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It’s been a bad month for the creationists

I almost pity them. First there’s the discovery of gravitational waves that confirm a set of models for the origin of the universe — I can tell they’re trying to spin that one (it confirms the universe had a beginning, just like the Bible says!), but it’s obvious which perspective, scientific or religious, has the greater explanatory power.

Then there’s Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Cosmos, in which every episode so far has taken a vigorous poke at creationist nonsense. I think they cry every Sunday after church, because they know that later that evening they will be attacked by the intelligent, educated segment of the culture. It’s been great.

And now, look, the Cassini spacecraft has found an ocean beneath the ice of Saturn’s moon, Enceladus.

For years, the motto among astrobiologists — people who look for life in distant worlds, and try to understand what life is, exactly — has been “follow the water.” You have to start the search somewhere, and scientists have started with liquid water because it’s the essential agent for all biochemistry on Earth.

Now they’ve followed the water to a small, icy moon orbiting Saturn. Scientists reported Thursday that Enceladus, a shiny world about 300 miles in diameter, has a subsurface “regional sea” with a rocky bottom.

This cryptic body of water is centered around the south pole and is upwards of five miles deep. It has a volume similar to that of Lake Superior, according to the research, which was published in the journal Science.

Enceladus

There is hope yet for Space Squid! Or maybe space progenotes. Isn’t it wonderful that we keep finding gloriously natural discoveries in the universe?

The tears will flow again in a few weeks, when Neil Shubin’s new series, Your Inner Fish, premieres on PBS. I’m really looking forward to this one.

It is a good time to be passionate about science.

Comments

  1. mikeyb says

    I hope so. The next time the rethugs get back in power will their new cash cow they’ll ban all science except some geologists who are needed for oil and gas drilling or if it receives official approval from office of answers in genesis. Of course I’m only being a tiny bit facetious, but be on guard, darkness never sleeps.

  2. Rob Grigjanis says

    You can discover gravity waves in your bathtub. Gravitational waves take a bit more effort, and dosh.

  3. consciousness razor says

    There is hope yet for Space Squid! Or maybe space progenotes. Isn’t it wonderful that we keep finding gloriously natural discoveries in the universe?

    Well, come on. Space squid? You’re telling me the Celestial Teapot couldn’t have conjured up anything more glorious than that?

  4. Rey Fox says

    Have creationists every really had a good month?

    The Scopes trial verdict comes to mind.

    And then they still have all their stealth science teachers in benighted school districts around the country.

  5. mikeyb says

    Creationism had a good seven days till eve had to eat that damn apple because of the talking snake.

  6. consciousness razor says

    Have creationists every really had a good month?

    There was that one time when the demon they worship made a giant flood and killed basically everyone.

    I guess that may not count, depending on what you mean by “good” and “really.”

  7. coffeehound says

    (it confirms the universe had a beginning, just like the Bible says!)

    It’s even better than that. it not only proves the Bible, it also disproves those dirty atheist scientists who have been saying all along there was no beginning. I had to read that one twice.

  8. Menyambal says

    As mentioned above, “gravity waves” isn’t the right term, “gravitational waves” is.

    See, ocean waves are gravity waves. Think of them as getting sucked up by the wind, and pulled back down by gravity, and you’ll see where gravity comes in. Or, as what happens at the interface of two fluids of different specific gravity. They are transverse waves in the surface of a fluid under gravity. Gravity waves take place in enough odd media, like in the atmosphere, that the term is needed as a generic, if obscure, label.

    In those fluid media, there are also compression waves, such as sound. Gravity has nothing to do with those.

    Gravitational waves are waves of gravity, if thought of as compressional waves. As one goes by, you get pulled a little harder toward their source. You could also think of them as transverse waves in the very fabric of spacetime, if you don’t tell anybody you do that.

    The best way to feel a gravitational wave is to go get very near a rapidly rotating binary neutron star pair. A dumbbell in each hand, one toward, one away, should feel like they are doing a push-pull. Or so I interpret Einstein.

