International organizations join fight against Thai child boxing

first_imgLATEST STORIES MOST READ The organizations include the American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP), the World Health Organization and the US Labor Department.A letter from AAP addressed to the Royal College of Paediatricians of Thailand “applauds” Thailand’s efforts to prevent children from sustaining injuries, but stresses that sport in which children “intentionally attempt to cause harm to the opponent” was unacceptable.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSGinebra beats Meralco again to capture PBA Governors’ Cup titleSPORTSJapeth Aguilar wins 1st PBA Finals MVP award for GinebraSPORTSGolden State Warriors sign Lee to multiyear contract, bring back ChrissOver the past decade, the AAP has worked with other agencies to cut down on the harm caused to children involved in extreme sports.“Boxing, including kick-boxing, exposes children to an unacceptable risk of injury, and therefore their participation in these activities should be prohibited,” it said, adding that the death of the 13 year-old boxer underscored the urgency to end this practice through law. CSIP’s statement also cited the 2017 report on the Worst Forms of Child Labor issued by the US Department of Labor, which lists muay thai as one of the worst forms of child labor in Thailand. The report puts these paid boxing matches right up there with the cruel seafood processing industry, human trafficking, commercial exploitation and dangerous street work.CSIP director Dr Adisak Plitpolkarnpim said the law needs to be passed urgently, and for it to become a law during this government’s tenure, the bill must be submitted to the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) by the end of December.“If we miss out on this opportunity, we will need to start all over again from square one,” he said.It has taken about five years for the effort to ban child boxing to get this far, he said. It took roughly two years before the amendment to the 1999 Boxing Act was finally handed over by the NLA’s subcommittee on social development, children, women and people with disabilities to the subcommittee on sports, he said.However, the bill has raised a hot debate.On the one side, prominent muay thai fighters, boxing camps and match organizers are strongly objecting to the bill, saying fighting offers a way out of poverty for many and boxers have to start learning the art of boxing from a young age.On the other side, doctors and children’s rights activists are for the bill as research shows signs of brain damage in young boxers and they see the sport as a case of child labor.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. 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The Nation/Asia News NetworkBANGKOK — Three weeks after a 13-year-old boy died in a muay thai ring, the bill banning children from participating in paid matches has yet to reach legislators.In response to this, the Child Safety Promotion and Injury Prevention Research Centre (CSIP) has stepped up pressure on the Tourism and Sports Ministry by listing the concerns about child boxing raised by well-known international organizations.ADVERTISEMENT After winning title, time for LA Tenorio to give back to Batangas folk Gretchen Barretto’s daughter Dominique graduates magna cum laude from California college View comments Lights inside SMX hall flicker as Duterte rants vs Ayala, Pangilinan anew On November 10, 13-year-old muay thai fighter Anucha Thasako died from brain injury after a blow to his head knocked him down during a match in Samut Prakan.CSIP said child boxing was “unacceptable” because injuries can have a long-term impact on the child’s mental development and can be considered a serious case of child labor.“These child boxers are encouraged by their parents and boxing camps to fight each other to earn money for their family and generate income for the camp. Gamblers also bet on them. This deplorable practice continues despite the fact that the sport damages the children’s still-developing brain and leaves them with incurable learning disabilities and other physical and mental health impacts for the rest of their lives,” Dr Liviu Vedrasco said.Vedrasco, a program officer at World Health Organization (Thailand), was speaking at the 13th World Conference on Injury Prevention and Safety Promotion last month.The Boxing Bill needs to be passed as soon as possible so children can be protected from harm and not taken advantage of, he said.ADVERTISEMENT Nadine Lustre’s phone stolen in Brazillast_img read more

Essequibians forming group to push tourism

first_imgThe Region Two Regional Democratic Council (RDC) and the Essequibo Chambers of Commerce (ECC) have embarked on a project to form a group to push tourism in the region.This was according to Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam) Councillor Vilma Da Silva, who said the project was part of the region’s flagship tourism project.In 2017, a team from the Department of Tourism visited regions across Guyana to garner the views of stakeholders on tourism attractions and market appeal. TheRegion Two Councillor Vilma Da Silvaregions were tasked to identify tourism hotspots to promote at the regional level.Da Silva said, “We recognised that we have a lot of tourism hotspots in the region that can benefit us economically. Essequibo is mainly into agriculture, but we just want to add tourism to our economic activities.”The Councillor said the Chambers and the RDC were currently working on creating a trail to connect Capoey Lake, Mainstay Lake and Tri-Lake. “We are also looking for Government’s intervention into this project.”This, she explained, will enhance bird watching, nature walks, and water sports tourism activities.Da Silva related that the project would include all members, since it aimed to benefit all residents. People will be selected to form a committee to oversee tourism projects. “We already sent out messages to the Toshaos of the region, members of the business community and even farmers to take part in the formation of the group. We want everyone involved.”The committee members are expected to be elected today.last_img read more

