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Alex Honnold on his historic free solo of the Grade V big-wall route El Sendero Luminoso (5.12d) in El Potrero Chico, Mexico. Photo by Cedar Wright used at Rock & Ice Magazine, used here with special permission. Click image for details.
Evolution doesn't stop, nothing alive now or in the past was an inherent endpoint. So this shouldn't come as that big of a surprise:
But the origin of this domestication remains stubbornly mysterious. Researchers analyzed the genomes of wolves from three likely sites of domestication (the Middle East, Asia and eastern Europe), and found that modern dogs were not more closely related to any of the three. In fact, it seems that the closest wolf ancestors of today's dogs may have gone extinct, leaving no wild descendants.
This is being widely reported in traditional media as "Dogs did not descend from wolves." Technically true, wolves are a modern species. But if you saw a member of the species dogs did descend from, calling it a wolf would probably be pretty damn descriptive.
"The dogs all form one group, and the wolves all form one group, and there's no wolf that these dogs are more closely related to of the three that we sampled," said study researcher John Novembre.
  • What kind of Big Ideas might be ready for the junk heap in science? Cal-tech physicist Sean Carroll writes that falsifiability may be a candidate.
  • You've heard of smart glasses, how about smart contacts?
  • It's long, big, and goes real deep: it's also buried under tons of ice!
  • No, really, it's spewing glowing diamond blue lava.
  • Got this from a lady speaking at a high school science program:
    She also outlined some exciting new medical product developments, including some made with a 3-D printer. They are now making replacement knees that perfectly match a patient, they are able to make covers that fit perfectly on a damaged skull, and even help people with missing body parts, such as an artificial hand that works by moving the wrist. Other research is being done to link implants with the brain.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 06:00 AM PST.

Also republished by SciTech.


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Comment Preferences

  •  One of the problems with the dog domestication (22+ / 0-)

    study is that they could not get any aDNA from the early Near Eastern dogs. The Natufian (terminal Pleistocene) culture of the Near East has some of the world's earliest dogs.

    •  23andMe should spin off 39andMutt... ;) (10+ / 0-)

      ....we'd have an answer in a few years... ;)


      "Generosity, Ethics, Patience, Effort, Concentration, and Wisdom"

      by Dood Abides on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 06:20:20 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I recently learned that in Maine we have coywolves (8+ / 0-)

        A hybrid of red wolves and coyotes. Going over to water a neighbors plants I noted some tracks which I think were a
        coywolf trotting up the driveway 41/2" paws, widely spaced pads, paired diagonal prints spaced about 30"
        which for a dog(3 1/2"), coyote (2 1/2") or fox (1 1/2"is too much of a span for that gait.

        As for the free solo I think the training required to be able to mantle up a sheer face lifting your body with the fingers of one hand verges on a no longer completely human mutation capable of mating only with similar animals adapted for high levels of adrenaline.

        Live Free or Die --- Investigate, Incarcerate

        by rktect on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 07:12:39 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  and, the "modern" scientists simply "dismiss" (5+ / 0-)

      the areas like siberia where the samoyed people and their dogs were found - isolated - NO "dogs" except the sammy who had been with the people forever.  that these are considered to be a domesticated "white wolf" - the ones who adapted to living with humans for survival belies the latest "discoveries.

      yes, i'd agree, checking a chihuahua against wolf dna might show far enough evolutionary changes that the link is lost - but check out the samoyed.  there WERE no "wild dogs" to cross with the wolf - just the artic wolves.  that dna is going to paint a very different picture from the cocker spaniel andother breeds.

      EdriesShop Is it kind? is it true? is it necessary?

      by edrie on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 10:53:41 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Agreed (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mary Mike, KenBee, RiveroftheWest, edrie

        Samoyed, Nenets, Evenks, Chukchis...many indigenous Siberian people who have been around for millennia have lived with dogs that resemble wolves more than anything. I assume, perhaps wrongly, that these scientists have done DNA work on the Siberian dogs so they should have that information. Maybe not.

        •  Also check the North American Gray Wolf, (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RiveroftheWest, edrie

          which I gather they did not.

          Considering that camelids and equids evolved in North America and then reverse-migrated to Eurasia, would it be so strange if something similar happened with the canids?

          If it's
          Not your body,
          Then it's
          Not your choice
          And it's
          None of your damn business!

          by TheOtherMaven on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 03:34:08 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Why? Why? Why? (12+ / 0-)

    I can see no reason on earth except ego to climb that wall.  

