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Articles » Genetics

 

Scientists are continually discovering remarkable molecular machines which work inside each living cell. One such machine involves proofreading. Anytime you or I copy a document, it is always a good idea to proofread the script. Since each cell copies or duplicates its own genetic code or DNA before cell division, the cell would be well advised to check the new strands to make sure there are no copying errors. Read the rest of this entry »


Landmark Work: What’s Wrong with ‘Survival of the Fittest’

An exciting new book was published in the fall of 2017. The author, Nathaniel Jeanson, is a specialist in molecular biology and bioinformatics with a Ph.D. in cell and developmental biology from Harvard University. With such fancy credentials, one might expect his new book to be very difficult and full of technical mumbo-jumbo! Well, Dr. Jeanson does present some very interesting information, but he does undertake to make the discussion accessible to interested readers. Excellent illustrations (some in colour) really help. Nevertheless for reading this book a good background in high school biology at least would be a big help. Read the rest of this entry »

Order Online

Margaret Helder has developed a guide to enhance the learning opportunities and appreciation of the message in her book (which is to encourage everyone to critically evaluate scientific pronouncements). For each chapter there is a brief overview statement. Brief paragraphs follow for each subsection in each chapter with key concepts introduced. There follows for each chapter a list of questions, many of them involving the key concepts. The next section provides detailed answers for each question. A sure to be popular section follows on resources. These are provided under topical headings. Books, articles (all obtainable) and especially video clips on-line, are certain to be useful for any biological studies, not just for this book. Lastly for each chapter, a section on extension is provided.  This booklet of about 60 pages, will be available on line (free download) and in hard copy. Inquire through our website for your copy as soon as it is available.


It was in April 1953 that Frances Crick and James Watson published their proposed description of the DNA molecule. As they anticipated, biology was forever changed. Now biologists had a molecule which they could study, which stored hereditary information. The 1960s saw the emergence of the ‘standard model,’ which held that DNA codes for proteins which determine the characteristics of each creature. However on the occasion of the 60th anniversary, one commentator in the journal Nature declared: “We do not know what most of our DNA does, nor how, or to what extent it governs traits.” (496 #7446 p. 419). Read the rest of this entry »


The big surprise in April 1953 was not that the structure, and by implication the function, of DNA had been discovered, but rather who had done it. With established scientists like American Linus Pauling of Caltech in Pasadena, and British scientists Maurice Wilkins and Rosalind Franklin at King’s College, University of London, carrying out such research, it was expected that the problem would soon be solved. These scientists all had research funds, experience and appropriate equipment. Read the rest of this entry »


DNA by the Numbers

DNA by the Numbers

Intermediate

An avid fan of spy stories, I have read many which involve an apparently harmless document (like a friendly letter). But the document actually conveys dangerous information if one is provided with the appropriate convention for decoding it. Read the rest of this entry »


History is full of sad stories. Nobody needs to tell us that. Nevertheless many tragic events have been obscured by the mists of time. It sometimes seems that we scarcely know or care any more about the crusades, European wars or treaties during the Middle Ages or events before or after that time. Eighty years ago however, the assassination of the Romanovs, the Russian czar and his family took place in the Siberian town of Yekaterinburg. The events were so shrouded in mystery, and the victims so interesting (particularly the four beautiful daughters), that public interest in the story has never faded. Now, thanks to some remarkable espionage carried out in Russia during the final years of the Communist regime, and to some recently developed skills in forensic science, the final chapter on the Romanov saga will be written during the summer of 1998. If all goes according to plan, the Romanovs will be buried in the family sepulchre in St. Peter and St. Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg. The funeral service with appropriate imperial grandeur is scheduled for July 17 — 80 years to the day after their untimely deaths. Read the rest of this entry »