Leonora residents complain of financial hardships

first_img…unburden sufferings to Opposition LeaderDeclining sales, piracy woes and a slowdown in the construction industry were among the issues raised by stall holders and residents at the Leonora Market, on the West Coast of Demerara, when Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo, met with them on Saturday.Jagdeo, in his capacity as People’s Progressive Party (PPP) General Secretary, met with party activists in the area, and eventually departed on an impromptu walkabout through the nearby Leonora market.A vendor shares her concerns with the former President at the Leonora MarketThis was most welcome by residents and vendors, who unburdened their problems to the former President and team, which included Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Chairman Irfaan Ali and Regional Chairman Julius Faeber.According to Virendra Singh, the owner of two sand trucks, his business was once a thriving and integral part of the construction industry. But times have changed and Singh told Jagdeo that he has been forced to park them and turn to cash crops to in a bid to make ends meet.Jagdeo receiving a hug from a shopperSingh related that his daughter attends a nearby private school but the advent of 14 per cent Value Added Tax (VAT) on school fees, coupled with his crippled sand truck business, has caused him to contemplate removing her from the school.“I selling lettuce now, planting a garden. I got children going to school. Look this girl going to Swami School,” Singh said, pointing to his daughter. “They charging VAT now (on private school education), I don’t know how I will able pay the VAT. I (am) selling to maintain the family. And I own the sand trucks and I have loan in the bank.”“When you go for the sand, they say when the four lane done (they will) loose you early in the morning, they will loose you from six o’clock till nine o’clock, which (slows down) progress. A morning I had to get money to send this girl to school and she couldn’t go school because they hold me up.”A stallholder and the former President interactOnly a few days ago, sand truck operators who traverse the East Bank Demerara highway, were hit with an abrupt decision to prohibit them from plying their trade along that corridor.The sand truck operators are especially upset over the inadequate notice given to them in regard to this decision. When some truckers arrived at their usual area, in the vicinity of DSL Supermarket, they were greeted with “No parking for lorry” signs freshly painted on the sides of the road.The sand truck operators formerly plied their trade on Lombard Street, but were removed by authorities to ease traffic. They were placed in front of a paint supplier on the East Bank Highway, but were subsequently removed to the opposite side of the road after the owner complained about dust particles getting into the paint. Now the operators have been removed once again, much to their annoyance and frustration.PiracyMeanwhile, vendors who were selling fish spoke of other challenges such as reduced customers and even piracy. One fish vendor who spoke to Guyana Times stated that business has, of recent, been very slow.“Right now, for the short while business (is) real slow, because the people (that) buy from you (aren’t) getting enough money. See how the market deh right now?” She queried, pointing around the market. “The price (is) real low. When it cheaper, it more hard to sell. When it rise, (it’s easier). When it plenty, everybody got. I have five children and six grandchildren.”Nadira (only name given), a 47-year-old vendor, has been selling fish for 15 years. Her husband is the one who braves the rain, sun and turbulent tides off the coast in order to bring home the fish she then sells. She related that her business largely fluctuates. She also spoke about pirates attacking fishermen, including her cousin.“Sometimes it goes good, sometimes it don’t go good. I hear the fuel gone up. Right now the fish is very cheap,” she said. “Pirates does take away them engine and so. It never happened to him (husband), but other people. Lately they (robbed) one of my cousin.”Cash cropsThough products such as fertilisers seemed attainable, the prevailing problem for cash crop farmers was reduced sales. Chavita, a cash crop farmer, is directly affected by this. While greens are an essential part of any family budget, she stated that business has not been what it was before.“We get we own farm, but we na plant really now, we buy. It is real hard times now. We aren’t getting sales right now. (I’ve been selling) a good while. But for now, it is really hard times to sell.”Another cash crop farmer, when asked about sales, related that “sometimes it slow and sometimes, you know. Not every time you come out you get (customers) but for me, now, since the estate is not grinding it going good. But I’ve been a single parent for 16 years.”StallsBut while vendors situated on the roadway complained of the slowdown in business, a sojourn deep into the market revealed that things were equally rough. In fact, vendors within the market consistently complained of customers preferring to buy from vendors selling outside and close to the road.The problem, according to the market vendors, is that some of them do not pay the market rental fees. According to Samsundar (only name given), a vendor and father of three who sells fresh vegetables deep within the market to make ends meet, these vendors on the road absorb the little customers the visit the area.According to Region Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara) Chairman Julius Faeber, the matter of persons selling at advantageous spots outside the market is subject of a court case, adding that he is optimistic that it would soon be resolved.The Opposition Leader who took note of all the concerns raised by stallholders, at one point expressed concern that the economic woes may get even worse. He noted that the Government has its priorities in disarray and also chided the Government for its expenditure.“And there is no attention being paid to those sorts of things. All day long (they’re) running after people and their taxes,” Jagdeo decried.Region Three is well known for its rice and sugar cultivation. But since Government has taken the decision of closing down Wales Estate and moving some workers to Utivlugt, the PPP has warned about the potential social impact on the region. This impact had included a reduction in cash circulating.The International Monetary Fund (IMF) released the preliminary findings of their report after a visit to Guyana from March 6 to 17 to hold discussions for the 2017 Article IV Consultation. In its report, IMF also warned about these effects.last_img read more

Binnion Mass Rock charity walk a success

first_imgThe committee of Ballyduff Community Group Home Lifford would like to extend a heartfelt thanks to all those who helped make a success of the 5th Annual Binnion Mass Rock charity walk, which took place on Sunday 17th July.They would like to extend a special word of thanks to Tom McKean, Niall and Grainne Fitzpatrick, Vincent McGrath, Leonard French, Eddie and Marjorie Shiels, Eddie Shiels Jr, Kay Mahon and Robert McFarland,Gerald Crawford, Alice and Neil Lynch, James Lynch, Patrick Gormley, Joe McKean, John Doherty, Micky Shiels, Cedie and Bernie ní Gallagher.The The Binnion Mass Rock Committee also give a big thank you to all the walkers who turned out on the day, to those who made kind donations and to those who supported the raffle on the weeks leading up to the event. Over €2,000 has been collected by the committee so far!The committee concluded by saying; “Your continued support is greatly appreciated.”Binnion Mass Rock charity walk a success was last modified: July 20th, 2016 by Elaine McCalligShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:binnion mass rock charity walklast_img read more

EVELYN HAS FRIENDS IN HIGH PLACES AFTER BIRTHDAY CALL FROM GARTH BROOKS!

first_imgGood News Exclusive! A loving mother arranged the perfect 21st birthday present for her son – a personal phonecall from music legend Garth Brooks.Evelyn McLaughlin thought she had nothing to lose by writing to the millionaire singer with her secret request for only child Malachy.The Dungloe woman didn’t know Garth’s address so she looked up his website and simply addressed the letter to Garth Brooks, The Ranch, Oklahoma, USA. She told Garth how her son was his biggest fan and how it would make his day if he could send Malachy a card.“I thought I had nothing to lose other than a few minutes writing a letter and didn’t really think too much more about it after that,” said mum Evelyn.But when an American voice appeared on the end of her mobile phone on Wednesday morning last, Evelyn knew it was for real.“I hadn’t told anyone I had written to Garth so I knew it must be true. “I didn’t want to disappoint Malachy if Garth didn’t come back to him so that’s why I kept it to myself.“Malachy was still half asleep in the bed when Garth called because we had partied a little too much on the actual night of his birthday the night before,” laughed Evelyn from Meenmore Road, Dungloe.Malachy McLaughlinMalachy had spent the previous night singing Garth Brook songs and went to bed a little worse for wear.But cool-as-a-cucumber Malachy simply took the call and chatted to the singer for almost half an hour about everything from music to the weather.Malachy explained to Garth, 51, how he suffered from a heart complaint, a transposition of the arteries, and had spent a lot of time at Crumlin’s Children Hospital and now The Mater. He also revealed how he has raised more than €8,000 as a thank you to Crumlin.And Garth even promised to send on Malachy a bag of goodies including some of his albumsMalachy said his philosophy is that everyone is equal and he wasn’t too phased by the fact of getting a birthday phonecall from a megastar.“We had a bit of craic and Garth was really sound. We just chatted about this and that and I told him I’d probably see him for a pint when he was over in Ireland again, said Malachy. EVELYN HAS FRIENDS IN HIGH PLACES AFTER BIRTHDAY CALL FROM GARTH BROOKS! was last modified: April 20th, 2013 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:dungloeEvelyn McLaughlinGarth BrooksMalachy McLaughlinlast_img read more

