Sunday, February 22, 2009

"Revenge of the Birds"- Wired Magazine Interview with Dr. Jack Horner

Today I read an interesting interview with Dr. John R. Horner of Montana in Wired magazine (for those who don't know, Wired is a magazine that covers Technology in this day and age, even Genetic.) Dr. Horner has the idea that you can "reverse engineer" avian embryos into Dinosaurs. Basically, what evolution did, was turn off certain Dinosaurian phenotypes (visible characteristics) in birds. It's like a Genetic "light switch" if you will. Avian embryos already show dinosaurian (mainly theropod) traits like teeth, three digit limbs an extra set of vertebrae to give it a tail. Already, it's a dinosaur "evolving" with each bird's offspring. What Horner proposes is to keep those genes active so it hatches a Dinosaur. The three digit fore arms would fold inward to form the wing. So, it's limbs and DNA that make a bird, not feathers. Of course, like all scientific ideas, there's always repercussions and problems with it. So, Jurassic Park may not be as far off as once thought. The question remains on how to do it. That's where Wired came in. They interviewed him about this shocking proposal. Here's a sample of the interview:

Wired: Dinochicken-walk me through the concept.

Dr. John Horner: Birds are descendants of Dinosaurs. They carry their DNA. So in it's early stages, a chicken embryo will develop dinosaur traits like a long tail, teeth, and three-fingered hands. If you can find the genes that cancel the tail and fuse the fingers to build a wing-and turn those genes off-you can grow anmals with dinosaur characteristics.

Wired: It's a romantic idea, that dinosaurs can live on in bird form.

Dr. Horner: Dinosaurs are not extinct; they're still with us in a sense. Birds look different, but it's all cosmetic. By tweaking some genes, we can bring out the underlying similarities. Yes, it's a wild plan, but I like to think about things backwards.

Wired: You were a consultant on Jurassic Park...Should we be worried here?

Dr. Horner: Look, it's not like dinochicken will overrun the world. If he mates with a chicken, you'll still get a chicken. Eventually we might make more animals that look like dinosaurs, but we won't have Velociraptors on the loose.

Wired: Thorny ethical issues?

Dr. Horner: If you think we're playing God, maybe. But we're already modifying plants and mice. I don't see a lot of people jumping up and down complaining about better tomatoes.

It's an interesting proposition, and Horner makes some pretty witty remarks. So, Jurassic Park could be a reality. (You can read the rest of the article here at Wired's website.) That is still not a reality yet, but the way Genetics has gone and is going, having revived Dinosaurs might be in the near future. Then come the moral and ethical questions or, simply, "Should we or shouldn't we?"
The most recurring theme in Michael Crichton's novels have been that Science ventures always go wrong because of careless mistakes by scientists. That may seem like it's a mistake and no big deal, but, it can be extremely dangerous, especially with manipulating the Biosphere. In fact, if an error occurs, we try to fix the problem then never admit the error was with us and blame it on the subject. The point is NEVER manipulate the Natural World unless you know what you're doing, even then, be careful. And, if something goes wrong, admit your error and take responsibility for it and try to fix it if possible (Not all our mistakes can be us.). If you can't leave it alone, learn from it and move on. Experiments need to be considered at every angle. Think of the consequences. Science is a game of chance and learning, but a dangerous one.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Enough With The Insults- My NEW Policy!!

Dear Readers,
Sorry, for not posting! I've been EXTREMELY busy with homework!! My teachers are trying to kill me. (Not literally, my Autistic readers.) I've had two Late-Nighters and can't even relax in the afternoon and my Homework still take me until 10:30pm! What's the big deal, you ask? I have to get up at 6 AM for school! 6 AM!! What's worse is that the time I do get on here, I have nothing to post about as my brain power is drained! So, in a nutshell, that's why I haven't posted. Again, Sorry for the absence!!