    What we need is a Democrat in the White House.

    by dkmich on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 06:11:50 AM PST

  •  Who knew Walter White dabbled in lava...?!? ;) (7+ / 0-)


    "Generosity, Ethics, Patience, Effort, Concentration, and Wisdom"

    by Dood Abides on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 06:16:27 AM PST

  •  Science articles are always so much more (10+ / 0-)

    interesting than religion articles.  

    "Where some see a system for encouraging discussion . . . others see an echo chamber of bad grammar, unchecked stupidity, and constructive interference . . . " -- Ars Technica

    by Rikon Snow on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 06:25:03 AM PST

  •  One of the perils of imprecise language (20+ / 0-)

    It has become standard usage in the science vernacular to say that one modern day species "descended" from another modern day species, when what is really meant is that the two species have a common ancestor, which is probably not on the scene today.

    So, we get creationist knuckleheads yammering about modern day humans "descending" from modern day apes, monkeys or chimpanzees, and how they want no part of it. And nobody seems to recognize that they're actually spouting gibberish, along the lines of "I'm descended from my fourth cousin Amy." No, what is really meant is that tracing back your family tree a sufficient number of generations, you and cousin Amy share a progenitor, a common ancestor, who isn't around anymore: great-great-great-grandmother Eleanor.

    You and your present-day distant cousin aren't "descended" from each other, you share a common ancestor. Today's dogs and wolves aren't "descended" from each other; they have a common ancestor, which is probably not on the scene anymore. It's clunky to say it that way, and clangs on the ear for our present day discussions, but it clears up a whole lot of misunderstandings (both inadvertent and intentional) when we use the right language.

  •  Attacks on falsifiability (8+ / 0-)

    basically allow the bible to be a source of scientific insight. Citing questions about the many-worlds hypothesis is cherry picking a blatantly science fiction scenario devised and used as a security blanket by quantum mechanics who can't calmly accept unintuitive results. Spreading their bad faith with science undermines the essence of empirical inquiry.

    •  Science is the formulation of models that.... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RiveroftheWest, Sandino

      ....explain how the world works.

      If the model is valid, then it will not only explain all* the currently observed data, it will also make testable predictions about data that hasn't been observed yet. For example, Einstein's 1915 theory of General Relativity not only accounted for all the currently observed data, it also made predictions about data from experiments that hadn't been performed yet.  In 1919 Arthur Eddington performed an experiment on the gravitational bending of light. Einstein's theory gave the most accurate prediction of Eddington's data.

      *Relevant to the problem domain of the model. You wouldn't use General Relativity to explain data collected from observing the behavior of bacteria.

      Falsifiability plays a crucial role in the advancement and evolution of science. In 1887 Albert Michelson and Edward Morley tested the theory of luminiferous aether; but the theory failed to accurately predict the observed data. This falsification led to Einstein's theory of Special Relativity.

      In the Fox News Christian Nation, public schools won't teach sex education and evolution; instead they'll have an NRA sponsored Shots for Tots: Gunz in Schoolz program.

      by xynz on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 02:33:49 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The link on falsifiability is great - (15+ / 0-)

    particularly the comments to the article.  Author Carroll is proposing the retirement of falsifiability on the grounds that some parts of physics, like string theory, have issues with being tested/falsified.  But as I am a strong proponent of the idea of falsification, I was greatly heartened by the many comments taking issue with the author's proposal.

    I have been teaching a course on Science and Religion for over 15 years at a small liberal arts college, and falsification is a great point of comparison between the two.  And of course, the original point of Popper on the need for falsification was that it was an appropriate way to exclude religious-only thinking from science.

    Also, at the end of the article, there are about a dozen other articles referenced for other scientist's ideas of what should be retired in science.  A couple of my favorites (for retirement): IQ and the idea that scientists should just stick to science...

    James L. Petigru, SC Unionist: "South Carolina is too small for a republic and too large for an insane asylum."

    by SC damn yankee on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 06:36:17 AM PST

  •  canines are pretty hard to differentiate anyway (7+ / 0-)

    When they did genetic tests on the various wolves and coyotes across the US they got some pretty surprising results showing various mixtures of domestic dog in most of them and definite coyote wolf mixes in those in the east.

    Most people don't even realize our gray wolf is no more ancient on this continent than we are.

