Monday, February 19, 2007

Genetics

Nancy Gibbs wrote an article for Time magazine entitled "The Secret of Life." Some of her points were: James Watson and Francis Crick did not discover the existence of DNA, they discovered its structure. A strip of DNA contains a code written in words of four chemical letters: A, T, G, and C. Uncoiled and stretched out, it would be six feet long: folded back up, it would be small enough to fit into one of our cells. DNA carries within it, instructions for making a human. The instructions are similar to everythng that lives; we are cousins to the insects and small mammals.

Some of these genes trace back to a time whenn we were fish. More than 200 come directly from bacteria. Our DNA provides a history book of where we came from and how we evolved. Every human being on the planet is 99.9% the same.

Evolution makes more sense with a basic knowledge of genetics. Chromosomes carry genes which carry DNA. DNA is in the genes, which are on chromosomes that are in every cell in our bodies. Human DNA is basically the blueprint for a person, including all behaviors and traits. Essentially the building blocks for making a human being.

Alles are different forms of the same gene contributed to the offspring of each parent. Parents only transmit half their genes to each offspring. These genes are in different combination in every sibling, except in the case of identical twins.

A mutation is any altercation of genetic information. Mutations occur when any change is made to the DNA. Change a T to a G in the strand of DNA or change the length of a strand of DNA and abnormal biochemical reactions start happening. A delicate system can easily be thrown out of whack. Any change in these complex instructions can cause many problems: cancer, digestive tract problems, emotional problems, HSP, etc. Mutations can also be beneficial; they can help an organism adapt more easily to their environment.

Jackie Wellman
www.jackiewellman.com

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Back Again

A couple of days ago I hate an unplanned and unexplained e-mail scuffle with a family member. It started out on me just trying to help this person out with something and have a friendly conversation. I wrote a book about my stuggle with accepting organized religion. It is not an anti-religion book at all, just my thoughts on the matter. After a little normal conversation where I just was stating how I feel, not condeming how the "tolerant Christian" feels I asked if he read my book. He bristled, "No after looking at the back of the book and my blog I decided that I had no interest." At first this did not bother me but I did tell him that when he writes a book or any other friend or family member, I would be at the bookstore the day it came out to buy it...out of respect and to be supportive. I would be curious at what they thought, even if I disagreed with everything in it. The more I thought about what he said I got angry...to me that shows that a "tolerant Christian" is the opposite of tolerant. He may not persecute disbelievers but to be intolerant is not just to tolerate but to accept. To me it also shows closed-mindedness to not be open to learning what another family member thinks....or what anyone thinks.

I repeat...I was not telling him that I thought he was wrong believing what he believes just sharing my thoughts.

I decided that I really have no interest in just be "tolerated", that is an insult.

Jackie Wellman
www.jackiewellman.com

The Right Thing

The thing...well, one of the things that really bothers me about the Bible is when people say that we, as a people, need the teachings of Christ to know the difference between right and wrong. Aristotle believed that ethics were a matter of good training. He believed that most people (not Dick Cheney)know the proper way to behave, and they must simply be morally strong enough to behave in accordance with this knowledge. Being a good person amounts to having the inclination to do the right thing and that can be from genetics or learned.

Why would we need the teachings of a man that says, "Bring those before me that do not believe I am king and kill them?" The red writing in the Bible has many wonderful teachings also. Who could argue with the Golden Rule? But how can anyone say...This is God's word but only the second half is worth paying attention to. Or, "Just ignore the parts that you do not like but the rest is God's word and if people do not agree with it, they are wrong, therefore they will probably burn in hell."

Jackie Wellman
www.jackiewellman.com

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Stem Cells

Insisting that human souls live in Petri dishes is not a moral argument but an example of being both morally and intellectually primitive.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Homo sapiens

There were a few frauds and mistakes (like Piltdown Man and Nebraska Man) and evolutionary dead ends in our study of what leads up to Homo sapiens. We are beginning to get the picture and have a lot more that is yet to be learned.

The first time the Homo species appeared was as Homo habilis. Homo habilis was known as "handy man" because of the tools found with his fossils. Homo habilis was the first to leave Africa. Africa seems to be where man originated. During the whole time that Homo habilis existed, his brain size continued to grow.

Homo erectus continued to migrate away from Africa. His brain was larger than Homo habilis. Homo erectus was the first to use fire. The use of fire would change life considerably; he could now see in the dark, he could scare predators away, it would make it easier to keep warm and food could now be cooked. I would think that cooked meat would taste considerably better than raw meat. Peking Man, Turkana Child, and Java Man were all Homo erectus.

At the point were the family tree split into Neanderthal man and Homo sapiens; they actually co-existed for awhile. Any readers of Jean Auel's Clan of the Cave Bear series (which are wonderful!) already know this. Approximately 40,000 to 100,000 years ago these two species came into contact with one another. They had comparable brain size. They obviously believed in the afterlife. Homo sapiens neanderthal had a more muscular build and was stronger than Homo sapiens. To see what Homo sapiens looked like just go look in the mirror.