What doesn't help is that I read posts about Darwinians insulting Creationists! I mean, WHAT THE HECK!!! What's wrong with us? Why are WE lowering ourselves to THEIR (Creationists) level? That's just STUPID! *sigh* I'm MAD at BOTH of you! I'll tell you another thing! Every insult you make about them, I'll have NONE of it on my blog! This blog is for EVERYBODY to enjoy! I know I've done it but, I've decided to end the stereotypes and insults after seeing Schindler's List (1993) by Steven Spielberg! That movie changed my life!

Another thing, we may disagree and you're welcome to debate on my blog, but make it FRIENDLY!!! No, insults! No slander! No, Libel! No, Language! I MEAN it! If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say ANYTHING!! In fact, I have several Creationists in my family, including My MOM! Which is one of the reasons I'm saying this! So, please, by all means celebrate Darwin, celebrate you're Higher Power, but PLEASE watch what you say!

Of course this hasn't happened yet on this blog, and I don't want it to start. I'm just trying to give you guys a friendly warning. Just don't insult other's opinions. There are a number of creationists who read PaleoQuest. To be fair, bloggers, who are very strong Darwinians, tend to insult Creationists and then complain about their stubbornness and persistance. That's what gets me! That means there is hypocrisy among Evolutionists. That goes for Marek Eby of I like his blog, but he and a number of bloggers have seemed a little hypocritical. They insult creationists just as much they do to us. I'm starting this policy so we don't lower ourselves to their level. I've seen and heard of debates on blogs where emotions run so wild and fights break out. I just thought I'd take the initiative and try to prevent these things from ever happening. I learned from past experience that diction is just as important, if not more so on the internet. Trust me, I nearly lost my good friends, Traumador, Craig Dylke, Peter Bond, Glendon Mellow, etc. I got it straightened out, a few like Craig and Peter are still upset with me and I want them to know how sorry Iam. All I've asked for was forgiveness. Finally, PLEASE, read this carefully, and keep in mind what I said so we ALL can have a good time on the internet and this blog.

All the Best,
Raptor Lewis

Sunday, February 15, 2009

I Have Asperger's and I'm Proud!

All the time I've been a member of Blogger and have kept this blog going, readers, I've ran into situations in which I have admitted that I have Autism....or Asperger's Syndrome. Well, you'd think that it's all fine and "dandy" that I said it, but, ironically, it caused me even more stress as a number of you guys wanted me to post about my experiences with this "condition" as Traumador (First by me) so "elegantly" put it and, believe me, it hasn't been the slightest bit easy. Why? I guess it's been a kind of "snoop" or curiousity of my personal life, which as you probably tell, I don't reveal that much, hence why I don't tell you my real name and stick with "Raptor." (Lewis IS my real last name, in case you're wondering.) Oops...I did it again, didn't I? Oh well....

Okay, here are some more of my reasons why I haven't posted about it until now:
  • I didn't know where to start.
  • I also didn't know what to say or talk about.
  • It's kind of personal to me and something I don't reveal on my own.
  • I'm busy, as you can identify with VERY well, some of you.
  • This was originally supposed to be a Paleo Blog where I teach YOU about paleontology.
  • This was the result of urging from a number of friends on the blogosphere: Traumador, Glendon Mellow, Craig Dylke, Peter Bond, etc.

They each had their own reasons for my personal posts. I guess, because they're my friends, they wanted to get to know me a little bit. Which is fine, but, I wasn't expecting all this encouragement for these posts. I thought people wanted the Fossil Facts. we go......I guess...:

For me, Asperger's Syndrome has always been, what I refer to as "mild." What I mean by that is that, for the most part, I was "normal" and you couldn't tell I had A.S. Asperger's Syndrome has symptoms that vary with each person, yet is fairly consistent. For a strange reason I had two "conditions" (again, as Traumador phrases it) acompanying Asperger's: they were, in fact, OCD (which I talked about, somewhat in my "Origin of 'Raptor' Lewis" post) and Tourette's Syndrome, a disorder that cause invountary (somewhat, involuntary, as I can control them) muscle twitches, called "tics" when I'm either excited or anxious. I also have some anxiety problems. For the most part I'm like you all, except with the "tics" that I was first misdiagnosed as having Tourette's Syndrome instead of A.S. (Asperger's Syndrome). Then, I found out I have them both.

