Category Archives: Yeah! Science!

My Awe-mazing Life, pt.4 – Parenthood

When you see you children conceived, developed in utero and then born thru this amazing process, it doesn’t make you wonder about the mind behind such a design?

101003205930_1_900x600.jpgI think I’ve said this before but of course I do! Wait, no, I don’t wonder about the ‘mind’ behind it because I don’t see the need for a mind behind it. I am in awe of the process and the intricate details that must be in just the right place and time for the sperm to fertilize the egg, for the sheath to form so only one sperm gets in, for the DNA of the two to combine to form the zygote, for the embryo to attach to the wall of the uterus in just the right place… I understand the process and wonder at it. But there is no reason to explain it away with a god.

images (1)Being a parent is more of an experience than I ever thought it could be. Everyday I am amazed at something Sariah or Sophia have done. One day I came home from work and Sariah was in her room reading to herself, I didn’t know if she would turn out to be a reader. Another day I was taking a nap and Sophia found me, woke me up, asked me to bite her apple for her (she can’t take the first bite), and then went to Crystal to tell on me for eating her apple! Hearing her exasperated sighs and explanation in her baby talk was incredible. These are my accomplishments, not your god’s.

How about one last Tim Minchin quote and video link.

And you, my baby girl
My jetlagged infant daughter
You’ll be handed round the room
Like a puppy at a primary school
And you won’t understand
But you will learn someday
That wherever you are and whatever you face
These are the people who’ll make you feel safe in this world
My sweet blue-eyed girl
….
And if my baby girl
When you’re twenty-one or thirty-one
And Christmas comes around
And you find yourself nine thousand miles from home
You’ll know what ever comes
….
Your brothers and sisters and me and your Mum
Will be waiting for you in the sun
Whenever you come
Your brothers and sisters, your aunts and your uncles
Your grandparents, cousins and me and your mum
We’ll be waiting for you in the sun
Drinking white wine in the sun

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My Awe-mazing Life, pt.3 – Design

All the knowledge you hold about the human body and at the cellular level and the intricate detail involved in development and sustaining the metabolic process, you don’t ever wonder if their is an intelligent mind behind that design?

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Just as this person said, the details of the processes our bodies go through everyday with zero active involvement by us. It is awe-mazing. I don’t need to use a god to explain these processes because evolution does just that.

I’m sure there is contention in your mind about the idea of evolution but I’ll tell you this, in the scientific world there is evidence enough to have attained the status of scientific Theory (big T).

Evolution is powered by survival of the fittest. This means that the individual or group that is most adapted to the environment will be thrive while less adapted ones die off. I see it as a very simple and logical idea. The main problem people have is the amassing of very many extremely small changes causes a large change over a big period of time.clock2

I once explained it as a clock, don’t know if I came up with this or heard it from somewhere else. If I were to show you pictures of a clock at different hours and told you that the pictures were related but didn’t have a picture for every second in between each picture, you could say you don’t believe they’re the same clock because there were holes in the timeline. If we were then to look at the clock in person you say “See, only the second hand moves, you can’t watch the hour hand move so those pictures must be of completely different clocks.

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This analogy relates directly to the erroneous distinction of micro vs macro evolution. Just as the only difference between an hour and a second is time, so to the only difference between micro and macro evolution is time. Extremely small, even imperceptible, changes can add up. So the changes between each successive individual is unnoticeable but if you can look at the difference between individuals thousands of years apart the change could be drastic.

Some advice on reading about this subject would definitely include Richard Dawkins’ The Ancestor’s Tale, The Greatest Show on Earth, The Magic of Reality, or The Selfish Gene. Another great analogy is in the Ancestor’s Tale (I think) where we take an elevator down the floors, each a different step on the evolutionary chain, towards the ancestors. If we stop at each floor along the way we won’t see much, if any change, but if we jump say 100 floors or 1,000 floors the differences would be immediately noticeable.

If the mechanism can be explained then there is no need for a designer. The next book I will recommend is The Blind Watchmaker. When you believe everything is divinely designed what makes anything more amazing than any other thing?