    The best way to feel a gravity wave is to go surfing.

  9. Stardrake says

    “It has a volume similar to that of Lake Superior, according to the research, which was published in the journal Science.”

    But is it as cold as Lake Superior?

    (It’s been that kind of winter…….)

  10. says

    I just got back from an advanced screening of episode 1 of Your Inner Fish at U of Chicago. Neil Shubin was there for a Q&A session afterwards. Based on this, I think the series will be excellent. He takes us along on a dig for tiktalik in the artic and provides hard evidence for our common ancestry with fish and all other vertebrates. The creationists will have to work overtime to keep up with the great science shows out now.

  11. consciousness razor says

    Um, why would an ocean under a moon of saturn be *bad* news for creationists?

    I’m not sure what PZ had in mind, but if we found life there or somewhere else (not very likely, I think), that would probably do at least a little bit to increase our understanding of abiogenesis. It could support theism, but we most likely wouldn’t find any magic there, just like we haven’t here. So, a natural account of life improves and a supernatural one doesn’t. Probably.

    And really, if we found magic, in a way it would be good for us too! Not only might we have a reason to believe in a god (so we learn something), but we also wouldn’t have to hear stupid crap about first causes and fine tuning and such. That would be fairly pointless. The conversation could then turn (again) to all of the stupid ideas people have about what a god thinks we should do with our genitalia.

  12. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    The tears will flow again in a few weeks, when Neil Shubin’s new series, Your Inner Fish, premieres on PBS. I’m really looking forward to this one.

    Hmm…is that why my arms are flapping around????

  13. ffakr says

    The first episode of Your Inner Fish was better than I expected. It’s not that I didn’t think it would be good.. but it was really Rather Good. It covered more territory than I thought it would be able to while still remaining clear.
    It didn’t suffer from the one issue I most commonly have with programs like this. I didn’t feel at any point that this isn’t going to be clear to someone who doesn’t already know a good amount about the topic.

  14. says

    silly scientists, Now we hAve PROOF! for the origin of the extra water used in the flood, my “theory” that the water evapomarated to form different moons will hold true once we start accounting for all the ice in the solar system!!! IF there is any organic material in that water, then it must have come from EARTh!!!!

  15. woozy says

    If we found life in the water that’d be a game, set, and match for us but that’s not very likely to happen at all. Now finding that water and life potential places are interesting but but, remember, creationists are delusional. If we find earth conditions *without* life they will simply claim that as a victory that as life *doesn’t* exist on Enceladus is proof that life can only exist on Earth cause God did it. Heck, even if we find microbial life that’d be proof against evolution as microbes only stay microbes.

    It’s even better than that. it not only proves the Bible, it also disproves those dirty atheist scientists who have been saying all along there was no beginning. I had to read that one twice.

    Seriously, ever since the Sean Carroll/William Lane Craig debate creationist are claiming that we atheist scientists have actually always said *exactly* that. It’s the first cause argument– anything with a beginning has to have a transcendent external cause, they say. Thus atheist cosmologists have *always* been arguing that the universe had no beginning, they are know insisting. I’m not kidding.

    (It’s the transcendent temporal nature of time. As the big bang precedes the temporal nature of time we atheists are claiming the bib bang didn’t have a beginning as time didn’t start until after the big bang and, heh, heh, well that’s just silly, of course. Silly atheists.)

    I’m not kidding. Unless we find alligators turning into ducks in the waters of Enceladus the creationist *will* claim whatever we find as a victory for them and a blow to evolution.

    Every day is a *good* day for creationist because they fucking lie about everything.

  16. Compuholic says

    A bad week for creationists? I would argue that this is only true, when looking at the situation as a rational person. For creationists not so much. They are already in the business of ignoring reality and they already succeeded in ignoring far more important evidence. If they cared about evidence they wouldn’t be creationists.

  17. Azuma Hazuki says

    @21/woozy:

    The Kalaam has a problem: if it means an *efficient* cause (in the Aristotelian sense) it is begging the question. One could just as well postulate a material cause and satisfy it.

