Sharks provide updates on Donskoi, Vlasic’s health

first_imgSAN JOSE — Joonas Donskoi skated for a full hour at the Sharks optional practice Monday, giving head coach Pete DeBoer reason to believe that the scorching-hot forward might be healthy enough to suit up for Tuesday’s clash with the Pittsburgh Penguins at SAP Center.Donskoi missed the last two periods of Saturday’s 4-1 win over the Ottawa Senators with an apparent head injury after a net-front collision with Mark Borowiecki forced him to leave the game in the opening frame. He returned for one …last_img

The Evolution of Infidelity

first_imgThe BBC News placed a sultry photo of a likely-undressed man and woman about to kiss alongside the headline of a story, “Genes may be to blame for infidelity.”  They report on the speculation by Tim Spector (Twin Research Unit, St. Thomas Hospital) that “if one of a pair of twins had a history of infidelity, the chances her sister would also stray were about 55%” instead of the estimated 23% of women who supposedly are not faithful (how this statistic was ascertained was not disclosed).He stressed that genes alone did not determine whether somebody was likely to be unfaithful – much was down to social factors.    But he said it made good sense in evolutionary terms to get a good mix of genes – and for women to chose a better option if one came along.    However, he stopped short of concluding that there is an infidelity gene.     He said: “There is unlikely to be a single gene for anything like this.  But there are likely to be genes that participate in it, a number of genes working together, it might be things like risk taking or those associated with personality.”A social psychologist is quoted denying that the behavior is genetically based, but more likely based on imitation of the parent.Notice the moral schizophrenia in this story even if you accept the premise.  Alongside the strictly naturalistic explanation for immorality are the words infidelity and unfaithfulness, and the word good, all words loaded with moral connotations.  But if unfaithfulness evolved as a sexual selection strategy, if it “makes good sense in evolutionary terms,” who is to call it unfaithful?  It is certainly faithful to the only one who matters in Darwin’s universe: me, myself, I.  So yes, selfishness makes perfect sense in a selfish universe, because selfishness is the highest good.    Do you see, dear reader, how destructive evolutionary thinking can be in the most intimate matters of the heart?  This article essentially encourages the cheater, saying, “You can’t help it; you are doing just what your genes lead you to do.  In fact, what you are doing makes perfect evolutionary sense and is actually a good thing for #1.” Notice that fellow evolutionists rarely condemn this kind of nonsense.  If they disagree with it, they usually just replace one evolutionary just-so story with another.  None dare call it immoral, even when it involves crime (see 07/18/2003 headline about the evolution of rape).  Michael Ruse once rationalized the genocide in Nazi Germany in evolutionary terms, refusing to call it evil, but instead claiming that such societies are usually “unstable.”  That means that, conceivably, if it were stable, it would make perfect evolutionary sense.  Democracy, on the contrary, is not stable either; “eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”  So is the Bill of Rights doomed to failure, because it counters the evolutionary pressure of natural selection?  Is that why so many Darwinians in elite universities are Marxists?  Let’s conduct a survey of how many evolutionists cheat on their spouses, to make sure they are not just promoting Darwinism as a pseudoscientific rationalization for their behavior.    So, Mr. Spector, you’ve told us a nice little story about how cheating makes perfect evolutionary sense.  Now tell us about the evolution of broken homes, devastated children and heartbroken spouses.  This evolutionary tale is not just dumb, it’s evil.  Maybe that’s why the British pronounce it evil-you-tion.(Visited 6 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Biomimetics for Your Christmas Wish List

