Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Greatest Hits of Creation "Science"

Aprils Fools day seems to me to be far too much work, especially on the internet where whatever you do someone is bound to act up about it, case in point; the Top 10 Creationist Discoveries. This was an attempt at wired to put together a post about the nonsense spouted by creationists, it started off well then rapidly descended to insulting rednecks, from the look of the comments, you can say anything you like about rednecks as long as you DO NOT PUT DOWN NASCAR. My feelings on the post are mixed as its funny seeing people take such personal offense to something clearly so stupid, but I also think it was a great missed opportunity to actually look at the greatest hits of creation "Science". So without further ado here is (possibly) the first in a series of posts on the greatest discoveries of creation science as I see them (in no particular order):

T-Rex ate Coconuts: Apparently the top scientific minds of the creation museum think that the reason T-Rex has extremely large teeth is because they were used to eat coconuts. Why would they feel the need to claim this? Well because they believe that the world is actually only 6000-10000 years old and that dinosaurs frolicked with Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. Even these intellectual giants have worked out that a vicious carnivore weighing in the range of 6 tonnes would bring up major health and safety concerns for Adam and Eve. Lets face it even God wouldn't be happy filling in those risk assessment forms. To get round this problem they fall back on that most reliable of paleontological references: the Bible, where it explains that in the Garden of Eden all animals were vegetarian, they didn't start eating each other until after "the fall", makes perfect sense to me. Apart from the fact that that means God designed them knowing that one day they would need their claws and sharp teeth to eat each other, something that couldn't happen until after "the fall", so he knew that Adam and Eve were going to misbehave, and yet he still freaked. No actually I don't think I get it.

Personally I think there are nuts involved in this idea, but they aren't coconuts.

Dinosaurs were on Noahs Ark: The linked article goes into a lot of detail about how it is possible for 8 people to pack tens of thousands of animals into a single craft, feed, water and keep them clean for AN ENTIRE YEAR! You really did not want to be the poor SOB who had to clean the sauropod cage did you?

Some anonymous internet genius came up with this interpretation of what would have happened in the event of a containment failure:

God was down with a bit of incest: Ever wonder who Cain married? No me neither but these guys have put way to much thought into it. Apparently Cain married either a sister or niece, but don't worry this wasn't considered icky then, after all if you start with only two people what else are you going to do? Extra points for this explanation because they manage to wrangle in a semi-coherent explanation of why people shouldn't marry their close relatives anymore, presumably some people need to be reminded of this.

Human ancestors were actually people forced into caves during the flood:
With that said, the Bible does describe a period of traumatic upheaval (the Flood – Genesis chapters 6-9) upon the earth during which time civilization was utterly destroyed and men were forced to start over. It is in this historical context that some scholars believe that men lived in caves and made use of stone tools. These men were not primitive; they were simply destitute. And they certainly weren't half ape. The fossil evidence is quite clear: cavemen were human (hence the term cave-"men," men who lived in caves).
It goes on to explain that all of the fossil evidence of human ancestors such as homo erectus are not what evolutionists think:
It is almost entertaining the lengths evolutionary scientists go to prove the existence of prehistoric cavemen. They find a misshaped tooth in a cave and from that create a misshapen human being who lived in a cave and hunched over like an ape.

That is one hell of a tooth.

Dispatches From NAM

As I'm in Munich on a collaborative visit at the moment I haven't made it to the National Astronomy Meeting this year. As well as meaning Durham were unable to retain the 5-a-side football trophy (as if I would have changed that) it means I have missed out on actually being in the room when some really interesting talks are given. Fortunately some people are live blogging the event here, its a good way to keep up with the goings on and to find pretty pictures like this one to steal:

Most of this picture has been around for a few years. It shows data from the SDSS which essentially shows the density of stars across a particular patch of sky, what is interesting is the number of coherent streams of stars visible. Many of these streams have been traced and found to be associated with dwarf satellites or globular clusters of our galaxy which are currently being torn apart by the gravity of the Milky Way. Whats new about this picture is that a team of astronmers (not sure who exactly, though the talk describing the result was given by Dan Zucker of the Institute of Astronomy) have used the original map to discover several new Milky Way satellite galaxies.

This is interesting in particular because its been known for a considerable amount of time that models of galaxy formation predict that a galaxy the size of the Milky Way should have many more dwarf galaxies than are actually observed. The discovery of more dwarf galaxies is helping to fix this discrepancy, the observation that many dwarfs are currently being destroyed by the MW also tends to lend support to the idea that originally there were many more, they have mostly been stripped and subsumed into the halo of the Galaxy. An additional bonus of the work presented at NAM is the observation that the motions of stars in the dwarf galaxies is much too fast to be explained without the dwarf galaxies being heavily dominated by dark matter, another prediction of current generations of galaxy formation models.

Score one complete (predicting the excess DM) and one partial victory (getting closer to the right number of satellites) for current theory then, there is however a final twist in the tale.
The shapes of the dwarf galaxies is apparently irregular, something that doesn't make that much sense if they are embedded in a larger dark matter halo, this should act to damp out external pertubations (say due to the Milky Ways gravity) and to keep the stars in a more regular shape. Whack one mole, another pops up, such is a scientists lot.