  18. azhael says

    I was going to yell and complain to those who have already seen Your Inner Fish’s first episode, but since you are reporting that it is good stuff i´m too happy to be mad. Can´t wait :D

  19. Bicarbonate is back says

    I love the last shot in the trailer of Your Inner Fish where a little creature on the beach next to the scientist shakes off water like a dog (though it seems improbable). I also like the brief shots of ontogenesis with what appears to be a fish gill-Eustachian tube highlight. My Eustachian tubes are always getting inflamed and infected, causing me to think about them a lot and trying to imagine them as gills, what it would feel like to have water flowing over them and getting my oxygen out of that.

  20. grumpyoldfart says

    Creationism will never disappear. It’s so easy. No matter how difficult the question the creationist always has the answer – “God did it”. And even better, they know it’s the correct answer because they worked it out for themselves.

  21. David Marjanović says

    …Does Your Inner Fish claim the Eustachian tube is the spiracle? It’s not. We form a gill pouch for the spiracle, but then it disappears, and the Eustachian tube forms elsewhere. (If only I could remember the reference.)

    BTW, Tiktaalik is only half of its own story. Wait till the new specimen of Elpistostege is published, mwahah.

  22. colnago80 says

    Re woozy @ #10

    Um, why would an ocean under a moon of Saturn be *bad* news for creationists?

    Creationists of the YEC variety absolutely deny that there is life elsewhere in the universe.

    It’s rather interesting to observe how they move the goalposts. Up until a couple of decades ago, they denied that there were any other planetary systems in the universe. Now that we have found in excess of 1000 exoplanets, they moved the goal posts and now deny that there is life elsewhere. If evidence of life in found on Enceladus or Europa or both, they will move the goal posts again and deny that there is any intelligent life elsewhere in the universe. That’s what creationists do.

  23. says

    Of course, that’s not how some creationists see it… Over at the so-called “news” headlines on Conservapedia, they’d say that every month is a win for creationism over evolution. I’ve actually lost track of all of the logical fallacies committed by that site, but it’s always an amusing read. (Their article on E=mc2 is particularly amusing…

  24. Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human. says

    David:

    Wait till the new specimen of Elpistostege is published, mwahah.

    Is that the one that J. Clack is studying?

  25. Amphiox says

    But is it as cold as Lake Superior?

    (It’s been that kind of winter…….)

    Since they are both liquid bodies under a cover of ice, I’d hazard to guess that they’re both close to the same temperature, just a bit above 0C.

  26. Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human. says

    Since they are both liquid bodies under a cover of ice, I’d hazard to guess that they’re both close to the same temperature, just a bit above 0C.

    Wouldn’t that depend on pressure? I thought water could go down to about 200 to 230K at really high pressure without solidifying? Then again, this being such a small moon, there wouldn’t be that much pressure.

  27. gussnarp says

    I really hope Cosmos is reaching the people it needs to reach, but I’m not enjoying it that much. And going back and watching the original reinforces that. I have high hopes for Your Inner Fish and hope it will be a touchstone. One never knows if the clear explanatory power of some authors will also come across in a video presentation. It did with Sagan, not so much with Brian Greene, hopefully Shubin will be as good on TV as he is in print.

  28. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Just checked the WTTW (Chicago PBS) schedule, and Your Inner Fish is televised 4/9 at 9pm, Your Inner Reptile 4/16 9pm, and Your Inner Monkey 4/23 9pm. I’ll be setting my DVR.

  29. gussnarp says

    Oh man, I’m so annoyed. Just went to see what time this will be on and it turns out my PBS station is having its regularly scheduled on air fundraiser on April 9th. Your Inner Fish will premiere on April 10th. At 3:00a.m. I can’t find any other listings for it locally. And I am in the same television market as the Creation “Museum”. I’m sure this is coincidence, but still…

  30. David Marjanović says

    Wouldn’t that depend on pressure?

    Absolutely. Also, water is densest at the bottom, and that usually means it’s 4 °C there when there’s ice and then the Earth’s atmosphere on top of it.