The problem with saying there is a designer is the the design flaws. Glasses and hearing aids are the least of the worries, what about childhood cancer, or cancer at all. It is easily explained with science, why try to give credit to a faulty designer when you can’t also give the blame for the flaws.

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My Awe-mazing Life, pt.2 – Morality

Why you think some things are right and others are wrong?

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Morality. What is right and what is wrong. Of course I’ve thought about this, I’ve decided to take the burden of deciding what is right and what is wrong on myself, and I think if we look hard enough some theists have too.

To understand my morality I will link a video here that explains the basis for a secular morality. This talk was given by Matt Dillahunty, a well known, outspoken atheist who is one of the hosts of The Atheist Experience, an atheist talk show (now on skype/internet stream) that actually welcomes questions and comments from theists.

GoldenRule-2.jpgFollowing the dictates of a higher power isn’t morality, it’s following orders. Basically the foundation for my morality is empathy. You know the “Golden Rule”, but just to stop your thought process, this isn’t a Christian idea. Every religion/culture throughout history has had this idea, if they didn’t have this simple thought the civilization wouldn’t last. It isn’t rocket surgery to know murder is bad, but in some instances I think we would agree that the death of one individual is acceptable. This is a very big thing, situational ethics.

moralityGood and bad are within us all because that is what is required to keep our society around. I see no reason to give the credit for our good deeds to a god, especially when we would still keep all the blame for the bad.

Can a deity be both just and forgiving? Forgiveness is to take away the punishment for a misdeed, while justice is the rightful punishment of a misdeed. Seems like a contradiction to me but, then again, it isn’t my god so I don’t have to rationalize it.

If you have a good sense of humor about your belief and could use a laugh check out this video of Tim Minchin’s song The Good Book. The morality part of the song lyrics are here:

Morality is written there
In simple white and black
I feel sorry for you heathens
Got to think about all that
Good is good and evil’s bad
And goats are good
And pigs are crap
You’ll find which one is which
In the Good Book
Cause it’s good and it’s a book
And it’s a book (yeah!)

Myth Math

Noah’s Ark is likely one of the biggest stories from the Bible. In this post I want to show that it just isn’t likely to have happened, and perhaps just couldn’t be possible.

And the flood was forty days upon the earth; and the waters increased, and bare up the ark, and it was lift up above the earth. And the waters prevailed, and were increased greatly upon the earth; and the ark went upon the face of the waters. And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered. Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered.
-Genesis 7:17-20

So, we have a few very good math problems ahead of us. Not only are they just math, they aren’t even that complicated of a problem. Before we begin I will lay out the parts of the problem that are similar to each version.

First, the size of the Earth. NASA (clicky click) states that the volume of the Earth is 108.321 x 10^10 km³. These are big numbers, but I have all the room I need, it’s my blog. The average radius, the mean of the equatorial and polar radii, is:

(6378.1 km + 6356.8 km ) / 2 = 6367.45 km

That is the radius we will use to find the volume of the Earth and compare it to what NASA gave us.

V = 4/3 π r³
V = 4/3 * 3.14 * 6367.45 km³
V = 1.33 * 3.14 * 258164563961 km³
V = 1078146900000 km³
V = 1.0781469 x 10^12 km³

NASA reports the volume of the Earth to be 108.321 x 10^10 km³. I’d say a difference of 500 km is close enough, yay us!

15 Cubits Flood

So the text states that the waters went up 15 cubits. That is the first measurement we are going to work with. I am going to do the math to see how much water would be required to raise the sea level 15 cubits. But, how big is a cubit?

 

cubit-manBecause I want to give as much leniency to the story as possible I went to the group that takes the story most literally, Answers in Genesis.

They state that the cubit could range from 17.5 to 20.6 inches. I think the best bet for this problem is to take a middle point between the two.

(17.5 + 20.6) / 2 = our cubit
19.05″ = 1 cubit

15 cubits = 19.05 * 15
15 cubits = 285.75″
285.75″ = 23.8′

That doesn’t seem like a flood to me and it certainly doesn’t seem like it would cover the mountains. We are going to go with this measurement first.

So to find out the volume of water we simply find the volume of the Earth during the flood and take away the volume of the Earth. The 15 cubit flood raised the water level 23.8 feet so we add that to the mean radius we found earlier, a difference of only 0.00011%.

