here’s a breathless announcement

It is a bit bigger and somewhat colder, but a planet circling a star 500 light-years away is otherwise the closest match of our home world discovered so far, astronomers announced on Thursday.

This comes from Scientists Find an ‘Earth Twin,’ or Perhaps a Cousin in the New York Times.

Here is something that bothers me in this story, and in some of the pronouncements of astronomer’s in general. The way this is reported, it sounds like they know for sure that what they saw is 1) a planet; 2) of a certain size; 3) orbiting a Sol-like star; 4) orbiting in the ‘habitable zone’ of that star. All of these pronouncements are stated matter-of-fact-like.

Yet what do they really know?

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settled science?

A thought struck me while reading George Jonas’ rambling column, Challenging ‘settled science’. He is mostly talking about global warming / climate change.

You are aware, of course, that many conservatives are not very convinced of global warming. They regularly debunk those who claim it is true. The science, according to them, is far from settled.

I happen to think they are right on this point, but doesn’t it strike you as odd that most of those who doubt climate science are also certain that evolutionary theory is ‘settled science’. They are open minded when it comes to the weather, but they have no time whatever for an alternative view of evolution.

Kind of ironic, no?


54 hair-width’s of change

In my life time, that’s how much the radius of the earth has changed, according to NASA.

The scientists estimated the average change in Earth’s radius to be 0.004 inches (0.1 millimeters) per year, or about the thickness of a human hair, a rate considered statistically insignificant.

I am sure you were waiting with bated breath for that bit of news!

I’m just wondering if that means 108 hair-widths for the diameter??


in 10 million years, we’re all in trouble

At least, that’s what I think this quote means…

The measurement of river sediment output into the oceans indicates that all of North America would have been eroded flat to sea level in just 10 Ma. However, this does ignore a range of geotectonic factors. Regardless, a maximum erosion time to level North America is probably no more than 40 to 50 Ma.

As  you can see, the quote qualifies itself, so maybe we have an extra 30 to 40 million years… That’s a relief!

All kidding aside, an interesting article about the Devil’s Tower, a phenomenon I have thought of visiting on one of my cross-continent treks. It’s a bit off the beaten path, so we haven’t taken the time to visit, but it is a natural wonder in God’s great world.


on complexity of creation

An interesting article today on Chronic Myeloid Leukemia, the disease my wife has in remission thanks to Gleevec.

CML in its chronic phase can be treated with Gleevec and most patients respond well to it. But unfortunately, some do not. The disease can progress to what is called ‘blast phase’ where things go from bad to worse in a hurry.

Today’s article has to do with an apparent discovery of the cause for the transition from chronic to blast phase. Here it is:

They found that chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) progresses when immature white blood cells lose a molecule called miR-328.

That’s it. The white blood cells lose ONE MOLECULE. (The disease is initially caused by a mutation resulting from one part of one chromosome breaking off and reattaching itself to the DNA in a different spot on the chain.)

That isn’t much of a big deal to kill you, eh? One chromosome mutates and soon you have a chronic and life threatening disease. Left untreated, after some time, one white blood cell loses ONE molecule (and then many follow), and suddenly you are in blast phase. And shortly after that, if untreated, you are gone from this world.

A couple of observations:

  1. Are their any good mutations? How can anyone believe that chance can produce any beneficial change in any organism that is then perpetuated to new generations? Every part of our body is essential. All it takes to kill you is one chromosome change and one molecule loss. Mutations are not good.
  2. What a mighty God we serve! He designed us, in all our complexity, to live as we do in a complex, interdependent world. His mind conceived it all. Though the struggle with cancer can be daunting and is often tragic, it ought to remind us of how great God is.


P.S., I am working on an article to follow up my ‘godliness’ post a few days ago. It is getting longer and longer as I work. Maybe it should be more than one post. It will definitely become a series in our Bible Study time at our church. I think the idea of godliness (godly living) is vital for Christians in our world. So more is coming… in the meantime I am putting up links to things that interest me…

a reminder of God’s blessing

An interview in the New York Times reminds me of a great blessing from God our family received a little over six years ago.

I have written about this before, but I just want to again give praise to the Lord for the gifts he gives to men.