Holiday Calendar

first_imgChildren’s Holiday Music Program will feature holiday music performed by children from local elementary schools and performers from Vibe Performing Arts Studios, 5-7 p.m. Wednesdays through Dec. 21 outside the food court entrances at Westfield Valencia Town Center, 24201 Valencia Blvd., Valencia. Call (661) 298-1220. Follow the Star, live Nativity scene, will feature more than 100 actors re-enacting the life of Christ, 6:30-8:30 p.m. Thursday through Sunday at Bethlehem Lutheran Church, 27265 Luther Drive, Canyon Country. Admission is free. Food or cash donation to the Santa Clarita Valley Food Pantry is encouraged. Call (661) 252-0622 or visit www.followthestar.com. Candlelight Christmas concert will be presented by the Sanctuary Choir, Praise Orchestra and others, 7:30 p.m. Friday and 7 p.m. Sunday at Grace Baptist Church, 22833 Copperhill Drive, Santa Clarita. Tickets are free but are necessary in order to be seated. Call (661) 296-8737. Cards & Carolers event will feature local high school choirs and cards for people to sign to send to troops overseas, 6-9 p.m. Friday at the Veterans Memorial Plaza on Newhall and Walnut avenues, Newhall. Refreshments will be served. Call Jenny Aurit at (661) 255-4918. Santa will visit Santa’s Elf Camp, 12:30 and 2 p.m., and a performance by the Hart High Holiday Band, 1 p.m. Saturday at Granary Square, located at McBean Parkway and Arroyo Park Drive, Valencia. Call Linda Hollingsworth at (661) 296-3408. Pet photos and Christmas cards with Santa, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday at Pet Supply, 26831 Bouquet Canyon Road, Saugus. Any combination of people and animals are welcome. Call Pet Assistance at (661) 260-3140. Cowboys and Carols will feature recording artist Christine Ortega and her band, 6-9 p.m. Saturday in the living room at the Hart Mansion at William S. Hart Park, 24151 San Fernando Road, Newhall. Tickets: $25 and the donation of an unwrapped gift for the needy is requested. Call (661) 254-4584. Choir of the Canyons will present a joyous and rhythmic concert featuring four vocal ensembles, a piano bass and drum jazz trio, 8 p.m. Saturday at the Vital Express Center for the Performing Arts at College of the Canyons, 26455 Rockwell Canyon Road, Valencia. Tickets: $10 for adults and $5 for students and seniors. Call (661) 362-5304 or visit www.vitalexpresscenter.com. Children’s holiday parade, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday starting at Lyons and Walnut avenues and ending at Hart Park in Newhall where there will be snow, visits with Santa, refreshments and awards. Call Jenny Aurit at (661) 255-4318. International Holidays is a celebration of Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Las Posadas with dances from various countries presented by The Gypsy Folk Ensemble, 2-3 p.m. Sunday in the meeting room at the Valencia Library, 23743 Valencia Blvd., Valencia. Call (661) 259-8942. Christmas concert will feature the music ministry groups bringing the joy of Christmas through bells, dance and song, 6 p.m. Sunday at Santa Clarita United Methodist Church, 26640 Bouquet Canyon Road, Saugus. Call (661) 297-3783. Puppet show, “Polly Polar Bear and The Prince of the Sea,” will be presented by Swazzle puppeteers, 3:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Newhall Library, 22704 9th St., Newhall. Call (661) 259-0750. Holiday stories and craft, 3:30-4:30 p.m. Dec. 14 at the Valencia Library, 23743 W. Valencia Blvd., Valencia. Call (661) 259-8942. Holipalooza, a musical variety-show fundraiser, will feature talented local young people, 7 p.m. Dec. 14 at the Canyon Theatre Guild, 24242 San Fernando Road, Newhall. Tickets: $15-$25. Call (661) 799-2702. Living Proof will present a contemporary Christmas concert under the direction of Steve Lively, 7 p.m. Dec. 14 at Grace Baptist Church, 22833 Copperhill Drive, Santa Clarita. Admission is free. Call (661) 296-8737. Christmas in Other Lands story time, 10 a.m. Dec. 17 at Barnes & Noble, 23630 Valencia Blvd., Valencia. Call (661) 254-6604. Holiday celebration for children ages 2-12 will feature crafts, games, a bounce house, prizes and a visit from Santa, noon-2 p.m. Dec. 17 at Dr. Richard Rioux Memorial Park, 26233 W. Faulkner Drive, Stevenson Ranch. Call (661) 222-9536. Hanukkah party, 2-4 p.m. Dec. 18 at Granary Square shopping center on the corner of Arroyo Park Drive and McBean Parkway, Valencia. Co-sponsored by Temple Beth Ami. Call Linda Hollingsworth at (661) 296-3408. Sixth annual holiday show, titled “Enjoying the Holidays,” 6:30-8:30 p.m. Dec. 18 at Ice Station Valencia, 27745 N. Smyth Drive, Valencia. Call (661) 775-8686 for ticket information. Drive-Through Living Nativity will feature hundreds of costumed actors performing scenes from the birth of Christ, 7-9 p.m. Dec. 18-19 at Santa Clarita United Methodist Church, 26640 Bouquet Canyon Road, Saugus. Call (661) 297-3783. Family caroling party will meet in the parking lot, 6:30 p.m. Dec. 21 at Santa Clarita United Methodist Church, 26640 Bouquet Canyon Road, Saugus. The caravan of singers will provide the gift of song and spread the holiday spirit to surrounding neighborhoods and return to the church around 8 p.m. to warm up with hot beverages and cookies. Call (661) 297-3783. Jam For Jesus will feature some of the top music artists in Southern California playing a variety of styles from pop to rock, 7-9 p.m. Dec. 21 at Bethlehem Lutheran Church, 27265 Luther Drive, Canyon Country. Call (661) 252-0622. Animal Christmas story time, 10 a.m. Dec. 24 at Barnes & Noble, 23630 Valencia Blvd., Valencia. Call (661) 254-6604. Christmas Eve services with worship led by the Living Proof Choir and Steve Lively, 4 and 7 p.m. Dec. 24 at Grace Baptist Church, 22833 Copper Hill Drive, Santa Clarita. Traditional Communion celebration at 11 p.m. Call (661) 296-8737, Ext. 142. Christmas Eve Service will feature the children’s musical “Once Upon a Night” at 5:30 and 7 p.m.; the adult and youth choirs, bells, dance and candlelight at 9 p.m.; and adult choirs, communion and candlelight at 11 p.m. Dec. 24 at Santa Clarita United Methodist Church, 26640 Bouquet Canyon Road, Saugus. Call (661) 297-3783. Hanukkah pancake breakfast will include breakfast, beverages and Hanukkah fun, 8:30-11:30 a.m. Dec. 25 at a private home in Stevenson Ranch. Cost: $15 for adults; children under 12 are free. Sponsored by Hadassah’s Kochava Group. Call Robin Bratlavsky at (661) 297-2960 or e-mail KochavaGroup@yahoo.com. Family Christmas Service, 11 a.m. Dec. 25 at Santa Clarita United Methodist Church, 26640 Bouquet Canyon Road, Saugus. Call (661) 297-3783. To submit an event for the Holiday Calendar, contact Sharon Cotal at (661) 257-5256, fax her at (661) 257-5262, e-mail her at sharon.cotal@dailynews.com or write to her at 24800 Avenue Rockefeller, Valencia, CA 91355.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Sierra Hillbillies Square and Round Dance Club will hold its Holiday Dance and Bazaar, 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center, 22900 Market St., Newhall. Call (661) 257-4801. Holiday Concert will feature the Symphonic Band and Jazz Ensemble, 8 p.m. Friday at the Vital Express Center for the Performing Arts at College of the Canyons, 26455 Rockwell Canyon Road, Valencia. For tickets, call (661) 362-5304 or visit www.vitalexpresscenter.com. “The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen’s Guild Dramatic Society’s Production of A Christmas Carol” will be presented, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays through Dec. 23 at the Repertory East Playhouse, 24266 San Fernando Road, Newhall. Tickets: $16 for adults and $14 for students and seniors. Call (661) 288-0000. “A Christmas Carol” will be presented, 8 p.m. Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays through Dec. 22 and 6:30 p.m. Sunday and Dec. 18 at the Canyon Theatre Guild, 24242 San Fernando Road, Newhall. Tickets: $13-$17 for adults and $10-$13 for students and seniors. Call (661) 799-2702. Christmas stories about your favorite characters, 10 a.m. Saturday at Barnes & Noble, 23630 Valencia Blvd., Valencia. Call (661) 254-6604. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBlues bury Kings early with four first-period goals Sierra Hillbillies Square and Round Dance Club will hold its Holiday Dance and Bazaar, 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center, 22900 Market St., Newhall. Call (661) 257-4801. Holiday Concert will feature the Symphonic Band and Jazz Ensemble, 8 p.m. Friday at the Vital Express Center for the Performing Arts at College of the Canyons, 26455 Rockwell Canyon Road, Valencia. For tickets, call (661) 362-5304 or visit www.vitalexpresscenter.com. “The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen’s Guild Dramatic Society’s Production of A Christmas Carol” will be presented, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays through Dec. 23 at the Repertory East Playhouse, 24266 San Fernando Road, Newhall. Tickets: $16 for adults and $14 for students and seniors. Call (661) 288-0000. “A Christmas Carol” will be presented, 8 p.m. Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays through Dec. 22 and 6:30 p.m. Sunday and Dec. 18 at the Canyon Theatre Guild, 24242 San Fernando Road, Newhall. Tickets: $13-$17 for adults and $10-$13 for students and seniors. Call (661) 799-2702. Christmas stories about your favorite characters, 10 a.m. Saturday at Barnes & Noble, 23630 Valencia Blvd., Valencia. Call (661) 254-6604. Santa will visit Santa’s Elf Camp, 12:30 and 2 p.m., and a performance by the Hart High Holiday Band, 1 p.m. Saturday at Granary Square, located at McBean Parkway and Arroyo Park Drive, Valencia. Call Linda Hollingsworth at (661) 296-3408. Pet photos and Christmas cards with Santa, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday at Pet Supply, 26831 Bouquet Canyon Road, Saugus. Any combination of people and animals are welcome. Call Pet Assistance at (661) 260-3140. Cowboys and Carols will feature recording artist Christine Ortega and her band, 6-9 p.m. Saturday in the living room at the Hart Mansion at William S. Hart Park, 24151 San Fernando Road, Newhall. Tickets: $25 and the donation of an unwrapped gift for the needy is requested. Call (661) 254-4584. Choir of the Canyons will present a joyous and rhythmic concert featuring four vocal ensembles, a piano bass and drum jazz trio, 8 p.m. Saturday at the Vital Express Center for the Performing Arts at College of the Canyons, 26455 Rockwell Canyon Road, Valencia. Tickets: $10 for adults and $5 for students and seniors. Call (661) 362-5304 or visit www.vitalexpresscenter.com. Children’s holiday parade, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday starting at Lyons and Walnut avenues and ending at Hart Park in Newhall where there will be snow, visits with Santa, refreshments and awards. Call Jenny Aurit at (661) 255-4318. International Holidays is a celebration of Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Las Posadas with dances from various countries presented by The Gypsy Folk Ensemble, 2-3 p.m. Sunday in the meeting room at the Valencia Library, 23743 Valencia Blvd., Valencia. Call (661) 259-8942. Christmas concert will feature the music ministry groups bringing the joy of Christmas through bells, dance and song, 6 p.m. Sunday at Santa Clarita United Methodist Church, 26640 Bouquet Canyon Road, Saugus. Call (661) 297-3783. Puppet show, “Polly Polar Bear and The Prince of the Sea,” will be presented by Swazzle puppeteers, 3:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Newhall Library, 22704 9th St., Newhall. Call (661) 259-0750. Holiday stories and craft, 3:30-4:30 p.m. Dec. 14 at the Valencia Library, 23743 W. Valencia Blvd., Valencia. Call (661) 259-8942. Holipalooza, a musical variety-show fundraiser, will feature talented local young people, 7 p.m. Dec. 14 at the Canyon Theatre Guild, 24242 San Fernando Road, Newhall. Tickets: $15-$25. Call (661) 799-2702. Living Proof will present a contemporary Christmas concert under the direction of Steve Lively, 7 p.m. Dec. 14 at Grace Baptist Church, 22833 Copperhill Drive, Santa Clarita. Admission is free. Call (661) 296-8737. Christmas in Other Lands story time, 10 a.m. Dec. 17 at Barnes & Noble, 23630 Valencia Blvd., Valencia. Call (661) 254-6604. Holiday celebration for children ages 2-12 will feature crafts, games, a bounce house, prizes and a visit from Santa, noon-2 p.m. Dec. 17 at Dr. Richard Rioux Memorial Park, 26233 W. Faulkner Drive, Stevenson Ranch. Call (661) 222-9536. Hanukkah party, 2-4 p.m. Dec. 18 at Granary Square shopping center on the corner of Arroyo Park Drive and McBean Parkway, Valencia. Co-sponsored by Temple Beth Ami. Call Linda Hollingsworth at (661) 296-3408. Sixth annual holiday show, titled “Enjoying the Holidays,” 6:30-8:30 p.m. Dec. 18 at Ice Station Valencia, 27745 N. Smyth Drive, Valencia. Call (661) 775-8686 for ticket information. Drive-Through Living Nativity will feature hundreds of costumed actors performing scenes from the birth of Christ, 7-9 p.m. Dec. 18-19 at Santa Clarita United Methodist Church, 26640 Bouquet Canyon Road, Saugus. Call (661) 297-3783. Family caroling party will meet in the parking lot, 6:30 p.m. Dec. 21 at Santa Clarita United Methodist Church, 26640 Bouquet Canyon Road, Saugus. The caravan of singers will provide the gift of song and spread the holiday spirit to surrounding neighborhoods and return to the church around 8 p.m. to warm up with hot beverages and cookies. Call (661) 297-3783. Jam For Jesus will feature some of the top music artists in Southern California playing a variety of styles from pop to rock, 7-9 p.m. Dec. 21 at Bethlehem Lutheran Church, 27265 Luther Drive, Canyon Country. Call (661) 252-0622. Animal Christmas story time, 10 a.m. Dec. 24 at Barnes & Noble, 23630 Valencia Blvd., Valencia. Call (661) 254-6604. Christmas Eve services with worship led by the Living Proof Choir and Steve Lively, 4 and 7 p.m. Dec. 24 at Grace Baptist Church, 22833 Copper Hill Drive, Santa Clarita. Traditional Communion celebration at 11 p.m. Call (661) 296-8737, Ext. 142. Christmas Eve Service will feature the children’s musical “Once Upon a Night” at 5:30 and 7 p.m.; the adult and youth choirs, bells, dance and candlelight at 9 p.m.; and adult choirs, communion and candlelight at 11 p.m. Dec. 24 at Santa Clarita United Methodist Church, 26640 Bouquet Canyon Road, Saugus. Call (661) 297-3783. Hanukkah pancake breakfast will include breakfast, beverages and Hanukkah fun, 8:30-11:30 a.m. Dec. 25 at a private home in Stevenson Ranch. Cost: $15 for adults; children under 12 are free. Sponsored by Hadassah’s Kochava Group. Call Robin Bratlavsky at (661) 297-2960 or e-mail KochavaGroup@yahoo.com. Family Christmas Service, 11 a.m. Dec. 25 at Santa Clarita United Methodist Church, 26640 Bouquet Canyon Road, Saugus. Call (661) 297-3783. To submit an event for the Holiday Calendar, contact Sharon Cotal at (661) 257-5256, fax her at (661) 257-5262, e-mail her at sharon.cotal@dailynews.com or write to her at 24800 Avenue Rockefeller, Valencia, CA 91355.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!,Children’s Holiday Music Program will feature holiday music performed by children from local elementary schools and performers from Vibe Performing Arts Studios, 5-7 p.m. Wednesdays through Dec. 21 outside the food court entrances at Westfield Valencia Town Center, 24201 Valencia Blvd., Valencia. Call (661) 298-1220. Follow the Star, live Nativity scene, will feature more than 100 actors re-enacting the life of Christ, 6:30-8:30 p.m. Thursday through Sunday at Bethlehem Lutheran Church, 27265 Luther Drive, Canyon Country. Admission is free. Food or cash donation to the Santa Clarita Valley Food Pantry is encouraged. Call (661) 252-0622 or visit www.followthestar.com. Candlelight Christmas concert will be presented by the Sanctuary Choir, Praise Orchestra and others, 7:30 p.m. Friday and 7 p.m. Sunday at Grace Baptist Church, 22833 Copperhill Drive, Santa Clarita. Tickets are free but are necessary in order to be seated. Call (661) 296-8737. Cards & Carolers event will feature local high school choirs and cards for people to sign to send to troops overseas, 6-9 p.m. Friday at the Veterans Memorial Plaza on Newhall and Walnut avenues, Newhall. Refreshments will be served. Call Jenny Aurit at (661) 255-4918. last_img read more

