Archive of items from Evidence News

“Earth 2.0” found according to BBC News, and NASA News 23 July 2015. Scientists working on data from NASA’s Kepler space telescope claim to have found a planet very similar to Earth. NASA scientist John Grunsfeld called it “Earth 2.0” and described it as the “closest so far” to Earth. Its official name is Kepler-452b, and it belongs to a star in the constellation Cygnus.

The Kepler telescope observes stars and records any changes in their light. Small decreases in light could be caused by orbiting planets moving across the star. From this data the scientists calculate possible size, orbital period and distance of any possible planet from its star. Kepler 452b is estimated to be 60 percent larger in diameter than Earth, has an orbital period of 385 days, and is 5 percent farther from its parent star than earth. This puts it in the “habitable zone” for planets, i.e. the zone where it could have liquid water.

The host star of the planet is believed to be similar to our Sun, and NASA scientists estimate it to be “6 billion years old, or 1.5 billion years older than our sun with the same temperature, and is 20 percent brighter and has a diameter 10 percent larger”.

The scientists are still unsure if the planet is rocky, like earth. Don Pollacco, from Warwick University, UK, explained to the BBC: “Kepler data allows you to estimate the relative size of a planet to its host star, so if you know the size of the host, hey presto, you know the size of the planet. However, to go further - i.e. is it rocky? - involves measuring the mass of the planets and this is much more difficult to do as the stars are too far away for these measurements (which are incredibly difficult) to make. So in reality they have no idea what this planet is made of: It could be rock but it could be a small gassy ball or something more exotic maybe”.

Jon Jenkins of NASA’s Ames Research Center commented: “We can think of Kepler-452b as an older, bigger cousin to Earth, providing an opportunity to understand and reflect upon Earth’s evolving environment”. He went on to say: “It’s awe-inspiring to consider that this planet has spent 6 billion years in the habitable zone of its star; longer than Earth. That’s substantial opportunity for life to arise, should all the necessary ingredients and conditions for life exist on this planet”.

BBC, NASA

Editorial Comment: We had to match up the great pics in the newspapers and on TV with the statement from Warwick Universities Don Pollacco’s “in reality they have no idea what this planet is made of”. So note very well: no-one has actually seen this planet! The pictures in the numerous news reports are an artist’s creation. The only real data is a tiny decrease in the light coming from a star. The rest of the story is assumptions and calculations based on these assumptions.

The current obsession with finding extra-solar planets is fuelled by the belief that life on earth developed by chance random evolution, and therefore, given the same kind of planet, we will find life elsewhere in the universe, and prove evolution to be true.

However, even if there is a planet around star Kepler-452, and it has liquid water and the right amount of light and heat; that is not enough to produce life. Furthermore, the supposed 6 billion years will never increase the chances of life happening. Chemicals, energy and time cannot produce life. Life is made of chemicals, but it is the organisation of the chemicals, not just their substance that makes them into living cells, because living cells need genetic information. Matter and energy alone cannot produce this. Information can only come from a mind, and living cells are the product of the Creator, who first created the earth and then filled it with life. (Ref. astronomy, cosmology, chemical evolution)

For more on possible life on other planets see the question: Is there life in outer space? Would it matter theologically if they found some? Answer here.

100 million down the black hole as Hawking and Milner boost SETI according to Science (AAAS) News 20 July 2015 and BBC News, 24 July 2015. Physicist Stephen Hawking has launched a new 10 year project in the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) to be funded by Russian venture capitalists billionaire Yuri Milner.

Milner is donating 100 million dollars to the project, which will involve using radio telescopes in Green Bank West Virginia USA and Parkes in Australia, as well as the Automated Planet Finder Telescope at the Lick Observatory on Mount Hamilton near San Jose, California. At the launch of the project Stephen Hawking said “It’s time to answer the question of whether there is life beyond Earth”.

British Astronomer Royal, Martin Rees, will be head of the project’s advisory committee. He claims the project will give us better chance of finding if we are alone in the universe.

The project will also work on new signal processing systems to deal with the enormous amount of data collected. Matthew Bailes, an astronomer at Swinburne University of Technology Australia, will head the Australian part of the project. He admits it is a daunting project, and commented: “Unfortunately there’s no manual for how to find aliens”. He went on to say: “It’s much harder to find something when you’re not even sure what it is. There’s going to have to be several hypotheses, and it might be quite easy to get them wrong, and to just let these radio waves from aliens wash past us”.

BBC, Science

Editorial Comment: The one plus that should come out of it is an improvement in data analysis systems as Milner spends 100 million dollars on satellite and telescopes rental, and the time and efforts of scientists, technicians and software engineers trying to find “something when you're not even sure what it is”!