    Is that the one that J. Clack is studying?

    No. Clack seems to be studying pretty much everything else. :-]

    Abstract from last year’s meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology:

    Technical Session I (Wednesday, October 30, 2013, 8:00 AM)
    A NEW PIECE OF THE DEVONIAN FISH-TO-TETRAPOD PUZZLE: THE
    DISCOVERY OF A COMPLETE SPECIMEN OF ELPISTOSTEGE

    CLOUTIER, Richard, Université du Québec à Rimouski, Rimouski, QC, Canada, G5L
    3A1; BÉCHARD, Isabelle, Université du Québec à Rimouski, Rimouski, QC, Canada

    Recent hypotheses on the origin of tetrapods rely heavily on the anatomy of only a
    few tetrapod-like fossils from the Middle-Upper Devonian. These tetrapod-like taxa,
    referred to as elpistostegalians, constitute a paraphyletic group including Panderichthys
    rhombolepis
    from the late Givetian of Latvia, Elpistostege watsoni from the middle
    Frasnian of Quebec, and Tiktaalik roseae from the early-middle Frasnian of Arctic
    Canada. Although of uncertain phylogenetic position, Gogonasus andrewsaea [typo] from the
    early Frasnian of Western Australia and Livoniana multidentata from the late Givetian of
    Latvia and Estonia have also been suggested to be closely related to elpistostegalians.
    With the exception of Livoniana (fragments of lower jaw) and Elpistostege (two partial
    skulls and a small trunk segment), the anatomy of Panderichthys and Tiktaalik is fairly
    well documented. The recent discovery of a 1.56 m-long, completely articulated
    specimen of Elpistostege watsoni from the Escuminac Formation (Miguasha) is filling
    out a major gap of anatomical information with respect to the fish-to-tetrapod transition.
    Elpistostege has elongated trunk and caudal regions with oversized pectoral fins. A high-energy
    CT-scan investigation of the complete specimen reveals internal cranial and
    paired fin anatomy. This makes it the most complete elpistostegalian known allowing us
    to reinvestigate its phylogenetic position. Elpistostege is unambiguously more closely
    related to Tiktaalik and early tetrapods than to Panderichthys.

    According to the actual presentation, it’s even one step closer to us than Tiktaalik.

    The specimen is amazing, every scale is in place. You’ll love the CT scans of the pectoral fins.

  31. woozy says

    Me: Um, why would an ocean under a moon of Saturn be *bad* news for creationists?

    Calago80: Creationists of the YEC variety absolutely deny that there is life elsewhere in the universe.

    Aren’t we being equally absurd claiming that an ocean full of water but no sign of life is somehow an “eat it, creationists” moment? We found water. Not life. I don’t think any creationist said we wouldn’t find water.

    …. okay, I guess I see your point. As long as we don’t find water or extra solar planets creationists will argue we’re arrogant and wrong for assuming we will. But they are delusional. Finding such will never be *bad* news unless we directly find life.

    ===
    @25.

    The Kalaam argument has always been counterable with “what created god” which immediately caused the discussion to unravel into “nuh-huh” “is too” range (which is where that entire line of reasoning belong). “Everything has a cause” is simply an unviable logical inconsistency in the same way “every statement in true or false” (also from aristotle) is.

    What Craig did, less than two months ago, was bring this insipidity back front and center all over again, insist with veracity that it’s utterly and indisputably true, and that the atheists absolutely have not and have never been able to confront it and have actually been *always* arguing that the universe *doesn’t* have a beginning because we know if the universe had a beginning we *know* it would mean god has to absolutely exist.

    That’s why we’re getting a *lot* of creationist crowing that “The universe had a beginning! Eat it, atheists!” to which we’ve all been scratching our collective heads and saying “Uh, so?”.

  32. Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human. says

    Thanks, David.

    Yeah, to me, a somewhat informed layman, it seems like almost every time a very early tetrapod is discovered/described/re-evaluated, Clack’s name is attached in some way. Not familiar with either Cloutier or Bechard. I’ll have to keep an eye open for their names.