The reason that Homo sapiens made it and Homo sapiens neanderthal did not is probably that Homo sapiens was more able to adapt than Homo sapiens neanderthal. You have to go with the flow and Neanderthal man did not...therefore became extinct. Trying to swim upstream does not work...only trout can do it successfully.

Now after reading about all the types and succession of early man, how can anyone say there are no transitional fossils? The statement, which I encountered, "There are no transitional fossils, therefore no evolution" is just more creationist imbecility. All fossils are transitional fossils!

Jackie Wellman
www.jackiewellman.com

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Is He bored?

Every single zebra has its own pattern of stripes. Unlike any other zebra. So each is unique...like a human fingerprint. To make this more amazing...the right side is completely different from the left side. If you were one of those people who thinks God is responsible for creating every little thing, my question is this: Is God bored?

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Tom Delay??

Apparently now Mr. Delay has begun blogging. His blog for conservative nutcases like himself is insulting Barack Obama. Don't Republicans have anything better to do than rip the competition apart. Didn't they get the message in November?

When asked about his blog in an interview he admitted that the ideas were his but someone on his staff does the actual blogging. Now a higher up member of his staff said he was just being modest, that he does all the blogging himself. Does that blank goofy grin look like someone who is modest??

Jackie Wellman
www.jackiewellman.com

Our Direct Ancestors

Australopithecines, which emerged about 4 or 5 million years ago, are sometimes called "Ape-man" or "missing link" because they are on of the many transitions between ape and man. They were the first upright walkers. The fossil of the hip and knee joints tell us this. Perhaps they started walking to carry helpless infants. Infants of species with larger brains are more helpless at birth because they physically could not be born with large enough heads to hold a larger brain, so to compensate the brain develops outside the mother.

Donald Johanson found the first transitional fossil with an ape-like head on an upright body. This fossilized skeleton was Australopithecus afarensis or Lucy. Since this first find, many more transitional fossils are being found.

Cro-Magnon man is not really a seperate scientific classification. Cro-magnon is merely a group of Homo sapiens living 10-30 thousand years ago in Europe. In 1868, in the village of Les Eyzies in France, a group of skeletons were discovered. They were called Cro-Magnons.

A brief rundown of the development of man is:

  • First we had different forms of Australopithecus.
  • Australopithecus developed into a couple forms with only Homo habilis emerging.
  • Homo habilis became Homo erectus.
  • Homo erectus became Neaderthal man and Homo sapiens. Only Homo sapiens developed.
  • Homo sapiens is now...us-human beings in 2006!

If primates are not our direct ancestors, than why do you suppose that we share 98% of our genetic makeup with them?

Jackie Wellman
www.jackiewellman.com

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Life

The earliest fossilized form of life was living about 3.5 billion years ago. At this point all of life consisted of microorganisms and algae. Now for a fossil to even form is a rare occurrence. Conditions must be just right for a soft-tissue body to get through not decompsing or being eaten by other animals or some other natural occurrence that would destroy the skeletal system, if a skeleton is present. Only a microscopic portion of the organisms that die ever make it to the fossil stage. Only a small portion of the small portion of life forms that become fossils actually get discovered and studied.

The oldest fossil of a multi-cellular organism was found in Michigan and is reported to be 2.1 billion years old. About 600 million years ago aquatic worms appeared. About 400 million years ago the first vertebrates appeared. All of life at that time was in the water. Rhipidistians were primitive fish with muscular lobes for fins. These fish had the ability to shuffle on land. They came out of the water during droughts to move to another area where water was available. Basically, these were gill breathers with the ability to gulp air and then extract the needed oxygen. These fish were able to exist because they had adapted to the drying up of waterholes...they just crawled to the next water hole. As the droughts became more severe natural selection favored those fish that were able to survive out of water for longer periods of time. These fish became our first reptiles.

Finally about 200 million years ago, mammals evolved. We all basically not only share the same primate ancestors but can trace our family tree back to 150-200 million years ago to a shrew-like mammal. Well, we really can go back to the aquatic worms or even further to micro-organisms living in the water.

The Mesozoic time period was also known as the "Age of Reptiles." The first known mammals and birds split away from the dinosaurs. The dinosaurs had a two hundred million year reign. What happened 65 million years ago? The dinosaurs all died out. But there is proof that they existed and ceased existing 65 million years ago not six thousand years ago like some believe.

Jerry Seinfeld, in his hilarious 1993 book, SeinLanguage, talks about the possibility of finding out what happened to the dinosaurs and compared it to the Kennedy Assasination. He joked that we will never know about the dinosaurs because we cannot even figure out what happened 40 years ago. How can we possibly figure out what happened 65 million years ago?

The first bird, Archaepterx, is clearly a descendant from reptiles. Then came mammals. Tim M. Berra, who wrote Evolution and the Myth of Creation, states that primates, the mammalian order to which humans belong, arose and were widespead 38 million years ago.

Jackie Wellman
www.jackiewellman.com