We can answer Hawking’s question for free. Life will only be found where God created it, so their premise that life exists anywhere conditions are right is fatally flawed. There is life beyond earth, but it won’t be detected by Hawking’s telescopes. The Creator of the physical universe is also described as the “living God”. (Deuteronomy 5:26, Psalm 42:2, Hosea 1:10) He also created angelic beings, who are sometimes described as “living creatures”. (Revelation 4:6-9) This same Living God told us what the stars and other lights in the sky were for. They were to serve mankind for signs, times and seasons.

Therefore, we predict that at the end of the ten years Yuri Milner would have been better off sending most of his money down one of Stephen Hawking’s black holes. (Ref. cosmology, aliens, astronomy)

 

Desert ants keep their cool, according to Science Shots and Science doi: 10.1126/science.aab3564, 18 June 2015. Saharan silver ants can live in desert regions where the temperature of the sand can reach 70°C (158°F). However, to survive, the ants must keep their own body temperature below 53.6°C (125.5°F).

The ants are able to do this because they have dense covering of uniquely shaped triangular hairs on their backs and sides that reflect most of the light that impinges on them. These also convert any light that is absorbed into longer wavelengths that are radiated away from the ant’s surface. The ants’ undersides also have a smooth silvery surface that reflects heat coming up from the ground.

According to Science Shots “Saharan silver ants give new meaning to survival of the fittest”.

Science Shots

Editorial Comment: This truly is a spectacular example of survival of the fittest, but please don’t use it as an example of evolution. These ants could only survive these incredibly harsh conditions if they already had the silvery light reflective hairs and undersurface. There would be no time for a black hairless ant to evolve these features if it found itself in the Sahara desert.

But before any intelligent design proponents start claiming how well designed these ants are for living in deserts we would remind them that in the beginning the whole world was “very good”, and deserts with 70°C sand are not very good, and do not date back to the beginning. It was not until after Noah’s flood that extreme environments developed, and living things had to survive with whatever features they already had. Any that couldn’t cope in an extreme environment, such as a desert, died out, leaving only those that could survive due to pre-existent abilities. This is natural selection at work, but natural selection occurs only as a result of the degeneration of the world, and can only eliminate the unfit. It is not a creative process that can build a world of living things from nothing, or even from other living things, such as non-silvery ants, even when you throw mutations into the mix!

So, why would ants have such a reflective surface if there were no hot deserts? Just because it can survive in the desert doesn’t mean it can’t survive elsewhere. The reflective surface is good for thermoregulation, which is a process needed to live in the very good world. In the post-Flood degenerate world these ants can live in the desert because there is no competition from other ants that use different methods of thermoregulation. We recommend they be put into competition with non-reflective ants to see who wins in a normal environment, and we predict that some other factor such as competition for food, including the others eating them will soon show. (Ref. insects, arthropods, thermoregulation)

Evidence News vol. 15, No. 12
15 July 2015
Creation Research Australia

Four legged snake found, according to reports in, Science (AAAS)
News, Nature News 23 July 2015, BBC News 24 July and Science
1doi: 0.1126/science.aac5672.
A team of scientists led by David Martell of Portsmouth University have studied a small, exquisitely preserved fossil of a snake and found that it had four limbs. The fossil was in the collection held by the Museum Solnhofen in Germany, but the researchers believe it came from the Crato Formation in north eastern Brazil, based on characteristics of the rock it is fossilised in. The Crato formation is dated between 113 million and 126 million years ago.

The fossilised creature is 20cm long, has 160 spinal vertebrae, and 112 vertebrae in the tail, a distinctly snake-like head and lower jaw with curved teeth, and scales that stretch across the full width of the belly, another feature only seen in snakes. Because of its overall small size the researchers suggest it is a juvenile.

The legs are only a few millimetres long, but contain limb bones including foot and toe bones. The toes are relatively long and the scientists suggest these were used for grasping mates or prey. Michael Caldwell, a palaeontologist at the University of Alberta, Canada commented that feet like these “are remarkably unusual unless you’re a tree-climber”.

The snake has been named Tetrapodophis amplectus, meaning “four footed snake that embraces”. One of the research team, Nick Longrich from the University of Bath, explained: “It would sort of embrace or hug its prey with its forelimbs and hindlimbs. So it’s the huggy snake”.

Bruno Simoes, and expert in snake evolution at the Natural History Museum, London, commented to the BBC: “It’s quite a surprise, especially because it’s so close to the crown group - basically, the current snakes. It gives us a good idea of what the ancestral snake was like”.