    I think I have seen one, or both, somewhere, but can’t place it off the top of my pointy little historian’s head.

  33. says

    @40 Gussnarp
    Got a DVR? Outside of that, PBS tends to stream their episodes online for free, so I’d check to see if it lands there the day after premier.

  34. gussnarp says

    @JJ831 – I’m hoping to be able to stream it, but I’m still annoyed. Just because I can find a way to watch it doesn’t mean that it should require effort to find important educational television, especially for people without the resources I have and especially in Ken Ham’s backyard. It also appears that most of the east coast will be seeing it at 10p.m. Who makes these scheduling decisions? It’s not like anyone would want to share this kind of scientific and educational content with their children, who most need to see it, would they?

    This upset me less with Cosmos, being on commercial television. But my PBS station is going to get an earful from me.

  35. moarscienceplz says

    @#45 gussnarp

    Who makes these scheduling decisions?

    Your local PBS station. PBS provides a suggested time and date, but each station can rearrange the schedule as they see fit, and they can pick and choose which shows they air, too. The next time you donate to the station (and if you don’t, you should) make sure you tell them you want to see more emphasis on science shows, and keep telling them that. I have found my local PBS stations try very hard to satisfy the members, but it’s the squeaky wheel that gets the attention.

  36. praestans says

    ‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth’

    How is this equivalent tu saying the Universe had a beginning?
    since the hevns and urth is apparuntly creatid together…

    And jesus coming out of the water, saw the heavens splitting [...a ter in the space/time fabrik?],
    and the Spirit descending on him in bodily form like a dove.

    Amazing – tu incarnations for the price’v wun: 100% bird, 100%. Holy Spirit meeting 100%man 100%EgoEiMi

    Wundr whot happnd tu the bird. Was is it spatchcockt for aviankind?

    Or is it still alive and soaring upwrds nesting in spires ‘neath Ingland’s skies cerulean?

  37. consciousness razor says

    woozy:

    Calago80: Creationists of the YEC variety absolutely deny that there is life elsewhere in the universe.

    Aren’t we being equally absurd claiming that an ocean full of water but no sign of life is somehow an “eat it, creationists” moment? We found water. Not life. I don’t think any creationist said we wouldn’t find water.

    …. okay, I guess I see your point. As long as we don’t find water or extra solar planets creationists will argue we’re arrogant and wrong for assuming we will. But they are delusional.

    Young-Earth creationists have trouble with anything existing more than 6000 light-years from Earth. (Give or take: whether they say it’s 10k or 100k or whatever, it makes no difference). Of course, Enceladus is much closer, but I don’t see why they’d even want to start that argument. They should probably just avoid all scientific subjects like the plague.

    Finding such will never be *bad* news unless we directly find life.

    It wouldn’t be that simple either. They’d need some evidence of divine magic at work, not just life. We already know their god is supposed to have wanted life, which is supposedly why it created the universe, so a little bit more life somewhere else doesn’t help their case. We obviously know there’s life already, so life by itself wouldn’t be telling us anything we didn’t already know.

    Anyway, I don’t agree. Being eaten alive by a pack of wolves is undoubtedly bad news for a creationist, even if they believe it’s a great thing since it means they’re going to heaven or whatever. We wouldn’t say that’s actually good for them, just because they have a false belief about it. They aren’t in fact going to heaven, so they are plainly wrong. I suppose you could stretch this out a bit, from what the facts are (which we may be wrong about) to what a “rational” theist would believe is good or bad for their position. But you basically can’t say anything coherent from the point of view of an irrational or inconsistent believer, because you can get any implication from something contradictory. You could get “good news” and “bad news” and anything else, from the same big mess.

  38. woozy says

    consciousness razor @49:

    The entire “bad month for creationists” seems to be we’ve found a big ol’ pile of science, and science by its nature is “bad” for creationists because … well, creationists are anti-science and we are the good guys so science is good for us and whatever’s good for us must be bad for them.