We all like to communicate, don’t we – at the very least to tell others what to do. Indeed a slang expression has been coined about this “Communication is the name of the game!” People, of course, are able to communicate in words. However there are other sorts of communication which do not involve words, but which nevertheless involve information. Some scientists, especially in their study of biology, have become very interested in information and its source. Dr. A. E. Wilder-Smith, for example, discussed the genesis of biological information in his 1981 book The Natural Sciences Know Nothing of Evolution. Moreover this fall two new books on this subject (by Dr. William A. Dembski) are scheduled to be released. Dr. Dembski is an associate editor of Origins and Design (www.arn.org) and the titles of these new books are The Design Inference (Cambridge) and Mere Creation: Reclaiming the Book of Nature (InterVarsity). Dr. Dembski’s interest in information theory is in its implications for origins theory. This also was Dr. Wilder-Smith’s concern. In addition there is another book recently translated from German, which provides fascinating insights on this topic. The title of Dr. Werner Gitt’s book is In the Beginning was Information. Read the rest of this entry »


Dr. Paul Nelson is a prominent spokesperson for the creation and intelligent design communities. It was in that capacity that he introduced enthusiastic participants at the 2013 Creation Weekend in Edmonton, to new arguments and exciting information. Read the rest of this entry »


Evolutionists have long had a difficult time trying to account for the development of cells with nuclei. The first step, of course, is to agree on a suitable ancestor. The popular choice is bacteria (prokaryotes) which typically have only a single circular chromosome lying free in the cell. Unfortunately there are numerous structural and metabolic differences between the assumed ancestors and presumed descendants. Various theories have been proposed to explain how this new cell type might have developed, but none has proved extremely satisfactory. Thus the old theories tend to get recycled. An explanation is accepted for a while and later falls into disfavour as another old theory is retrieved from mothballs. The problem is that none of these theories fits the observed facts very well at all. Read the rest of this entry »


CSAA’s featured speaker for Creation Weekend 2011 was well known creation apologist Dr. Jerry Bergman. Large numbers of people came to hear one or more of his lectures and all declared themselves delighted with his genial, non-confrontational manner and his interesting material. In that Dr. Bergman’s area of expertise is biology, chemistry and medical anatomy, the issues he discussed were quite different from the geological topics which we have considered in recent years. This material demonstrated anew that the issue of creation is broad and encompasses all aspects of nature. Read the rest of this entry »


The striking image on the cover of this book is a crystal of DNA. What more effective illustration could one imagine for a book which deals with the significance of biochemistry for our understanding of biology? Read the rest of this entry »


Fruit Fly Shenanigans

Fruit Fly Shenanigans

Intermediate

The experiment with fruit flies was basically uncomplicated. Any university student could have carried it out providing they could identify and count the various mutant forms. But there was more to the issue than mere counts of fruit fly offspring. The study was supposed to, and had long been considered that it in fact did, support a key idea of Charles Darwin. More than sixty years had passed since the fruit fly work was published. Subsequent to publication in the new journal Heredity in 1948, few people paid much attention to the study until it was quoted favourably in 1972 and 1994 as supporting Darwin’s idea of sexual selection. Those references conferred celebrity status on the work and many citations followed. But then in 2012 a study was published which questioned not only the 1948 work, but also a major component of Darwin’s theory of evolution. However the reasons and issues surrounding the new study are not what we might hope or expect. It is important to remember that scientists draw conclusions in keeping with their world view and there is more diversity in world views in science than one might imagine.

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A myth, one might imagine, is a story or explanation that is widely believed, but has no basis in fact. While there were numerous myths in the past, modern man believes that he has no need for such fabrications. Science, after all, undertakes to explain everything, and it is empirical and objective, so the saying goes. But even in science, some myths do creep into the public consciousness. It is interesting to notice how popular misunderstandings of scientific information appear and are propagated. An example springs to mind. Consider the recent studies on the “age” of the human race, for example. The conclusions and some headlines were actually misleading. One wonders how many readers obtained an inaccurate understanding of the issue. Let us investigate that case. Read the rest of this entry »


On Tuesday, June 27, 2000 the National Post published a two page spread. At first glance, it did not look that exciting. The text on these pages consisted only of four letters, C, G, A and T, arranged in seemingly random order. The final line, for example, begins