23.8′ + 6367.45 km = intra-flood radius
23.8′ = 0.00725424 km
0.00725424 + 6367.45 = 6367.45725424 km radius

If we then plug that radius into the equation to find volume during the flood, V(f):

V = 4/3 π r³
V(f) = 4/3 * 3.14 * (6367.45725424 km)³
V(f) = 1.33 * 3.14 * 258165446319.04806285631451844903 km³
V(f) = 1078150536917.6085 km³
V(f) = 1080852668589.0812231584367839066 km³

Then subtract the volume of the Earth, V,  from V(f) to find the volume of the water, V(w).

V(f) – V = V(w)
1080852668589.0812231584367839066 km³ – 1.0781469 x 10^12 km³ = V(w)
2705768589.0812231584367839065848 km³ = V(w)

That’s a really hard number to imagine, at least for me it is. Let’s make that volume into a sphere and see how it shapes up (I know it’s a bad/good pun however you see puns). If we take that volume and place it into the equation to find volume and work backwards we can find the radius of a sphere of water, r(w).

V = 4/3 π r³
r = ((3V)/(4π))^(1/3)
r = 0.62035 * V ^1/3
r(w) = 1188.4360369823730308866574874648 km
r(w) = 738.5 miles

That’s it. A sphere of water with a diameter of >1400 miles would be needed to raise the sea level to just 15 cubits. You know what else is about 1400 miles in diameter?

SLw0NlC

That’s right, a ball of water the size of Pluto would be needed to raise the sea level just 15 cubits. Like I said above though that’s only 23.8 feet of water, nowhere near covering the high hills or mountains.

Maybe we didn’t go by the Bible well enough. It does say “…and all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered. Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered.”

“and the mountains were covered” Flood

The tallest mountain we know is Mt. Everest at 29,029′ above sea level. If we change our math enough to cover it, not even counting going over it by 15 cubits, how much water would be needed then?

We are going to add 29,029′ to the radius of the Earth from above. Because water levels itself it would need to be at this level around the entire planet to cover any part of it. If you hold that the Earth was covered by a layer of water 15 cubits deep like a film over all the mountains and hill then I can’t do anything for you, that’s ridiculous (and I’m the one doing math to figure out Noah’s flood).

The radius of the Earth from earlier plus the added distance to the top of Mt. Everest:

r = 6367.45 km + 29,029 ft
r = 6376.2980392 km

An addition of just 0.1389%. If we then use that in the volume formulas from above we get the volume during the flood (I cut out the math but you are welcome to check for accuracy):

V(f) = 1085360995411.5541311496090510458 km³

To find the volume of the water, V(w):

V(w) = V(f) – V
V(w) = 7214100000 km³

Now, let’s find the radius of the sphere of water that would be required for that volume:

r = 0.62035 * V ^1/3
r = 1198.6641207880081840568342435861 km
r = 744.8 miles , d = 1490 miles

Isn’t that interesting? I know I am shocked. It’s less than 100 miles difference. That being said, that amount of water is staggering. Where did it come from and where did it go. Those are the big questions.

I know immediately the believer would bring up:

…all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.
-Genesis 7:11

There just isn’t that much water underground, nor in the clouds, nor in the ice caps, nor in all of those combined. According to the USGS, all combined, there is about 1409560910 km³ of water on the Earth. That’s about 20% of the water needed to cover the Earth above the mountains.

Another theory I remember hearing is that the water came from an asteroid or some such object. Like we found the object would need to be nearly the size of Pluto to contain enough water, and that still leaves the question of where the water went after the genocide was complete.

The water couldn’t have been absorbed into the planet. Our planet is powered by a magmatic engine that would solidify if cooled by water. Without the core spinning we lose both our magnetic cover and our atmosphere.

It simply didn’t happen. I’m sorry if you can’t accept this point, but I feel like I have shown very clearly that the evidence just isn’t there to accept your claim of a global flood.

Well, that’s it. That was actually fun for me. I messed up the math in a few places because of the exponents and units but I feel this final post is error free. If you disagree with the math I urge you to do it for yourself and see that the only way Noah’s Ark would have actually happened is by magic. Be truthful to yourself and align your beliefs with those things that are provable. And let’s not even get started on the animals.