    Nice photo of Alex by the way. Not much hangdogging without a rope.

    “Conservation… is a positive exercise of skill and insight, not merely a negative exercise of abstinence and caution…” Aldo Leopold

    by ban nock on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 06:36:23 AM PST

    •  do you have a reference for that comment about (3+ / 0-)

      the gray wolf being relatively recent to North America? What I've read suggests that they likely originated here.

      Gondwana has always been at war with Laurasia.

      by AaronInSanDiego on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 05:48:06 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The truth seems to be somewhere in between (3+ / 0-)

        This paper

        Phylogenetic systematics of the North American fossil Caninae (Carnivora: Canidae).
        By: Tedford, Richard H.; Wang, Xiaoming; Taylor, Beryl E.
        Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History  Volume: 325   Pages: 1-218   Published: 2009

        states that Canis lupus invaded North America from Eurasia about 800,000 years ago (or more) and spreading to mid-latitudes by 100,000 years ago.

        So compared to a lot of other large mammals they are fairly recently arrived in North America.  However they have been here over an order of magnitude longer than humans.

        "To see both sides of a quarrel, is to judge without hate or alarm" - Richard Thompson

        by matching mole on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 06:27:16 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Interesting. (3+ / 0-)

          I see on the wikipedia page that Canis lupus is thought to have colonized North America during the late Rancholabrean era, which was between 240,000 and 11,000 years ago, which would match with ban nock's comment. But the reference for that is a bit older (Mech, L. David; Boitani, Luigi (2003). Wolves: Behaviour, Ecology and Conservation. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-51696-2.) It also says that the Gray Wolf's most likely ancestor is Canis lepophagus, from North America. I guess there was a gap in between where maybe the ancestors of the Gray Wolf moved to Eurasia, and then some eventually came back to North America.

          Gondwana has always been at war with Laurasia.

          by AaronInSanDiego on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 07:01:12 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I like Mech in that he is the most senior (3+ / 0-)

            researcher that concentrates mostly on wolves, and he's been right a lot more than others.

            I read this guy Valerius Geist too who is more an ungulate type but who writes a lot about where present day animals come from.

            “Conservation… is a positive exercise of skill and insight, not merely a negative exercise of abstinence and caution…” Aldo Leopold

            by ban nock on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 07:09:26 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I've pasted in the abstract of the paper I cited (3+ / 0-)

              I don't have enough knowledge of the area to comment on different arguments.

              I will comment that both Mech and Geist are ecologists and wildlife biologists.  The authors of the paper I cited are paleontologists and systematists.  In other words evolutionary history is their area of expertise.  Not to say that automatically makes them right but all else being equal I'm inclined to give them the edge on being more likely to be correct.

