".
The first article of interest is the cover story, internally
entitled "Breaking new ground on the ocean floor". It summarizes
current understanding and research on deep-sea volcanic and hydrothermal
systems, and a sidebar explains the magnetic reversal data collected
by Vine and Matthews that essentially launched the era of plate
#2 is entitled "3-way split for our ape ancestors", summarizing
an article in _J. Human Evolution_ on the possibility that the split
between humans, apes, and chimpanzees occurred about 9 million years ago
in about .5 million years and possibly as quickly as 115,000 years.
Jeffrey Rogers of SW Foundation for Biomedical Research examined
different DNA sequences.
#3, same page, is the fact that recent measures of the
Hubble constant have apparently tipped the balance toward a much older
Universe than previously believed. Entitled "thumbs up for an older
Universe", the article does not actually give an estimated age for
the big U, but provides various estimates of the Hubble constant and
how they were obtained. It does note that the oldest stars in globular
clusters are about 16 billion years old, which requires H to be less
than 50. If the age of the Universe was 16 billion years, H would
be equal to 32 +/- 5. (The opposition view is that H is in the
70-80 range -- units are kilometers per second per megaparsec.
#4, same page, is "Human jaw hints at African trek",
describing a new _Homo habilis_ (or a cousin) jawbone in Malawi,
implying migration (which way is still a question) through the
East African Rift system. Article is in _Nature_, fossil may be
2.4 million years old.
Chris Nedin may be interested that a large armoured worm
is the creature that wore shell-like fossils called volborthella has
been described, "solving" a century of speculation.
#5 is the news that the Pope called the work of Copernicus
"one of the greatest scientific achievements of all time". Nikky
had been rejected by theologians, and the Church banned his book in
1854! (a bit late, in my opinion!) Quoting the Pope:
"The claimed incompatibility between science and faith
belongs in the past."
Last but not least, #6 is an extensive book review of "The
Correspondence of Charles Darwin: Volume 8, 1860", edited by
F. Burkhardt, D.M. Porter and J.B. Marsha, from Cambridge University
Press. 1860 was the year following the publication of _On the Origin
"...the defenders of Creation, Design, and Natural Theology
(God-revealed-in-nature) rage at Darwin from the review pages of learned
Darwin remarks to his publisher on corrections to the 3rd
edition that he does so "in hopes of making my many rather stupid
reviewers at least understand what is meant."
-- "Both Huxley and Spencer are keen to see evolution as
inevitable progress, to make some moral point out of it, whereas
Darwin is after truth for truth's sake. That keen but blinkered
attitude kept Darwin hot on the scent of that concept, evolution
through natural selection, and prevented him from being distracted
by the emotional appeal of Lamarckian ideas, in which personal effort
supposedly leads to evolutionary progress."
He writes to Asa Gray: "With respect to the theological
view of the question; this is always painful to me. -- I am
bewildered. -- I had no intention to write atheistically.
Finally, the book notes that Joseph Hooker (a close friend)
wrote to him and mentions how natural selection might relate to
a "theistic element" or "unseen power". Unfortunately, the remainder
is lost, because Darwin burned all portions of letters that didn't
contain useful facts!
| James G. Acker |
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