Six and a half years ago, my wife began to lose weight rapidly and was bruising easily. She was becoming more and more exhausted each day. (She was enjoying the weight loss part!) We called our doctor who immediately got the ball rolling in our health care system, no small feat. The diagnosis was Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML). Our hematologist was very upbeat, however. The new therapy for this disease was a drug called Gleevec, just approved for CML treatment two years previously. We haven’t looked back. Gleevec has very minimal side-effects (we haven’t really noticed any). My wife is living a normal life.

The interview with Bryan Druker, the doctor in charge of developing Gleevec reminded me of how close my dear wife was to death’s door:

The problem [with a CML diagnosis] was that the death rate in the first year was 25 to 50 percent.

The life expectancy after diagnosis before Gleevec was about 5 years. And the previous treatments would make those years pretty miserable.

This interview gives you a bit of insight into the persistence and dedication of Dr. Druker in bringing Gleevec into production. It is now approved for ten different forms of cancer, but is most successful with CML, I believe.

My wife takes a couple of little orange pills every morning and God has given her six and a half years of normal life. If there is a drawback, as I was commenting to a friend, is that she would have been in heaven these last five years or so … instead, she gets to live with me.

Maybe there is a purgatory?


items of interest

This week is one of those weeks… a mad dash up and down the Island with many activities and responsibilities. Monday we had a service in a local senior’s condominium. Tuesday we had our Mid-Week service with a trio from Crown College. Wednesday I met with one of our men and a new convert who he is helping get established in the faith. I was also up-Island to meet with a young couple to be married on Friday and met with a pastor friend, working on helping him get a life insurance company to pay out after his wife’s passing in March (we succeeded, praise the Lord!). Tonight we have a Bible-study in the home of some of our people who live 45 minutes up-Island from us. Tomorrow is the wedding I mentioned. And next week is Family Camp. so I have to really work on getting messages ready for two Sundays and for Camp.

Whew! Not complaining, I relish the activity. But I suspect I won’t be blogging a lot over the next few days.

Here are a few things that caught my eye. Some of them would be good for the illustration file:

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I remember the exciting days of the Apollo program very well. I remember the breathless excitement of hearing Neil Armstrong’s famous words come crackling over a transistor radio as we boys listened in our bunks the first night of our week at camp.

Do you know how powerful the technology was that controlled that mission?

The flight computer onboard the Lunar Excursion Module, which landed on the Moon during the Apollo program, had a whopping 4 kilobytes of RAM and a 74 KB "hard drive." In places, the craft’s outer skin was as thin as two sheets of aluminum foil.

That was then.

This is now. NASA’s plans for the coming longer moon missions are much more elaborate with much more sophisticated equipment. You can read about some of it at the link above.

The many extremes faced by astronauts heading for the moon, and later, they hope, to Mars, seem to reinforce the notion that the earth is truly the only home of life in the universe. (Can’t prove it, but it is a notion I hold nonetheless.)

How inhospitable the rest of creation seems to be!

And how fascinating!


a few snippets

A couple of recent articles of interest to me… on science and a startling admission, on culture, politics, Steynism, and a parallel in church circles, and on an interview with an alleged Anglican ‘conservative’.

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a little good news about Gleevec

Gleevec is the drug that gives my wife a normal life. She has CML, chronic mylogenous leukemia. Gleevec puts this disease in remission and keeps it there with little to no side-effects.

Today, a story about another disease, neurofibromatosis, which affects one in 3500 births. Research is being conducted to see if this disease, which makes the patient disposed to very difficult to treat cancerous tumours, can benefit from Gleevec. This story contains this hopeful little paragraph:

While the research was being conducted in animal models, a critically ill three-year-old patient presented at Riley Hospital for Children with a plexiform neurofibroma that was compressing her airway. With Gleevec administered under a compassionate use protocol, the patient’s tumor was reduced by about 80 percent, Dr. Clapp said. The patient was subsequently removed from treatment and is being followed, he said.

Again, a word of thanks to our Lord who gifted men, even unbelieving men, with minds capable of searching out these hidden things of our earthly lives. May God grant them insight to see the hidden things of their spiritual lives and find redemption in his Son!