              The canid subfamily Caninae includes all the living canids and their most recent fossil relatives. Their sister taxon is the Borophaginae with which they share an important modification of the lower carnassial, namely the presence of a bicuspid talonid, which gives this tooth an additional function in mastication. Contributing to this function is the enlargement of the posterolingual cingulum of M1 and development of a hypocone. The Caninae diverged from the Borophaginae in the narrowing and elongation of the premolars separated by diastemata and placed in a shallow ramus and narrow muzzle. These latter features allow the Caninae to be recognized in the fossil record as early as the beginning of the Oligocene (34 Ma) and constitute evidence that they represent a monophyletic group. In striking contrast to the history of the Borophaginae, the Caninae remain confined to a closely similar group of fox-sized species (Leptocyon spp.) throughout the Oligocene and showing very limited cladogenesis into the end of the medial Miocene (12 Ma), a span that saw marked adaptive divergence in the Borophaginae and the origin of all its major clades. By 12 Ma (beginning of the Clarendonian Land Mammal age) few fox-sized borophagines remained and most of those held hypocarnivorus adaptations. At that point the Vulpini appear both as mesocarnivores (Vulpes spp.) and hypocarnivores (Metalopex spp.) reproducing, on a much smaller scale, the range of adaptations shown in the initial radiation of the Borophaginae. By the end of the Clarendonian (9 Ma) the first members of the tribe Canini appear. Initially this group was represented by the genus Eucyon, largely by a single widespread North American species E. davisi. Our cladistic analysis predicts that the roots of the South American clade subtribe Cerdocyonina, sister taxon to E. davisi and Canis species (together, subtribe Canina), must also have been present, but taxa representing this group do not appear in the North America record until the earliest Pliocene (latest Hemphillian, 5 Ma). Species of three genera (Cerdocyon, Chrysocyon, and possibly Theriodictis), now confined to South America, appear in the fossil record of the southern United States and northern Mexico prior to and just after the opening of the Panamanian Isthmus (ca. 3 Ma), indicating that important cladogenesis within the South American clade took place in North America. Species of Eucyon make their appearance in the Old World in the late Miocene, and E. davisi has a Pliocene record in Asia. Species of this genus undergo a modest adaptive radiation in Eurasia during the Pliocene. In the late Miocene and early Pliocene two species of Canis appear in North America (C. ferox and C. lepophagus), representing the initial cladogenesis within the genus. These animals are all coyote-sized and represent a broadening of body size range within a mesocarnivorous dental adaptation. Toward the end of the Pliocene and into the Pleistocene in North America a curious and rare group of jackal-like species (C. thooides, C. feneus, and C. cedazoensis) seem to form an endemic clade arising near C lepophagus. These taxa are dentally similar to jackals, especially C aureus, but share no synapomorphies with them. The early cladogenesis of Canis in the Pliocene of North America produced a somewhat larger form, C. edwardii, that appears in the late Blancan at ca. 3 Ma. It also seems to have a sister relationship with C. lepophagus and with the coyote C. latrans, which appears much later in the record (late Irvingtonian) and quickly becomes distributed across the United States. The golden jackal (C. aureus) shares synapomorphies with the coyote and C. edwardii but does not appear in the fossil record until the early Pleistocene of North Africa. Canis edwardii is extinct by the end of the Irvingtonian. Large wolflike species of Canis seem to be the products of evolution in Eurasia. They appear early in the North American record as immigrants of the crown group of Canis that augment the essentially stem group native species of the New World. The first of these is Canis armbrusteri, which appears early in the Irvingtonian, initially in the Southwest but later in the eastern United States where it survived into the early Rancholabrean of Florida. This is a large wolf, a sister taxon of C. lupus, whose appearance early in the Pleistocene predates the earliest midcontinent occurrence of C. lupus by nearly 1 m.y. In the New World C. armbrusteri gave rise to the native dire-wolf (C. dirus), as evidenced by intergrading morphologies of late Irvingtonian examples that show the transformation to the more hypercarnivorous giant form. The earliest evidence of C. dirus is in the midcontinent and it appears to have displaced C. armbrusteri into the eastern part of the continent while it expanded westward and particularly southward into South America during the late Pleistocene. Canis lupus itself does not appear in midlatitude North America until the late Rancholabrean (0.1 Ma, last glacial cycle), although it was a resident of Arctic North America since the mid-Pleistocene (ca. 0.8 Ma). North America has a limited record of canine diversity during the Pleistocene. Most clades of vulpines and canines that reached the Old World during that span underwent significant cladogenesis so that the canid fauna of Eurasia was always more diverse than that of the New World. From time to time waifs from the Old World centers of origin wandered south into midcontinent North America to briefly enrich the fossil record: Xenocyon spp. in the late Irvingtonian; Cuon alpinus and Canis lupus in the late Rancholabrean, along with the living fox species Vulpes vulpes (late Rancholabrean) and perhaps the swift-fox earlier in the Pleistocene. The center of evolution of the Caninae thus shifted to Eurasia and to South America when avenues of dispersal to those continents were available at the end of the Cenozoic. Because of the diversity of Old World forms that became resident in North America, our analysis of the New World fauna has been expanded to include relevant Old World taxa and to present a broader phylogenetic reconstruction than could be offered only on the basis of strictly New World evidence. This expanded view brings in a greater diversity or morphology, which allows LIS to better separate homoplasy from true homology. We have considered only Old World taxa that are represented by the most complete material so that missing data are kept to a minimum in our analysis. This still affords sufficient taxa so that the major structure of the phylogeny of Canis can be discerned. Our cladistic analysis Found two robustly recognized crown clades within Canis: the mesocarnivorous lupus clade, and the hypercarnivorous Xenocyon clade. The first contains the wolf, C. lupus, and its sister taxon C. armbrusteri + C. dirus, with the latter showing some dental features related to hypercarnivory as an autapomorphy. The Chinese late Pliocene wolf C chihliensis appears to be a stern group in the Lupus clade and may be closely allied to C. armbrusteri. The Xenocyon clade is also Eurasian in origin and is marked by character reversals to states primitive within Canis. Its earliest record is in the medial Pliocene of eastern Asia (Xenocyon dubius), after which it dispersed to western Eurasia in the early Pleistocene (X. lycaonoides). In the Pleistocene Xenocyon achieved a Holarctic distribution including midlatitide North America (X. texanus and X. lycaonoides). During this episode of expansion the sister taxa Cuon and Lycaon arose in Eurasia and Africa, respectively, most likely from isolated Xenocyon Populations. In the latest Pleistocene Cuon alpinus expanded its range into the middle latitudes of the New World. A number of Pliocene and Pleistocene wolf and coyote-sized Eurasian Canis species (C. arnensis, C. etruscus, C. palmidens, C. mosbachensis, and C. variabilis) were included in our cladistic analysis, but the relationships of those forms were difficult to resolve beyond their paraphyletic relationship to the crown clade.
              Times Cited: 22
              (from All Databases)

