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November 16, 2003

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Religion in the News

Federal appeals court says RLUIPA is unconstitutional
The battle over the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 continues, this time with a major setback to the law. Last Friday, a three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the law is "unconstitutional because it has the primary effect of advancing religion."

Healing Salve
United by Faith looks for answers to the problem of race. Reviewed by Cindy Crosby.

Compassionate Capitalism
How Christians are using fair trade to help the world's poor, missionaries, and shoppers. By Rob Moll.

Islam and the West
Islam in Context shows a religion at a crossroads. Reviewed by Cindy Crosby.

Faith and Fantasy
The Gospel According to Tolkien reveals a deeply Christian work. Reviewed by Cindy Crosby.

Todd Komarnicki: Producer, Director, Writer and Believer
The producer of Elf explains how his Christian faith affects his career as a Hollywood producer, director, and writer. Interview by Jeffrey Overstreet.

Books & Culture's Books of the Week: Remember Afghanistan?
Two inside reports. By Albert Louis Zambone.

Mysteries of Faith 2003 is an in-depth chronicle of humanity's encounter with God by US News.

Science in the News

Highlights from the 2003 Scientific American 50
A microscope that can see objects smaller than an atom. The first field test of a fleet of electric vehicles powered by fuel cells. A tariff to limit vehicular traffic in central London. These are but a few of the path-breaking developments that have taken place in recent months in laboratories, corporate suites and the halls of government. For the second year, the SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN 50 recognizes the singular accomplishments of those who have contributed to the advancement of technology in the realms of science, engineering, commerce and public policy.


Can science prove the existence of God?
What is for some the ultimate question — Does God exist? — has become a matter of how much further the domain of the unknown will continue to contract, and if it will ultimately evaporate ?(The New York Times).

Is evolution truly random?
To many scientists, it would seem impossible to re-evolve anything like life on earth today, given how life has been shaped by accidents large and small. But 12 flasks of bacteria in East Lansing, Mich., are beginning to challenge such notions (The New York Times)

How did life begin?
Researchers are a long way from reconstructing any plausible path for the origin of life (The New York Times)

Research Sheds New Light On Process Of Evolution.
For more than a century, scientists have concluded that a species evolves or adapts by going through an infinite number of small genetic changes over a long period of time. However, a team of researchers, including a Michigan State University plant biologist, has provided some new evidence that an alternate theory is actually at work, one in which the process begins with several large mutations before settling down into a series of smaller ones. The research is published in the Nov. 12 issue of the journal Nature.

By: John Angus Campbell. Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies

Kent Hovind announces the first ever Southeast Creation Conference to be held at Marcus Pointe Baptist Church and Dinosaur Adventure Land (DAL) September 17-19, 2004 in Pensacola, Florida. Keynote speakers include Dr. John Morris of ICR, Dr. Dennis Swift, America's foremost expert on the ICA stones and Dr. Carl Baugh of the Creation Evidence Museum as well as others presenting exciting workshops.


Ancient Maya Stone Altar Recovered In Guatemala; Unparalleled Investigation Leads To Looters’ Haven And Arrests.
An unprecedented collaboration of archeologists, Maya villagers and Guatemalan authorities has resulted in the recovery of a magnificent Maya altar stone that was carved in 796 AD and sheds new light on the collapse of the classic Maya civilization.

City of the Hawk
From ancient breweries to the earliest mummies, excavations at Hierakonpolis are rewriting the origins of Egyptian civilization. by Renée Friedman.

Ancient Play to Be Shown After Text Found in Mummy. NICOSIA (Reuters)
A ancient play is to be staged for the first time in more than 2,050 years after fragments of the text were found stuffed in an Egyptian mummy.

Mystery veils Laos' Stonehenge.
Plain of Jars relics are 2,000-year-old archeological wonder.

Saving a Fabled Sanctuary
Conservators struggle to restore Justinian's Great Church in Istanbul by Sengül Aydlngün and Mark Rose.


Mars-Like Atacama Desert Could Explain Viking No Life Results. Moffett Field - Nov 10, 2003
A team of scientists from NASA, the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, Louisiana State University and several other research organizations has discovered clues from one of Earth's driest deserts about the limits of life on Earth, and why past missions to Mars may have failed to detect life.

Delta-Like Fan On Mars Suggests Ancient Rivers Were Persistent
Newly seen details in a fan-shaped apron of debris on Mars may help settle a decades-long debate about whether the planet had long-lasting rivers instead of just brief, intense floods.