Asperger's Syndrome really affects my co-ordination and my social skills. Y'see, unlike most people, I wasn't born with those set of "instructons." My brain just works differently than everybody else so my perspesctive may eccentric or unique among everyone else. I'm NOT stupid as my posts have shown. So, please, bear with me if I word something wierd. My brain is "wired" differently than your's . I also have trouble making friends but, I have worked hard at learning to interact with y'all. There you have it, the main points of my life living with it.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Artwork of the Day #5!!!!!

Guanlong wucaii, Jurassic crested ancestor to the infamous Tyrannosaurus rex.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Tribute to History

Out of all the commotion and hussle going on in the world today, we sometimes forget those that contributed to this day and age even on their specific holidays. Now, readers, (hopefully those who will forgive my lack of posts), I'd like to pay a special tribute for several important leaders in history:

Abraham Lincoln (Feb. 12, 1809-Good Friday: April 14, 1865)
Biography as courteously and conveniently posted on the White House website:

The 16th president of the United States was born in Hardin County, Kentucky on February 12, 1809 to parents (whose names goes unmentioned by Lincoln himself) from both Virginia and Indiana. His mother died when he was 10 years old and his father re-married.
As a boy growing up in Kentucky, he struggled to make a living and educate himself. His dad remarried and life was a struggle to obtain knowledge on his own and live.

When he was a young man, he made a living working on a farm and keeping a store in New Salem, Illinois. He became captain during the Black Hawk War and served in the Illinois legislature (sound familiar?).
He later married Mary Todd and they had four boys, sadly only one of whom reached maturity and adulthood. In 1858, Lincoln ran against Stephen A. Douglas (1813-1861) for senator. None of this could have really prepared him for the ,perhaps, Darkest Period of U.S. history: the Southern succession and the Civil War.
After his election to the presidency in 1860, the South had succeeded and declared attack on Fort Sumter the following year. The Civil War had begun!!
He managed to build up the Republican party and rally most of the Northern Democrats for the Union cause.
On January 1, 1863, he issued the Emancipation Proclamation which freed ALL slaves in the South and turned the tide in the war. After the Battle of Gettysburg, Lincoln issued the famous "Gettysburg Address", declaring the battlefield into a national cemetery.
Sadly, after his GREAT achievements, his fate was to be assinated on Good Friday, April 14th, 1865 by John Wilkes Boothe at Ford's theatre in Washington, D.C. Lincoln's assination stunned the nation as it was the first assination of a U.S. president. Boothe was later arrested and killed by Union military. There have been several tributes in Lincoln's honor such as: the Lincoln Memorial with the Gettysburg Address inscribed around the head of the giant statue of Lincoln across the reflecting pool from the obelisk: the Washington Monument. His room at the White House is open to the public and guests sleep on the same bed Lincoln did. And, for Naveed, yes, there have been rumors that the bedroom is haunted by his ghost. There have been "sightings" by guests of his ghost.

Charles Robert Darwin (Yes, THE Darwin) (1809-1882)

The famous English Naturalist who proposed the theory of evolution through Natural Selection (And, whether you believe it or not, that's YOUR business, so just keep it to yourself, please!)

Charles Darwin, doesn't need much of a biography as nearly EVERYONE knows who he is. So, let me just clear up some facts about Evolution in general what "Natural Selection" really means.