              "To see both sides of a quarrel, is to judge without hate or alarm" - Richard Thompson

              by matching mole on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 07:33:35 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  whew! That took some re reading, (0+ / 0-)

                I wish the "Rancholabrean" especially the "late Rancholabrean" were a little more specific.

                I think by saying lupus didn't come to N America until recently that's the time period they (Mech, Geist) mean, not the arctic at .8 Ma (maybe that means 80K years? 800K?) I have never heard of any controversy either, probably just different take on things rather than warring camps of scientists.

                Whatever things were like before they're likely to be very different looking forward into time. Yesterday I was up high with my kid with blowing snow wind etc., I remarked to him then that things might be different in his lifetime.

                “Conservation… is a positive exercise of skill and insight, not merely a negative exercise of abstinence and caution…” Aldo Leopold

                by ban nock on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 07:35:19 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

      •  I always go to wiki first (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        AaronInSanDiego, RiveroftheWest

        Canis lupus colonized North America during the late Rancholabrean era.[
        The Rancholabrean North American Land Mammal Age on the geologic timescale is the North American faunal stage according to the North American Land Mammal Ages chronology (NALMA), typically set from less than 240,000 years to 11,000 years BP

        canines mix and change and interbreed. I too have heard they originated here (lupus) became extinct, and were re established via the land bridge.

        Many mammals we consider native are actually very very recent arrivals. Griz, our elk, wolverine, etc. Somewhere I'm sure there is a list.

        I mostly read offline.

        “Conservation… is a positive exercise of skill and insight, not merely a negative exercise of abstinence and caution…” Aldo Leopold

        by ban nock on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 06:53:57 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks DarkSyde (6+ / 0-)

    nosotros no somos estúpidos

    by a2nite on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 06:38:55 AM PST

  •  So, a guy who pulls an unnecesary stunt... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    palantir, rktect, whaddaya, Mindful Nature

    in an exotic place, without basic safety equipment, is science?

    Just askin'

    •  I'd have to say yes (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      GreenMother, RiveroftheWest, whaddaya

      he's asking and answering questions and attempting to construct a testable hypothesis.

      For a climber the trade off between being safe and being too exhausted to continue before you get very far after which the climb becomes a job rather than an adventure, is sort of intermediate between a scientist trying to find a cure for aids who injects himself with the virus so he can test whether or not his cure works, and somebody who designs a flying machine or a parachute being willing to test it by jumping off a cliff...

      Besides in our world there is no longer any such thing as safety, We all grew up knowing we were doomed and it was just a matter of time, so why not live life instead of invest in a belief in going to a better place after you die?

      Live Free or Die --- Investigate, Incarcerate

      by rktect on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 07:35:44 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Soloing (5+ / 0-)

        is a lot like base jumping. Sooner or later, most of them will die, if they keep it up. But as a former climber I can understand the allure.

        •  They will all die (3+ / 0-)

          of that I'm sure.
          'I want to die peacefully, in my sleep like my father, instead of screaming in terror like his passengers' - Jack Handy

        •  As a mountaineer in my sixth decade (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RiveroftheWest, rktect

          I've learned to nurture many of my earlier enthusiasms (60 is the new 6) and have added a few new ones, but the mountains have become a lot more interesting once I realized I didn't have to compete with them.