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The Future of our Children

Thank you for reading; my subject today is controversial to say the least, but as a parent raising my daughter who will soon enter the public school system I feel I must voice my opinion. A debate rages in our community (both locally and nationally) that our children are only being presented one side of an argument and that we owe it to ourselves, our children, and to the future generations to allow equal time in the classroom for alternative theories to be taught, but do we really?

I, of course, am speaking of Intelligent Design. The proponents of ID are trying their hardest to present the argument as science based, but at its very core it is founded to teach the Bible and the God of Abraham to our children. They would have us believe that Intelligent Design, or Biblical Creationism, deserves the right to be heard by the students of our schools just as much as Darwin’s THEORY of evolution. This is a blatant and vulgar misuse of the word theory and they know and exploit it. If we were to follow their logic there are a few more ‘theories’ that need to be added to the list that would deserve equal time and attention if we were to allow Intelligent Design.

Our science classrooms lack any information on other scenarios for the creation of our world; the time we have given to Darwin should be divided between Young Earth Creationism, Old Earth Creationism, Last Thursday Creationism, the creation legends of ancient Egypt, ancient Rome, the Vikings, the Mayans, the creation from Muslim literature, the creation story from Hindu, and all of the hundreds of other MYTHS of creation.

You may laugh at this if you wish, you may think I am only here to be humorous but I must tell you that we are on a slippery slope. If we allow one religion into our science classrooms we must allow them all and it will not stop there, we must then allow equal time to any idea that someone comes up with. Our science classrooms and our dear teachers are here to teach SCIENCE, not mythology, leave that to the Social Studies and History.

The science classroom is for ideas that can be investigated; for ideas that are empirical and measurable; for ideas that can, if necessary, be proven wrong. Religion allows for no investigation, measure, reason, or fallibility. Science is generally intended to be as objective as possible in order to reduce biased interpretations of results, looking at the many different denominations and religions that our world supports, obviously, the same cannot be said of religion. Biased interpretation is arguably the fundamental building block of Intelligent Design and many other of the “controversies” I mentioned.

Many people would, quite correctly, have the argument debated on the grounds of religion in our classrooms bringing up the first amendment to the Constitution and the Establishment Clause. In Everson v. Board of Education Justice Hugo Black wrote:

            The “establishment of religion” clause of the First Amendment means at least this: Neither a state nor the Federal Government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion to another … in the words of Jefferson, the [First Amendment] clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to erect ‘a wall of separation between church and State‘ … That wall must be kept high and impregnable. We could not approve the slightest breach.”

Obviously, the Establishment Clause of the Constitution will not allow for the invasion of religion into our public schools, but the argument of allowing ID and their mythological beliefs about the origin of our world and ourselves need not be debated only on the grounds of the Constitution but on the validity and merit of their “science.”

The so-called evidences they use to reinforce their ideas have been found to be based on sloppy and or out-dated science and are held to be infallible truths. The popular online community Talk Origins has compiled a list of creationist claims and a response to each; to be found here. The community at Answers in Genesis has actually compiled a list of arguments that should be avoided because of the overwhelming evidence against those arguments; this can be found here. I would not dare to ask you to take the word of Talk Origins or myself for each claim as true, in fact quite the opposite, I urge you to investigate the claims of ID and the creationists for yourself.

Thank you for your time. I hope this finds you well and logic and reason dictate your response.

This Week In Science

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I Love Science!

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This image is one of the reasons I love science. I will link to articles about each of the topics contained in the image, see below. Each of these, though perhaps not the one about Pluto, have the chance to change some part of our lives and will indefinitely lead to newer and grander things in the future. My favorite part of science; we are not okay with the status quo.

Ain’t No Party Like A Petri Dish Party

Six Million Dollar Man’s Eyes

Is that 3-D or 4-D

Poor Pluto’s Moons

A New Head on Your Shoulders

Aliens!

Biodegradable Banana Plastics

HIV vs Stem Cells

Diagnosis Is In!

