What is silica gel and why do I find little packets of it in everything I buy?

SilicaGelThe maligned substance “silica gel,” which is simply a porous synthetic form of the mineral quartz (the principal constituent of sand, is really more of an irritant than a poison (even though they want you to “throw it away.”)  The real reason it is placed into boxes is to desiccate, or dry, moisture that may jeopardize the quality of the packed product.  Click here for some clever applications that involve silica gel.  Of course, that does not include eating it!  (LOL)

Source: What is silica gel and why do I find little packets of it in everything I buy?

My Scientific Conservatism

Prepare to be shocked…

Despite my love for learning about God’s creation through science sources, I would rather not be a bona fide “scientist” who actually discovers new facts (except perhaps in one field, toward the end).  To demonstrate this opinion, I will share some examples from different natural sciences.

Biology

Biology as we now know it depends on two major forces:  evolution (which, of course, IMHO, is nonsense), and the molecular processes of the cell, especially involving the genetic code of organisms.  Now that we have the whole human genome, we (as humans ourselves) claim we have the rights to it (when really, only God does).  There are plenty of molecular biological methods that we now use to tamper with nature.

If scientists, doctors, and other relevant professionals aim to cure serious illnesses (e.g., cancer), everyone will want that cure.  Next heart disease, diabetes, cirrhosis, hepatitis, HIV/AIDS, TB, and every other serious and potentially fatal condition will be history.  Yet mortality still reigns, as people can be murdered, commit suicide, die from accidents, or just outright natural causes.  They need to face the fact we will always be mortal and move on.

If you browse through popular scientific publications like Scientific American, Discover, or Popular Science, there are deceptively noble applications of the biosciences.  One proposed endeavor is growing an eye in the lab.  While they may have good intentions, the source of this is embryonic stem cells, which in my opinion, is wrong.  If the cells came from adults, feel free, but just leave our babies alone.  (But that’s religiously-based politics, so let’s not go there.)

Besides medicine, other biotechnological endeavors have their own problems.  Scientists are trying to help provide better crops for citizens of third-world countries.  This sounds noble, since many are children who may not survive to adulthood or even adolescence.  But since it involves genetic tampering with crops, could it be at the same time “playing God?”  Apparently they’ve been suffering from starvation for centuries, so this is nothing new.

There are coutnless other applications, but space does not permit them.  I will mention, however, “pure” (aka “basic,” no matter how complicated it gets) biological research, that is, just discovering new things, which is often just “bait” for the applied researchers.  Ironically, this is the stuff I primarily enjoy in the sciences.

Physics

Classical physics, i.e, as with Newton, etc., is pretty much settled, so there is no question about that.  But then there’s the more modern branches, like nuclear, quantum, and particle physics, as well as the very over-the-top “string theory,”  They may be good topics to study as is, but actual physicists must be wary about applications.  Much of the matter (no pun intended) has provided us the A-bomb and H-bomb that we dropped on Japan, bitter modern-day suspicions with Iran, North Korea, etc., and sadly, increase in secularism.

Geology

Geologic literature, first and foremost, holds to an old earth, which must undergo personal “checks and balances” if it is to be adapted to a creationist perspective.  While that usually isn’t too hard, it won’t cut it in undergraduate and graduate schoolwork as well as the career to follow.  This includes peer-reviewed scientific journals that are used.  Exceptions include the few creation journals, though they hold content useful to all scholarship (from college on up).  But again, secular universities won’t allow it.  One geological branch, paleontology, is especially a danger zone, for this is where geology meets biology, with all its evolutionary drivel.  Besides, it is strenuous work, both physically and emotionally.

Also, petroleum and natural gas are where the money are, concerning geology.  I think though, as non-renewable sources, our job (referring to all citizens, not just geologists) is to be thrifty with energy resources and not waste them.  Aside from that, it’s mostly about the environment, which never seemed to pique my interest anyway.

Astronomy

While amicable both to creationist perspectives and evolutionary theory, it holds less relevance to humans on this planet.  Moreover, NASA and its foreign cousins try to send astronauts to explore things we perhaps no business exploring.  God gave us Earth, and Earth only, to live on.  Yet, incidentally, it often is done as a hobby, which is no problem with me.