          I like the irony of posting a picture of a free soloist as a lead-in to an article on evolution.  It highlights the idea that "fitness" in evolutionary terms is an individual's ability to pass ones genes on to the next generation rather than ones physical prowess.

          Not to belittle the climber's effort too much, but the article does explain that he had made the climb several times with the protection of a rope before doing the free-solo climb.  In other words he had it wired.

          Eighteen claws, three-and-a-half fangs, and a puma's purr.

          by FranklinCat on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 01:01:56 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Is four times enough to memorize a 1750' route? (0+ / 0-)

            What I always used to wonder about was what happens when you forget a move and have to back down from someplace that you had committed to with stretches and leaping grabs. Then I watched some of these people climbing up a shear face or an overhang upside down, hanging by their toes and decided I was just looking at an alternative reality.

            As for  Alex Honnold's the kid who did this you would think that ego wise after you solo half dome you could rest on your laurels, I guess it must be more than that . The number of free solo climbers who have died is starting to rival Everest.

            John Bachar, Derek Hersey, Vik Hendrickson, Robert Steele, Tony Abbott, Dwight Bishop, Jimmy Ray Forrester, Jimmy Jewell, Tony Wilmott, and John Taylor...
            Then there's the accidents: climbing while drunk
            Jimmy Jewell, 31 October 1987, fell to his death from Poor Man's Peuterey (Severe) at Tremadog, North Wales. Ironically he was using the route as a shortcut from a local pub to his climbing club hut. The route was well below his usual grade and capability.
            being carried out to sea by a wave while down climbing
            Michael Reardon was reported missing at 5pm IST on 13 July 2007, after being hit by a wave and swept out to sea; from climbing down 180 metres (590 ft) (Fogher Cliff, 51.9236°N 10.3556°W)

            Live Free or Die --- Investigate, Incarcerate

            by rktect on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 09:11:12 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Many people who climb solo at one level or another (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          indeed many approaches or descents require some soloing. Of all the people I know who soloed at 5.10 or higher with regularity only one took the plunge while soloing, and I believe his problem was more late afternoon thundershowers than the climb itself (sentinel)

          “Conservation… is a positive exercise of skill and insight, not merely a negative exercise of abstinence and caution…” Aldo Leopold

          by ban nock on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 07:16:50 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  When ever I run into a rabid creationist here in (11+ / 0-)

    Texas--the kind of person who swears that God created every kind of being there now is on the earth during that busy first week--I simply ask "Then where did the Chinese Crested Dog come from? Where did the Great Dane come from? Where did the Pekinese and the Greyhound come from?"

    Because the answer, of course, is that we created them, using the same process that nature uses. We look for random genetic mutations--large size, small size, a certain type of coat, a certain type of color, etc.-- and we select for those mutations that please us. The only difference is that nature selects for those mutations that tend to help an organism stay alive long enough in a certain, specific environment  to reproduce and pass on that mutation. Since environments change, nature's selections change.

    The Chihuahua and the Irish Wolfhound...those are the proof of the mechanism of evolution.  

    Freedom has two enemies: Those who want to control everyone around them...and those who feel no need to control themselves.

    by Sirenus on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 06:43:03 AM PST

  •  How silly to think of God as a constricted (9+ / 0-)

    creationist.  Just look up and around,  inside yourseff to see the wonder of the movement of growth, development and the ever expanding, changing landscape of being and awareness.  Seeing God as little and dwarf-like is so funny in light of the awesome, thrilling nature of the universe and my God, I have a dab of awareness about it, shit that is the ultimate virtue of my being human.  Creationists, stop making God so tiny,  you have nothing to lose but the chains on your minds.  

  •  If I was going to pick an idea in science .. (10+ / 0-)

    that needed retirement it would certainly not be falsifiability! I fully realize that historical science cannot be easily falsified (although it can be altered by new geological or paleontological evidence.)  Still some standard is needed in order to define true science from fantasy.  Otherwise spoon-bending, alien abduction, the Loch Ness monster, Bigfoot, etc. are ideas that are as good as gravity, relativity and natural selection.

    Actually, Popper was not the first to use falsifiability as a prerequisite for a scientific question.  John Stewart Mill is credited with that invention.  Popper formalized it in more detail, if I understand right.

    No wonder theoretical physics is in such a muddle these days!  I guess that we all must be holograms and that matter itself must not exist (it is a sort of illusion in reality, as only the strong forces hold things together in a way that makes matter seem solid, most being empty space - still one would be a fool to run into a brick wall thinking that you could pass through it.)