Scientists Probe Differences Between Living and Nonliving Chemicals

first_img“All life forms are composed of molecules that are not themselves alive.  But in what ways do living and nonliving matter differ?  How could a primitive life form arise from a collection of nonliving molecules?”  Any article beginning with questions like that is bound to be interesting.  That’s how Rasmussen et al. tantalized readers of Science1 on Feb. 13 as they described two recent international workshops discussing the origin of life and artificial life.    The workshops, one at Los Alamos and one in Germany, focused on two overlapping questions: (1) How did life originate? and (2) Will scientists ever be able to create life?  Regarding the latter, some are taking the “top-down” approach, taking the smallest known living organism and trying to tweak it, and others are taking a “bottom-up approach,” trying to build a self-replicating cell from scratch.  The bottom-up approach is “general and more challenging,” but holds more promise, they think, for understanding ways in which life might have originated on its own.    Recognizing that “the definition of life is notoriously controversial,” the authors sought middle ground in their definition: “there is general agreement that a localized molecular assemblage should be considered alive if it continually regenerates itself, replicates itself, and is capable of evolving.”  (For another view, see 12/30/2002.)    Those seeking to produce a cell matching those criteria have generally recognized three requirements that would have had to be met: genetic information, metabolism, and containment:Regeneration and replication involve transforming molecules and energy from the environment into cellular aggregations, and evolution requires heritable variation in cellular processes.  The current consensus is that the simplest way to achieve these characteristics is to house informational polymers (such as DNA and RNA) and a metabolic system that chemically regulates and regenerates cellular components within a physical container (such as a lipid vesicle).The scientists have developed models of how these three requirements might be met, and have partially achieved some of them separately  One proposal would make use of a simpler polymer than DNA/RNA, called PNA.  According to the model, light energy might synthesize lipids (for the container) and PNA, with the PNA……acting as both an information molecule and as an electron-relay chain.  This is the first explicit proposal that integrates genetics, metabolism, and containment in one chemical system.  Metabolism in this system has been shown to produce lipids, but experimental realization of the rest of the integrated system has not yet been achieved.Harold Morowitz (George Mason Univ.), long interested in the requirements for a minimal living system (see online reference at this site), helped clarify the divide between living and nonliving matter.  Morowitz and three colleagues gave presentations at the workshops:They described how nonliving chemical reactions, driven by thermodynamics, explore the state of space in an ergodical fashion, and thus tend to conduct a random exhaustive search of all possibilities; in contrast, living systems explore a combinatorially large space of possibilities through an evolutionary process.  This echoed a central workshop theme: how and when information becomes a dominant factor in the evolution of life, that is, how and when selection plays a greater role than thermodynamics in the observed distribution of phenotypes.This opened up a number of proposals by Morowitz and others:“Peter Stadler (Univ. Leipzig) reviewed selection using replicator network dynamics, a theoretical framework describing population growth produced by different kinetic conditions.”“Smith and Morowitz further described how the citric acid cycle of living cells might be a thermodynamic attractor for all possible metabolic networks, thus explaining its appearance at the core of all living systems.”“Universal scaling in biological systems was discussed by Geoff West (SFI) and Woody Woodruff (LANL), who explained why regular patterns can be found, for example, between an organism’s weight and metabolic rate, regardless of whether the organism is a bacterium or an elephant.”“Shelly Copley (Univ. of Colorado, Boulder) explained how catalysts operate in living systems today and how these were likely to have evolved from less efficient precursors.”“Andrew Shreve (LANL) presented a rich variety of self-assembled nanomaterials that display specific emergent properties of a mechanical, photonic, or fluidic nature.”“Yi Jiang (LANL) reviewed the state of the art for molecular multiscale simulations in which the challenge is to connect realistic but slow molecular dynamic simulations with less accurate but fast higher level simulations.”“Andy Pohorille (NASA Ames Research Center, California) used simulations to argue that nongenomic early organisms could undergo evolution before the origin of organisms with genes.”“Takashi Ikegami (Univ. of Tokyo) presented simulations of a simple and abstract model of metabolic chemistry that demonstrates the spontaneous formation and reproduction of cell-like structures.”Not everyone agreed with every proposal, but all agreed on the road map ahead.  Four main questions need to be answered.  Their answers will shed light, hopefully, on the biggest questions of all:(i) What is the boundary between physical and biological phenomena?  (ii) What are key hurdles to integrating genes and energetics within a container?  (iii) How can theory and simulation better inform artificial cell experiment?  (iv) What are the most likely early technological applications of artificial cell research?    In time, research on these forms of artificial life will illuminate the perennial questions “What is life?” and “Where do we come from?”In addition, work on artificially-created nanobots, including some that could repair and replicate themselves, require “cautious courage,” because creating such entities “would literally form the basis of a living technology possessing powerful capabilities and raising important social and ethical implications.”  The authors noted that everyone at the workshops was confident that “useful artificial cells will eventually be created, but there was no consensus about when.”1Rasmussen, Chen, Deamer, Krakauer, Packard, Stadler, and Bedau, “EVOLUTION: Transitions from Nonliving to Living Matter,” Science Volume 303, Number 5660, Issue of 13 Feb 2004, pp. 963-965, 10.1126/science.1093669.We almost titled this entry “Mad Scientists Threaten World With Destruction!” but didn’t want to scare the adults.  Here you have it, folks: Frankenscience alive and well in the labs that gave us atomic bombs.  Our next fear may be artificial cells too small to see that will wreak havoc on us, brought about by some out-of-control prize seeker with courage but not enough caution.    Actually, that is not the intriguing thing about this story.  It is that evolutionary biologists have no sense of smell.  We quoted extensively from this article to give readers the chance to sharpen their noses and do some serious baloney detecting, because this article stinks of rotten baloney left and right, up and down, through and through.  If you need practice in thinking straight, this article is a good one to practice on.    It’s not that the questions are bad: they are vital: What is life?  Where do we come from?  People have asked these questions since antiquity, and are not human if they don’t wonder about them.  The baloney begins with the assumption that evolution permeates all of reality, even defines life, and emerges as a victor over thermodynamics – all by itself.  That is the pervasive myth in this story.  They don’t phrase their questions the way most people do: Is there a God? a Designer? an all-wise, all-knowing Creator? (i.e., a source of information).  No!  Every scientist at these conferences assumed from the get-go that elephants and bacteria and human beings “emerged” out of some unknown, fortuitous concourse of atoms that crossed that divide between nonlife and life without help.  That is the only approach permitted under their Darwinian “rules of science.”  It leaves them in a hopeless muddle that becomes almost comic, like a group of blindfolded cave explorers, stumbling around because their rules forbid flashlights and require the wearing of blindfolds.    Let’s start by unraveling the distinction made by Morowitz between living and nonliving chemistry.  He characterized nonliving chemical reactions as being “driven by thermodynamics.”  This means that nonliving chemicals follow the laws of nature obediently.  The first law of TD says that no new matter and energy will emerge out of nothing.  The second law of TD, more important for our analysis, dictates that chemicals will seek equilibrium and gravitate toward a state of maximum disorder (notice that information is the polar opposite of disorder).  Scientists like to use big words, not just to show off, but in an attempt to be precise.  But here, Morowitz confused the issue by subtly personifying nonliving chemicals, claiming that they “explore the state of space in an ergodical fashion.”  (Ergodic means each member is representative of the whole; for instance, the way one sodium chloride molecule reacts can be considered the way all do; the word also is used in statistics regarding the probability a state will recur.)  Thus, as he describes them, nonliving chemicals “tend to conduct a random, exhaustive search of all possibilities.”  Can a nonliving entity search?  Obviously not.    Surely what he intended to say is that nonliving chemicals, merely bouncing around at random, will eventually hit on any possible interactions.  Depending on the energy states between them, some interactions will be endothermic, using energy; others will be exothermic, releasing energy.  But whatever is possible, nonliving chemicals will randomly “explore” that space and then do what comes naturally.  Water trickling down a rocky slope appears to be searching for a way down, but is really just responding to the laws of thermodynamics.  Sometimes water will jet up into the air, as in a seaside blowhole or Yellowstone geyser, but only with the input of energy, and even then, not because of a code or special combination of molecules.  Any and all water molecules will react the same under the circumstances, because each is a representative of the set of all water molecules.    What about life?  “In contrast,” he points out, “living systems explore a combinatorially large space of possibilities through an evolutionary process.”  The key word here is combinatorially.  