Posted on September 28, 2009 by TCS
A recent paper finds that organization within bacteria is more complex than previously thought:
Simple visual inspection of bacteria indicated that, at least in some otherwise symmetric cells, structures such as flagella were often seen at a single pole. Because these structures are composed of proteins, it was not clear how to reconcile these observations of morphological asymmetry with the widely held view of bacteria as unstructured “bags of enzymes.” However, over the last decade, numerous GFP tagged proteins have been found at specific intracellular locations such as the poles of the cells, indicating that bacteria have a high degree of intracellular organization. Here we will explore the role of chromosomal asymmetry and the presence of “new” and “old” poles that result from the cytokinesis of rod-shaped cells in establishing bipolar and monopolar protein localization patterns. This article is intended to be illustrative, not exhaustive, so we have focused on examples drawn largely from Caulobacter crescentus and Bacillus subtilis, two bacteria that undergo dramatic morphological transformation. We will highlight how breaking monopolar symmetry is essential for the correct development of these organisms.1
1). Dworkin, J. (2009). Cellular Polarity in Prokaryotic Organisms.
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Posted on September 22, 2009 by TCS
Upson Downes said of evolution, whatever evolution may be, that how it occurs is
….the subject of 2,000 reviewed papers per year in the journals. Because HOW it occurred is the only basis for scientific knowledge and for practical applications, which are the ultimate reason for science.
Yet ironically if evolution is all “change” in a given context then its occurrence cannot be known (i.e. falsified or verified) and one would find themselves studying how something occurred without any knowledge that it actually did occur in the first place. Of course change happens, much like excrement happens but if you believe that change is an explanation for how everything happens then you may as well have excrement for brains. At a more specific level than “evolution,” whatever that may be, there is little evidence that a Darwinian form of change/”evolution” has brought about the origins of all organisms. It matters little how many people assume that evolution of this sort must have occurred and set about imagining HOW it must have happened if the evidence shows that in all probability it never happened in the first place.
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Posted on September 22, 2009 by TCS
Here’s an interesting article on how reliance on any form of science based more on consensus than on facts, logic and evidence tends toward pseudo-science. The overview:
The issue of global warming has been one of the more confusing and misleading issues to be presented to the public. Despite the absence of a significant scientific basis for most predictions, the public has been led to believe that there is an overwhelming scientific consensus that the issue is a matter of immediate urgency requiring massive control of energy usage. The first part of this paper will briefly describe this situation. The thought that scientists would allow such an abuse of science is difficult for most laymen to believe. However, I suggest that what is happening may, in fact, be the normal behavior to be expected from the interaction of science, advocacy groups, and politics. A study of an earlier example of such an interaction, the interaction of genetics, eugenics and immigration law during the early part of this century, reveals almost analogous behavior.
Link: Science and Politics: Global Warming and Eugenics by Richard S. Lindzen
He notes that the intersection of pseudo-knowledge and public life is marked by a lack of the systematic specificity and definition that sound science relies on: “Global warming, as a public issue, is a semantic quagmire. First there is confusion over the use of the expression ‘global warming.’” Note that the same could be said of “evolution,” which is represented to the public as anything from a Darwinian change in how many moths with dark wings exist relative to moths with white wings to all the origins of change that has ever happened in any species, to all change that has or ever will happen in the entire universe, to all change that happens in multiple universes. The way that evolution is represented to the public it is little more than hypothetical goo which comports with all empirical evidence, leaving many with the impression that it is a theory supported by all the evidence or overwhelming amounts of evidence when in fact evolution, whatever it may be*, is seldom specified as an actual scientific theory in the first place.
*The way it is presented to the public is at the level of a creation myth or mythological narratives of naturalism based on little more than imaginary events in the past that seem natural to some scientists, as apparently some scientists believe in modern creation myths. Given that they also tend to mistakenly believe that progress has been and is associated with narratives of natural progress throughout history they believe that their mythological narratives should be promoted with public funding, dissent should be censored, etc., so that in the end creation myths are presented as the epistemic equivalent of scientific “fact.”
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