First the acknowledgements:

Thank you first and foremost to my wife for cleaning and dressing my wound during my recovery. Thank yous also go to Cumberland Pathology Associates (including Dr.s Gill, McCullough, and Haase), Knoxville Dermatopathology Laboratory (Dr. Googe), Premier Medical Center (including Dr.s Miller and Jackson), Gateway Medical Center, and to any assistants and staff who had a hand on my sample.

 

Next, an updated photo of the healing sutures:

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Its kind of hard to scale the image but the lesion they removed was a little over and inch vertical and half an inch horizontal and an inch or so deep.

 

and Finally, the diagnosis and pathology report:

Cumberland Pathology Associates/Dr. Haase’s report:

Clinical Impression: Lesions

Diagnosis: Dermatofibroma, Present in base of excision (Please see comment)

Comment: This case was forwarded for additional consultative review. Our consultant states that dermatofibromas rarely persist or recur even when incompletely removed. However if a lesion remains or recurs clinically, conservative complete removal would be suggested for further evaluation and therapy. A copy of the consultative opinion is attached (Knoxville Dermatopathology laboratory case *******).

Knoxville Dermatopathology Laboratory/Dr.  Googe’s report:

Diagnosis: Dermatofibroma, present in base of excision (Please see comment)

Comment: I agree with your diagnosis of dermatofibroma and this example has areas with the “sclerosing hemangioma” pattern which was described many years ago. This example is interesting because of the prominent sebaceous glands located above the neoplasm. This may be an inductive phenomenon of the tumor, but has no other known clinical significance. Dermatofibromas rarely persist or recur even when incompletely removed. In this example, however, there may be quite a bit of lesion left in the patient as the tumor is transected at the base of the specimen. If a lesion remains or recurs clinically, conservative complete removal would be suggested for further evaluation and therapy. Thank you for the opportunity to see this interesting case.

Microscopic Description:

The three slides have sections of a skin excision including epidermis, dermis, and focal superficial elements of subcutaneous fat. There is a spindle cell neoplasm forming a mass having its epicenter in the reticular dermis. The spindled cells have in-distinctive cytoplasmic boarders. They are arranged in haphazard groupings which replace portions of the dermis and which are accompanied by delicate fibrosis. Prominent capillaries are noted with the neoplasm. The tumor cells are somewhat infiltrative, but on low power examination the lesion has a fairly well-circumscribed border. There is overlying epidermal hyperplasia and several prominent sebaceous glands connect directly to the epidermis. The neoplastic cells show little variability or hyperchromasia. Mitotic activity is not noted. There is no necrosis. Tumor is present in the base of the biopsy.

 

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So, the lesion was a benign growth of tissue that usually occurs in kids (agrees with my story of it being around for quite awhile) and is unlikely to cause any problems if any was left in the procedure. I am pretty sure however that Dr. Miller was more aggressive in his excision than Dr. Jackson was; the specimen that was submitted was excised by Dr. Jackson and then he called for Dr. Miller to check his work and suggest appropriate sutures.

Dr. Miller advised that the part taken already was not at all the entirety of the tumor and took to excising more of my back himself. Both of the comments by the pathologists advise some sample was left and excision may or may not be needed but they did not know of the part that Dr. Miller had taken. The piece Dr. Miller took out was at least half to three quarters of an inch deep, likely three times the size of the sample Dr. Jackson had taken and submitted for study.

Because of the length of time that I have had this lesion I did not seriously contemplate that it would be malignant but it is cool to have these reports to know for certain. I like that even the doctors still find these cases interesting and I am glad mine was one of the interesting ones, but I would expect no less from myself. So, that’s it. its out and I’m healing nicely. I will post update pics and maybe a post or two after the stitches come out and I think healing is nearly complete. Thanks for following me on this journey.

Bleeding Disorders

Diagnosis of Bleeding Disorders

Hemoglobin Requirements

Hemoglobin…possibly the most important part of our blood. It binds oxygen to transfer it from the air in the lungs to the body parts and binds to carbon dioxide and other waste to take it away to get rid of it through the lungs. The iron particles in the blood are the reason it appears red. Every animal discovered so far has this system, except one! The fish in the article below has clear blood and no hemoglobin. Insane!

the article

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