Last Chance

first_imgGLENEAGLES, Scotland – This is the recurring nightmare for American golf. A scoreboard bluer than Tom Watson’s eyes. That infuriating song – “Ole, ole, ole, ole” – already echoing to the far corners of the Scottish Highlands. It’s only Saturday night, but Europe’s poised to turn Sunday singles into another victory parade through the American ranks. The champagne’s on ice. Scottish bagpipers are prepping their blow sticks, ironing their kilts. With a near clean sweep of Saturday’s afternoon foursomes, Europe built a commanding 10-6 lead. “We got shellacked this afternoon,” U.S. captain Tom Watson said. Scotland’s Colin Montgomerie, a Ryder Cup star and winning captain, doesn’t see much hope for the Americans. “I can’t see Europe losing,” Montgomerie said. No, it’s not officially over. We’ve seen epic comebacks in this event before. We saw the Americans overcome that same deficit at Brookline in ’99. We saw the Europeans do it just two years ago at Medinah, but that powerful phenomenon so integral to these Ryder Cups is rolling all downhill on the Americans. Momentum favors the Euros as they seek to win this event for the sixth time in seven tries and the eighth time in the last 10. The merciless way Europe finished Saturday makes you believe a record rout is more likely than an epic comeback. Ryder Cup: Articles, videos and photos With the Americans looking as if they might salvage one stinking point in the afternoon foursomes, the Euros wouldn’t take a foot off their necks. Teaming with Martin Kaymer, Europe’s Justin Rose holed a 5-foot birdie at the last to win a half point in the last match on the course against Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed, who looked to be in control until Reed missed an 18-inch putt at the 16th hole. “We were just talking about that in the locker room just now, talking about how important Justin’s putt on 18 was,” Europe’s Graeme McDowell said. “Because any glimmer of momentum that [the Americans] had, say they win that match, they take something with them into the locker room.” McDowell remembered how important that was to the Euros two years ago, when they came roaring back on Sunday at Medinah. Ian Poulter’s hard charge on Saturday evening, his five-birdie finish to win a match that kept the Americans from taking an 11-5 lead into Sunday, resonated through Europe’s team room. “That’s why that putt for Justin was so huge, because it gave them nothing to take away this evening,” McDowell said. European captain Paul McGinley has been striking the right notes all week, from bringing Manchester United soccer legend Sir Alex Ferguson into the team ranks, to his almost shaman-like devotion to some secret architectural template unique to Europe’s Ryder Cup effort, to the inspirational images and messages he has posted in the team room. One image was particularly relevant Saturday night. “It’s a picture of a European rock in the middle of a raging storm,” McGinley said. That’s what McGinley’s expecting from the Americans Sunday. He’s expecting them to storm Gleneagles, but he’s expecting something else, too. “We will be that rock when the storm arrives.” That’s the inspirational message McGinley said is printed out below the image. All of this brings Capt. Watson to a moment of truth. Can he fix what’s so dreadfully wrong with the American Ryder Cup effort? This is his time. This is his moment. And this is a crossroads for the PGA of America. It’s why the organization broke tradition so boldly, bringing Watson back at age 65 to see if he could work one more magical victory in Scotland, where he won four of his five British Opens. “You might think it’s a given that the Europeans are going to win, but I sure as hell don’t,” Watson said. The woeful plight of the American Ryder Cup effort, and the depth of its desperation, is evident in the singles lineup Watson is sending out. He is putting rookies Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed out first and second in a front-loaded lineup. Spieth (21) and Reed (24) combined to win 2 1/2 points in fourballs and foursomes on Friday and Saturday. They were the best American team this week. They were also the youngest American pairing in the history of the Ryder Cup. “As I told the rookies, you could be the future soul of the Ryder Cup,” Watson said. “I like their attitudes. They are fiery. I like the look in their eyes.” Is this where the American Ryder Cup effort is at? Rebuilding for the future? Hoping there’s something better for these rookies to lead someday? Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley were the best new American team in years at Medinah. Watson sat them both sessions Saturday. Watson is frontloading his lineup with youth. He’s sending Rickie Fowler (25) out third behind Spieth and Reed. “Every player here is going to have to fight their guts out,” Watson said looking over his singles lineup. If Watson’s all out of golfing miracles, if the Euros finish this shellacking, where does the American Ryder Cup effort go next? Back to Paul Azinger? Do they bring back the last captain to lead the Americans to victory? His pod system in ’08 at Valhalla, his intricate architectural construct, seems closer to whatever template McGinley secretly guards than anything the Americans offer. McGinley spoke all week about how certain principles and practices have been handed down by past European captains. The Americans don’t have anything like that in place. They go in a new direction every two years. The writing’s on the wall for Capt. Watson. There are two fates awaiting him in the history books, it seems. He’ll be remembered as one of the greatest American captains ever, the savior and demigod who rescued the U.S. effort. Or he’ll be the icon whose legend got gashed, the old man who was too far removed from today’s game, too out of touch with today’s players, to make a difference. That’s the way it is for Ryder Cup captains these days, all or nothing. If reaching for Watson was a desperate act, where does the desperation reach next? What about following the lead of corporate America? What about outsourcing? What about doing what American sports empires do best? Go after the other team’s best coaches and players. Sign ‘em up as free agents. Change the American Ryder Cup rules. Forget about requiring players and captains to be American born. Sign up Ian Poulter, Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson and Graeme McDowell. They live in Orlando most of the year, anyway. Sign up Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood. They’ve got homes in South Florida. Sign up Bernhard Langer as captain. He lives in Boca Raton. OK, that’s a joke, but if Watson doesn’t bring home the Ryder Cup, the PGA better have some radical new template in mind, because it makes no sense that the United States should have so many highly ranked players who can’t win a Ryder Cup.last_img read more

