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Pro-Science News

Philae craft lands on comet

Panda's Thumb - Sat, 2014-11-15 04:21
Rosetta headquarters announced a few moments ago that the Philae lander is now sitting on the surface of the comet and transmitting data. Unfortunately, the European Space Agency is not exactly releasing a trove of pictures. I know this is not biology, but where did you think those hydrocarbons came from in the first place?... Matt Young http://www.mines.edu/~mmyoung
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RNCSE 34:6 now on-line

NCSE is pleased to announce that the latest issue of Reports of the National Center for Science Education is now available on-line.

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Progress in Texas

"Climate scientists can breathe a bit easier," the National Journal (November 13, 2014) reports. "Pearson Education — the largest educational publisher in the world — has cut material from a proposed Texas social-studies textbook that cast doubt on the human causes of global warming."

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Net Neutrality and the Contrarian Backlash

W.R. Elsberry's The Austringer - Fri, 2014-11-14 07:20
Earlier this week, President Barack Obama gave a speech laying out strong support for “net neutrality”. Obama called on the FCC to change classification of broadband internet providers to “common carrier” class, meaning that they would be prohibited from privileging — or blocking — particular sorts of traffic passing through their systems. The backlash was […]
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The latest from Texas

The pressure on the Texas board of education to require the correction of errors in the coverage of climate change in social studies textbooks presently under consideration continues.

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Update from Scotland

The Public Petitions Committee of the Scottish Parliament heard testimony supporting the proposed ban on teaching creationism as scientifically credible in Scotland's public schools on November 11, 2014, according to the Press Association (November 11, 2014). The committee agreed to write to the Scottish government, the Educational Institute of Scotland, the Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association and the Association of Headteachers and Deputes in Scotland to receive their views on the matter.

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Phylogenomics: Deciphering a Billion-Piece Puzzle

Panda's Thumb - Sun, 2014-11-09 00:23
This is the second in a series of articles for the general public focused on understanding how species are related and how genomic data is used in research. Today, we talk about phylogenomics, the application of whole genome sequencing to understand evolutionary relationships among species. DNA Chemical Structure. Source: Madeleine Price Ball The haploid human genome is 3.2 billion DNA bases long, and each base can be one of four nucleotides: A, T, C, and... Emily Thompson
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Michael Peroutka elected to county council

Panda's Thumb - Sun, 2014-11-09 00:23
Or, as Right-Wing Watch puts it, Neo-Confederate Republican Michael Peroutka Wins Maryland Election. Mr. Peroutka operates the family foundation that donated the allosaurus fossil to the Creation “Museum,” as we reported here. I will not synopsize the Right-Wing Watch article, but I think that you will find that being a neo-Confederate is the least of Mr. Peroutka’s problems; if he is not completely crackers, he is giving a convincing imitation.... Matt Young http://www.mines.edu/~mmyoung
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Andreas Wagner: Arrival of the Fittest: Solving Evolution's Greatest Puzzle

Panda's Thumb - Sun, 2014-11-09 00:23
I started this post thinking I’d write a review of Andreas Wagner’s recent book “Arrival of the Fittest: Solving Evolution’s Greatest Puzzle” (links below), an engrossing book about how biological innovation arises from the structure of metabolic, genotype, and protein networks, and how robustness–the stability of phenotypes in the face of underlying genetic variability–is critical in evolutionary innovations. But there are several excellent reviews already out there, so another would be redundant. I’ll mention only... Richard B. Hoppe
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Delicious sex chromosomes

Panda's Thumb - Sun, 2014-11-09 00:23
Plants have sex? Yes, they totally do. A brief overview:  Plants have female reproductive organs (carpels) and male reproductive organs (stamens), but several different ways of determining sex. There are two main groups of seed-producing plants. Gymnosperms are plants without covered seeds, and include those that produce cones. Gymnosperms and are split with about 75% exhibiting monoecy (having male and female sex organs on the same plant), and 25% exhibiting dioecy (having separate male plants and... M. Wilson Sayres http://mathbionerd.blogspot.com
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Phelsuma laticauda

Panda's Thumb - Sun, 2014-11-09 00:23
Photograph by Tony Gamble. Photography contest, Honorable Mention. Phelsuma laticauda – gold dust day gecko.... Matt Young http://www.mines.edu/~mmyoung
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"Texas textbooks need to get the facts straight"

Writing in the Austin American-Statesman (November 6, 2014), Camille Parmesan and Alan I. Leshner called on the Texas state board of education to insist on the correction of scientifically inaccurate material about climate change in social studies textbooks currently under consideration for state adoption. "Texas educators should reject the new textbooks unless they are edited to address the serious concerns outlined by the National Center for Science Education," they argued.

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Congratulations to Jay Labov

NCSE is delighted to congratulate Jay Labov on being named as a Honorary Member of the National Association of Biology Teachers.

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Ohio's antiscience bill progresses

Ohio's House Bill 597 — which if enacted would require students in the state's public schools to "review, in an objective manner, the scientific strengths and weaknesses of existing scientific theories in the [state science] standards" — was passed on a 7-2 vote by the House Rules and Reference committee on November 5, 2014, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer (November 5, 2014).

 

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Banning creationism in Scottish schools?

A petition calling on the Scottish government to ban creationism from Scottish public schools is to receive a hearing in the Scottish parliament on November 11, 2014. Filed on behalf of the Scottish Secular Society, the petition asks (PDF) the parliament "to bar the presentation in Scottish publicly funded schools of separate creation and of Young Earth doctrines as viable alternatives to the established science of evolution, common descent, and deep time," adding, "Nothing in this request precludes the discussion of such doctrines in their proper place, as part of the study of ideas, neither does it nor can it infringe on individual freedom of belief."

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A preview of Extinction and Evolution

NCSE is pleased to offer a free preview (PDF) of Niles Eldredge's Extinction and Evolution: What Fossils Reveal about the History of Life (Firefly, 2014).

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Kent Hovind in trouble again

Panda's Thumb - Thu, 2014-10-30 02:07
I haven’t got time to investigate further, but Hovind watchers might be interested that Mr, Hovind (Dr. Dino) has been charged with filing a lien on property that had already been forfeited. Or something. A Forbes columnist, Peter Reilly, suggests that the government is piling on, and I suspect he is right; you may read about it here. Acknowledgement. Link provided by the truly indefatigable Dan Phelps.... Matt Young http://www.mines.edu/~mmyoung
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The Family Tree of Life

Panda's Thumb - Wed, 2014-10-29 02:20
In the next few weeks, we’ll be posting a series of articles for the general public focused on understanding how species are related and how genomic data is used in research. We start with a background on phylogenetic trees. Imagine you could go back in time and meet your great grandmother or even your great-great-great-great-great grandmother, when they were your age. Would they look like you? Or would they look more like your siblings or... Emily Thompson
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Creationist conference at Michigan State University

Panda's Thumb - Mon, 2014-10-27 23:23
According to an article in Science today, a creationist group has booked a room for a conference at Michigan State University. Science is more discreet than I have to be, but it appears that they duped a student group into booking a room for them, and they are scheming to hold another conference at the University of Texas at Arlington. Science writes that the conference, scheduled for November 1 and called the Origins Summit, is... Matt Young http://www.mines.edu/~mmyoung
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Update from Wyoming

The Wyoming Tribune Eagle (October 26, 2014) reviewed the status of the state's science standards.

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