Thursday, November 29, 2007

How Does an Intelligent Design Creationist Write a Ph.D. Thesis?

 
Some of you will remember Marcus Ross. He is a Young Earth Creationist who obtained a Ph.D. in paleontology from the University of Rhode Island [Lying for Jesus]. Ross now has a faculty position at Liberty University where he teaches courses in religion and science. PZ Myers has posted an update on his career [So what's Marcus Ross up to nowadays?].

How could Ross write an acceptable Ph.D. thesis if he believes that the Earth is less than 10,000 years old? We know the answer to this question. Ross did not discuss his true beliefs in his thesis or during his Ph.D. oral exam. Instead, he wrote a thesis on the fossil record as though he accepted the scientific age of the Earth. In other words, Ross said one thing in public lectures and another in the exam room.

I was reminded of this episode while listening to Kirk Durston last week in Denyse O'Leary's course. Kirk is a Ph.D. candidate in biophysics at the University of Guelph [Kirk Durston's Proof of God]. At some point he will write scientific papers and a thesis and he will be examined on his understanding of science. I wonder what he will do?

In his talk, Kirk tried very hard to give the impression that his scientific findings point to the existence of an intelligent designer. There was a brief mention of the distinction between science and philosophy but it wasn't at all clear whether he was stepping over the line or not. He concludes that God the intelligent designer exists.

One thing was clear, however. Kirk claimed that his work demonstrated the impossibility of evolving protein folds. He presented some calculations showing the total number of mutations that could have occurred since life began (1041, if I remember correctly). Then he showed that it would take far more than 1041 mutations to evolve the known protein folds.

In his lecture he clearly states that the results refute "Darwinism." He repeated over and over again that his thesis work was scientific evidence against evolution and in favor of intelligent design creationism.

It seems to me that Kirk Durston has only two choices at this point. Either he's sincere about his "scientific" claims, in which case they go into his thesis, or, alternatively, he's willing to disguise his true "scientific" conclusion by writing a thesis that's more likely to be accepted by the scientists on his committee.

To my way of thinking, scientific integrity should not be compromised in order to get a degree by trickery. But this presents a serious problem for Intelligent Design Creationists. In their public lectures, and in articles for the popular press, they make a big deal about the "scientific" nature of their findings. If that's what they truly believe then they should have no qualms about defending it in a scientific context. In other words, it goes in the thesis and let the chips fall where they may.

But here's the rub. Intelligent Design Creationists know full well that their version of science will not pass scrutiny by other scientists. Kirk Durston will not get his Ph.D. if he's being honest about his belief in his findings. It is simply not true that protein folding is scientific proof of intelligent design and a refutation of evolution.

So, Kirk like other creationists before him, will write the thesis that his committee will pass and not the one that he would be writing if he were honest.

The next hurdle will be the Ph.D. oral exam. Members of his committee know that he has been making very vocal claims about the significance of his Ph.D. research. They know that he has been making claims that the work refutes evolution even if that's not what's in the thesis. Should they question him about the difference between what he says in the thesis and what he says on the lecture circuit? Do they have a right to fail him if they think that what's in his thesis does not reflect his true opinion about the science—and that his true opinion is scientifically invalid?

I think the committee has this right and I think that a Ph.D. candidate should be prepared to defend any "scientific" claims they make outside of the lab.

There will be a few other problems with Kirk's thesis but they are easily fixed. For example, he claimed that ancient bacteria were complex and subsequent evolution has just been degradation of the genome. In the lecture he showed us several references. We now know that he is misinterpreting these scientific papers.

I assume this will go in the thesis because Kirk seemed to be really sincere when he talked about this as scientific fact. Member of his committee will read the thesis, correct his misconceptions, and point him to other scientific papers that reveal the true nature of bacterial evolution. This will give him an opportunity to learn about good science. At the end of the process Kirk will not be making scientifically inaccurate statements in public because he will know better.

There are quite a few examples of these factual errors but I assume they will all be fixed before the oral exam.

The bottom line is can Kirk Durston get a Ph.D.? If so, how should he do it? What do you think?


[Photo Credit: Theses from Jackson State University]

What Is Evolution?

 
Greg Laden has just posted this video on his blog [Evolution ... Its for real]. I assume Greg endorses the definition of evolution in the opening minutes.

On Tuesday and Wednesday evenings I gave lectures on Evolution Is a Theory and a Fact. The first part of the lecture was devoted to explaining What Is Evolution. Here's the minimal scientific definition of evolution.
Evolution is a process that results in heritable changes in a population spread over many generations.
I explained to the audience that the definition of evolution has to be neutral with respect to mechanism. Evolution could occur by Lamarckian or Darwinian mechanisms, or something else entirely different.

The purpose of a definition is to define what we mean by the word. If we were to define evolution as that form of change caused by meiotic drive then change by natural selection wouldn't be evolution. How silly is that?

It's just as wrong to define evolution in terms of natural selection. That means random genetic drift is not evolution, by definition. Is that right?

The opening screen of the video states "The world is full of misinformation." The second screen says, "Many of those who claim evolution is wrong have no understanding what evolution really is."

This is exactly how I begin my talk. However, from that point on my lecture diverges considerably from the video that cdk007 created. Do you agree with the definition in the video? (Natural selection + time = EVOLUTION)




Take a Short Quiz on Cheating - Do You Agree with the First Year Engineering Students?

 
What freshman engineering students think about cheating.


More Misconceptions About Junk DNA

 
iayork of Mystery Rays from Outer Space is upset about an article on retroviruses that appeared in The New Yorker [ “Darwin’s Surprise” in the New Yorker]. Here's what iayork says,
The whole “junk DNA” has been thrashed out a dozen times (see Genomicron for a good start). The bottom line? If you search Pubmed for the phrase “junk DNA” you will find a total of 80 articles (compare to, say, 985 articles for “endogenous retrovirus”); and a large fraction of those 80 articles only use the phrase to explain what a poor term it is. Scientists don’t use the term “junk DNA’. Lazy journalists use it so they can sneer at scientists (who don’t use it) for using it.
Wrong! Lots of scientists use the term "junk DNA." Properly, understood, it's a very useful term and has been for several decades [Noncoding DNA and Junk DNA].

Yes, it's true that journalists often don't understand junk DNA and they are easily tricked into thinking that junk DNA is a discredited concept. The journalists are wrong, not the scientists who use the term.

It's also true that there are many scientists who feel uneasy about junk DNA because it doesn't fit with their adaptationist leanings. Just because there's controversy doesn't mean that the term isn't still used by it's proponents (I am one).

I'm sorry, iayork, but statements like that don't help in educating people about science. Junk DNA is that fraction of a genome that has no known function and based on everything we know about biology is unlikely to have some unknown function. Junk DNA happens to represent more than 90% of our genome and that's significant by my standards.


Agassiz in the Concrete and Persecution of Religious Scientists

John Pieret has a posting on possible examples of persecution of religious scientists in the nineteenth century [On the Ways of Change].

John quotes from a book by Neal C. Gillespie on Charles Darwin and the Problem of Creation. Gillespie is discussing the conflict between religion and science among academics in the mid-1800's. According to John, Gillespie says,
Antagonism against biblicism had reached such a point by the late 1850s that Agassiz suggested that fear of the wrath of the positivists was actually leading some naturalists with strong theological convictions to conform to the new science against their true judgment.
The quote refers to Louis Agassiz, a biology Professor at Harvard1. and one of the last holdouts against evolution. John links to the upcoming Expelled movie and asks whether Agassiz is referring to persecution of religious scientists.

John posted a photograph of the statue of Louis Agassiz embedded upside down in the courtyard in front of the zoology building at Stanford University. The statue tumbled from its place above the entrance during the San Francisco earthquake of 1906.

According to legend, a passing scientist remarked that,
Louis Agassiz was better in the abstract than in the concrete.2.
This is a clear reference to the fact that Agassiz's reputation had been severely damaged by his religious convictions and his rejection of biological evolution.