DNA combines bases into a genetic code, and proteins combine amino acids into functional machines.  The combinations, when meaningful and useful, open up seemingly limitless possibilities that (when energized by metabolism in a container), can allow an organism to beat thermodynamics in the short term.  Locally and temporarily, it can achieve a state of low entropy.  A seed can grow into a gravity-defying plant, and an egg can grow into a bird, flying through the air, with feathers, bones, lungs and a host of richly functional parts.  Eventually, of course, TD wins; the plant withers, and the bird weakens and dies.  Both decay into particles with high entropy.    This distinction cannot be overemphasized.  Nonliving chemicals do not “explore” combination space because they lack a genetic code to do so: i.e., they lack information.  You will notice that this article tosses around the word information as if it will just magically appear if an appropriate “informational polymer” can be found, whether DNA, RNA or PNA.  Stop right there.  That is equivalent to claiming that the availability of ink, paper and type will form books without an author.  Foul; out; game over.  It is not even worth considering this argument further, but we shall, just for the fun of it.    Morowitz sneaks in a Darwinian assumption into the second half of his description of living chemicals: he claims that living systems explore a combinatorially large space of possibilities through an evolutionary process.  If we can ever get a Darwinian to prove this instead of assuming it, the intellectual debate over origins will come out of a dense fog.  Yes, organisms can vary through mutation, and yes, traits from pre-existing information can sort into distinct populations, but can a Darwinist name one instance of new information for a new function coming out of an evolutionary process?  Richard Dawkins, the king of Darwin dogmatists, was stumped on this question, and in 3.5 years of reporting from the premiere Darwinist journals, we have yet to run across a clear example.  We can, however, provide many cases of Darwinians moaning about the lack of examples (see 11/01/2002, for instance).    Evolutionists are sneaky at embedding their philosophy into their terms.  They define life as something that evolves, and they define science as materialism.  It’s impossible to carry on a rational discussion with someone who controls the dictionary.    In past commentaries, we characterized the gap between life and nonlife as a canyon, and described the ways evolutionists try to imagine nonliving chemicals spontaneously bridging the canyon.  This would be good time to review the 05/22/2002 entry about the ways evolutionists try to help life bridge the gap from both sides.  The important thing to remember is that the top-down approach and the bottom-up approach both cheat by using information from the evolutionist’s brain.  If you keep the cheater out of the process, the chemicals are simply not going to do what the evolutionist wants without his help.    All the talk about “artificial life,” furthermore, is intelligent design, not evolution, so it is irrelevant to the question of the origin of life.  With these principles in mind, it is easy to detect the baloney in the various proposals in the article:So-called self-organizing nanostructures require intelligent design of the components and the environment.  Mass-produced, magnetized Lego blocks might be coaxed to link up, for example, but only in an ergodic fashion and only if they are put into a conducive container.  Even so, the structures contain no real information in the sense of coding; they consist of repetitive patterns.The word selection is often misused as a personification; who is doing the selecting?  Remember, chemicals don’t care.  Example: “how and when selection plays a greater role than thermodynamics in the observed distribution of phenotypes.”  Subtle, isn’t it?  Only actors play roles.  He embeds Darwinian assumptions into the sentence.  It suggests a goddess called Evolution that is like a stage director, gradually promoting the actor “selection” over the actor “thermodynamics.”  Sorry.  Thermodynamics always gets “lead role” unless information is directing metabolism within a container to locally and temporarily counteract it.  This requires preprogrammed instructions.  Those are the rules in the theater of physics.Theoretical frameworks are intelligently designed, so they have no relevance to a materialistic origin of life.  No theory or model can trump a realistic lab experiment.  So PNA might hold information, huh?  And lipids might form a container, huh?  And the PNA might double as a metabolic engine, huh?  OK: put the raw ingredients into a realistic environment, keep your informational hands off, don’t prevent the harmful cross-reactions, wait a few million years, and watch what happens.  Entropy.What life already does is irrelevant to what nonliving chemicals might do.  If metabolism scales with body size between bacteria and elephants, that’s nice.  What does that have to do with the origin of life?A container without active transport is a death trap (see 01/17/2002), or would leak out the vital ingredients just as readily as the toxins.  Now analyze the article’s bluffing, overconfident caption to a picture of one of these death traps: “Short RNA oligonucleotides (red) are adsorbed to a particle of montmorillonite (clay) and encapsulated within a fatty acid vesicle (green).  The assembly of RNA within the vesicle is coordinated by the clay particle.”  Come on, now.  You can’t get information out of clay.  You can’t concentrate metabolic ingredients into the vesicle or expel wastes out of it except by diffusion, in which the action will be opposite what is needed.  You can’t have natural selection without replication (see online book).  Thus, the picture and the caption and the big words are utterly irrelevant to the origin of life.    A thing that looks like a cell is no more a cell than a bronze statue of Teddy Roosevelt is the living man.  This should be obvious.  The normally good-natured organic chemist, Dr. A. E. Wilder-Smith, used to get pretty heated up about similar claims by Sidney Fox years ago.  Fox gained fame by showcasing his contrived “cell-like proteinoid microspheres.”  Wilder-Smith called the claim “rubbish.”  Nothing has changed in 2004; the rubbish has just been reshuffled.The current consensus smokescreen fails on two points.  If it’s consensus, it isn’t science (see 12/23/2003).  And how could it be a consensus anyway, when the opposition has been denied a hearing?  Claiming a consensus with only Darwin Party members participating is like claiming the opinion of a majority of Senate Democrats represents American opinion.  (This is not just to pick on Democrats.  Charlie Darwin described his political persuasion as “liberal or radical” [Browne, p. 399], as did most of his ardent disciples.)State of the art and simulation: here are two more terms that imply intelligent design, not evolution.Debug this code: “the challenge is to connect realistic but slow molecular dynamic simulations with less accurate but fast higher level simulations.”  Pick your disappointment: slow realism or fast fantasy?  (See 02/10/2004 entry on misuse of mathematics in biology.)Saying something doesn’t make it so: Copley “explained how catalysts operate in living systems today and how these were likely to have evolved from less efficient precursors.”  Instead of the cute just-so story, can you please perform a stage demonstration of less-efficient precursors evolving into a highly-efficient enzyme?  If not, don’t call it science (see 01/12/2004).Debug another line of code: “the citric acid cycle of living cells might be a thermodynamic attractor for all possible metabolic networks, thus explaining its appearance at the core of all living systems.”  Ever heard of the post-hoc fallacy? Charles Darwin was privately interested in the origin of life, but publicly reticent to make statements about it.  Out of a desire not to appear impious, he had inserted into the ending of The Origin of Species a suggestion that a Creator might have breathed life into a few forms, or into one, which since had evolved.  His real agenda, however, was all-encompassing: he wanted a materialistic universe with God out of the picture.  But he was cautious.  Charlie was keenly aware of the trap Pouchet had fallen into with Pasteur over spontaneous generation.  He watched cautiously from a distance as Huxley and Haeckel made fools of themselves claiming to have found primordial protoplasm in the seabed.  He dreamed about a “warm little pond” in a letter to his friend Joseph Hooker, but “he remained silent” publicly, writes Janet Browne in Charles Darwin: The Power of Place (Princeton, 2002).  His caution was admirable, but inwardly, he desired this philosopher’s stone, because it would make his denial of God complete:His own theory of evolution would stand to gain if spontaneous generation was shown to be possible—it would acquire its necessary starting point.  Yet it was easy to make rash mistakes….    To onlookers, the interconnections between these ideas and the people who proposed them appeared close—evolutionary theory and the physical basis of life seemed part and parcel of the same sprawling intellectual enigma of scepticism, agnosticism, and materialism. …it looked as if naturalists were asserting the sole sufficiency of science [i.e., materialism] as a means of comprehending the entire universe….    …. Wallace suggested that these rapid transformations of simple matter could quicken evolution to the point where Thomson’s warnings about the shortened age of the earth could safely be ignored.  Darwin saw the value in this.  He would like to see spontaneous generation proved true, he told Wallace, “for it would be a discovery of transcendent importance.”  For the rest of his life he watched and pondered.(Browne, pp. 394-395.)It could hardly be denied that the same “enigma of skepticism, agnosticism and materialism” permeated the thoughts of most participants at these two international workshops.  What would really have been interesting at the proceedings, more than the self-absorbed fluff about theoretical frameworks and models, would have been a lively debate about the film Unlocking the Mystery of Life.  If you haven’t seen it yet, by all means do.  And for additional humor, follow the chain links below on Origin of Life.  They might be termed the comic section of Creation-Evolution Headlines.  If you enjoy the just-so storytelling ability of the Darwinians, you might also enjoy the Meatball Theory for the Origin of Music (08/26/2003).(Visited 682 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week:  Network Evolution Trumps ID

