NASA’s Misdirection With New Discovery In Enceladus

Science Daily reports the Cassini spacecraft has found salt on Saturn’s  outermost ring . The source which supplies the material to this ring is Enceladus.

“Cassini discovered the water-ice jets in 2005 on Enceladus. These jets expel tiny ice grains and vapor, some of which escape the moon’s gravity and form Saturn’s outermost ring. Cassini’s cosmic dust analyzer has examined the composition of those grains and found salt within them.”

“We believe that the salty minerals deep inside Enceladus washed out from rock at the bottom of a liquid layer,” said Frank Postberg, Cassini scientist for the cosmic dust analyzer at the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg, Germany. Postberg is lead author of a study that appears in the June 25 issue of the journal Nature.”

John Spencer, Cassini scientist at Southwest Research Institute states in Nature“The chemistry of the plumes is of intense interest not only because it provides a unique opportunity to sample the interior of an icy moon directly, but also because the interior of this particular moon provides a potential habitat for extraterrestrial life.”

Searching for so-called alien life forms has been used quite often to get people excited over space exploration. The sad part of this sale, it’s a misdirection.

Let me explain, the journal Astrobiology Vol 2. No. 2 (2002) conducted an experiment, in order to find out the reaction of  RNA and membranes with salt. What they found was, the sea salt destroys fatty-acid membranes and prevents RNA from polymerizing, even at lower concentrations which are seven times weaker than in today’s oceans.

They concluded that the origin of life in the oceans would not be possible, and that a very protected environment of fresh water would have been necessary for emergent life to evolve far enough to protect itself from the damaging effects of sea salt.

Then in Astrobiology Magazine 2007, it states…

“The amount of salts in the ocean also could be stressful for life.  [Kevin] Hand [Jet Propulsion Laboratory] says the Galileo magnetometer results indicate Europa’s ocean could be nearly saturated in either sodium chloride or magnesium sulfate.”

“If you’ve got a salt-saturated ocean, that doesn’t bode well for the origin of life,” says Hand.  “Some of the processes that lead toward the generation of polymers or the stringing together of genetic base pairs are inhibited by high salt concentrations.  That said, there are terrestrial halophiles, salt-loving microbes, that could survive in the ocean we propose.”

A couple of years later, you got the likes of the BBC and a whole host of other media outlets joining in on the misdirection in trying to sell the public that salt water is one of the key components present for the origin of life.

But not all media outlets were fooled by such nonsense. An unlikely source LiveScience which is known for attacking creationism while defending evolution even said…

“That might sell papers and generate web clicks, but it’s overstated. What NASA found was strong evidence for a salty ocean under ice on the diminutive moon Enceladus. No signs of life were found, and in fact even the ocean needs to be confirmed, scientists said.”

I hardly agree with LiveScience, but they are right about the hype, it’s about ratings, in NASA’s case, it’s about getting people exciting over the prospect of finding alien life because it makes their projects easier to fund. While I really love space exploration and hope we do a lot more of it as it declares the glories of God, we certainly don’t need this type of fraud going on like Cassini scientist John Spencer is conducting in the science community.

Bad Classifications Of Dinosaur Fossils Have Alarmed Some Scientists

There are conflicting reports about this particular problem. In Nature magazine, Rex Dalton described bad classifications of Dinosaurs in this way…

“One hundred and thirty-five years of questionable judgments, some driven by a lust for headlines, have left dinosaur nomenclature in disarray, according to two new studies. The studies find that of 1,401 names given to dinosaurs species from 1824 to 2004, about 16 per cent of names were duplicates, and 32 per cent embodied errors of some other sort.”  Nature

“Mark Goodwin, a palaeontologist at the University of California at Berkeley, says, “If you are in the trenches, dinosaur taxonomy and systematics will always be a work in progress.” But the extent of the problems is a shock. “We knew there was an issue, but no one did the work of seeing how bad it was,” says Peter Makovicky, a palaeontologist at the Field Museum in Chicago.” Nature

Bad classifications of Dinosaurs was first mentioned in The Royal Society’s Biology Letters, which stated there are many dinosaurs classed as different species are actually the same animal with different names. There is going to be a more detailed  analysis that will be published in December 2008 in Paleobiology. I will most likely be following up on this story. However, the BBC did a story in response to the new research and basically is claiming not to worry, everything is in control right now…

“Recent studies had even suggested this error rate might be as high as 50% – with some species being catalogued with several aliases.  But the journal Biology Letters reports that modern practice is now very good. “My research suggests we’re getting better at naming things; we’re being more critical; we’re using better material,” said Professor Michael Benton from Bristol University, UK.”

What an utter mess due to some scientists wanting that claim for fame while other scientists making common mistakes with the labels. Now the BBC did in fact weigh in on the seriousness of bad classifications, one wonders the true extent of the damage that has been over many years. Perhaps we will know more in December as more information will be revealed about this situation. It is recommended for Christians to read the whole article when it comes out.

For us creationists it would be hard to assess the situation more accurately with bad information which wouldn’t mean evolution would be true. At least get their information straight as wrong as it is, then go from there.