Is it true that atheist scientists discriminate against religious scientists? John has been concerned about this issue for a number of years. He thinks that atheist scientists fail to distinguish between real science and metaphysics. He thinks that much of our criticism of religious scientists is not because we're scientists but because we're atheists.

I'm posting a specific case for consideration in another message so it was quite appropriate, and fortuitous, that John Pieret brought it up today on Thoughts in a Haystack.


1. Stephen Jay Gould held the Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology Chair at Harvard from 1982 until his death in 2002. Alexander Agassiz was Louis Agassiz's son. Alexander served as President of the National Academy of Sciences.

2. The story is apocryphal (a polite word for "false"). The quotation has been attributed to several men, including the President of Stanford, but all have denied it. Nevertheless, it's too good a story to abandon just because it happens to be untrue!

[Photo Credit: Wikipedia]

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Evolution and Purpose

 
The first issue of Evolution: Education and Outreach is available online [Contents]. You can read all 21 articles.

Many of them are very interesting but I'm particulary struck by one with the title The Question of Purpose by David Zeigler. The question of purpose in evolution is very contentious. If we stick to science, it's clear that there is no purpose to evolution. What this means is that science is at odds with every religious belief that requires purpose (e.g., God made us).

Many believers resist this interpretation of science by declaring that conclusions about the absence of purpose cross over into the realm of metaphysics. Therefore, science does not rule out a purposeful universe.

David Zeigler is having none of that kind of excuse ...
My “purpose” (we can create our own temporally and spatially limited purposes) in writing this piece is to point out one of the most important and real issues in the teaching of Darwinian evolution that so often goes unaddressed, or more amazingly—unrecognized, and this issue is really fairly obvious. Darwinian evolution by natural selection results in adaptations which increase the ability of the individuals to survive and reproduce successfully in their respective environments, or as biologists would say—adaptations increase the fitness of individuals. This is the only evolutionary goal or purpose for which science has found objective evidence.

In our science, there is no mention of, or mechanism for achieving, any long-term metaphysical or teological goals of form, complexity, or intelligence—as Gould has argued so eloquently. Most of the other known mechanisms of evolutionary change such as genetic drift, neutral mutation, gene duplications, transposons, horizontal gene transfer by plasmids, and others have no direction or goal at all and are in fact random (which natural selection is not) and therefore could not possibly give a particular direction to evolution. Numerous science writers have made the obvious point that had that asteroid not struck some 65,000,000 years ago and pushed the dinosaurs to extinction, we humans would undoubtedly not be here, for the evolution of mammals would have been constrained and altered drastically from what has come to pass (i.e., we humans were not destined to evolve).

If we teach evolution honestly, we cannot really avoid this point, although many succeed in doing so. Additionally, if we give any credence to some hybrid form of teleological evolution by which humans or any of the so-called “higher” forms were destined to appear, we have gutted Darwinian evolution of its scientific core and replaced it with an unfounded belief—one that too many of our students (and most intelligent design proponents) already hold. I believe it is in part because we tiptoe around the honest interpretation of Darwinism that the USA lags far behind the other developed countries of the world in accepting the modern scientific view of evolution and in taking a realistic view of our precarious place (and responsibilities) on this fragile planet.
I don't like his use of "Darwinism" as an incorrect substitute for "biological evolution" but it's otherwise a fine piece. If this is an indication of the quality of article that will appear in the new journal then I'll be looking forward to each issue.


Evolution as Fact, Theory, etc.

 
Ryan Gregory has just published an essay in Evolution: Education and Outreach on Evolution as Fact, Theory, and Path [see Genomicron].

Ryan has made of list of similar essays on the web. I reproduce that list here except I'm linking to the latest version of my essay (2007) rather than the 1993 version that's on the TalkOrigins.org website.


Why We Call them IDiots

 



[Hat Tip: Monado at Science Notes ( Why do people laugh at Creationists? 4)]

Nobel Laureates: Edmond Fischer and Edwin Krebs

 

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1992.
"for their discoveries concerning reversible protein phosphorylation as a biological regulatory mechanism"


Edmond H. Fischer (1920 - ) and Edwin G. Krebs (1918 - ) received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for working out the pathway for regulation of glycogen metabolism. The main feature of this regulation is the phosphorylation and dephosphorylation of enzymes to control their activity [Regulating Enzyme Activity by Covalent Modification].

The Nobel Lectures by Ed Krebs [Protein Phosphorylation and Cellular Regulation I] and Ed Fischer [Protein Phosphorylation and Cellular Regulation II] should be required reading for all biochemistry students. Not only do they show how a fruitful collaboration works, they provide an excellent introduction to fundamental aspects of metabolism and regulation. I wouldn't be surprised if some of the material in these lectures appeared on introductory biochemistry exams.

For this Nobel Prize there's a slide presentation on the Nobel Prize website illustrating the work done by Ed Fischer and Ed Krebs [Illustrated Presentation]. Fischer and Krebs are Professors Emeritii at the University of Washington (USA). They have been friends and collaborators for many years. The first illustration (below) is from the slide presentation.

The Nobel Prize website also has video links to interviews with Edmond Fischer and the transcript of an interview with Edmond Krebs. Here's an excerpt from the interview with Krebs ...

Edwin G. Krebs is a soft-spoken, understated Midwesterner, but there's one thing that gets his goat. Since he turned his attention from medicine to biochemistry, people have been asking him about "his" cycle. They confuse him with Sir H.A. Krebs, the British scientist who won the Nobel Prize in 1953 for elucidating the metabolic Krebs (or tricarboxylic acid) cycle.

One person who made this mistake was the chairman of a clinical department at the UW School of Medicine in 1948, when Krebs started as an assistant professor of biochemistry.

"I must confess that I didn't correct his wrong impression," says Krebs. "I was so uneasy about my status then that I enjoyed being treated with such deference, even for the wrong reason."
The Nobel Prize presentation speech was delivered by Professor Hans Jörnvall of the Nobel Assembly of the Karolinska Institute.
Your Majesties, Your Royal Highnesses, Ladies and Gentlemen,

This year's Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine is awarded for discoveries concerning reversible protein phosphorylation. What does that mean and how does phosphorylation work?

Let us start with proteins. They can be compared with workers in our tissues. We are composed of cells, each cell constituting a small community. Constant activity is a characteristic feature both of cells and ordinary communities. There are systems for transportation, energy generation, production, and waste handling. In society all this is handled by humans, in a cell proteins take our place. How do they accomplish their functions? Well, exactly like human workers, they operate by way of interaction with other components. Much in the same manner as a driver or pilot recognizes the controls, proteins recognize "their" partners, binding them to influence the reaction paths.

And now phosphorylation: one or several small phosphate groups are coupled to a protein, changing its properties. If the parallel with our human workers is pursued further, one could perhaps compare phosphorylation with ballet shoes. Despite their small size they have dramatic effects on their wearer! The shape of the foot is altered and after that, work is like a dance. Edmond Fischer and Edwin Krebs, this year's Laureates, described this principle in the ftfties. They showed how muscles liberate an energy-rich form of sugar from its storage form by phosphorylation of a protein. After that, science gradually gained insight into the fact that this constitutes a general principle manifested in all cellular activities. Today, a considerable part of world bioscience involves protein phosphorylation.

THEME:

Nobel Laureates
Why this regulation via coupling of small groups? One advantage is that the process is reversible, i.e. the shoes can be taken off and put on, a process which can be repeated again and again. Thus, proteins can be regulated in both directions. Another is that the reactions can be carried out in successive steps, creating a cascade that amplifies the end effect. Much like the hydraulic amplification in a brake: a gentle touch of the pedal can stop even a heavy car. In the world of proteins, Krebs and his collaborators paved the way for this knowledge by studying also the preceding protein in the chain of phosphorylations, while Fischer concentrated his efforts along other lines and, as recently as some years ago, reported the purification of a special type of phosphate-removing protein.