    This assumes creationists have a rational bone in the pointy little collective body. In actuality anything at all gets spun in any freakin’ way they want anyway they want.

    I find it rather bizarre (quaint, actually) that anyone would think finding a small ocean under Enceladus is somehow by definition “bad news” for creationists. “Look, water exists and conditions that could lead to life are not uncommon so by studying it and comparing it to early conditions of earth we may get insight to our own origins” seems a bit removed from creationist babble. It seems to me the obvious creationist response would (and will) be “So? There’s no life there. Unless you find life crawling out of a peanut butter jars and microscopic bacteria jumping into crocodiles you’ve only verified how unique and unlikely and miraculous life on earth that could never have spontaneously generated actually is.”

  39. consciousness razor says

    This assumes creationists have a rational bone in the pointy little collective body. In actuality anything at all gets spun in any freakin’ way they want anyway they want.

    But I don’t care how rational they are or how it might be “spun.” We are not stuck with just a bunch of spin, with only more and more spin all the way down. We can talk about what actually is supporting or not supporting a particular kind of belief/argument. If they’re not rational, so much the worse for them, that they won’t even know how to make sense of their own arguments. But that information’s not helping any rational person make a rational decision based on whatever new evidence we might find.

    I find it rather bizarre (quaint, actually) that anyone would think finding a small ocean under Enceladus is somehow by definition “bad news” for creationists.

    I don’t think it is. But if some god is supposed to have really despised oceans, then that would make sense. It would at least show this god isn’t very good at not making oceans.

    Anyway, like I said, I don’t know what PZ may have had in mind. You could make a pretty reasonable argument as I did above, but it’s not likely that we’ll actually find life there, which means this isn’t likely to have any effect at all.

  40. woozy says

    In that case it’s a good month for *us* and a business as usual month for the creationists. I guess like you I really don’t know what PZ had in mind other than a general any “cool science is good” finding for us must colloquially be “eww, science is bad” finding for them. …. except that’s not how creationists think so… I’m confused what is meant.

    I’m a bit amused I guess. It’s like the “ha! wheels, pistons and rotors! You evolutionists said they’d never exist in nature but now we find them everywhere!” e-mail I got from some idiot creationist right-wing radio host. Um, no we didn’t and no, we don’t. This is just us doing the same thing “Ha! oceans in space! You creationists said they’d never exist and now we find them everywhere!”

    I’m pretty sure that creationists are going to simply frame this as one more case of evolutionists failing to show abiogenisis spontaneously occuring at a drop of a hat. “If evolutionists were right alien life should have been crawling all over Encelada…” Any takers?

  41. johnfredlund says

    Gary Maciel

    Photo of Gary MacielProfessor Emeritus
    Office: Chemistry C201
    Phone: 970-491-6480
    Website: http://www.chem.colostate.edu/gem
    Education: Ph.D. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    Email: maciel@lamar.colostate.edu

    Research emphasis is on the development and application of new NMR techniques, largely for solid samples, for the study of structure and dynamics in pure substances, complex mixtures, and highly heterogeneous samples, including surfaces. These studies span the range from analytical characterization to the chemical physics of the spin phenomena. Recent developments in our laboratory permit us to examine thin films deposited on metal foils and electrochemical systems at Pt electrodes, as well as catalytic systems (e.g., olefin polymerization, Fisher Tropsch conversions) in situ via our GRASSHopper devices. Solid-sample magic-angle spinning (MAS) experiments, as well as cross polarization and a variety of more sophisticated multiple-pulse experiments, are being carried out on several nuclides. Advanced two-dimensional Fourier transform techniques developed here permit us to obtain the principal elements of the chemical shift tensor, along with the isotropic average, which is the chemical shift parameter obtained in MAS experiments on solids and in liquid-sample experiments. The dynamic nuclear polarization approach makes it possible for us to explore high-resolution spectra of paramagnetic samples and constitutes the basis for strategies aimed at characterizing interfacial regions in composite materials. By using the chemical shift parameter as a bridge between the solid state and liquid state, X-ray-determined structural information on crystals is being “carried over” into the liquid state in certain cases. In a more general sense, the measurement of chemical shifts in related solids and liquids provides a means of comparing chemically significant interaction (including bonding arrangements and hydrogenbonding details) in these two states.