BBC, Nature News, Science, ScienceDaily

Editorial Comment: It’s good to see them catch up with us. John Mackay explained this whole scenario of snake leg loss in-depth at the 2014 AiG conference in Birmingham. So let’s give you the real picture! Tetrapodophis amplectus may be an ancestor of living snakes, but it is no evidence that snakes evolved from non-snakes. As Bruno Simoes admits this fossil is basically a current snake, but has legs. Therefore, the only real change that has occurred since this snake became fossilised is that snakes have lost their legs.

Recent research on genes that control embryonic development of the vertebrate body gives a clue how this may have happened. Defects in control of Hox genes in developing reptiles results in increasing vertebrae numbers as well as loss of limbs. Studies of reptiles such as lizards (See Lerista species in “Lizards Losing Limbs” Livescience.com 12 November 2008) shows some forms have four normal legs, whilst degenerate forms have two small front limbs with two normal rear limbs, then further degeneration produces forms with almost total leg loss, which reveals that defects in Hox control genes, also seem to eliminate front legs before back legs.

This new specimen has all four limbs diminished. Previous legged snake fossils have only had hind legs, so this new fossil is not as far down the limb-loss process. However, none of this is evolution – it is degeneration or devolution! And it fits perfectly into the Biblical history of snakes.

In the beginning serpents were created according to their kinds, just like all other animals. As part of God’s judgement after sin entered the world God condemned the serpent to crawl on its belly. This may have been an instant change for the one individual serpent involved in the fall of man, but as part of the overall degeneration of the world, serpents in general have mostly lost their limbs, and became the snakes we are familiar with today, only some of which retain truly vestigial legs, but all the time they have continued to reproduce after their kind. (Ref. serpents, reptiles, degeneration)

For more information on Snake legs:

QUESTION: If God removed snakes’ legs at the Fall, why are there fossil snakes with legs? Answer here.

LECTURE: “When Snakes had legs” with John Mackay. Free video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G6uSQEMhGgU.

Not totally blind spot, according to Scientific Reports 26 June 2015 doi:10.1038/srep11862. The “blind spot” is a small area in the retina (the light sensitive layer at the back of the eye) where nerve fibres are gathered together to form the optic nerve. It has been assumed the blind spot is insensitive to light because it has no rods and cones, which are the light sensitive cells that are used to convert light to electrical signals. Although this spot is in the middle of our visual field, we do not perceive a black hole in our view of the world because the brain can fill in the deficit by using visual information from the other eye, and from the surrounding retina in the same eye.

Two Japanese scientists have now discovered that although the blind spot has no rods and cones, it seems to have some light sense. In order for us to see well our eyes need to adjust to the amount of light by changing the size of the pupil in the front of the eye. This is controlled by an unconscious reflex that constantly adjusts the pupil in response to changing light. The scientists made a careful study of how the eye responds to variations in intensity and colour of light, and found that the blind spot “unexpectedly” contributes to the pupillary light reflex.

Their experiments involved shining a disc of light onto the blind spot and surrounding retina, and then shining a ring of light with the same outer diameter of the disc, but with a dark central region the same size as the blind spot. Therefore, the ring was only shining light on the rods and cones around the blind spot, but not onto the blind spot itself. They found the disc, which exposed the blind spot to light, elicited a larger pupillary response than the ring which did not shine light onto the blind spot.

They concluded: “These results suggest that some physiological mechanism, presumably the retinal cells containing the photopigment melanopsin, receives the light projected inside the blind spot and enhances pupillary light reflex”.

Editorial Comment: The blind spot has been the subject of scorn by atheists who use it as an example of “unintelligent design”. Richard Dawkins was particularly scathing in his book The Greatest Show on Earth where he described the blind spot as “the design of a complete idiot”. (See our report An Idiotic Eye here) However, even Dawkins admitted that the blind spot does not hinder our conscious vision because our brains compensate for it. Now he should ‘humbly’ concede that it is not completely useless. We may not be aware of the pupillary light reflex, but it is essential for good vision. Too much light can damage the retina, so it is important that the eye responds rapidly to bright light. Having the “blind spot” involved in the system makes the light reflex more efficient, and reminds us that the eye is exquisitely designed by a complete genius.

How tragic that Dawkins and his colleagues cannot see this – but the problem is not their eyes, but in rebellious hearts and minds that do not want to acknowledge the Creator and Saviour, who will also be their Judge. (Ref. vision, reflexes, optics)

Evidence News vol. 15, No. 12
15 July 2015
Creation Research Australia

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