Yet another advantage is that the regulation can be affected by different signals. The system that Fischer and Krebs first studied can be activated either by means of a stress hormone released when we become frightened and our muscles prepare us for escape, or by an act of will when we wish to run for other reasons. Phosphate groups are in these two cases attached in response to separate signals, much as they are in all other cellular response systems. What relevance does this have to medicine? The easiest answer is that we all know of the consequences in society from imbalances in economic chain reactions! We are now in a position to start perceiving how illnesses, including common diseases like hypertension and tumors, are accompanied by imbalances in phosphorylations. Relationships initially recognized in connection with glycogen storage in muscles and liver, have thus been proven to pertain to cellular regulatory processes in general. An excellent demonstration of the power of basic research and of the versatility of simple models. The protein system in glycogen storage has given rise, over the years, to several Nobel Prizes, in 1947 to Gerty and Carl Cori for the course of the catalytic conversion of glycogen, in 1971 to Earl Sutherland for mechanisms of action of hormones, and now to Fischer and Krebs for discoveries concerning reversible protein phosphorylation as a biological regulatory mechanism.

Edmond Fischer and Edwin Krebs,

I have tried to describe your field of research and elegant discoveries in your studies of reversible protein phosphorylation, going back to the initial detection of the activation mechanism of phosphorylase, and continuing with protein phosphatases. Over the years, your early observations on a particular system have contributed to the opening up of novel insight into basic protein regulations at all levels and in all cells. On behalf of the Nobel Assembly of the Karolinska Institute, I convey to you our warmest congratulations, and ask you now to step forward to receive your Nobel Prizes from the hands of His Majesty the King.



[Photo Credit: Dept. of Biochemistry, University of Washington]

Regulating Enzyme Activity by Covalent Modification

 
Monday's Molecule #53 was phosphothreonine, one of several amino acid residues that can be phosphorylated.

UPDATE= The other major ones are serine and tyrosine but histidine, lysine, cysteine, aspartate and glutamate can also be phospohylated in some proteins as well as some modified amino acids like hydroxy-proline (Reinders, and Sickmann 2005).


Enzyme activity can be modified by covalent attachment of a phosphoryl group to an amino acid residue. In some cases the phosphorylated enzyme will be active while in other cases the phosphorylated enzyme will be inactive.

The classic examples of regulation by covalent modification are in the pathways for synthesis and degradation of glycogen [Regulating Glycogen Metabolism]. For example, the enzyme glycogen phosphorylase is responsible for breaking down glycogen and liberating glucose. Glycogen phosphorylase is active when phosphorylated and inactive when the phosphoryl group is removed. The phosphorylation is carried out by phosphorylase kinase and this enzyme is, itself, regulated by covalent modification. These enzymes are part of a larger signal transduction pathway involving several different phosphorylated enzymes.



Reinders, J. and Sickmann, A. (2005) State-of-the-art in phosphoproteomics. Proteomics 5:4052-4061.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Evolution Is a Theory and a Fact

 
Don't forget about my talk tonight at McMaster University in Hamilton (Ontario, Canada). It's sponsored by the McMaster Association of Secular Humanists (MASH) (Hamilton) [Evolution is a Theory and a Fact, with Prof Laurence Moran]

The subject is Evolution Is a Theory and a Fact. Come to room HSC/1A1 at 7pm. (HSC is the (Health Sciences Building, or the Hospital, map here.)

Cost: $2 (free for members of the MASH)

Tomorrow night I'm at the Centre for Inquiry, 216 Beverley Street in Toronto. (Beverly St. is the southward extension of St. George St. The Centre is on the west side of the street about one block south of College.)

The talk begins at 7pm.
Cost: $4 (*special announcement: students Free*) FREE for Friends of the Centre
The public event at CFI will also serve as the official launch of Cafe Inquiry, a project of the University of Toronto Secular Alliance, sponsored by CFI Ontario. Similar to Cafe Scientifique hosted by the Ontario Science Centre, we will serve food and beverages and encourage discussion with the audience. Bring your questions and comments on this controversial issue!



I'm Looking Through You

 
John Wilkins of Evolving Thoughts has posted a goodbye tribute to John Howard [Beatles' ode to John Howard]. Like all bloggers over 40—or maybe 50—whenever you read the lyrics to "I'm Looking Through You" you can't help but sing along, can you?

For all you youngsters out there, here's how to sing the song ....




Monday, November 26, 2007

Bloggers Over 40

 
According to rezom.com there are some good blogs written by men and women over 40 years old [40 Bloggers Over 40].
The portrait of a blogger is a young man, or woman. And often, that portrait is wrong. Despite the fact that the Internet was created by baby boomers, it's too often viewed as a teenager's playground. Every junior high kid has a blog now ... but are they any good? Only if you sit next to the author in homeroom. Many of the best blogs, the ones with the smartest observations, clearest writing, most dazzling photos and most compelling stories are maintained by people in their 40s, 60s ... even 80s. It's time to put to rest that myth about grandpa and his computer phobia. The grandpas we found online know how to use technology to say their piece. And bloggers in their 40s and 50s are documenting the workplace, the news of the day, and their interests in fascinating detail. So we're spotlighting great reads and thought-provoking posts from people who have been around long enough to have something to say. We hope you enjoy them.
There are some interesting sites listed. Phil Plait of The Bad Astronomer is there in the "Science and Environment" category. Richard Dawkins, John Wilkins, PZ Myers and a host of others are not. I'm not listed either but that's probably because I look much younger that I really am.

Many of my students are surprised that I know how to use a computer. I tell them that I've been working with computers for 39 years so it shouldn't come as a big surprise that I can post articles on the internet. They don't believe me. From their perspective computers are only used by young people.


IDiots Don't Bash Evolutionary Biologists

 
How many times have you heard that line? The IDiots are fond of saying that they have positive evidence for Intelligent Design Creationism. According to them, it's not about bashing "Darwinists."*

So how do you explain the Darwin Daze Sock-Hop on the Expelled site? [The Playground for Expelled] This is nothing less than a blatant attempt to mock the leading figures in evolutonary biology and atheism.

It makes me feel good about calling them IDiots.


* It will be interesting to see if any Intelligent Design Creationists object in public to that video. Several of them are on record as saying that they don't bash "Darwinists" (e.g., Kirk Durston, "I never bash Darwinists.")

IDiot Logic

 
Bill Dembski gives us some insight into the "logic" of Intelligent Design Creationism [E. O. Wilson on ID].
ID does not argue from “Shucks, I can’t imagine how material mechanisms could have brought about a biological structure” to “Gee, therefore God must have done it.” This is a strawman. Here is the argument ID proponents actually make:

Premise 1: Certain biological systems have some diagnostic feature, be it IC (irreducible complexity) or SC (specified complexity) or OC (organized complexity) etc.

Premise 2: Materialistic explanations have been spectacularly unsuccessful in explaining such systems — we have no positive evidence for thinking that material mechanisms can generate them.

Premise 3: Intelligent agency is known to have the causal power to produce systems that display IC/SC/OC.

Conclusion: Therefore, biological systems that exhibit IC/SC/OC are likely to be designed.
The are plenty of complex systems that have perfectly reasonable evolutionary explanations. There are even irreducibly complex systems that can easily be explained by evolution. Bill might think about coming to my lecture on Wednesday where I will explain how the irreducibly complex citric acid cycle evolved.

Thus premise #2 is false. Dembski has been told this on numerous occasions so I have to conclude that he is lying. Premise #2 is logically equivalent to "Shucks, I can’t imagine how material mechanisms could have brought about a biological structure."

Premise #3 is not science. You can't just throw up your hands and say God did it because you lack the intelligence to come up with a naturalistic explanation. Premise #3 is indistinguishable from "Gee, therefore God must have done it."

