Friday, December 14, 2018

Zealandia: The Eighth Continent

A study done by earth scientists in New Zealand and Australia claims that a continent is hidden under the ocean. In their paper, titled 'Zealandia: Earth's Hidden Continent,' the geologists argue that Zealandia has all four attributes necessary to be considered a continent.

It is believed that the 94 per cent of Zealandia that is submerged broke off from Australia and sank 60-85 million years ago.

At 4.9 million square kilometers, Zealandia would be the smallest continent. Zealandia's crust is much shallower than the surrounding oceanic crust, and more closely resembles continental crust rather than oceanic crust. Further, a narrow strip of oceanic crust separates Australia from Zealandia.

The proposed world map below shows Zealandia, the eighth continent. Though most of the continent is submerged, scientists say it has all the geologic hallmarks of a separate continent.

A six-year study by the GNS Science research institute in New Zealand found that there could be tens of billions of dollars worth of fossil fuels in offshore regions around the landmass.

Read more here and here.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

HeLa Cells

Johns Hopkins has announced that it will name a new research building after Henrietta Lacks. The building is anticipated to be completed in 2020. 

Henrietta Lacks was a young mother of five from eastern Baltimore County who, despite radiation treatment at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, died in 1951 of an aggressive cancer. Lacks was the source of the HeLa cell line that has been critical to numerous advances in medicine.

Henrietta Lacks died on 4 October 1951 at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Henrietta Lacks died of cervical cancer and since her death in 1951, cells taken from her tumor have been responsible for important medical advances such as the polio vaccine, chemotherapy, cloning, gene mapping, and IVF. Her cells are called HeLa, taking the first 2 letters of the first and last names.

HeLa cells have been reproduced and are now so plentiful that one researcher estimated that, laid end-to-end, they would wrap around the planet at least three times. HeLa cells are a constantly reproducing line of cells that have been used in all kinds of research and experiments.

Sadly, the Lack family never benefited from the advancements in medicine that came from the extraction of Henrietta's cells.

Monday, October 8, 2018

What is Biblical Anthropology?

Alice C. Linsley

An emerging field of anthropology, Biblical Anthropology, focuses on an empirical reading of the Bible. Students are trained to identify anthropologically significant data and to correlate the data with the findings in anthropology, archaeology, linguistics, migration studies and DNA studies.

Reading sacred texts like the books of the Bible through the lens of cultural anthropology is rigorous because no assumption can stand untested, and no assertion can be made without data. If we seek to understand the biblical texts rather than use the Bible to support an agenda, we will find the approach of Biblical Anthropology helpful.

For a more interactive approach, consider joining the international Facebook group The Bible and Anthropology. Here we learn from one another and together are building a body of knowledge that many will find helpful.

Unlike the more speculative Theological Anthropology, Biblical Anthropology is a science. It focuses primarily on the antecedents of the Messianic Faith among Abraham's ancestors. To understand what this entails requires exposure to the field. Here are indices where some of the research is posted. The material is organized alphabetically by topic and all the articles are linked.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

The 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics

Donna Strickland

The 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded on Tuesday to Arthur Ashkin of the United States, Gérard Mourou of France and Donna Strickland of Canada for harnessing one of the most ineffable aspects of nature, pure light, into a mighty microscopic force. Dr. Strickland, a self-described “laser jock,” is only the third woman to win the physics prize, for work she did as a graduate student with Dr. Mourou.

Dr. Ashkin will receive half of the monetary prize, worth about $1 million; Dr. Mourou and Dr. Strickland will split the remainder.

The Nobel committee recognized the scientists for their work in transforming laser light into miniature tools. Dr. Ashkin invented “optical tweezers,” which use the pressure from a highly focused laser beam to manipulate microscopic objects, including living organisms such as viruses and bacteria.

Dr. Strickland and Dr. Mourou developed a method of generating high-intensity, ultrashort laser pulses, known as chirped pulse amplification. The work has had a wide range of real-world applications, enabling manufacturers to drill tiny, precise holes and allowing for the invention of Lasik eye surgery.

Read more here.