    Modern multinuclear solid-sample NMR techniques are being applied analytically to a variety of systems in which solution characterization is either impossible or of much less interest. This includes NMR imaging techniques of interest primarily in materials science, especially for composites. Other examples include silicas, natural polymers (principally lignin and cellulose), synthetic polymers (e.g., ethylene-CO copolymers, as well as ureaformaldehyde and phenolic resins), surface-adsorbed organics (e.g. olefins and bases adsorbed on catalytically active surfaces), surface-derivatized species (e.g., derivatized silica gels), solid plant materials (e.g., wood, intact and germinating seeds), semiconductors, superconductors, solid electrolytes, ceramics, and geochemically derived samples. This last category, based mainly on 13C work, emphasizes the characterization of humic and fulvic acids.

    A major effort is underway in the application of modern NMR techniques (especially for solids) to the detailed characterization of environmental problems. These include the interactions of toxic metals and organic pollutants (e.g., chlorohydrocarbons and pesticides) with soils and involves the study of photochemical processes at the air-soil interface. Interest in theoretical work encompasses quantum mechanical calculations of both the SCFMO and density matrix types. Regarding the former type, there is the genuinely interesting challenge of understanding the fundamental basis of second-order properties, such as shielding and spin coupling and their correlations with chemical structural and/or reactivity parameters. Such issues are especially meaningful when the anisotropic characters of the interactions (specifically the chemical shift) can be examined in terms of the principal tensor elements. Good theoretical tools of this type are necessary in order to make reliable decisions in the structural interpretation of spectra. Density matrix calculations permit the incorporation of the effects of spin dynamics and reaction dynamics into spectral interpretations.

  42. barnestormer says

    I am so excited for Your Inner Fish. I don’t know when I’ll be able to watch it, but just looking at the previews makes me happy. The book was extremely understandable for me (perpetual layman) and everything I’ve seen makes me think it’ll adapt well to TV.

  43. John Colin says

    I am a student of the bible and of science. I don’t take events in the bible literally, but what it teaches, I embrace. Your blantant disdain for the bible is immature and reeks of conspicuous insecurity. You lay waiting for someone else smarter than you to make a discovery then pounce out playing a perpetual ‘I told you so’ game. A truly sad exsistence, I pity you. Go out and live instead of feeding off your lust to destroy creationism. I’d take a person living by the bible than someone like you any day.

  44. Nick Gotts says

    It wouldn’t be that simple either. They’d need some evidence of divine magic at work, not just life. We already know their god is supposed to have wanted life, which is supposedly why it created the universe, so a little bit more life somewhere else doesn’t help their case. We obviously know there’s life already, so life by itself wouldn’t be telling us anything we didn’t already know. – consciousness razor@49

    Creationists, and theists in general, can easily put their spin on either finding extraterrestrial life, or not finding it. If it is found, that just shows the greatness of the creator, and the “fine tuning” of the universe for life. If it is not, that just shows that we are God’s special snowflakes. What might prove more difficult for them is contact with intelligent aliens who have never heard of or imagined anything resembling a deity, but behave significantly better than human beings. Of course the hard core would dismiss them as demons, but what would the liberal Christian have to say?

  45. Lofty says

    JC

    Your blantant disdain for the bible is immature and reeks of conspicuous insecurity.

    Interesting bit of projection there. Blatant disdain? Casual dismissal more like it. Maturity means facing up to evidence and modifying your world view to match. Immature is crying everytime someone disses your delusions (=creationism). Creationists don’t seem to consider any evidence that disproves their pet fables, ever. Also I’m quite secure in myself, knowing that the mysteries of the universe can’t be summarised by a single badly put together book of fables. The true history of the universe is vaaastly more fascinating than “goddiddit”.