The conclusion is invalid.

This really isn't much of a challenge. It's like shooting fish in a barrel. I guess that's why we call them IDiots.


Monday's Molecule #53

 
This is a simple one. All you have to do is give the correct name of the residue in the middle of the picture.

There's a direct connection between this molecule and Wednesday's Nobel Laureate(s). Your task is to figure out the significance of today's molecule and identify the Nobel Laureate(s) who are responsible for that significance. (Hint: There's also a connection to last week's lecture in biochemisty.)

The reward goes to the person who correctly identifies the molecule and the Nobel Laureate(s). Previous winners are ineligible for one month from the time they first collected the prize. There are three ineligible candidates for this week's reward. The prize is a free lunch at the Faculty Club.

Send your guess to Sandwalk (sandwalk(at)bioinfo.med.utoronto.ca) and I'll pick the first email message that correctly identifies the molecule and the Nobel Laureate(s). Correct responses will be posted tomorrow along with the time that the message was received on my server. I may select multiple winners if several people get it right.

Comments will be blocked for 24 hours. Comments are now open.

UPDATE: There is no winner this week. Nobody got the residue and nobody guessed the name of the Nobel Laureate(s).


Sunday, November 25, 2007

Creationists as Victims

 
There's a new movie coming out in January. It's called Expelled and the star, Ben Stein*, is going to reveal the secret evilutionist conspiracy. Apparently, the evilutionists have been persecuting creationists but not because they're idiots. No, apparently it's only because they dare to question the authority of Darwinism.

I'm sure you can't wait to see the movie. Here's a lengthy preview [expelledthemovie.com].




*I'm not sure why Ben Stein is an authority on this subject. Perhaps it's because he was a speech writer for Richard Nixon?

By Jove, I Think She's Got it!!!

 
Denyse O'Leary muses about the lecture I attended last Tuesday where Kirk Durston presented the case for Intelligent Design Creationism [Kirk Durston's Proof of God].

Here's what she says on her blog Uncommon Descent [We have the hat, but where’s that rabbit? High levels of information in “simple” life forms]. I'll go through it slowly but the bottom line is that Denyse O'Leary is finally beginning to understand mechanistic naturalism and what science is all about. It's only taken her, what ... ten years? Sheesh.
In Tuesday night, a guest speaker spoke to my adult night school class in why there is an intelligent design controversy. He talked about the central problem of evolution: The fact that high levels of information are present in life forms that are supposed to be early and simple.
We've discussed this on other posting. Kirk Durston did, indeed, say that ancient bacteria were complex and modern ones have become more simple. But his most important point was that the existence of protein folds cannot be explained by evolution, therefore they must have been intelligently designed (i.e., God did it).
Some guests attended the talk, and one of them announced that if intelligent design is correct, scientists would not see the need to do any research because Goddunit. Or something like that.
Actually, it wasn't one of the "guests"—it was one of the regular students. It happened to be the one who invited me as a "guest."

The question referred to the fact that "God did it" is a science-stopper. As soon as Kirk Durston concludes that protein folds are designed by God, that's the end of doing science. What else can be done? Does he plan to design experiments to prove that God did it? Does he plan to investigate how God might have done it, or when? Of course not. It's a science-stopper.
The more I thought about what he was saying, the more it puzzled me. Finally, I realized:

For the materialist, the PURPOSE of science is to show that high levels of information can be created without intelligence.

Therefore, in looking for causes of events, the materialist accepts ONLY a solution that shows that high levels of information can come from random assembly (= without intelligence).
I'm delighted to hear that Denyse O'Leary is capable of serious thought. (Who knew?) She's pretty much got it right.

In science you cannot invoke the supernatural. You are committed to finding naturalistic explanations of the natural world. The procedure is called methodological naturalism or methodological materialism [see Theistic Evolution: The Fallacy of the Middle Ground].

The debate over the conflict between science and religion has been going on for hundreds of years. In the past 50 years the debate has focused on the methodology of science and how it must exclude the supernatural if it's supposed to work properly. I'm shocked (not really) that Denyse has never heard of this before. It's one of the main themes in the writings of Phillip Johnson [see Are You as Smart as a Second Year University Student? Q1 and comments].
He has not shown that high levels of information can be created without intelligence. He assumes that his assertion is true and looks for evidence to support it.

Discoveries that disconfirm his initial belief are not treated as evidence.

Keep looking, he says, keep looking … that magic information mill has GOT to be somewhere!
"Disoveries" that claim to disconfirm the assumption of naturalism are tested against reality. If a hypothesis appears to conflict with a naturalistic explanation then it's back to the drawing board. Scientists will re-examine their assumptions to see where they went wrong. They will devise new approaches and do experiments to collect more data. In other words, the apparent conflict stimulates research, it does not shut it down.

Keep looking, keep looking. This is an approach that has been enormously successful in science over the past several thousand years. Without that attitude we would still believe that all of humanity was wiped out in a flood and that the sun went around the Earth.

Contrast this scientific approach with the typical Young Earth Creationist approach to learning. How many of them are looking for evidence of how God made the Universe 6000 years ago? Where did he get all the atoms, for example? Did he make any mistakes? Belief in the Bible is a science-stopper.

Here's another example. Kirk Durston stops doing science once he's decided that God made proteins. There's nothing else he can do. On the other hand, scientists look at his data and try to explain where he went wrong and why there could be naturalistic explanations. In this case, it's not too hard to discover where Kirk made most of his errors. This is what science is all about and this is why Intelligent Design Creationism isn't science. It's a science-stopper.

Look at bacterial flagella. Michael Behe pronounced that flagella were created by God when he published Darwin's Black Box in 1996. How much research into the origin of flagella did this stimulate among Intelligent Design Creationists? None at all. What's the point?

Scientists did not accept the conclusion that God did it. They continued to work on the problem and now we have a pretty good explanation for the origin of bacterial flagella. Pretty soon the creationists will have to abandon this example but it sure won't be because of any scientific work they did. No scientific advances come for assuming that God did it.
What if random assembly is not in fact the answer? Then either

1. No solution is found (because there never was any solution in the direction in which he is looking)

or

2. An inadequate solution is patched together and defended as the best available solution - usually that means that claims for the solution are overstated wildly to the public.

But it is the materialist scientist’s duty to keep looking for the magic mill even if the fact that random assembly did not occur is overwhelmingly obvious.
Actually the two scientific possibilities are:
  1. We found a naturalistic explanation for the claims of religion. Historically, this is what happens most of the time and it's why the claims of religion have repeatedly been shown to be false.

  2. We don't know the answer but we'll keep working on the problem. This is what's happening with the most recent claims of the creationists. It takes a few years to demonstrate their nonsense and during that time the correct scientific position is that the questions hasn't been decided. (Sometimes we can say we have a tentative solutions that needs refinement.)
So far, in several thousand years of testing creationist claims there isn't a single one that hasn't fallen to the onslaught of rationalism.
And he displays his virtue to his peers by never questioning the system and by showing hostility and contempt for anyone who does question it.

Given his initial convictions, the materialist cannot believe that a non-materialist is actually doing science. He cannot envision any approach to the fact base that does not have as its base an effort to show that the information was created randomly.
There are many religious scientists who do a pretty good job of being scientific most of the time. They know that methodolgical naturalism is a powerful assumption with a proven track record and that resort to the supernatural has never led to further understanding. As I said above, I'm shocked that Denyse is only now coming to the realization that her understanding of science was seriously flawed. Apparently, in spite of the fact that she has written two books, she never understood the scientific method.

As for "hostilty," yes, it's true. Some of us get very frustrated with so-called scientists who don't understand the fundamental concepts of the scientific methd and what it means to be a scientist.
As a matter of fact, the fact base could easily be approached otherwise, and often more fruitfully, too. If we assume that an object in nature is designed, we do not waste time trying to imagine how it could have come about randomly. We study its characteristics and make predictions about its behaviour, function, and so forth.
That's just a bunch of bull manure. Part of the statement is true—creationists stop trying to find an evolutionary explanation as soon as they conclude that God did it. But the second part is completely false. Creationists stop all investigations once they've concluded that supernatural beings are involved. They don't try to figure out how God's mind worked.