first_imgThis entry will make more sense after reading yesterday’s story on the evolution of modular networks (10/04/2005).  A reader sent in a reference to a very similar article from scientists at Johns Hopkins published in PLoS Biology.1  It must be Network Evolution Week.  Before awarding the SEQOTW prize, some background is necessary.    Like the Weizmann team, the Johns Hopkins team sought to explain biological network organization in terms of material mechanisms of mutation and natural selection.  They reasoned that “constraints” (the environment) dictate the dynamic character of network motifs and their interrelationships.  By awarding a “structural stability score” (SSS) to biological motifs in fruit flies and worms based on their ability to recover from perturbations, they found stable motifs cluster in a non-random way that determine the overall network structure.  They suggested, with apparent trepidation, that the environment therefore constrains biological networks to take a predictable form through pure mechanistic “forces” –Do common “driving forces” underlie the organization of biological networks?  It seems fantastic to suggest that such forces could exist, considering that the biological entities involved are as diverse as genes, enzymes, and whole cells.  Nevertheless, even functionally unrelated systems may have evolved under fundamental constraints.  The analysis presented here suggests that the dynamic properties of small network motifs contribute to the structural organization of biological networks.  In particular, robustness of small regulatory motifs to small perturbations is highly correlated with the non-random organization of these networks.   (Emphasis added in all quotes.)That their explanatory toolkit is limited to material causes is clear in a subsequent paragraph:An evolutionary argument may help explain the overrepresentation of structurally stable motifs in real networks compared to random graphs.  Evolutionary pressure may select for network innovations that are structurally stable because these configurations are robust to variations in the strength of the connections.  A high SSS indicates that it is likely that randomly assigned connection strengths and signs will result in a stable equilibrium, while a low SSS indicates that stability is possible although it requires precisely weighted connection strengths.  Easily parameterized network designs that are predisposed to dynamical stability can be advantageous considering the evolutionary mechanisms of random mutation and natural selection.  Of course, stability to small perturbations is by no means the only functional constraint on network performance and structure.  For instance, in the developmental transcriptional regulation network in Drosophila [fruit fly] considered here, irreversible switching of transcriptional circuits involving feedback regulation is an important determinant of irreversibility of the developmental progress, which might lead to selection of relatively unstable network motifs with feedbacks.  The C. elegans [roundworm] neuron network, which strays the furthest from structural stability in our analysis, may also have functional constraints leading to overrepresentation of oscillators and memory switches.  Nevertheless, the correlation between network motif overrepresentation and the SSS suggests that stability of small functional circuits may be a basic constraint common to all networks, which along with other functional requirements can significantly bias the likelihood that a given motif is selected for.Functional constraints, in their context, can only come from the environment – not from design.  This was made clear in an earlier statement: “Regulation of gene expression is dependent on the particular demands of a cell with respect to its environment.”  In their experiments, environmental perturbations governed the “structural stability score” awarded the network motifs.  The reader is referred to yesterday’s discussion (10/04/2005) about whether the environment can generate robust, modular network design.    Now to the Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week.  Liza Gross, commenting on this paper in the same issue of PLoS Biology,2 used this paper to flaunt the superiority of Darwinian evolution over intelligent design:While intelligent-design proponents enjoy their 15 minutes of fame denying the role of evolutionary forces in generating complex networks in nature, scientists are probing the organizing principles that govern these networks.  Traditional models of complex networks assumed that connections between units—such as genes, proteins, neurons, or species—occur randomly.  These notions changed as studies of protein interaction networks and other biological systems revealed “small world” features—characterized by short paths between nodes and highly clustered connections—and varying levels of organization, with certain patterns of local connections occurring more frequently in complex networks than in random networks.  What determines the abundance of these so-called network motifs in specific networks is not known….….Discerning the global dynamics of these network structures has proved a major challenge….. [She summarizes the paper by Prill, Iglesias and Levchenko.]These results suggest that both global constraints on the network and properties of network motifs themselves influence the abundance of motifs and the overall structure of a given network.  While the authors caution that their networks are stripped-down versions of those found in biological systems, they point out that their approach can incorporate more complicated interactions as understanding of living networks increases.  And with this new understanding, scientists can test the hypothesis that selective pressures favor motifs with particular dynamic properties.In short, who’s on the net?  Certainly not a designer.  Networks are things that just happen from time to time.  Maybe some day, after we have studied the networks in more detail, we can test that idea.    The Runner-Up prize could go to another paper in the same issue of PLoS Biology.3  Skerker et al. marveled at the abilities of cells to process information and execute programs.  They didn’t try to explain how the systems evolved.  They just declared that they did:Cells have the remarkable ability to sense, respond to, and adapt to their internal and external environments in order to maximize survival or accurately execute a developmental program.  Such behavior requires the ability to process information, and cells have evolved complex regulatory and signaling systems capable of sophisticated information-processing tasks.1Prill, Iglesias and Levchenko, “Dynamic Properties of Network Motifs Contribute to Biological Network Organization,” Public Library of Science Biology, Volume 3, Issue 11, November 2005 (published 10/04/2005), DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.0030343.2Liza Gross, “Charting the Interplay between Structure and Dynamics in Complex Networks,” Public Library of Science Biology, Volume 3, Issue 11, November 2005 (published 10/04/2005), DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.0030369.3Skerker et al., “Two-Component Signal Transduction Pathways Regulating Growth and Cell Cycle Progression in a Bacterium: A System-Level Analysis,” Public Library of Science Biology, Volume 3, Issue 11, November 2005 (published 10/04/2005), open access article.Prill et al. subscribe to the same goofy theory as the 10/04/2005 attempt, and the same comments apply.  Friends, Romans, and First Corinthians, and all reasonable, thinking people, let us understand two principles that undermine the whole premise of this claim and others like it:Requirements do not build a system.  They only specify what a system must have to work.  NASA publishes many requirements.  The requirements for a small robotic spacecraft can fill hundreds of pages.  Do these requirements create “evolutionary forces” and “selective pressures” that produce functional, interacting parts?  If requirements were sufficient, NASA could just produce lots of requirements and let the spacecraft assemble itself out of the dust of the ground.Properties of existing structures do not explain their origin.  A spacecraft, once assembled, has hundreds of pages of specifications.  These specs, if they met the design requirements, ensure that the spacecraft will reach the target and accomplish the mission objectives.  The spacecraft is observable; the specs are measurable and verifiable, but the hands that did the work can only be inferred.  Does Liza Graz expect us to believe that the requirements produced the specifications of a finished spacecraft, without any help from intelligent physicists, machinists, fabricators, assemblers, quality control engineers, software designers, testers and managers?Mutation and natural selection cannot be called in as designer proxies.  Neither is a “force,” and neither connects requirements to specifications.  Neither has any direction, energy, or concern about the outcome.  Nature would be just as content with a black hole – a very stable structural motif – as with a biological clock.  Misfolded proteins are just as beautiful to Mother Nature as properly-folded ones.  Mechanistic processes have no stake in generating complex networks of molecular machines; they couldn’t care less.    When a highly-ordered, functional, interrelated, robust, information-rich system is observed, the design inference is compelling to the point of being uncontestable.  Yet Liza Gross had the gall to scorn the intelligent design proponents in her victory speech praising the myths of the Darwinists.  ID proponents may only get 15 minutes of fame, but better that with sound science and logic than 146 years of totalitarian rule by fatuous charlatans wearing lab coats.    When the usurpers are eventually toppled, they can still have a future.  They can compete in the National Storytelling Festival (see National Geographic report).  The best can graduate to the West Virginia Liar’s Contest and win a golden shovel.  They’ll have plenty of stuff to use it on.(Visited 8 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Antimatter Conundrum Remains After Precision Test

