Neurulation in zebrafish

Blogging on Peer-Reviewed Research

Neurulation is a series of cell movements and shape changes, inductive interactions, and changes in gene expression that partitions tissues into a discrete neural tube. It is one of those early and significant morphogenetic events that define an important tissue, in this case the nervous system, and it’s also an event that can easily go wrong, producing relatively common birth defects like holoprosencephaly and spina bifida. Neurulation has been a somewhat messy phenomenon for comparative embryology, too, because there are not only subtle differences between different vertebrate lineages in precisely how they segregate the neural tissue, but there are also differences along the rostrocaudal axis of an individual organism. A recent review by Lowery and Sive, though, tidies up the confusion and pulls disparate stories together.

[Read more…]

And here’s one for the linguists!

If you’ve ever been curious about the intelligent design of language, here’s a new one for you: Edenics.

Here you will discover that ALL human words contain forms of the Edenic roots within them. These proto-Semitic or early Biblical Hebrew words were programmed into our common ancestors, Adam and Eve, before the language dispersion, or babble at the Tower of Babel — which kickstarted multi-national human history.

Oh, joy. They’re after all of our sciences.

Creationist Physics 101

A weird anti-evolution crank seems to be ramping up his efforts around the blogosphere recently: C. David Parsons has been leaving comments at Florida Citizens for Science, and Wesley Elsberry directly addresses his “conflict driven” views. Parsons has apparently been trying to raise his profile because he has a new book out, and he wants creationists to buy it.

It’s being put out by Tate Publishing, which seems to be a vanity press dedicated specifically to bilking Christian authors. If you have $40 and a complete lack of sense, you too can be the proud owner of The Quest for Right: The Adventure of a Lifetime, although I think you can tell from the title that it’s not going to be well-written. If you need a further clue, the author lists his qualifications on the cover: “Biblical Scholar and Scientist Extraordinaire.” I wonder if that’s anything like a super-scientist?

Anyway, you can browse through the table of contents and a sample excerpt. It’s bizarre. C. David Parsons is a young-earth creationist and biblical literalist; he doesn’t like those Christians who try to shoe-horn dinosaurs into the bible. I suspect he’s alienated a lot of his potential audience right there. He also has some peculiar notions about the origins of the earth.

Unveils the fundamental truth, based on the scientific record of creation, that the earth accreted from a watery nebula; the great surging mass of water and chemicals had no particular shape and covered thousands of square miles of interstellar space.

The “watery nebula” is probably an invention to rationalize the flood myth, but I’m afraid I don’t have any of the details. I also suspect some profound innumeracy: shouldn’t we be concerned about cubic miles in a volume of space, and “thousands of square miles” doesn’t sound like much—the earth formed out of a sheet of water a hundred miles on a side?

The book looks to be full of ranting against a conspiracy out to bury the truth, variously called a “scientific council” and the “league of scientists”. I wish. Wouldn’t it be cool to be a Super-Scientist in the League of Scientists?

I’m afraid, though, that most of his book isn’t for me. He doesn’t seem to say much about biology or evolution, but instead focuses the bulk of his complaints on — and this will thrill some of the readers here — physics. He doesn’t like quantum mechanics. He dedicates a whole chapter to debunking the photoelectric effect — photons aren’t real. Heck, this guy is going right down to the basics: he rejects Rutherford and Bohr, wants nothing to do with electrons, and wants us to know that God is doing it all.

The backbone of obstructionism is electronic interpretation, the tenet that all physical, chemical, and biological processes result from a change in the electronic structure of the atom which, in turn, can be deciphered through the orderly application of mathematics as outlined in quantum mechanics. The philosophy rejects any divine intervention. Scientific obstructionism is judged on these specifics: electronic interpretation and quantum mechanics. Conversely, the view of separatists that God is both responsible for and rules all the phenomena of the universe will stand or fall when the facts are applied. The view, however, is not tested by the definition of science, as determined by the court, but by the weightier principle of verifiable truths.

You’ve got to appreciate an honest kook. He knows that, in order to support biblical creationism, it’s not enough to critique biology — you’ve got to get right down to the roots and revise all of physics, chemistry, geology, and astronomy to take down the perfidious lies of the League of Scientists.


I’m dying here, people. It’s spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spammity, spam, spam, spam. I get up every morning and get to spend a half hour cleaning up the crap that accumulates every night, and have to invest more time at intervals during the day purging it. On top of that, as many of you know, the spam filters we have here are garbage. That’s a little unfair — I’m sure they’re keeping out 99% or more of the spam — but it’s the perception we all have. Certain commenters are routinely singled out for exclusion by the filters for mysterious reasons; some combination of adjacent letters in their username seems to trip the spam filters, maybe, except that when I examine the filter results I don’t see any indication of that happening. Other times spammers with comments full of random links get through; legitimate commenters with no links, no profanity, no commercial pitches get held up. It looks entirely arbitrary, and it’s driving me nuts.

I blame Movable Type. Of all the blogware I’ve worked with, it’s approach to handling spam is primitive and inept — it’s almost as if they’ve made a deal with the spammers to keep their prevention leaky and ineffective…or it may just be that the popularity of MT means the spammers work harder to punch holes in it.

Anyway, I appeal to the tech experts out there: is there a good, solid, comprehensive set of tools for MT that actually work at keeping spam at bay? Are there any plug-ins that can improve comment handling in general?

If this keeps up, I may have to switch back to using TypeKey registration to comment, which was an annoying nuisance and caused a lot of new problems to crop up last time I did it (and also makes me wonder if the incompetence of MT’s spam handling is an intentional ploy to drive people to TypeKey). But it may be necessary, since I really don’t have that much free time to play janitor on the comments.