I hope Denyse does some reading in order to catch up. She should look at Philip Johnson's proposal for a God-based (non-materialistic) science. It ain't gonna happen. Why in the world would scientists shop using a method that has bee so successful?

The idea that invoking the supernatural could be a more "fruitful" approach to science, as Denyse says above, is outlandish to the point of idiocy. There are no scientific advances that have come from assuming God did it. That's always a science-stopper.


Taking Science on Faith

 
Paul Davies is a Professor of Physics at Arizona State University. In 1995 he received the Templeton Prize, which is awarded "for Progress Toward Research or Discoveries about Spiritual Realities." As you might have guessed, this prize goes to people who make up stories about the compatibility of science and religion.

Davies has written a number of books about science and religion, including Cosmic Jackpot.

His latest foray into the world of Christian apologetics is an op-ed piece in yesterday's New York Times [Taking Science on Faith]. Quite a few bloggers have pointed out the major (and I do mean major) logical flaws in this piece. Here's PZ Myers' take on it [Faith is not a prerequisite for science]. PZ has links to the other sites.

Paul Davies is a scientist. I don't understand where he gets such stupid ideas about science. Maybe it's in church.


Another Proof of God

 

You should probably watch this video to get some idea about how the creationist mind works.




[Hat Tip: Effect Measure]

Bacterial Genomes and Evolution

 
I recently became aware of the fact that Intelligent Design creationists are promoting a strange idea. They bacteria were very complex when life first formed and their genomes have been degrading over time. Kirk Durston, a graduate student at the university of Guelph, pushed this idea in a course on intelligent design. Durston used a number of scientific references to prove his point. The main one was a paper by Miraa et al (200) from Nancy Moran's lab [Bacteria Genomes Are Degrading].

Ryan Gregory is one of the world's leading experts on genomes and their evolution. He's also a Professor at the University of Guelph. Ryan has published an excellent description of what the Mira et al. (2000) paper shows and what it does not show. You should all read it [Bacterial genomes and evolution].

For Kirk Durston's sake, I hope Ryan Gregory isn't on his Ph.D. oral committee.


Saturday, November 24, 2007

148 Years Ago Today

 
John Wilkins tells us what happened 148 years ago today. Unfortunately, he doesn't tell us what happened today in Australia.

Check out The Corpus Callosum to see how much the historical event cost back then [Happy Birthday].


Frightened YEC's

 
Shaliniat at Scientia Natura: Evolution and Rationality found this cartoon [It must be hard living in fear of science]. It's cute so I'm stealing it from her. It's originally from cectic.



Excellence at the

 
Monado at Science Notes points us to a Visual Library set up by Access Excellence at the National Health Museum [Graphics Library resources online]. Here's a description of Access Excellence.
Access Excellence, launched in 1993, is a national educational program that provides health, biology and life science teachers access to their colleagues, scientists, and critical sources of new scientific information via the World Wide Web. The program was originally developed and launched by Genentech Inc., and in 1999 joined the National Health Museum, a non-profit organization founded by former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop as a national center for health education. Access Excellence will form the core of the educational component of the National Health Museum Website that is currently under development.
This is an admirable goal. The web is full of garbage and it would be nice to collect all the good stuff in one site so that teachers and students could use it. I thought I'd check it out to see how "excellent" it is.

Of course they get The Central Dogma of Molecular Biology wrong but I can't really blame them for that since lots of scientists get it wrong as well [see Basic Concepts: The Central Dogma of Molecular Biology].

One of the next images I checked was the one shown below. It's labeled RNA Ribonucleic Acid - A More Detailed Description. Now, it seems to me that one of the major distinguishing features of RNA is missing. Can you tell what it is?


The graphic shown below is called Nucleotide - A More Detailed Description. It claims to show the structure of a nucleotide in more detail. The boxed region of the DNA molecule does depict a nucleotide but the structures on the right (i.e., more detail) do not. Instead, these are the bases that make up a nucleotide. It may seem nitpicky but why can't they get it right?


Here's a suggestion to the people who run the Access Excellence website: why not ask a few biochemists to check out the science before you post information on the site? Would that be asking too much?


Harper Blocks Greenhouse Gas Emission Targets

 
Prime Minister Harper is attending the Commonwealth Summit in Kampala, Uganda. For those of you who aren't familiar with the Commonwealth of Nations, it represents 53 nations that were formerly part of the British Empire [Commonwealth of Nations].

These nations have just voted to suspend Pakistan from the Commonwealth until it holds free elections [Pakistan suspended from Commonwealth]. Stephen Harper lead the way here by calling for Pakistan's suspension.

The current debate is over establishing binding targets for greenhouse gas emissions as part of a strategy to reduce global warming. Canada and Australia are the only nations who oppose this resolution. Ironically, with the change in government in Australia today, it's likely that Canada is now the only nation to oppose binding targets.


[Hat Tip: Brian Larnder at Primordial Blog (Stephen Harper Embarrasses Canada Again)]

[Photo Credit: cbcnews]

Goodbye John Howard

 
The latest results from today's election in Australia point to a defeat for the current Prime Minister, John Howard [Labor sweeps to victory in Australia election]. Not only will the Liberal-National Party coalition lose the election but it looks like Howard will lose his own seat in Parliament.

I don't know enough about Australian politics to know what this means. Howard is a staunch ally of the United States and he sent Australian troops to Iraq. I believe that Australia is one of the few industrialized countries, other than the USA, to refuse to sign the Kyoto agreements.

Does this mean that Australia will withdraw its remaining troops from Iraq and sign on to Kyoto now that Kevin Rudd and the Australian Labor party are in power?


[Photo Credit: Australian flag - Job Search: John Howard - Wikipedia]

Friday, November 23, 2007

Kirk Durston Interview

 
Here's an online interview with Kirk Durston on canadianchristianity.com for those who want to know more about his views on Intelligent Design Creationism [Evolution under fire? -- Part 1]. By all accounts Kirk seems to be a Young Earth Creationist in the sense that he prefers the literal interpretation of the Bible until it has been proven wrong.

Here's a part of the interview that seems unblievable.
I have been doing a great deal of work in ID over the past few years -- and have given presentations of my work in universities, both in Canada and the USA, that are well attended by both students and faculty. I have been very surprised by the fact that no significant objections to the evidence I present are being raised in these venues. I never bash Darwinism, I simply show them the positive evidence for ID -- and it goes over very well indeed.

I am currently working on a paper dealing with functional information, under the guidance of a professor in bioinformatics who wants to see my work published. It will be very low-key, mentioning nothing about ID, yet laying the groundwork for some major advances in this field -- if it is, by some miracle, accepted for publication.
I'm surprised that he has never heard any significant objections to the evidence he presents in his talk. I didn't have any trouble recognizing several lies and distortions and I wasn't the only one on Tuesday night.

Maybe he gives a different talk in other venues? In any case, we'll see whether the experts on protein folding hear at the University of Toronto will be as gullible when they hear the "positive evidence for ID" next Spring [A Scientific Test for the Intelligent Designer].

Oh, I almost forgot, in his Tuesday evening presentation he did bash "Darwinism." I guess that's one more difference between what I heard and his normal talks to students and faculty. Either that or .....


A Scientific Test for the Intelligent Designer

 
Kirk Durston has been participating in the discussion on the thread Kirk Durston's Proof of God. He's been having a bit of difficulty keeping up with the scientific criticisms of his proposed proof of the existence of God an Intelligent Designer. I can understand the problem. In an online debate everyone is on a level playing field. When a paper is mentioned, we can all check it out before replying.