Learning how to deal with pressure is reward for No. 1

first_imgORLANDO, Fla. – It could be the most unfulfilling title in all of professional golf. Sure, ascending to the top spot in the Official World Golf Ranking can bring varying degrees of personal satisfaction, but there are no trophies, no checks, no exemptions – just a title and a target. From a competitive standpoint, for the confusing math to fall your way, there has been copious amounts of success that put you there; but few, if any, stand on random putting greens around the globe rolling in 5 footers to “become world No. 1.” With few exceptions – most notably Jason Day who admitted to dreaming about the top ranking – scaling to the top of the confusing world order ranks somewhere between earning a PGA Tour card and finding the winner’s circle in importance and prestige. Phil Mickelson never climbed to the top of the OWGR summit, and it’s safe to say Lefty wouldn’t trade one of his major tilts for the honor. Nor did one ever get the impression that his status as the perennial No. 1 (683 weeks total) was particularly inspiring for Tiger Woods. Although rewarding in as much as it’s a sign of how hard a player has worked to get there, the title also brings an exponentially higher level of scrutiny, which current No. 1 Jordan Spieth is learning one snarky social media post at a time. Last week after an opening 76 at the Valspar Championship, Spieth fired back at an Instagram troll and also took exception to an out-of-context quote that was tweeted from the PGA Tour’s own account. “You’ll probably never see me do that again,” Spieth said a day later. “I should never respond to any of that, just let it go and by the time the next tournament rolls around no one even remembers it anyways.” Arnold Palmer Invitational: Articles, photos and videos But for those who have lived in the same cauldron, it’s certainly understandable that a player would get worn down by all of the attention that comes with being the world No. 1. For Luke Donald, who ascended to No. 1 in the world in 2012, his stay at the top lasted 56 eventful weeks. “There is a lot more demand on your time. A lot more attention on you, you’re in the spotlight,” Donald said. “I enjoyed it. I enjoyed the challenge. I feel like I’ve always had to work for my success, so to get to world No. 1 was very gratifying.” Donald said the challenges of being world No. 1 are exclusively off-course situations and time management. As the Englishman explained, saying no becomes an art form and keeping the social media noise to a minimum is a daily challenge. He recalled, for example, getting into contention at the 2006 PGA Championship at Medinah and turning his phone off so he wouldn’t be tempted to peak at the ongoing conversation. “We live in a world where we kind of want to know everything. It can be good and it can be bad,” said Donald, one of the more active Tour players on social media. “You have to be wary of the negative attention. It’s tough, you have that urge to hear what other people are saying but at the same time you’re not sure you want to hear everything.” On this front Day was uniquely suited for his short time atop the World Golf Ranking. The Australian largely avoids social media because, well, “I’m terrible at it. I think I’ve done 23 posts or something on Instagram and I’ve had it for a long time and Twitter . . . my wife tweets for me,” he conceded. Day, for better or worse, also didn’t have to endure the spotlight for too long, overtaking Spieth atop the rankings with his victory at last year’s BMW Championship but slipping back when the American won the Tour Championship the next week. “I couldn’t really go oh, yeah, man, this is really a high-pressure situation,” Day said. Day could, however, embrace the central theme of being world No. 1 which essentially is the ability, and desire, to deal with pressure, whether that’s on or off the golf course. “I played a few holes with Adam Hadwin yesterday,” Day said. “We were talking about how there’s guys out here that are just comfortable from 50 to 100 on the FedEx [Cup] and enjoy that spot. I was just telling him you got to be OK with feeling uncomfortable because if you’re uncomfortable it usually means you’re doing something right. “I just told him that I was looking forward to being uncomfortable for the rest of my life because I’m uncomfortable out here and I’m in that spotlight.” Only pressure comes with being world No. 1, no FedEx Cup points or paydays, which makes it difficult to quantify what the title means. But for the likes of Spieth and Day and Donald, how you deal with that scrutiny is it’s own unique reward.last_img read more