Meteorology/Climatology

We all know meteorologists can be dead wrong when they say Saturday will be a gorgeous and sunny day but it turns out to be raining cats and dogs.  (That lovely weather doesn’t come until Monday).  And climatology, in a nutshell, is just a long-term of weather patterns in given regions (that is, obviously, climate).  Thankfully, at least it is neutral on the age of the earth, and can really (scientifically) demonstrate some of God’s power.

Chemistry

I saved this field for last since this may actually be viable.  Chemists actually improve quality of existing products and help develop new ones.  Sounds good doesn’t it?  Everything is made of chemicals, and God gave them to us.  So why not process them for our own good?

One objection, however, is the pharmaceutical industry.  People, as they use their medications, become dependent on chemists (especially biochemists) and other scientists such as biologists.  Because they shy away from cures, these scientists make money just to keep them sick.

Again, though, as stated above, it may not be our place to make cures of serious illnesses.  Treatments maybe, but not cures.  The solution to this dilemma?  Well, that’s a whole ethical problem I’m not even going to get into.

Another scheme is that advertisers over the past 20 years or so are marketing prescription drugs, traditionally a decision by a doctor.  If the doctor prescribes it, there is no need to market it.

What About Similar Engineering Disciplines?

Well, while engineering is based on science, I love solving practical problems, it seems tedious to use the handbooks required for engineers.  I couldn’t see myself doing CAD or similar technical practices.  Most of what is learned in college turns out irrelevant.  Furthermore this is true for most fields across all disciplines, not just engineering and the sciences discussed above.

Conclusion

As said above, if there is one desirable science major, bar none it would be chemistry.  At my community college I attend, there is two ways of going about this.  I could either do an all-new “transfer” degree in chemistry (replacing the general science degree as of this fall),  intended to transfer to a 4-year college or university, or a “career” degree in Chemical Technology that is geared more toward direct entry into the workforce upon graduation.

If I go for the former, I might get to pick a minor in another discipline.  (Or maybe even two!)  After all, chemistry is the “central” science, holding together all the other sciences (pun intended).  And if I decide that is not the right path (I don’t see many other paths outside of the natural sciences that I would desire a degree in, maybe a well-paying trade will do.  Or just a plain job.  Everything is in God’s hands.  I plan, He directs.

Commencement, the term for graduating from a school and commencing a new chapter in life, is even more appropriate than the norm for one like me, since I am a die-hard lifelong learner across many disciplines, especially sciences (as well as many others).  Even though school may be over, I will still enjoy reading websites, books (including textbooks!), watching educational shows, etc.  And this very blog is a prime way to communicate and explain such.

I thank God for all the intelligence he has given me, that I can learn things sometimes too deep for some yet “translate” them into “plain English” for them.

AMEN

Why You Can Measure A Tree’s Age By Its Rings

Most people know that you can count a tree’s rings to determine its age.  But what makes a ring count for a year?

Remember that a tree’s true “wood” is really only the central tissue that conducts water up from the roots.  Around this constitutes the bark, which includes living tissue that distributes various substances (e.g., photosynthetic products) as well as the dead cork.

Focusing on this inner wood, development of these cells varies across a given growing season.  In the spring and early summer, there is much water and minerals (thanks to melted snow), but as summer progresses, they are depleted.  By autumn, the wood cells are smaller than what were produced earlier.  (Winter, due to its cold, does not allow many cells to be produced.)  The cycle restarts the following spring.  The study of these processes, by the way, is called “dendrochronology.”

The earlier cells (known as early wood or springwood) are the larger cells, followed by those smaller cells formed later in the season (late wood or summerwood).  The darker late wood abuts the following season’s early wood, thus separating the years marked.

To conclude, some of the oldest trees are 4,000 years old.  Some dead trees, dated to be 5,000 years old, using radioactive carbon dating.  When the earliest trees were germinating, human history (in the strictest sense) was just dawning.  Since this falls within the domain of the 6,000-10,000 years of young earth creationism, yet discussed by an anonymous evolutionist and liberal Christian, sorry, that’s a contradiction in terms.