    It seems to me that dispensing with falsifiability is a misinterpretation of Post-Modernist thought in which all ideas are equally worthy of investigation. In my opinion, in that way lies madness.  Even if we cannot always test a theory directly at the present time, falsifiability remains a worthwhile and indeed, necessary, goal.

  •  Unexpected beauty. (4+ / 0-)

    I expected the "diamond blue lava" link to be talking about a planet or protostar thousands of light-years away.  Instead, it's right here on this planet, and the pictures are spectacular.  And it's because of sulfur!

    I loved that article on scientific ideas which should be discarded.  Cause and effect?  Quantum jumps?  And of course, falsifiability.  Great reading that causes is associated with serious thinking.

    I am become Man, the destroyer of worlds

    by tle on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 07:30:01 AM PST

  •  Sean Carroll doesn't understand falsifiability (6+ / 0-)

    It's not about being able to observe something, it's about conceiving of an experiment that could at least hypothetically prove a theory wrong.

    The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. Bertrand Russell

    by accumbens on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 07:37:17 AM PST

    •  And that, ultimately, must be a requirement of (5+ / 0-)


      Today's limitations preserve tomorrow's opportunities.  Who knows? With enough shoulders of enough giants, perhaps every real phenomenon is falsifiable.

      I agree 100% with the expressed concerns about turning science into faith and scientists into priests and prophets.

      If some things remain -- even temporarily -- beyond the reach of science, then so be it.  Science without rigor becomes a glorified creationist museum.

      LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

      by dinotrac on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 09:22:06 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The picture (4+ / 0-)

    Rotate it 90 degrees clockwise and it doesn't look so scary.

  •  Dante had it wrong.Hell is neon blue! Who knew? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    belinda ridgewood, whaddaya

    Those images are a lot prettier, and more unworldly, than anything JJ Abrams comes up with.

  •  diamond blue lava (3+ / 0-)

    that's insane.  pure otherworldly

    Righteousness is a wide path. Self-righteousness is a bullhorn and a blindfold.

    by Murphoney on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 08:43:13 AM PST

  •  Thanks for the lava pics. (3+ / 0-)

    I look forward to your weekly column.

  •  So how many people thought of the 5th Element (5+ / 0-)

    Scene where Leelu is rebuilt, when reading about these medical 3-D printers?

    Gentlemen, congratulations. You're everything we've come to expect from years of government training (Zed, MIB).

    by GreenMother on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 09:43:54 AM PST

  •  The part that stands out about the volcano article (4+ / 0-)
    Miners carry between 176 and 220 pounds of sulfur chunks per trip and sell the pieces for around 2.5 cents per pound. Yahoo reports they average two loads every 24 hours, thereby doubling their salaries amid sulfurous flames that can reach 16 feet high
    220 lb x 2 loads/day x 2.5 cents/lb = $11 dollars a day

    That is insane.

    "He who fights monsters should see to it that he himself does not become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."

    by Hayate Yagami on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 09:47:41 AM PST

  •  tissue engineering (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    whaddaya, RiveroftheWest

    is a very big thing.

  •  A correction (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    KenBee, RiveroftheWest

    is in order. Kawah Ijen is not "spewing blue lava." There is a sulfur concentrating operation in an area of high degassing inside the crater. The fumaroles have been utilized for sulfur collection for many years. The activity is actually protected by the government because so many people make their living by collecting the solidified sulfur, packing it down the volcano and selling it to a local sugar refinery.

    The pipes running up the rocks allow the sulfur fumes to condense into liquid sulfur, which flows both out of the pipes and from cracks in the rocks. The sulfur has been ignited off and on over the years, I suspect because it makes an otherworldly sight for tourists.

    The lake in Ijen's crater is one of the most acidic bodies of water on Earth, with a pH of 0.5.

    As they breathe the acrid fumes using little or no protection, workers expose themselves to erosion of their teeth and destruction of their lungs.

    YouTube has many videos of the mining operation and acid lake.

  •  Maned wolf (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ban nock, RiveroftheWest

    Maned wolf is a really interesting south american wolf...or maybe 'wolf'.

    eureka is getting some for it's Sequoia Zoo along with the Bush Dogs, another south american but rare canid.

    This machine kills Fascists.

    by KenBee on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 05:27:44 PM PST

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