first_imgBiomimetics (the imitation of nature) continues to promise cool gadgets and useful materials that will someday yield prized gifts under the tree.  Some of them might even save your life. Combo Plate:  We begin with an article on the BBC News that listed a smorgasbord of treats coming from biomimetic research.  In “Biomimicry: Beaks on trains and flipper-like turbines,” technology reporter Katia Moskvitch writes, “Since the dawn of time, nature has been working hard, engineering everyone and everything to the highest standards on Earth.”  The opening eye-catching photo shows caterpillars hatching out of their cathedral-like eggs, reminiscent of scenes from the documentary Metamorphosis: The Beauty and Design of Butterflies.  Here’s a short list from her article of natural designs representing “just a drop in the ocean of amazing nature-designed solutions” that are finding their way into engineering labs: Dragonflies, able to propel in any direction, inspiring hovercraft Shark skin that eliminates friction Termites that build air-conditioned mounds Birds that inspired the Wright Brothers and Leonardo da Vinci Weed burrs that inspired Velcro Tree leaves that inspire solar cells Butterfly wings that are leading to better gadget displays Whale flippers that are helping model better turbine blades Lotus leaves as models for waterproof surfaces Bird beak shapes that help reduce drag on high-speed trains Spider web reflective secrets that can warn birds of glass Lisa Welch, who is working on the reflective glass, commented, “I’m sure all of the answers to what we are wanting to solve exist in some form or another, in nature.” Glass sponges for bone:  Biominerals such as the glass houses in diatoms, and the bones and teeth in our bodies, are being studied for materials surgeons can use to repair bone.  In “Glass sponges inspire: Hybrid material made of collagen fibers and silica as possible substrate for bone tissue culture,” PhysOrg reported on work at Georgia Health Sciences University to build substances the way diatoms, sponges and vertebrates do it.  “Biomineralization is a very complicated process that is not so easy to mimic,” the article began.  “The researchers once again turned to nature for inspiration,” modeling the process used by glass sponges. Bats and dolphins for sonar and ultrasound:  Another PhysOrg article discussed how “biosonar” still exceeds human navigational machinery.  Researchers at Tel Aviv University would like to gain ground.  “Intrigued by the quality of the natural world’s biosonar over its man-made equivalents, Profs. Intrator and Simmons set out to study how biosonar animals perform echo location so quickly and accurately.”  They’re trying to analyze echoes the way animals do, looking for all the information bats and dolphins glean from sound.  “Animals explore pings with multiple filters or receptive fields, and we have demonstrated that exploring each ping in multiple ways can lead to higher accuracy,” Intrator said.  “By understanding sonar animals, we can create a new family of ultrasound systems that will be able to explore our bodies with more accurate medical imaging.” Pitcher plant for slippery slopes:  MSNBC Technology News reported on work at Harvard to imitate the slippery inner surfaces of pitcher plants, that give bugs no foothold for escaping the trap at the bottom.  Just think if they succeed and put this kind of surface on the inside of the ketchup bottle. Oysters for protection:  Want better bullet-proof material?  Xiaodong Li (U of South Carolina) is coming closer to it, thanks to his study of mother-of-pearl (nacre) made by oysters.  Nacre is able to absorb energy better than man-made surfaces.  PhysOrg described how imitating the manufacture of nacre in oysters is giving Li success in his experiments.  “Given the elaborate nanoscale structures that biology naturally incorporates in mother-of-pearl, the research team believes the findings could serve as a blueprint for engineering tough new materials in the laboratory,” the article said. The intricate patterns of calcium carbonate layers bound together with biopolymers is a secret that may lead to body armor that will someday save soldiers’ lives. Leaves for fuel:  Robert Service (not the poet) wrote in Science (8 November 2011: vol. 334 no. 6058 pp. 925-927, doi: 10.1126/science.334.6058.925)  about the attempts to mimic photosynthesis.  “Artificial-photosynthesis researchers dream of using sunlight’s energy to generate chemical fuels,” his article began.  “Despite progress, the approach must become more efficient and cheaper to make an impact on where the world gets its fuel.”  Why does nature make difficult engineering problems look so easy?  The article begins with praise for your lawn that says it all: The next time you groan when it’s time to mow your lawn, take a second first to marvel at a blade of grass. Plants are so commonplace that it’s easy to take their wizardry for granted. When they absorb sunlight, they immediately squirrel away almost all of that energy by using it to knit together a chemical fuel they use later to grow and multiply. It sounds so simple. Yet it’s anything but. Modern society runs on fossil fuels precisely because researchers have never managed to duplicate the chemical mastery of a fescue. Nano like cells do it:  Although an article in the BBC News doesn’t mention biomimetics, it’s all about building tiny molecular structures for which cells are famous.  “Nanoparticle hollowing method promises medical advances” is the headline.  A look at the images, though, looks like kid’s alphabet blocks compared to the machinery of the cell.  For a good look at that, see a stunning new animation by Vuk Nikolic on Vimeo. Bacteria for just-in-time delivery:  One subcategory of biomimetics is looking at a human solution to a problem, only to find out nature had it all along.  That’s what PhysOrg reported about a finding with bacteria.  “In the human world of manufacturing, many companies are now applying an on-demand, just-in-time strategy to conserve resources, reduce costs and promote production of goods precisely when and where they are most needed,” the article began.  “A recent study from Indiana University Bloomington scientists reveals that bacteria have evolved a similar just-in-time strategy to constrain production of an extremely sticky cement to exactly the appropriate time and place, avoiding wasteful and problematic production of the material.” Spiders for strength:  British researchers couldn’t offer any success stories with manufacture to match spider webs, but they did up the ante about the difficulty.  “Scientists at Oxford University and The University of Sheffield have demonstrated that natural silks are a thousand times more efficient than common plastics when it comes to forming fibres,” reported PhysOrg.  How can a tiny spider beat out our best materials scientists?  “Silk produced by spiders and silk moths demonstrates combinations of strength and toughness that still outperform their synthetic counterparts,” one Oxford scientist noted.  As if to rub it in, he added, “Not only are silks superior to man-made fibres, they are produced at room temperature with just water as a by-product.”  Try that as an experiment in chem lab. Spiders for partnership:  Another spidey story on Medical Xpress revealed that researchers at Kansas State and U of Nebraska have succeeded in taking a protein from spider silk and combining it with human muscle calcium channel to produce a self-assembling peptide. The resulting hydrogels “have potential as injectable materials for medical applications, e.g., liquid injection agents that become gelatinous in the human body to keep drugs around cancerous tumors.” Spiders for music:  One of the most unusual recent stories related to biomimetics is this one on PhysOrg:  “Researchers link patterns seen in spider silk, melodies.”  Sure enough, someone at MIT came up with a mathematical model that found analogies between spider webs and music.  From sound wave to chord to riff, “The study explains that structural patterns are directly related to the functional properties of lightweight strength in the spider silk and, in the riff, sonic tension that creates an emotional response in the listener.”  Finding this relationship involved modeling the “ontology logs” (ologs) between the two phenomena, a process in a field known as category theory.  “This work is very exciting because it brings forth an approach founded on category theory to bridge music (and potentially other aspects of the fine arts) to a new field of materiomics,” the MIT gurus said.  Tying two completely different fields together helps scientists think outside the box.  “What is particularly exciting is the opportunity to reveal new relationships between seemingly disparate fields with the aim of improving materials engineering and design.”  Whistle while you work, perhaps? Whether this is a category theory or category error, philosophers may want to weigh in on, but David Spivak is unabashed: “The seemingly incredible gap between spider silk and music is no wider than the gap between the two disparate mathematical fields of geometry — think of triangles and spheres — and algebra, which uses variables and equations,” he said.  For example, a spider web is robust enough to avoid failure even when defects are present, and music can sound OK even when the player misses some chords in a riff.  Category Theory has had success in the past with analogies between disparate concepts, Spivak explains.  “It remains to be seen whether our olog will yield such striking results; however, the foundation for such an inquiry is now in place.”  Note: he did not say this while strumming a spider web like a harp. Exercise: Compose “Ode to a Spider Web” and put it to music. Well, again, more wonderful ideas are pouring forth from the world of biomimetics.  The evolutionists haven’t given up trying to milk it for Darwin sacrificial offerings, but they are really outsiders on this bonanza.  They still try to say that Nature (personified) has had billions of years to practice and hone her engineering skills, but logical readers will slough off that useless narrative gloss like the sexy teaser ads in the sidebars of websites.  In biomimetics literature, you’re more likely to hear of revolution than evolution.(Visited 22 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Ontario judge blasts frustrating lack of resources as trial delayed for year