(Source:  http://plantphys.info/plant_biology/secondary.shtml)

Tree Stump
A tree stump.  The dark periphery is the bark; the pale outer wood is the “sapwood” (living wood conducting water); the dark central wood (heartwood), is the older wood that no longer conducts water.  You can see the many rings in both regions making the years.  (Source:  http://plantphys.info/plant_biology/lechtml/stem/Slide29.jpg)

 

 

Carbon-14 Found in Dinosaur Fossils

Like Jurassic Park and Jurassic World?  Well, they’re great movies, but only artistically.  Scientifically (and thus biblically), they’re dead wrong (pun intended).

Once a fossil or similarly buried object passes about 100,000 years, almost all its radioactive carbon is gone.   Some secular scientists will argue that the fossils are contaminated from other sources, such as coal and diamonds, but the scientific procedures assure it against intrusion of foreign matter.

We could conclude dinosaurs could have been among us, but that’s for another post.

Source: Carbon-14 Found in Dinosaur Fossils

Organic Residue Is 247 Million Years Old?

In Poland, researchers discovered breakdown products of proteins (that is, amino acids) located in blood vessels supposedly trapped millions of years ago in fossils.  These led to an assumption of an evolutionary link with buildup and decay of modern proteins, in this case collagen.

At least these scientists knew about the iron coating on the inner surface of the vessels, as a result of the sediments deposited, especially aided by the Noachian flood.  The iron coat supposedly helps amino acids (and thus proteins) cross-link with one another.  Concerning this decidedly sedimentary deposit, the Polish scientists reasoned this would preserve the protein.  Ha!  Never happened.  Protein decay into its constituent amino acids is fairly quick, and they don’t even last even one million years old.

Therefore we conclude that while the iron coating is a genuine, observational scientific discovery, the excuse of cross-linking in this reptile (that never happened) is just an evolutionary scheme.

For details, click the link below, courtesy ICR (Institute for Creation Research.)

Source: Organic Residue Is 247 Million Years Old?

Pigeon Milk?!?

Believe it or not, while pigeons (and doves) may be birds, the adults who are raising young have a specially designed form of nourishing them that is parallel to (but nothing like!) “true” milks that mammals produce.

The digestive system consists, briefly, of the mouth (inside their bill, of course!), the esophagus, the crop (the center of today’s discussion), the proventriculus (the first of a two-part “stomach” region where some digestion takes place), the gizzard (the second stomach portion, where birds “chew”, because food is swallowed whole as the bills lack teeth), the intestines (supplied by the liver and pancreas), and all the way down to the cloaca, the common exit for wastes and reproductive products (sperm/egg).  Interestingly enough, the forces of digestion can push the contents of the gizzard back to the proventriculus.

Now that we have mapped out the digestive system, let’s focus on the crop, where this mysterious milk is derived.  This substance, having a curdled, rice-like appearance, is derived from the enlarged crop of a lactating pigeon (or similar bird, such as a dove, flamingo or male Emperor Penguin).

Pigeon Milk
(A) Non-lactating crop (B) Lactating form with its two enlarged lobes (C) Discharged pigeon “milk” Source: http://bmcgenomics.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-2164-12-452

This secretion is rich in protein and also contains fat and more modest amounts of carbohydrates and minerals, among other nutrients.

Aren’t you glad you’re not a pigeon or similar bird?  The milk sure looks quite gross to me.  But hey, it’s all perspective.

(Source:  http://people.eku.edu/ritchisong/birddigestion.html)

Just Add Water & “edu”

When doing a Google search on an academic topic, particularly a more formal one, I have serendipitously discovered a way you can get trustworthy articles and avoid the forbidden Wikipedia (and other similarly “iffy” sources).  You simply type your intended query, followed by “.edu.”  The quotes are optional but recommended, in order to to optimize your search.

Watch out for the other extreme, though.  If you see “Cited by (number)” and/or “Related articles,” these are directed by the branch of Google called “Google Scholar,” home of dry academic papers, many of which you’d fall asleep on page one.  (Unless you happened to be a professional in one of those fields.)

Nonetheless, to strike a balance, depending on level of your understanding and scope of the source, this is actually a good method.  Great sources, given the “.edu” domain requested, include course pages and department

To sum up:

  1. Include the “.edu” in your Google query
  2. Stick with stuff that is not Google Scholar material based on the methods above (unless you really wanted to enter into such territory.)

So, whenever appropriate, you can boldly Google where no other search has gone before!