Randall’s Rant: Wie still LPGA’s biggest star

first_imgIf Michelle Wie had Inbee Park’s putting touch and a less brittle body, the women’s game would surge to a new level of popularity. For all her critics, and she has a load of them, Wie still has a huge, loyal following. No player in the women’s game elicits stronger feelings when in contention, or evokes more curiosity when her name hits a leaderboard. We were reminded of that in Singapore. Yes, Wie may get as many viewers tuning in to see her fail as see her succeed, but more are going to watch. Like it or not, Wie is still the LPGA’s most compelling figure. Yeah, I can hear all you cursing me out now, but Wie’s rise to the top of the leaderboard through 54 holes at the HSBC Women’s Champions held more potential to help the LPGA reach outside its fan base than any other possible outcome. (Cheyenne Woods has that, too, but she wasn’t playing and isn’t nearly as decorated a player.) Park put on a tour-de-force performance winning in Singapore. From her stellar ball striking to her phenomenal putting, Park looked like a Hall of Famer poised to make more history. Park is a treasure, underappreciated for her skill and for her thoughtful opinions within the game. Lydia Ko is saintly, with as strong a mind as a heart. Ariya Jutanugarn is a machine, a spectacle with her gifts of power and touch. Nobody, though, would have generated more headlines outside the golf niche with a victory Sunday than Wie. How many were staying up late just to see if Wie could resurrect all the hype that followed her emergence as a teen phenom and was later rekindled when she won the U.S. Women’s Open? How many fans turned off their TV sets when Wie four-putted the fifth hole in the final round in Singapore? The rise of young stars like Ko, Jutanugarn, Lexi Thompson, In Gee Chun, Brooke Henderson and Ha Na Jang have helped LPGA commissioner Mike Whan take the LPGA to another level internationally. Whan has the tour right there on another potential golden age, but the sport’s still lacking the one quality that will take it to a new stratosphere. It’s lacking a bona-fide superstar who breaks out of the golf niche. It’s lacking a Serena Williams, a dominant figure sports fans can’t take their eyes off inside or outside the ropes. Commissioners can’t design or orchestrate an asset like that. It falls in their laps. Wie may have turned a corner in Singapore, finding a reliable swing and a better putting stroke, but at 27 we still aren’t sure what she’s got left. We aren’t sure she can overcome the glitches that pop up in her putting stroke, the tinkering that robs consistency. After missing the cut or withdrawing from 14 of her last 27 events heading to the HSBC Women’s Champions, Wie looks like she’s at least found her way out of the wilderness. She has some confidence coming back to her, and that isn’t just good for her; it’s good for the game. Given Wie’s injury history, her slumps and inconsistency, it is difficult to imagine her ever getting to No. 1, especially with all the young talent piling up in front of her. It is difficult imagining her sustaining a level of excellence over the time required to get to No. 1. It’s not difficult, however, to imagine her winning another major. It’s not difficult to imagine her reaching the peaks in short bursts that are required to do that. If she could putt well enough to win a U.S. Women’s Open at Pinehurst three years ago, there’s no reason she can’t do it again in other majors. Win or lose, it’s good for the LPGA when Wie’s got a fighting chance.last_img read more

Piercy (62) charges late for lead at 3M Open

first_imgBLAINE, Minn. – Scott Piercy went on a late birdie binge en route to a 9-under 62 and the first-round lead at the inaugural 3M Open on Thursday. Adam Hadwin and Hideki Matsuyama are each two shots back after a 7-under 64 at the TPC Twin Cities. Seeking his fifth career tour win and first since the 2018 Zurich Classic, Piercy birdied one of his first seven holes and eight of his final 11, including a nearly 30-foot putt on No. 16 to get to 8 under. Brian Harman, Sungjae Im, Patton Kizzire and Sam Saunders are among a group three back after shooting 6-under 65. Bryson DeChambeau is among nine players who shot 5-under 66 and are four shots back. Brooks Koepka, the world’s top-ranked player, is among more than a dozen players that shot a 4-under 67. Nate Lashley, who won last week’s Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit, finished 2 under. The 3M Open is the first regular tour event in Minnesota since 1969; however, the U.S. Open and PGA Championship have each twice been contested at Hazeltine National Golf Club. The 2016 Ryder Cup was also played there and is to return in 2028. The tournament replaces a PGA Tour Champions event held in the Land of 10,000 Lakes for 26 years. A 36-minute weather delay occurred shortly after Piercy teed off, and showers fell briefly a couple of times during the rest of his round. The winds also picked up at times in the afternoon. Full-field scores from the 3M Open Playing in the calm morning, Matsuyama and Hadwin found better success on the soft greens. Matsuyama entered the day ranked 93rd on tour, averaging 28.95 putts per round. He had 26 Thursday, including making 13 of 14 from inside 10 feet and four of five from 10 to 15 feet. He did not three-putt a hole. Starting on No. 10, Matsuyama, a five-time tour champion who last won at the 2017 Bridgestone Invitational, had four straight birdies around the turn to get to 6 under before back-to-back birdies on Nos. 5 and 6, the first an 18-foot putt. His lone bogey was his final hole. Playing two groups behind Matsuyama, Hadwin, 40th in putts per round, was 3 under through nine holes, and birdied four straight holes among his final nine. He made all 15 putts from inside 10 feet and made two of three from between 20 and 25 feet. ”Hideki and I are kind of taking out the Fourth of July celebration for Americans so far,” joked Hadwin, a Canadian whose wife is from the United States. ”I’ve got a green card, so it’s home for me.” Phil Mickelson had seven penalty strokes, including two on the par-5 18th, and finished 3 over. Minnesota native Tim Herron aced the 208-yard eighth hole.last_img read more