first_imgTORONTO – An Ontario judge blasted the legal system’s lack of resources on Thursday while postponing for nearly a year the trial of five men accused of running a multimillion-dollar financial scam.No judge in the Toronto area has time to try the men until at least January 2019, nearly five years after they were arrested, Superior Court Justice John McMahon told a Toronto courtroom Thursday.“This case is very important, the gentlemen are presumed innocent, the public interest in a $14 million alleged fraud is important but the only way this case goes ahead before January is if there’s another case the Crown wants to pull (to free up a judge),” McMahon said.“It is frustrating, but we can only deal with what we have.”McMahon added that he had tried to find judges in neighbouring jurisdictions who would be available before January but had been unsuccessful.The case involves Vincent Villanti, Revendra Chaudhary, Andrew Lloyd, Shane Smith and David Prentice, all charged with fraud over $5,000 and conspiracy to commit a crime in connection with an alleged investment and tax avoidance scheme. All have maintained their innocence.The matter has already exceeded the 30 month time limit for criminal trials, established by the Supreme Court in 2016, and the accused applied last year to have their charges stayed on the basis they have been denied their right to be tried within a reasonable period.A judge denied their application in September, ruling the case fit certain exceptions built into the rules due to its complexity and the fact that prosecutors “mitigated” delays by making evidence more accessible and working with one defence lawyer’s illness.But all five accused, who are out on bail, indicated in court Thursday they would ask for stays in light of the new delay, Crown lawyer Michael Lockner said.“Facing a potentially additional 11 months … I think there’s really extreme jeopardy for this case,” Lockner told the court.The Ontario Superior Court, which handles all civil cases and serious criminal offences, has over 330 judges, of whom about 90 are assigned to Toronto.The court’s Chief Justice, Heather Smith, has made repeated calls for the federal government to increase the number of judges in Ontario and more quickly fill vacancies on the bench.The federal government’s recently-released budget for 2018 pledges to create six new judge positions for the Ontario Superior Court over the next fiscal year, though it remains to be seen how many of those positions will be in Toronto.Toronto, in particular, is in need of more judges, said Criminal Lawyers Association president Michael Lacy said.“The most serious cases get priority because of the requirement that cases be tried within 30 months in Superior Court, and then cases like a fraud case — which also raise serious issues — tend to get put on the back burner because there’s not enough judges,” Lacy said.McMahon noted that in Toronto, there are 44 murder trials scheduled this year.After Thursday’s court hearing, one of the accused noted that he was now representing himself to save money.“The financial resources don’t allow you to continue, when you’re looking at half a million dollars for a lawyer to step up and just be here to do this,” Shane Smith said. “I’ve lost two houses and had a heart attack or two.”The Crown claims Smith and his co-accused ran an investment program through two companies, raising over $13 million from approximately 5,000 people. Investors were allegedly told their money would be used as start-up capital for small businesses, and that they could claim any resulting business losses on their personal income taxes, the Crown said.The men allegedly used most or all of the investment money to pay their own salaries, expenses and company expenses, leading them to claim deductions on their taxes that were ultimately disallowed by the Canada Revenue Agency, the Crown said.A sixth man charged in connection with the alleged scheme pleaded guilty last year.last_img read more