In an interview with, the official website of the prize, Dr. Strickland said that when she first learned that she had won, she wondered if it might be a prank. “It was just a fun thing to do, and so I enjoyed putting many hours into it,” she said of her work with short-pulse lasers more than 30 years ago.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

The 2018 Nobel Prize Winners in Medicine

Tasuku Honjo

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded on Monday to James P. Allison of the United States and Tasuku Honjo of Japan for their work on unleashing the body’s immune system to attack cancer, a breakthrough that has led to an entirely new class of drugs and brought lasting remissions to many patients who had run out of options.

James P. Allison
Their success, which came after many researchers had given up on the idea, “brought immunotherapy out from decades of skepticism,” said Dr. Jedd Wolchok, a cancer specialist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. It has, he said, “led to human applications that have affected an untold number of people’s health.”

Before Dr. Allison’s and Dr. Honjo’s discoveries, cancer treatment consisted of surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and hormonal treatments. A statement from the Nobel committee hailed their accomplishments as establishing “an entirely new 

Earlier attempts by other researchers to recruit the immune system to fight cancer sometimes worked but more often did not. Dr. Allison and Dr. Honjo succeeded where others had failed by deciphering exactly how cells were interacting so they could fine-tune methods to control the immune system.

Checkpoint inhibitors do not work for everyone and they have only been approved for some cancers. They can have severe side effects, and they are expensive, costing more than $100,000 a year. But the approach, known as immunotherapy, has become a mainstay of treatment for a number of types of cancer, and a great deal of research is underway — including work by Dr. Allison and Dr. Honjo — to find the best ways of combining checkpoint inhibitors with one another and with standard treatments to help more patients.

Read more here.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Confused to Confident

By Kristine Johnson

Kristine is a member of the American Scientific Affiliation and an aerospace engineer for Honeywell. She is featured at the BioLogos Forum "Believing Scientists Respond." What follows is a brief testimony.

I grew up in a wonderful Christian home and even attended a Christian school for several years. Unfortunately, a lot of the “science” at my Christian school was pretty inaccurate. When I was in high school I started having a lot of questions. My Christian school science teacher told me to stop asking. He advised me to skip college and just get married and have kids and be a stay at home mom/wife. I also attempted to ask my youth pastor my questions. He told me just to have faith and then he tried to avoid me.

On my way home from a short-term mission trip to Guatemala, I was praying and asking God for direction for my life. I had been studying aerospace engineering and mechanics and felt the Holy Spirit confirm that I was designed with math and science skills for the purpose of being an engineer and bringing my faith into the workplace to be a witness for Jesus to other engineers and people in the scientific realm. I completed my education and am currently working at Honeywell Aerospace analyzing signals from space and designing precision landing systems.

My degree and my work brought me into conflict with what I had been taught at the Christian school. I am incredibly thankful to have found resources like the ASA, Reasons to Believe, BioLogos, and my family to help me navigate through relearning what Scripture says and understanding varying interpretations, especially around creation. I’m so grateful for quality resources that bring nature and faith into harmony. I’ve become more passionate in learning theology, studying Scripture, and reading more diversely. Because of these organizations (and others), I have been equipped to help my own daughters with their tough questions. I’ve also been able to meet somewhat regularly with the youth pastor at my church to help him have tools to direct students who have science related questions. Over the last few years I have had the opportunity to share in the youth group a handful of times on science related topics. This spring, one of my daughters was talking with a college student from our church and she shared with my daughter that the information I had presented in the youth group helped her faith while she was in college (also studying engineering). I feel blessed to have helped her and look forward to future opportunities to share how God has been working in and through my experiences.

This week our family had dinner with one of the pastors from our church and his family. We had a lovely evening and out of our conversation, the pastor’s wife asked if I would ever be willing to teach in one of the adult Sunday School classes at our church. I’m already looking forward to this potential new opportunity. May Jesus Christ be praised in all I say and do!

Monday, July 16, 2018

Chernobyl Wolf Population

A wild fox being fed by a tourist in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone

Wild animals have free range around northern Ukraine’s Chernobyl nuclear plant, the site of the world’s worst nuclear accident, which spread radiation throughout the region in 1986.

Studies have hinted that significant populations of European gray wolves and other large creatures live in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, the roughly Rhode Island-sized, 1,000-square-mile section from which people were evacuated and can no longer live.

While clear of humans, animals are not free from radiation and its health effects, an active and at times controversial area of research. Many questions remain about the extent to which radiation causes mutations in various species, and whether these could be spread outside the zone.

Read it all here.