  46. Al Dente says

    Go out and live instead of feeding off your lust to destroy creationism. I’d take a person living by the bible than someone like you any day.

    We’re not trying to destroy creationism. We’re just exposing it as a failed attempt to conflate reality with a 2500 year old creation myth. As for “living by the bible” you mean someone who worships a genocidal, narcissistic megalomanic, then that’s your preference.

  47. Nick Gotts says

    I don’t take events in the bible literally, but what it teaches, I embrace. – John Colin

    “What it teaches” is, of course, a matter of considerable dispute between Christians. Those able to consider it rationally, of course,are not surprised that a book of ancient fables, laws, poetry, propaganda and proto-history is chock full of inconsistencies and absurdities. Time to take off the blinkers, John Colin.

  48. David Marjanović says

    Go out and live instead of feeding off your lust to destroy creationism.

    The obstacle to this are the creationists, who keep trying to destroy – and have gone pretty far in destroying and impeding – science education in the US (where PZ lives and works) and elsewhere.

  49. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    John Colin,
    My discomfort with the Bible arises from the absurdities it asserts and from the attribution of commonly held prejudice to the sky daddy. As Voltaire said, “If they can make you believe absurdities, they can make you commit atrocities.” In fact, were the xtians to simply apply the absurdities to their own lives and leave the rest of us alone, I’d be fine with them believing whatever silliness they wanted. However, when you assert domain over the lives of women, those who are different (LGBT, other races, etc.), you have left the realm of personal belief and entered the realm of politics. You beliefs then become my business.

  50. anteprepro says

    John Colon

    I am a student of the bible and of science.

    “I am a scholar of Harry Potter and legal studies”

    I don’t take events in the bible literally, but what it teaches, I embrace.

    “I don’t actually believe what that the Bible says anything factual, but I pretend that it does when it suits me, and interpret it willy-nilly.”

    Your blantant disdain for the bible is immature and reeks of conspicuous insecurity.

    “My blatant disdain for facts is totally mature and is totally a sign of confidence and peace of mind”

    You lay waiting for someone else smarter than you to make a discovery then pounce out playing a perpetual ‘I told you so’ game.

    Projection is projection.

    A truly sad exsistence, I pity you.

    Right back at ya, champ.

    Go out and live instead of feeding off your lust to destroy creationism.

    “Go out and ignore creationism while creationism feeds off of their lust to destroy atheism and science”

    I’d take a person living by the bible than someone like you any day.

    Imagine a Christian preferring Christians! Say it ain’t so!

  51. barnestormer says

    @ John Colin

    Your blantant disdain for the bible is immature and reeks of conspicuous insecurity.

    Who are you addressing? PZ? Does the post do more than mention the Bible in passing? There’s some disdain for creationism, but that’s well founded. People who are secure and people who are insecure can all find something to dislike about the practice of deliberately teaching young people not to think about the world in scientific terms. I don’t know that I can take this psychological evaluation of yours at face value.

    I don’t know who your pity is directed at, either, but just in case you were worrying, I’m having a pretty good weekend myself. Will you be watching Your Inner Fish? It’s going to be good!

  52. Travis Odom says

    Late, but Your Inner Fish was a great book. I was absurdly thrilled to learn the origin of hiccups (a leftover reflex from tadpoles, of all things).

  53. Paul Montgomery says

    barnestormer said:
    “There’s some disdain for creationism, but that’s well founded. People who are secure and people who are insecure can all find something to dislike about the practice of deliberately teaching young people not to think about the world in scientific terms. ”

    Sorry about my problems in figuring out how to quote/reply to an individual comment. I do not often make comments on the subject of atheist/creationist conflict but often read them. I want to commend you for an excellent rely to John Colins. I am not sure where John stands on this, but I find it sad that people who need faith to help with the problems in their lives, so often feel attacked when the focus of most secularist comments are at fundamentalist who want to force the world into their mold. Your reply defined that focus instead. The rational camp needs to do a better job of this. Thanks for a well constructed reply.