Woods’ decision to pick Fowler all part of the plan

first_imgST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Wednesday’s quiet at the RSM Classic was shattered by two announcements, the latter necessitated by the former. In order, Brooks Koepka withdrew from next month’s Presidents Cup and was immediately replaced by Rickie Fowler. A day earlier, Zach Johnson, one of Tiger Woods’ three vice captains for this year’s matches, referenced Tiger’s attention to detail and his no-nonsense leadership approach: “There are things that pop up, if this, then that, if this, then that. You just keep it simple,” Johnson explained. Fowler’s selection was neither a surprise nor a reaction. Woods has known since Koepka re-injured his left knee last month in South Korea that he might need to make a late addition to his team room. “He knew what he was going to do I think even before going to Japan [to play the Zozo Championship],” Davis Love III said. “He knew who he was going to pick, who his backup plan was. Now with Brooks, he’s just been sitting on it, waiting for Brooks to say yes or no.” News & Opinion By subbing in Fowler, Captain Woods plays it safe BY Will Gray  — November 20, 2019 at 1:38 PM As U.S. Presidents Cup captain, Tiger Woods could’ve replaced Brooks Koepka with an outside-the-box pick, but he opted to go with safe-bet Rickie Fowler. Johnson confirmed as much on Wednesday when he explained the captain’s message the last few weeks. “This is the beauty of Tiger Woods, once we found that news (Koepka’s injury) out, he turned the page. He’s like, ‘OK, we were going here and now we’re going there. Rickie’s coming in and this is our team,’ ” Johnson said. That is quintessential Tiger and a competitor who has proven himself as adept as anyone at compartmentalization. Woods could have waited. Under the captain’s agreement, he could have contemplated Koepka’s replacement until the week of the matches, but he’d seen enough. Or maybe he didn’t need to see anything as evidenced by the fact that Fowler hasn’t played a PGA Tour event since August. Fowler withdrew from last week’s Mayakoba Golf Classic with an intestinal bacterial infection he contracted during his honeymoon in October, and, according to various reports, he isn’t back to full strength just yet. Having just lost one star to injury and with another, Dustin Johnson, also recovering from an ailment, it might have been prudent to assure Fowler’s availability before adding him to the lineup. It’s a sensible suggestion but it ignores what we know of Tiger Woods, the captain. As Johnson and Love explained on Wednesday, contingency plans are what Woods does best, and it’s certain that the captain has a “Plan B” in the event that Fowler, or Dustin Johnson, follow Koepka to the DL. “Building up to the ’16 Ryder Cup, every scenario that could happen in pairings he had already thought it out. So now that he’s in charge, I can’t imagine the notes he has and the information,” said Love, who was the captain of that U.S. Ryder Cup team. “It’s no surprise that Tiger’s on the ball.” Reaction to Koepka’s Presidents Cup WD, Fowler selection Woods could have waited to see if Brendon Todd made it three consecutive Tour victories this week at the RSM Classic. He could have paused just long enough to see if Kevin Kisner, a former champion a Sea Island Resort and a popular choice for a pick, gave him a reason to rethink his choices. He could have opted for a wait-and-see approach, but waiting for things to go his way really isn’t Woods’ style, not as a player, not as a captain. According to Johnson, Woods’ decision to tab Fowler to replace Koepka came down to three key components: Fowler’s experience in team events, the camaraderie Fowler brings to the team room and Woods’ ability to easily work Fowler into his pairings. “Nothing was done in a vacuum,” Johnson said. “It was one of those where communication started, if Brooks can’t go, then what’s our next option? Here are the options. Based on what all of us felt, collectively, we felt Rickie was the best option at this time. Ultimately, he made the decision, but it was based on the other guys weigh ins.” In his stint as captain, Woods has proven to be a fiercely independent thinker. Earlier this month, he selected Patrick Reed as one of his four captain’s picks despite his dust-up with then-captain Jim Furyk and Jordan Spieth at last year’s Ryder Cup. In a slightly less obvious move, Woods bypassed Phil Mickelson for a pick, ending a run of U.S. team starts that began in 1994. Lefty’s poor play this summer had made it impossible to seriously consider him for a pick, but it’s still worth noting that his historic run on U.S. teams ended under Woods’ watch. Fowler, who has a 4-3-1 record in two starts in the matches and finished 11th on the final U.S. points list, might not be the right guy for every team, but in Woods’ opinion he was the right guy for this team right now. For Woods, this adheres perfectly to his simple philosophy – luck favors the prepared and the bold.last_img read more

Cambrian-Aged Ediacaran Organism Reconfirms Explosiveness of the Cambrian Explosion