So, Kirk proposes another way of handling the discussion.
I thank Larry for extending the opportunity to post a method to test for whether ID is highly probable or not (the way I phrased it in my lecture). I've been mulling this over even before Larry posted the invite. I have reservations about doing it in this particular forum, primarily because the numbers that would be involved are too few to justify the time and, secondly, I would prefer a live lecture where the back and forth dialogue would be greatly enhanced. I've thought that, perhaps, this could be done at the U of T over a 2 hour period. Larry could book a room and chair the event. I could present my proposal (as I repeatedly referred to it in my lecture) of a method to test for ID. I would sincerely hope that Larry et al would be able to set aside the usual hostility and personal attacks and, instead, run a collegial, honest event. As I repeatedly stressed in my lecture this past week, I am NOT claiming to have a 'proof' for ID. Rather, I am proposing a scientific method to test for it that is a work in progress. When this could take place is another question. Certainly not this semester. I am currently swamped with getting the next phase of my research up and running, and a couple of papers in progress. I cannot even afford the time o respond to these posts and will likely have to bow out today. My suggestion would be sometime in 2008, preferably after the winter semester, say, late April or May.
I'm happy to oblige and I've booked a room for either Tuesday April 22nd or Tuesday April 28th. I invite Kirk Durston to come and present his evidence that protein folding studies indicate the presence of an intelligent designer.

This will be an informal scientific debate attended by scientists who are familiar with protein folding. We have a lot of them here at the University of Toronto. Here's a list of the active labs working in this area in our Department [Protein Folding]. Here are the labs in the Dept. of Medical Biophysics [Molecular and Structural Biology]. And here are the labs in the Dept. of Molecular Genetics [Structural Biology].

I'm pretty sure we could get 20-30 graduate students, postdocs, and faculty members to come out and hear the protein folding evidence for intelligent design. They are experts in the same field as Kirk and I'm sure they will be able to show him where he's going wrong. It will be good for them to get exposure to the quality of work on protein folding that's being done at the University of Guelph.

I think it's safe to say that most of my colleagues have no idea of the importance of their work in the Intelligent Design Creationism field of scientific research. This is an opportunity for them to learn from Kirk Durston. Hopefully, after listening to Kirk my colleagues will be more open to the idea of intelligent design when it comes to reviewing research grants, scientific papers, or even sitting on Ph.D. oral exams—provided Kirk makes a convincing case.

I admire Kirk for his willingness to subject his scientific evidence for intelligent design to a group of experts on protein folding. It's very courageous of him since he's putting his scientific reputation on the line.


[Photo Credit: The Figure is from my textbook, Horton et al. (2006) p. 110. It's taken from the work of my departmental colleague Hue Sun Chan, one of the world's leading experts on the theoretical aspects of protein folding.]

ROM Finds Skeleton in it's Closet

 
Monado at Science Notes has the story [ROM finds skeleton in its closet].


Thursday, November 22, 2007

What She Said

 
Monado of Science Notes has pointed out, once again, the major flaw in Intelligent Design Creationism [ The Masked Man speaks]. In spite of all the blustering and rhetoric, Intelligent Design Creationism boils down to just one thing—arguments against evolution. Here's what Monado says ...
I throw in my two cents' worth:

There is indeed a huge, huge logical fallacy at the base of Dembski's argument. It's the assumption that if you pick enough holes in evolution to let the air out, "God did it" is the only remaining conclusion. That's known as a false dichotomy.

In reality, there are a lot more than two choices. If the received explanation of evolution were not true, it would be back to the drawing board for everyone. If it isn't random mutation plus natural selection plus sexual selection plus genetic drift, then perhaps it's inheritance of acquired characteristics plus natural selection plus sexual selection plus genetic drift. There's no reason to jump to the conclusion that unnatural causes are needed.

The result of pushing the false dichotomy is that ID proponents are ready to use every rhetorical trick in the book, misrepresent evolution, continue to quote falsified "facts," and invent mathematical proofs based on strained assumptions that evolution can't occur without angels pushing the molecules. Dembski's arguments have been falsified again and again. Mutation produces new information. Mutation can produce improvements. Mutation can double the genetic material and then modify it (in spite of the "if I copied this paper I haven't doubled my knowledge" rhetoric). Natural selection is neither directed by God nor random at a particular time and place. It is probabilistic, however. When Dembski claims that something is impossible and actual researchers explain step by step how that could happen, his argument is demolished. The fact that our evidence is always "pathetic" and his evidence is non-existent tells you who has the logic on their side and who is blowing smoke.
Many people have said this before but we need to keep hammering away at this point [see Kirk Durston's Proof of God]. There's no logic to Intelligent Design Creationism other than discrediting evolution on the assumption that God is the only other option.

This is why we call them IDiots.


Theme: Nobel Laureates

 
NOBEL LAUREATES


November 13, 2006
Physiology or Medicine 1922
Otto Fritz Meyerhof
"for his discovery of the fixed relationship between the consumption of oxygen and the metabolism of lactic acid in the muscle"

November 22, 2006
Physiology or Medicine 1964
Jacques Monod
"for their discoveries concerning genetic control of enzyme and virus synthesis"

November 29, 2006
Chemistry 1964
Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin
"for her determinations by X-ray techniques of the structures of important biochemical substances"

December 6, 2006
Chemistry 1930
Hans Fischer
"for his researches into the constitution of haemin and chlorophyll and especially for his synthesis of haemin"

December 13, 2006
Chemistry 1902
Hermann Emil Fischer
"in recognition of the extraordinary services he has rendered by his work on sugar and purine syntheses"

December 20, 2006
Physiology or Medicine 1953
Hans Adolf Krebs
"for his discovery of the citric acid cycle"

January 3, 2007
Physiology or Medicine 1982
Sune K. Bergström, Bengt I. Samuelsson, and John R. Vane
"for their discoveries concerning prostaglandins and related biologically active substances"

January 10, 2007
Physiology or Medicine 2004
Richard Axel and Linda B. Buck
"for their discoveries of odorant receptors and the organization of the olfactory system"

Theme

A Sense of Smell
Nobel Laureates: Richard Axel, Linda Buck
January 17, 2007
Physiology or Medicine 1998
Robert F. Furchgott, Louis J. Ignarro, and Ferid Murad
"for their discoveries concerning nitric oxide as a signalling molecule in the cardiovascular system"

January 24, 2007
Chemistry 1978
Peter D. Mitchell
"for his contribution to the understanding of biological energy transfer through the formulation of the chemiosmotic theory"


January 31, 2007
Chemistry 1988
Johann Deisenhofer, Robert Huber, and Hartmut Michel
"for the determination of the three-dimensional structure of a photosynthetic reaction centre"

February 7, 2007
Physiology or Medicine 1978
Werner Arber, Daniel Nathans, and Hamilton O. Smith
"for the discovery of restriction enzymes and their application to problems of molecular genetics"

February 14, 2007
Chemistry 1972
Christian B. Anfinsen
"for his work on ribonuclease, especially concerning the connection between the amino acid sequence and the biologically active conformation"

February 21, 2007
Physiology or Medicine 1930
Karl Landsteiner
"for his discovery of human blood groups"

February 28, 2007
Chemistry 1937
Walter Norman Haworth
"for his investigations on carbohydrates and vitamin C"

March 7, 2007
Physiology or Medicine 1948
Paul Hermann Müller
"for his discovery of the high efficiency of DDT as a contact poison against several arthropods"

March 14, 2007
Chemistry 1980
Paul Berg
"for his fundamental studies of the biochemistry of nucleic acids, with particular regard to recombinant-DNA"

Theme

Transcription
Nobel Laureate: Roger Kornberg
March 21, 2007
Chemistry 2006
Roger D. Kornberg
"for his studies of the molecular basis of eukaryotic transcription"

