Archive for April 22nd, 2012

April 22nd, 2012

Still No Video of the VT Debate Yet

by Max Andrews

I’ve been getting a lot of questions about when I’ll be able to share the video of my debate on the existence of God at Virginia Tech back in March.  I’ve been in touch with one of the organizers for the debate and as of two weeks ago the VT Video Productions was almost finished with the final video.  I’ve been anxiously checking the mail every day for a while now so I’m looking forward to getting it just as much as several of you.  Once I get it I’ll let you know and I’ll share it.  I’m really hoping it’s this week.

April 22nd, 2012

Can Scientists Pursue Science Successfully Apart From a Robust Epistemology? Part 2

by Max Andrews

For the first part please see: Can Scientists Pursue Science Successfully Apart From a Robust Epistemology? Part 1

The reason why inferential beliefs are so important is that one’s scientific method cannot be contrary to one’s epistemic method.  With that said, certain models for scientific explanation must have justificatory acceptance.  For example, a deductive form of scientific inquiry cannot be the only means acceptable since one cannot have a deductive form of epistemology since all beliefs would be self-justified and self-preserved (at least this would not account for a robust epistemology).

Such methods are derived from the use of abductive reasoning.  The American philosopher and logician Charles Sanders Peirce first described abduction.  He noted that, unlike inductive reasoning, in which a universal law or principle is established from repeated observations of the same phenomena, and unlike deductive reasoning, in which a particular fact is deduced by applying a general law to another particular fact or case, abductive reasoning infers unseen facts, events, or causes in the past from clues or facts in the present.[1]

April 22nd, 2012

Evolution Seen in ‘Synthetic DNA’

by Max Andrews

Original post by BBC Science & Technology.

Researchers have succeeded in mimicking the chemistry of life in synthetic versions of DNA and RNA molecules.  The work shows that DNA and its chemical cousin RNA are not unique in their ability to encode information and to pass it on through heredity. The work, reported in Science, is promising for future “synthetic biology” and biotechnology efforts. It also hints at the idea that if life exists elsewhere, it could be bound by evolution but not by similar chemistry.

In fact, one reason to mimic the functions of DNA and RNA – which helps cells to manufacture proteins – is to determine how they came about at the dawn of life on Earth; many scientists believe that RNA arose first but was preceded by a simpler molecule that performed the same function.

However, it has remained unclear if any other molecule can participate in the same unzipping and copying processes that give DNA and RNA their ability to pass on the information they carry in the sequences of their nucleobases – the five chemical group “letters” from which the the two molecules’ genetic information is composed.