first_imgWhy isn’t the universe half ordinary matter and half antimatter?  Both should have emerged from a big bang.Antimatter is the flip side of matter: it’s the same except for charge.  For instance, an electron is negative, but a positron is positive.  As far as physicists can tell, the two are identical in all other properties.  Since both matter and antimatter are equally probable outcomes of the big bang, it would seem the universe should contain an equal mix, but it doesn’t—almost all the matter we can see is regular matter.  How did that come about?  This has been a problem for cosmologists for decades (4/13/07 #6, 11/01/08).  PhysOrg calls it one of thebiggest puzzles in physics:Understanding the matter-antimatter asymmetry is one of the greatest challenges in physics today. Any detectable difference between matter and antimatter could help solve the mystery and open a window to new physics.To solve the antimatter conundrum, CERN physicists have been looking for differences in charge density or other properties that might have given a slight edge of one over the other.  If regular matter predominated, even slightly, it might have annihilated all the antimatter, leaving our universe with the preponderance of ordinary matter we see today.In “Antimatter Passes Charge Test,” Nature Research Highlights announced the outcome of the latest high-precision test:The neutral charge on many atoms and molecules has been measured with extremely high precision. The standard model of physics says that hydrogen’s antimatter counterpart should have an opposite charge and so be neutral to a similar level. Any differences between the two could help to explain why the Universe contains more matter than antimatter.Joel Fajans at the University of California, Berkeley, and his colleagues used data from previous experiments to analyse the influence of electric fields on antihydrogen atoms released from a magnetic trap. They found that the atom was charge-neutral, with a limit 1 million times lower than the best previous figure.It’s back to the drawing boards, in other words.Many features of our universe appear fine tuned for life.  It’s good there’s not a lot of antimatter around, or the universe would be unstable, subject to violent energy outbursts as the two types collide and annihilate each other.The antimatter problem is but one of many for secular cosmologists.  It’s not a conundrum for advocates of creation.  We would expect that God, who made a universe to be inhabited, would give it the properties it needs to sustain life. (Visited 10 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Make My Trip Soars

first_imgThe Indian travel agency Make My Trip had the most successful IPO on NASDAQ in nearly three years when it shares jumped 89 percent on their market debut. Although Makemytrip, India’s largest online company, has yet to make a profit, market analysts said the U.S. market was hungry for Indian companies, since the Indian economy is on a tear. The company raised nearly $70 million from the IPO. The shares priced at $14, jumped to $26.45 on the first day and peaked at $36.19 within a week of its launch. The shares are currently trading at $30.  Related Itemslast_img