first_img Evolution NewsEvolution News & Science Today (EN) provides original reporting and analysis about evolution, neuroscience, bioethics, intelligent design and other science-related issues, including breaking news about scientific research. It also covers the impact of science on culture and conflicts over free speech and academic freedom in science. Finally, it fact-checks and critiques media coverage of scientific issues. Share Recommended Email Print Google+ Linkedin Twitter Share “A Summary of the Evidence for Intelligent Design”: The Study Guide According to a new paper in the journal Palaeontology, for the first time it has been discovered that an organism from the Precambrian Ediacaran fauna may have survived into the Cambrian period. Some have proposed that the strange Ediacaran organisms were evolutionary precursors to the animals that appear in the Cambrian explosion, but this hypothesis has been highly disputed.Evolutionary Precursors?In Darwin’s Doubt, Stephen Meyer explained:Most paleontologists doubt that well- known Ediacaran forms represent ancestors of the Cambrian animals and few think the late Precambrian fossil record as a whole makes the Cambrian explosion appreciably less explosive.…[As] paleontologist Andrew Knoll and biologist Sean B. Carroll have argued: “It is genuinely difficult to map the characters of Ediacaran fossils onto the body plans of living invertebrates.” Although many paleontologists initially showed interest in the possibility that the Cambrian animal forms might have evolved from the Ediacaran organisms, paleontologist Peter Ward explains that “later study cast doubt on the affinity between these ancient remains preserved in sandstones [the Australian Ediacaran] and living creatures of today” (that is, animals representing phyla that first arose in the Cambrian). As Nature recently noted, if the Ediacaran fauna “were animals, they bore little or no resemblance to any other creatures, either fossil or extant.” (Darwin’s Doubt, pp. 79, 84-85)Similarly, the technical paper about this Cambrian-aged Ediacaran fossil notes that “‘bizarre’ Ediacaran morphologies and mouldic preservation have frustrated comparison to later taxa” and observes that “evolutionary relationships of the Ediacaran macro‐biota have remained unresolved.”Unlike Living AnimalsThe Cambrian-aged fossil that was discovered, Stromatoveris, is similar to other Ediacaran organisms in that it is fronded, containing “petaloids.” This morphology is unlike living animals, and the authors don’t think that the Ediacaran fauna are highly similar to modern animal phyla that appear in the Cambrian explosion. As Science reports:They found that Stromatoveris and the other Ediacaran organisms don’t belong to any living animal group or “phylum.” Instead, they cluster on their own branch in the animal evolutionary tree, between the sponges and complex animals with a digestive cavity like worms, mollusks, and vertebrates, the team reports today in Palaeontology. “This branch, the Petalonamae, could well be its own phylum, and it apparently lacks any living descendants,” [Jennifer] Hoyal Cuthill says.Some folks disagree with the interpretation that there are Ediacaran animals in the Cambrian:Geobiologist Simon Darroch at Vanderbilt University in Nashville is also comfortable with the idea that the Ediacaran organisms were animals and that a few survived into the Cambrian. But on a first look he is not convinced that Stromatoveris was one such survivor; he thinks the evidence that it had the fractal architecture of an Ediacaran organism isn’t strong — yet he’s open to persuasion.“Not Quite So Neat Anymore”The Science article also notes that this discovery demolishes one explanation for the abrupt evolution in the Cambrian period:If the new conclusion settles one mystery, though, it introduces another. The Ediacaran organisms represent the first major explosion of complex life on Earth, and they thrived for 30 million years. Their demise has been linked to the appearance of animals in the Cambrian Explosion, Hoyal Cuthill says. But that simple explanation doesn’t work as well if Ediacaran organisms were animals themselves, and some were still alive tens of millions of years later. “It’s not quite so neat anymore,” she says. “As to what led to their eventual extinction I think it’s very hard to say.”But were the Ediacaran organisms actually animals? That still seems to be in dispute, and finding this strange, fronded fossil organism in Cambrian strata certainly doesn’t settle the debate. All it really shows is that the enigmatic Ediacaran fauna lived longer than we previously thought they had.Image: Precambrian life, by Ghedoghedo [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], from Wikimedia Commons. TagsAndrew KnollanimalsCambrian ExplosionCambrian NewsDarwin’s DoubtEdiacaran organismsevolutionfossilsJennifer Hoyal CuthillmorphologyNature (journal)palaeontologypetaloidsPetalonamaePeter WardPrecambrianScience (journal)Sean B. CarrollSimon DarrochStephen MeyerStromatoverisVanderbilt University,Trending Jane Goodall Meets the God Hypothesis Email Print Google+ Linkedin Twitter Share Intelligent Design Cambrian-Aged Ediacaran Organism Reconfirms Explosiveness of the Cambrian ExplosionEvolution News @DiscoveryCSCAugust 10, 2018, 4:14 AM Origin of Life: Brian Miller Distills a Debate Between Dave Farina and James Tour Requesting a (Partial) Retraction from Darrel Falk and BioLogos Congratulations to Science Magazine for an Honest Portrayal of Darwin’s Descent of Man A Physician Describes How Behe Changed His MindLife’s Origin — A “Mystery” Made AccessibleCodes Are Not Products of PhysicsIxnay on the Ambriancay PlosionexhayDesign Triangulation: My Thanksgiving Gift to Alllast_img read more