First of all, forget what you THOUGHT you knew about evolution. Another thing, evolution is NOT a linear process as it is commonly portrayed to be. For those of you who have seen "Darwin Took Steps" by Glendon Mellow: the Flying Trilobite, you've probably noticed the dead-looking tree in the background. That tree represents what evolution truly is and the reality of species struggle for survival. As you can probably guess, it's NOT linear, right? I will cover much more of that in another post. That misconception of linear evolution, is the one that gotten us, Darwinians, attacked. Clearly, Creationists are attacking something they know nothing about. They are criticizing the process of evolution, yet they know nothing about it. Even, some aethiests and Darwinians know hardly anything about it.

Jean-Bapiste-Lamarck (1744-1829)
French Botanist and Invertebrate Zoologist, that proposed the once-discredited theory that behavior by parents influences traits inheretid by the offspring.
However, recent genetic research shows that Lamarck was on to something with this early theory of evolution. (In case you guys don't remember, I gave you the link to the article from Newsweek in one of my earlier February posts.)
Why mention him? Without him, there probably wouldn't be Natural Selection as there would possibly be nothing to build off of. And, the fact is, I felt I couldn't mention Darwin and Natural Selection without this preceeding Biologist and his theory.
Here's my tribute from me to you, Darwin and Lincoln!! Happy 200th Birthday!!=)

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Darwin and Lincoln- Same Birthday, Different Achievements

It turns out, readers, that former president Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) shares the same birthday (February 12) as famed British Naturalist Charles Darwin (1809-1882). Now, we've all celebrated Lincoln for his accomplishments during he American Civil War. He freed the slaves in the Confederacy with the Emancipation Proclamation (did I spell that right?), kept the nation united and beat the South. Charles Darwin, on the other hand, didn't do THAT much, but, he did do one MAJOR thing. His book, On the Origin of Species, is one of the most controversial, yet widely accepted published piece of scientific work in history. And, yet, it was able to change the way we humans (Homo sapiens sapiens) view ourselves and the natural world around us. How's that for an accomplishment? However, Darwin has also recieved the most attacks by the public (namely "Christians" who are labeled by "Darwinians" as "Creationists").

Today, Brian Switek, over at Laelaps, did a very similar post on Lincoln and Darwin. I mainly skimmed through and it seems he was comparing the two. Makes sense, right? Why not, as they share the same birthday, you're asking me. Well, I won't do that. Why? The reason is, well, there's no point in comparing these men. They had VERY different professions and were VERY different men. They should both be remembered honorably and not compared. Charles Darwin was a naturalist and is controversial. Abraham Lincoln was a politician and the 16th President (1861-1865) of the United States. You can compare President Obama to Lincoln. You can compare Jean-Baptiste Lamarck to Darwin. But, by NO means, should these two great men be compared.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

"The Sins of the Fathers, Take 2" (Darwin Post #1)

By: Sharon Degley

"Alas, poor Darwin, by all rights, 2009 should be his year, as books , museums, and scholarly conclaves celebrate his 200th birthday (Feb. 12) and the 150th anniversary of the On the Origin of Species ( Nov. 24), the book that changed forever how man views himself and the creation. Teamed with genetics, Darwin's explanation of how species change through time has become the rock on which Biology stands. Which makes water flea quite the skunk at this party.

Some water fleas sport a tiny helmet that deters predators; others with identical DNA sequences have bare heads...." (Read the rest of the article here.)

Sorry readers I've been meaning to post this, but I guess I never got around to it. This is quite interesting, though it's not much of a tribute to Charles Darwin. Clearly, with new research in Genetics, we have a bit of an conflict. So, it makes you wonder who is right?

(Author's Note: Sorry if you were expecting a tribute post, it's not much of one. So, hardcore, "Darwinians" don't kill me for this. This article belongs to Newsweek, not me.)

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Artwork of the Day #4!!!!!

"Masters of the Earth" by Joe Tucciarone
In this painting, it shows the ghostly image of a Tyrannosaurus rex looming over planet Earth. However, this painting has allegorical and/or symbolism in it. Tell me what you think it means.