March 28, 2007
Physiology or Medicine 1943
Henrik Carl Peter Dam
"for his discovery of vitamin K"
Edward Adelbert Doisy "for his discovery of the chemical nature of vitamin K"

Theme

Blood Clotting
Nobel Laureates: Henrik Dam, Edward Doisy
April 4, 2007
Chemistry 1948
Arne Wilhelm Kaurin Tiselius
"for his research on electrophoresis and adsorption analysis, especially for his discoveries concerning the complex nature of the serum proteins"





April 11, 2007
Physiology or Medicine 1953
Fritz Albert Lipmann
"for his discovery of co-enzyme A and its importance for intermediary metabolism"

Theme

Pyruvate Dehydrogenase
Nobel Laureate: Aaron Klug
April 18, 2007
Chemistry 1982
Aaron Klug
"for his development of crystallographic electron microscopy and his structural elucidation of biologically important nucleic acid-protein complexes"

April 25, 2007
Chemistry 1920
Walther Hermann Nernst
"in recognition of his work in thermochemistry"

May 2, 2007
Physiology or Medicine 1929
Christiaan Eijkman
"for his discovery of the antineuritic vitamin"


May 9, 2007
Physiology or Medicine 1947
Carl Ferdinand Cori and Gerty Theresa Cori, née Radnitz
"for their discovery of the course of the catalytic conversion of glycogen"

May 16, 2007
Chemistry 1907
Eduard Buchner
"for his biochemical researches and his discovery of cell-free fermentation"
[cell free synthesis of alcohol in yeast extracts: vitalism]

May 23, 2007
Physiology or Medicine 1994
Alfred G. Gilman and Martin Rodbell
"for their discovery of G-proteins and the role of these proteins in signal transduction in cells"


May 30, 2007
Physiology or Medicine 1968
Robert W. Holley, Har Gobind Khorana, and Marshall W. Nirenberg
"for their interpretation of the genetic code and its function in protein synthesis"

June 6, 2007
Chemistry 2004
Aaron Ciechanover, Avram Hershko, and Irwin Rose
"for the discovery of ubiquitin-mediated protein degradation"

June 13, 2007
Physiology or Medicine 1945
Sir Alexander Fleming, Ernst Boris Chain, Sir Howard Walter Florey
"for the discovery of penicillin and its curative effect in various infectious diseases"

June 20, 2007
Physiology or Medicine 1993
Richard J. Roberts and Phillip A. Sharp
"for their discoveries of split genes"

June 27, 2007
Physiology or Medicine 1937
Albert von Szent-Györgyi Nagyrapolt
"for his discoveries in connection with the biological combustion processes, with special reference to vitamin C and the catalysis of fumaric acid"

July 4, 2007
Chemistry 1928
Adolf Otto Reinhold Windaus
"for the services rendered through his research into the constitution of the sterols and their connection with the vitamins"

July 11, 2007
Chemistry 1961
Melvin Calvin
"for his research on the carbon dioxide assimilation in plants"

THEME

Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA)
Nobel Laureates: Crick, Watson, Wilkins
July 18, 2007
Physiology or Medicine 1962
Francis Harry Compton Crick, James Dewey Watson and Maurice Hugh Frederick Wilkins
"for their discoveries concerning the molecular structure of nucleic acids and its significance for information transfer in living material"




July 25, 2007
Physiology or Medicine 1902
Ronald Ross
"for his work on malaria, by which he has shown how it enters the organism and thereby has laid the foundation for successful research on this disease and methods of combating it"

and

Physiology or Medicine 1907
Charles Louis Alphonse Laveran
"in recognition of his work on the role played by protozoa in causing diseases"

August 1, 2007
Chemistry 1962
Max Ferdinand Perutz and John Cowdery Kendrew
"for their studies of the structures of globular proteins"

August 8, 2007
Chemistry 1903
Svante August Arrhenius
"in recognition of the extraordinary services he has rendered to the advancement of chemistry by his electrolytic theory of dissociation"

August 22, 2007
Physiology or Medicine 1971
Earl W. Sutherland, Jr.
"for his discoveries concerning the mechanisms of the action of hormones"

August 29, 2007
Chemistry 1937
Paul Karrer
"for his investigations on carotenoids, flavins and vitamins A and B2"

September 5, 2007
Chemistry 1938
Richard Kuhn
"for his work on carotenoids and vitamins"

September 12, 2007
Physiology or Medicine 1969
Max Delbrück, Alfred D. Hershey, and Salvador E. Luria
"for their discoveries concerning the replication mechanism and the genetic structure of viruses"

September 19, 2007
Physiology or Medicine 1933
Thomas Hunt Morgan
"for his discoveries concerning the role played by the chromosome in heredity"

September 26, 2007
Physiology or Medicine 1999
Günter Blobel
"for the discovery that proteins have intrinsic signals that govern their transport and localization in the cell"


October 3, 2007
Physiology or Medicine 1983
Barbara McClintock
"for her discovery of mobile genetic elements"

October 10,2007
Chemistry 1909
Wilhelm Ostwald
"in recognition of his work on catalysis and for his investigations into the fundamental principles governing chemical equilibria and rates of reaction"

October 17, 2007
Chemistry 1926
The (Theodor) Svedberg
"for his work on disperse systems"

October 24, 2007
Chemistry 1946
James Batcheller Sumner
"for his discovery that enzymes can be crystallized"
[crystallization of urease from jack bean]

October 31, 2007
Physiology or Medicine 1959
Arthur Kornberg
"for their discovery of the mechanisms in the biological synthesis of ribonucleic acid and deoxyribonucleic acid"

November 7, 2007
Physiology or Medicine 1909
Emil Theodor Kocher
"for his work on the physiology, pathology and surgery of the thyroid gland"

November 14, 2007
Chemistry 1975
John Warcup Cornforth
"for his work on the stereochemistry of enzyme-catalyzed reactions"

November 21, 2007
Physiology or Medicine 1964
Konrad Bloch and Feodor Lynen
"for their discoveries concerning the mechanism and regulation of the cholesterol and fatty acid metabolism"

November 28, 2007
Physiology or Medicine 1992
Edmond Fischer and Edwin Krebs
"for their discoveries concerning reversible protein phosphorylation as a biological regulatory mechanism"

December 5, 2007
Physiology or Medicine 1955
Hugo Theorell
"for his discoveries concerning the nature and mode of action of oxidation enzymes"

December 12, 2007
Chemistry 1947
Sir Robert Robinson
"for his investigations on plant products of biological importance, especially the alkaloids"

December 19, 2007
Chemistry 1997
Paul Boyer and John Walker
"for their elucidation of the enzymatic mechanism underlying the synthesis of adenosine triphosphate (ATP)"

January 9, 2008
Chemistry 1915
Richard Willstätter
"for his researches on plant pigments, especially chlorophyll"

January 16, 2008
Chemistry 1989
Sidney Altman
"for their discovery of catalytic properties of RNA"

January 23, 2008
Chemistry 1989
Thomas R. Cech
"for their discovery of catalytic properties of RNA"

January 30, 2008
Chemistry 1984
Bruce Merrifield
"for his development of methodology for chemical synthesis on a solid matrix"

February 6, 2008
Physiology or Medicine 1965
"for their discoveries concerning genetic control of enzyme and virus synthesis"
François Jacob

February 13, 2008
Physiology or Medicine 1965
"for their discoveries concerning genetic control of enzyme and virus synthesis"
André Lwoff

March 5, 2008
Chemistry 1954
"for his research into the nature of the chemical bond and its application to the elucidation of the structure of complex substances"
Linus Pauling

March 12, 2008
Physics 1915
"for their services in the analysis of crystal structure by means of X-rays"
Sir William Henry Bragg and Lawrence Bragg

March 19, 2008
Chemistry 1974
"for his fundamental achievements, both theoretical and experimental, in the physical chemistry of the macromolecules"
Paul Flory

April 2, 2008
Chemistry 1918
"for the synthesis of ammonia from its elements"
Fritz Haber