Awe at Echolocation? Nah, Convergence Again

first_imgEvolution Recommended Email Print Google+ Linkedin Twitter Share Intelligent Design Awe at Echolocation? Nah, Convergence AgainEvolution News @DiscoveryCSCOctober 9, 2018, 12:04 PM “A Summary of the Evidence for Intelligent Design”: The Study Guide Thomas Kuhn described normal science as a puzzle-solving project, in which members of the guild don’t question the picture they imagine on the box top (the paradigm). So focused are they on making the pieces fit, they could be failing to appreciate the wonders coming to light in the picture itself. You can see an example of this in two papers about echolocation; a discussion of the second of these will follow tomorrow. Think of the awe any sensitive person, even a scientist, should feel as he thinks about biosonar! Imagine the ability to bounce sound off objects in the dark and gain precise information about shapes, textures, and motions. Bats do it. Whales do it. Captain Dave Anderson, who leads whale-watching tours in California, said that a dolphin can tell the difference between a golf ball and a ping-pong ball by sound alone (Illustra Media, Living Waters). That’s not just echolocation. It is “indistinguishable from magic,” in Arthur C. Clarke’s famous comment about sufficiently advanced technology. Illustra’s animation of dolphin sonar reveals numerous complex parts working together to make this possible. Artificial sonar doesn’t come close.Out of FocusHow does echolocation work? Shouldn’t that be a focus in science? It is for some scientists, who eagerly learn all they can about sonar in toothed whales and bats for the sheer pleasure of understanding a complex biological system that works superbly well. It is, too, for some engineers, who explore design principles in biological sonar that might have applications for human technology. But for many evolutionary biologists, there seems to be an obsession with homology. Some Darwinists will strain over the smallest details, down to single amino acids, to force uncooperative puzzle pieces together that might show how bats are related to whales. Do people on a whale-watching boat care about that? Should they?In Science Advances, a team of ten evolutionary biologists from Germany announce finding “Molecular parallelism in fast-twitch muscle proteins in echolocating mammals.” You feel their passion for the puzzle in the opening sentence: “Detecting associations between genomic changes and phenotypic differences is fundamental to understanding how phenotypes evolved.” From there, they dive into the nitty-gritty details amino acids that might hint at evolutionary relationships:By systematically screening for parallel amino acid substitutions, we detected known as well as novel cases (Strc, Tecta, and Cabp2) of parallelism between echolocating bats and toothed whales in proteins that could contribute to high-frequency hearing adaptations. Our screen also showed that echolocating mammals exhibit an unusually high number of parallel substitutions in fast-twitch muscle fiber proteins. Both echolocating bats and toothed whales produce an extremely rapid call rate when homing in on their prey, which was shown in bats to be powered by specialized superfast muscles. We show that these genes with parallel substitutions (Casq1, Atp2a1, Myh2, and Myl1) are expressed in the superfast sound-producing muscle of bats. Furthermore, we found that the calcium storage protein calsequestrin 1 of the little brown bat and the bottlenose dolphin functionally converged in its ability to form calcium-sequestering polymers at lower calcium concentrations, which may contribute to rapid calcium transients required for superfast muscle physiology. The proteins that our genomic screen detected could be involved in the convergent evolution of vocalization in echolocating mammals by potentially contributing to both rapid Ca2+ transients and increased shortening velocities in superfast muscles. [Emphasis added.]Hammer Seeks NailWell! So much for appreciating “an extremely rapid call rate” or “superfast muscles.” This team wants to see homology. It has a Darwin-brand hammer and sees everything as a nail. In order to preserve common ancestry, they are willing to find convergent evolution in function, even when the molecular homology fails.An important aspect to understanding how nature’s phenotypic diversity evolved is to detect the genomic differences that are associated with phenotypic differences. Despite numerous sequenced genomes, detecting such associations remains a challenge. Convergent evolution, which refers to the repeated evolution of similar phenotypes in independent lineages, offers a paradigm to computationally screen genomes for molecular changes that evolved in parallel in these lineages and thus could be involved in the phenotypic difference.The e-word, evolution, saturates this paper. Molecular evolution. Parallel evolution. Neutral evolution. Evolutionary tinkering. Whatever it takes, they are going to keep the Darwin puzzle pieces together, even when homology is not evident in the genes. Withering on the lab counter, meanwhile, is awe for the wonder of echolocation.There is a brief moment of wonder, but it quickly is swallowed up by evolution:Superfast muscles consist of specialized fibers capable of contracting and relaxing at a rate that is an order of magnitude higher compared to the fastest locomotor muscles. To achieve this extraordinarily high rate, superfast muscles have evolved a number of key adaptations….Oddly, the only kind of natural selection they mention is “purifying selection.” Also called negative selection, purifying selection refers to the removal of deleterious mutations. You’ll never build a sonar system that way. To them, it’s OK. They already know it evolved. “Evolution is a fact, fact, FACT!”, as Michael Ruse put it, remember?Photo credit: Dolphins, by werdepate, via Pixabay. Origin of Life: Brian Miller Distills a Debate Between Dave Farina and James Tour Jane Goodall Meets the God Hypothesiscenter_img Email Print Google+ Linkedin Twitter Share Requesting a (Partial) Retraction from Darrel Falk and BioLogos Congratulations to Science Magazine for an Honest Portrayal of Darwin’s Descent of Man TagsArthur C. ClarkeawebatsCabp2Captain Dave Andersonconvergent evolutionDarwinian theorydolphinsecholocationgenesGermanygolf ballIllustra MediaLiving WatersmammalsMichael Rusemolecular evolutionmutationsnatural selectionneutral evolutionparallel evolutionphenotypic diversityping-pong ballpurifying selectionScience AdvancessonarStrcTectaThomas Kuhntoothed whaleswhaleswonder,Trending Evolution NewsEvolution News & Science Today (EN) provides original reporting and analysis about evolution, neuroscience, bioethics, intelligent design and other science-related issues, including breaking news about scientific research. It also covers the impact of science on culture and conflicts over free speech and academic freedom in science. Finally, it fact-checks and critiques media coverage of scientific issues. Share A Physician Describes How Behe Changed His MindLife’s Origin — A “Mystery” Made AccessibleCodes Are Not Products of PhysicsIxnay on the Ambriancay PlosionexhayDesign Triangulation: My Thanksgiving Gift to Alllast_img read more