Lunar Polar Ice Not Found With Arecibo Radar. Arecibo - Nov 13, 2003
Despite evidence from two space probes in the 1990s, radar astronomers say they can find no signs of thick ice at the moon's poles. If there is water at the lunar poles, the researchers say, it is widely scattered and permanently frozen inside the dust layers, something akin to terrestrial permafrost. See also

Despite Appearances, Cosmic Explosions Have Common Origin. Socorro - Nov 11, 2003
A Fourth of July fireworks display features bright explosions that light the sky with different colors, yet all have the same cause. They just put their explosive energy into different colors of light. Similarly, astronomers have discovered, a variety of bright cosmic explosions all have the same origin and the same amount of total energy.

Integral Produces Map Of Galactic Mineral Wealth Distribution. Paris - Nov 12, 2003
ESA's gamma-ray observatory Integral is making excellent progress, mapping the Galaxy at key gamma-ray wavelengths. It is now poised to give astronomers their truest picture yet of recent changes in the Milky Way's chemical composition. At the same time, it has confirmed an 'antimatter' mystery at the centre of the Galaxy.


Rare Sponge May Hold Cancer Cure
After almost 20 years of searching, marine biologists have rediscovered a small, mysterious sponge that may contain a powerful cancer cure.

FDA Declares Cloned Animals Safe to Eat

Do Aches Really Forecast Bad Weather?

Scientists Find Brain Areas Affected By Lack Of Sleep
Lack of sleep can affect an individual's memory, ability to perform simple daily tasks, and attention span.

Drugs in sport: No dope
Don Catlin's lab has struck a major blow against drug abuse in athletics, by developing a test for a shadowy 'designer steroid'. Jonathan Knight visits the scientists who are striving to keep sport clean.

Elements Of Green Tea Prevent HIV From Binding To Human T Cells (November 14, 2003)
The major component of green tea prevents the binding of HIV to human T cells, the first step in HIV infection, according to a study and an accompanying editorial published in the November 2003 Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. Green tea is the nonoxidized, unfermented product of the leaves from the evergreen plant, Camellia sinensis.

New Vaccine Tested In Animals May Hold Hope For Alzheimer's Patients.
In new research, scientists show that two dramatically different approaches may be effective in treating or preventing Alzheimer's disease. One approach involves development of a vaccine that clears deposits of a sticky substance called amyloid beta protein from monkey brains.

How valid is the concept of race from a biological standpoint?
Do physical features reliably say anything informative about a person's genetic makeup beyond indicating that the individual has genes for blue eyes or curly hair?

Earth Science

The Suffocating Age. Seattle - Nov 10, 2003
Recent evidence suggests that oxygen levels were suppressed worldwide 175 million to 275 million years ago and fell to precipitously low levels compared with today's atmosphere, low enough to make breathing the air at sea level feel like respiration at high altitude.

Mass Extinctions May Promote Longevity Of New Species. Cincinnati - Nov 10, 2003
With the economy, we talk about cycles of boom and bust. Make that "bust and boom" when it comes to the geological record in the post-Paleozoic world, University of Cincinnati geologist Arnold Miller suggests, after his analysis of marine fossil genera and what happens after mass extinction events.

Attack of the Rock-Eating Microbes! Some bacteria break down minerals, while others make them.
Geologists who examine mineral transformations increasingly see bacteria at work, leading the scientists to conclude that if microbes aren't driving the underlying chemical reactions, at least they're taking advantage of the energy that's released.

Volcanic Mysteries Unraveled Underwater (November 10, 2003)
Scientists have long been puzzled by the observation that flows, erupted as white-hot lava at mid-ocean ridges, can be traced for several miles from their vents despite the fact that they erupt into seawater close to its freezing point. Now a group of scientists from academia and government believe they have the answer from lava samples collected using the deep-sea submersible ALVIN.

200 Years Later, Geologist Completes Lewis And Clark Readings (November 14, 2003)
Virtual explorer Robert Criss, Ph.D., professor of earth and planetary sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, has teamed up with Lewis and Clark to provide the oldest determinations of the magnetic declination of America's interior.


Scientists Uncover Neurobiological Basis For Romantic Love, Trust, And Self (November 11, 2003)
In new studies, scientists are discovering the neurobiological underpinnings of romantic love, trust, and even of self. New research also shows that a specific brain area - the amygdala - is involved in the process of understanding the intentions of others, in particular when lying is involved.

Dyslexia May Involve Both Vision And Hearing (November 10, 2003)
Dyslexia may stem from how the brain processes sight and sound together – rather than simply a problem "decoding" the written word – reported researchers from Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center today at the annual Society for Neuroscience meeting in New Orleans.

New Studies Show Factors Responsible For Enhanced Response To Music (November 13, 2003)
In new studies, scientists are uncovering the factors responsible for an enhanced brain electrical response to music; the effects on the brain of growing up in a musical or non-musical environment; and which areas of the brain process different aspects of music including speaking and singing.