April 9, 2008
Chemistry 2003
"for structural and mechanistic studies of ion channels"
Roderick MacKinnon

April 23, 2008
Chemistry 1957
"for his work on nucleotides and nucleotide co-enzymes"
Lord Alexander Todd

April 30, 2008
Physiology or Medicine 1947
"for his discovery of the part played by the hormone of the anterior pituitary lobe in the metabolism of sugar"
Bernardo Houssay

May 7, 2008
Physiology or Medicine 2000
"for their discoveries concerning signal transduction in the nervous system"
Arvid Carlsson and Paul Greengard

May 14, 2008
Physiology or Medicine 1958
"for their discovery that genes act by regulating definite chemical events"
George Beadle and Edward Tatum

May 21, 2008
Chemistry 1970
"for his discovery of sugar nucleotides and their role in the biosynthesis of carbohydrates"
Luis Leloir

May 28, 2008
"for their preparation of enzymes and virus proteins in a pure form"
Wendell Stanley

June 4, 2008
Physiology or Medicine 1950
"for their discoveries relating to the hormones of the adrenal cortex, their structure and biological effects"
Edward Kendall, Tadeus Reichstein and Philip Hench

June 11, 2008
Chemistry 1872
"for their contribution to the understanding of the connection between chemical structure and catalytic activity of the active centre of the ribonuclease molecule"
Stanford Moore and William Stein

June 18, 2008
Physiology or Medicine 1972
"for their discoveries concerning the chemical structure of antibodies"
Gerald M. Edelman and Rodney R. Porter

June 25, 2008
Physiology or Medicine 1987
"for his discovery of the genetic principle for generation of antibody diversity"
Susumu Tonegawa

July 2, 2008
Physiology or Medicine 1929
"for his discovery of the growth-stimulating vitamins"
Sir Frederick Gowland Hopkins

July 9, 2008
Chemistry 2003
"for the discovery of water channels"
Peter Agre

July 16, 2008
Physiology or Medicine 1974
"for their discoveries concerning the structural and functional organization of the cell"
George E. Palade

July 23, 2008
Chemistry 1943
"for his work on the use of isotopes as tracers in the study of chemical processes"
George de Hevesy

July 30, 2008
Physiology or Medicine 1958
"for his discoveries concerning genetic recombination and the organization of the genetic material of bacteria"
Joshua Lederberg

August 6, 2008
Physiology or Medicine 1973
"for their discoveries concerning organization and elicitation of individual and social behaviour patterns"
Karl von Frisch, Konrad Lorenz, Nikolaas Tinbergen

August 13, 2008
Physiology or Medicine 1922
"for his discovery relating to the production of heat in the muscle"
Archibald Hill

August 24, 2008
Physiology or Medicine 1977
"for the development of radioimmunoassays of peptide hormones"
Rosalyn Yalow

August 27, 2008
Chemistry 1929
"for their investigations on the fermentation of sugar and fermentative enzymes"
Arthur Harden

September 3, 2008
Chemistry 1929
"for their investigations on the fermentation of sugar and fermentative enzymes"
Hans Karl August Simon von Euler-Chelpin

September 10, 2008
Chemistry 2002
"for his development of nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy for determining the three-dimensional structure of biological macromolecules in solution"
Kurt Wüthrich

September 17, 2008
Physiology or Medicine 1931
"for his discovery of the nature and mode of action of the respiratory enzyme"
Otto Heinrich Warburg

September 25, 2008
Physiology or Medicine 2002
"for their discoveries concerning 'genetic regulation of organ development and programmed cell death'"
Sydney Brenner, H. Robert Horvitz, and John E. Sulston

October 1, 2008
Physiology or Medicine 1959
"for their discovery of the mechanisms in the biological synthesis of ribonucleic acid and deoxyribonucleic acid"
Severo Ochoa

October 8, 2008
"for his discovery of Prions - a new biological principle of infection"
Stanley Prusiner

October 16, 2008
"for their discoveries concerning the genetic control of early embryonic development"
Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard and Eric F. Wieschaus

October 21, 2008
"for the discovery of the production of mutations by means of X-ray irradiation"
Hermann Joseph Muller

October 29, 2008
"in recognition of the contributions to our knowledge of cell chemistry made through his work on proteins, including the nucleic substances"
Albrecht Kossel

November 5, 2008
"for their preparation of enzymes and virus proteins in a pure form"
John Howard Northrop

November 13, 2008
Physiology or Medicine 1995
"for their discoveries concerning the genetic control of early embryonic development"
Edward Lewis

November 19, 2008
Literature 1930
"for his vigorous and graphic art of description and his ability to create, with wit and humour, new types of characters"
Sinclair Lewis

November 27, 2008
Physiology or Medicine 1988
"for their discoveries of important principles for drug treatment"
George Hitchings and Gertrude Elion

December 3, 2008
Physiology or Medicine 2000
"for their discoveries concerning signal transduction in the nervous system"
Eric Kandel


December 10, 2008
Chemistry 1980
"for their contributions concerning the determination of base sequences in nucleic acids"
Walter Gilbert


December 17, 2008
Chemistry 1980
"for their contributions concerning the determination of base sequences in nucleic acids"
Fred Sanger


December 17, 2008
Chemistry 1990
"for his development of the theory and methodology of organic synthesis"
Elias Corey


January 14, 2009
Physiology and Medicince 1936
"for their discoveries relating to chemical transmission of nerve impulses"
Sir Henry Hallett Dale and Otto Loewi


January 21, 2009
Physiology or Medicince 1936
"for their discoveries concerning the humoral transmittors in the nerve terminals and the mechanism for their storage, release and inactivation"
Ulf von Euler and Julius Axelrod


January 29, 2009
Chemistry 2008
"for the discovery and development of the green fluorescent protein, GFP"
Osamu Shimomura


February 5, 2009
Chemistry 2002
"for their development of soft desorption ionisation methods for mass spectrometric analyses of biological macromolecules"
John B. Fenn and Koichi Tanaka


February 11, 2009
Physiology or Medicine 1974
"for their discoveries concerning the structural and functional organization of the cell"
Christian de Duve


February 20, 2009
Chemistry 1993
"for contributions to the developments of methods within DNA-based chemistry: for his fundamental contributions to the establishment of oligonucleotide-based, site-directed mutagenesis and its development for protein studies"
Michael Smith


February 26, 2009
Chemistry 1993
"for contributions to the developments of methods within DNA-based chemistry: for his fundamental contributions to the establishment of oligonucleotide-based, site-directed mutagenesis and its development for protein studies"
Kary Mullis


March 4, 2009
Physiology or Medicine 1923
"for the discovery of insulin"
Frederick Banting and J.J.R. Macleod


March 11, 2009
Chemistry 1958
"for his work on the structure of proteins, especially that of insulin"
Fred Sanger


March 19, 2009
Chemistry 1960
"for his method to use carbon-14 for age determination in archaeology, geology, geophysics, and other branches of science"
Willard Libby

March 25, 2009
Physiology or Medicine 1952
"for his discovery of streptomycin, the first antibiotic effective against tuberculosis"
Selman Waksman

April 1, 2009
Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1905
"in recognition of his services in the advancement of organic chemistry and the chemical industry, through his work on organic dyes and hydroaromatic compounds"
Adolf von Baeyer

April 8, 2009
Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2007
"for their discoveries of principles for introducing specific gene modifications in mice by the use of embryonic stem cells"
Mario Capecchi, Martin Evans, and Oliver Smithies


April 16, 2009
Physiology or Medicine 1951
"for his discoveries concerning yellow fever and how to combat it"
Max Theiler


April 23, 2009
Physiology or Medicine 2001
"for their discoveries of key regulators of the cell cycle"
Sir Paul Nurse

May 1, 2009
Physiology or Medicine 1908
"in recognition of their work on immunity"
Paul Ehrlich