Confirming the Big Bang: The Recent Decades

first_imgRequesting a (Partial) Retraction from Darrel Falk and BioLogos Email Print Google+ Linkedin Twitter Share Guillermo GonzalezSenior Fellow, Center for Science and CultureGuillermo Gonzalez is a Senior Fellow at Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture. He received his Ph.D. in Astronomy in 1993 from the University of Washington. He has done post-doctoral work at the University of Texas, Austin and at the University of Washington and has received fellowships, grants and awards from such institutions as NASA, the University of Washington, the Templeton Foundation, Sigma Xi (scientific research society) and the National Science Foundation.Follow GuillermoProfileWebsite Share Tagsage for the universeArno PenziasBig Bangblackbody spectrumCOBE satellitecosmic microwave background radiationcosmologydark matterdeuteriumgeneral relativityheliumHubble’s LawhydrogeninflationisotopeslithiumMilky Wayneutrino typesPlanck satellitesolar systemSteady State,Trending Origin of Life: Brian Miller Distills a Debate Between Dave Farina and James Tour “A Summary of the Evidence for Intelligent Design”: The Study Guide Congratulations to Science Magazine for an Honest Portrayal of Darwin’s Descent of Man In a previous post, I briefly reviewed the early debate among cosmologists over the interpretation of Hubble’s Law. The two leading theories were the Big Bang and Steady State, both based on general relativity (GR). The alternatives, including various flavors of “tired light,” avoided GR. The discovery of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation in 1964 effectively killed off Steady State.The Holy GrailThe presence of the CMB radiation was a straightforward prediction of the Big Bang theory. But there are many sources of radiation in the universe. How can we be sure the radiation Penzias and Wilson measured was the long-sought after Holy Grail of cosmology? For one thing, there are other aspects of the background radiation that can be measured. For example, astronomers measure the CMB radiation to be uniform across the whole sky. This is consistent with a cosmological origin and inconsistent with local sources like the Solar System and the Milky Way galaxy. They also measure the precise shape of its spectrum. The Big Bang very specifically requires the spectrum to be that of a blackbody, and that is precisely what is observed (see here and here). Alternative theories, such as “tired light,” are not compatible with a blackbody spectrum and are excluded with a very high degree of confidence.Fossil “Seeds”Although the CMB radiation is extremely smooth, Big Bang theory requires that it must display intensity fluctuations with location on the sky. The fluctuations are the fossil “seeds” of later structure formation. By the early 1980s cosmologists were predicting fluctuation amplitudes near one part in 10,000 to one part in 100,000, with the precise amount depending on how much dark matter was included. The fluctuations were observed for the first time in 1992 with the COBE satellite, favoring the predictions with dark matter.It’s not like dark matter was an ad hoc explanation for the magnitude of the observed CMB fluctuations. Dark matter had already been invoked (over 80 years ago!) first as an explanation for galaxy motions in clusters and later for the rotation curves of individual galaxies. Another Big Bang prediction concerns the abundances of the isotopes of the elements hydrogen, helium, and lithium. If you extrapolate the expansion of the universe backwards in time far enough, eventually you reach a point when the temperature and density of the matter were high enough for nuclear reactions to occur everywhere. The relative amounts of these light isotopes were predicted as early as 1948 by Ralph Alpher (see here and here). The calculations depend only on the ratio of the amount of ordinary matter to photons. The deuterium (heavy hydrogen) abundance is a particularly sensitive test of the Big Bang, and the latest measurements agree very well with the predicted value (see here and here).An Age for the Universe The Big Bang theory also gives us an age for the universe. The latest estimate, based on several cosmological observations, is 13.80 +/- 0.02 billion years. This can be compared to independent age estimates, such as the ages of the oldest stars. The most accurate stellar ages are obtained for stars in clusters. The oldest star clusters are about 12.7 billion years old, comfortably less than the age of the universe.From careful measurements of the intensity fluctuations in the CMB radiation, it is possible to set constraints on the number of neutrino types. The Planck satellite measurements indicate the number of types is three, in agreement with the results from particle accelerator experiments. Stringent Tests, High MarksI could go on describing additional confirmed predictions, but you get the idea. The Big Bang theory has passed a series of stringent tests with high marks. This doesn’t mean we have everything figured out. To be sure, there are some tensions between the Big Bang concordance model and observations of the Hubble constant and the primordial lithium abundance. In each case the observations are modestly in disagreement with the theory. And, it doesn’t mean that the Big Bang theory explains everything. For example, it doesn’t answer why matter particles outnumbered antimatter particles in the early universe. It could just be one of the fine-tuned initial conditions of the universe or it could entail new physics.In recent decades the Big Bang theory has been conjoined with Inflation theory to explain a few surprising observations. These include the uniformity of the CMB radiation and why the geometry of the universe is so close to flat. Inflation remains controversial. But it is a mistake to believe that overturning Inflation disproves the Big Bang. The Big Bang theory does not need Inflation. All the observations I described above would still point to the universe originating in a hot compact state. The observations that Inflation purports to explain can also be explained as fine-tuned initial conditions.What is truly remarkable is the fact that we can perform all these observational tests of cosmological models. It didn’t have to be this way. We live in an extravagantly measurable universe and close to the best time to measure it.Image credit: Planck satellite, by ESA/NASA/JPL-Caltech. Email Print Google+ Linkedin Twitter Share Recommended Physics, Earth & Space Confirming the Big Bang: The Recent DecadesGuillermo GonzalezMarch 7, 2019, 4:30 AM Jane Goodall Meets the God Hypothesis A Physician Describes How Behe Changed His MindLife’s Origin — A “Mystery” Made AccessibleCodes Are Not Products of PhysicsIxnay on the Ambriancay PlosionexhayDesign Triangulation: My Thanksgiving Gift to Alllast_img read more

Free Speech for Richard Dawkins? Absolutely!

first_img Recommended Email Print Google+ Linkedin Twitter Share Photo: Trinity College Dublin, by Niaz at English Wikipedia / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0).Some years ago (as I recall, autumn 2006), David Berlinski and I were invited by the debating society at Trinity College Dublin to speak about intelligent design and evolution. It was a raucous event: the students were interested mainly in rhetorical grandstanding and display, although (I hope) some truth was conveyed. There was much tradition and ceremony (signing of official registers, etc.). “A Polarizing Figure” Origin of Life: Brian Miller Distills a Debate Between Dave Farina and James Tour Here is a true story about Dawkins and me. This goes way back, to 1987, when I was a second-year graduate student, and The Blind Watchmaker (TBW) had just been published in the United States. I wrote to philosopher Michael Ruse, whom I knew personally (we had just debated at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, at a forum sponsored by the American Jewish Committee) in his capacity as editor of the journal Biology and Philosophy, to ask if I could submit an essay review about TBW. Ruse wrote back to say that TBW had already been assigned to someone else — but would I like to submit an article defending ID? He explained that he had cleared this offer with his associate editors, in particular, with Dawkins, and that Dawkins was strongly in favor of giving me a hearing in the journal. No Longer Entertained TagsAmerican Jewish CommitteeBiology and PhilosophyBrid O’DonnellCollege Historical SocietyDarwin on TrialDavid Berlinskidebating societyDuquesne UniversityevolutionInstagramintelligent designIslamJournal of Theoretical BiologyMichael RuseNeo-DarwinismpetitionPittsburghRichard Dawkinssexual assaultThe College FixTrinity College Dublin,Trending I think Dawkins is wrong about a great many things, but cancel culture destroys truth-seeking. So I signed this open petition. However, Berlinski and I could easily have been “disinvited,” or to use the current parlance, canceled. Richard Dawkins has just suffered that fate, with his invitation to Trinity College Dublin rescinded. From The College Fix: In 1987, a harmless graduate student who wanted to take on the dreadful giant neo-Darwinism might be an entertaining spectacle. Nowadays, the Journal of Theoretical Biology finds itself attaching a confused disclaimer to an ID article, because no one in mainstream evolutionary theory is entertained any more. They’re angry and frightened about ID. Alas, their generous offer was so momentous and unexpected that I ended up paralyzed with writer’s block and uncertainty, and never submitted anything. Over the next decade (’87-’97), Ruse and I became much closer friends, the ID debate exploded with the publication of Darwin on Trial (1991), and you know the rest of the story. Paul NelsonSenior Fellow, Center for Science and CulturePaul A. Nelson is currently a Senior Fellow of the Discovery Institute and Adjunct Professor in the Master of Arts Program in Science & Religion at Biola University. He is a philosopher of biology who has been involved in the intelligent design debate internationally for three decades. His grandfather, Byron C. Nelson (1893-1972), a theologian and author, was an influential mid-20th century dissenter from Darwinian evolution. After Paul received his B.A. in philosophy with a minor in evolutionary biology from the University of Pittsburgh, he entered the University of Chicago, where he received his Ph.D. (1998) in the philosophy of biology and evolutionary theory.Follow PaulProfile Share Free Speech Free Speech for Richard Dawkins? Absolutely!Paul NelsonOctober 6, 2020, 12:24 PM Who knew evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins was a polarizing figure?Apparently not Trinity College Dublin’s College Historical Society, which proclaims itself “the world’s oldest undergraduate society” and “the model for debating societies” at Oxford, Cambridge and Yale.Student newspaper University Times reports that the society’s auditor, Brid O’Donnell, announced on her personal Instagram page that “The Hist” was disinviting the militant atheist and famed author of “The Selfish Gene” because “we value our members comfort [sic] above all else.”She did not know about his “opinions on Islam and sexual assault until this evening,” O’Donnell reportedly wrote Sunday… Jane Goodall Meets the God Hypothesis Requesting a (Partial) Retraction from Darrel Falk and BioLogos Congratulations to Science Magazine for an Honest Portrayal of Darwin’s Descent of Man “A Summary of the Evidence for Intelligent Design”: The Study Guide Anyway, if you support intellectual freedom, I encourage you to sign the Dawkins / Trinity College Dublin petition. Email Print Google+ Linkedin Twitter Share A Physician Describes How Behe Changed His MindLife’s Origin — A “Mystery” Made AccessibleCodes Are Not Products of PhysicsIxnay on the Ambriancay PlosionexhayDesign Triangulation: My Thanksgiving Gift to Alllast_img read more

Who’s the Father of Intelligent Design? Find Out on Friday

first_imgIntelligent Design Who’s the Father of Intelligent Design? Find Out on FridayEvolution News @DiscoveryCSCJanuary 4, 2021, 6:38 AM Photo: Statue of Alfred Russel Wallace, by George Beccaloni / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0).One of the greatest naturalists of the 19th century, Alfred Russel Wallace (1823-1913) co-discovered evolution by natural selection with Charles Darwin. But unlike Darwin, Wallace became convinced that life and the universe displayed clear evidence of purposeful design. Wallace’s birthday is January 8. That’s this Friday! Join us for an online birthday party, from 6 to 7 pm Pacific time, as we celebrate the life and legacy of Wallace with historian Michael Flannery, editor of the new book Intelligent Evolution: How Alfred Russel Wallace’s World of Life Challenged Darwinism (2020). Find more information and a link to register by going here. Evolution NewsEvolution News & Science Today (EN) provides original reporting and analysis about evolution, neuroscience, bioethics, intelligent design and other science-related issues, including breaking news about scientific research. It also covers the impact of science on culture and conflicts over free speech and academic freedom in science. Finally, it fact-checks and critiques media coverage of scientific issues. Share Learn why Flannery thinks Wallace could be regarded as one of the founding fathers of the modern intelligent design movement. Flannery will be interviewed by Discovery Institute Vice President John West, followed by a Q&A with the audience. Email Print Google+ Linkedin Twitter Share Email Print Google+ Linkedin Twitter Share Be sure to get your copy of Intelligent Evolution: How Alfred Russel Wallace’s World of Life Challenged Darwinism. For more information about Alfred Russel Wallace, check out https://alfredwallace.org/ or watch the documentary Darwin’s Heretic. Congratulations to Science Magazine for an Honest Portrayal of Darwin’s Descent of Man Origin of Life: Brian Miller Distills a Debate Between Dave Farina and James Tour TagsAlfred Russel Wallacebirthdaybirthday partyCharles DarwinDarwin’s HereticDarwinismDiscovery Instituteevolutionintelligent evolutionJohn WestMichael Flannerynatural selectionnaturalists,Trending Jane Goodall Meets the God Hypothesis “A Summary of the Evidence for Intelligent Design”: The Study Guide Our Debt to the Scientific Atheists Recommended A Physician Describes How Behe Changed His MindLife’s Origin — A “Mystery” Made AccessibleCodes Are Not Products of PhysicsIxnay on the Ambriancay PlosionexhayDesign Triangulation: My Thanksgiving Gift to Alllast_img read more