NSF Funds Misleading Cartoons on Origin of Life

first_imgA slick new multimedia website called Exploring Life’s Origins made its debut this month.  Dazzling artwork and vivid animations are highlights of the site.    The journey begins with a timeline of life’s evolution in which the viewer can drag a marker through billions of years of evolutionary progress.  Controversial theories about the formation of the planets and the moon, the alleged Late Heavy Bombardment, and the origin of earth’s crust and atmosphere are presented in vivid artwork.  Evolution and long ages are immune from falsification on the site, if and when controversies are admitted; e.g., “it appears that life evolved within a short billion years after Earth’s formation.”  Of the Cambrian Explosion, the caption says that a sharp increase in diversity occurred in a relatively short time span, but the cause is unknown.    The centerpiece of the site is a series of colorful animations of molecules coming together to form the first living cell.  The site gives prominence to the RNA World theory, though, surprisingly, the links page includes a reference to Robert Shapiro’s sharp criticism of it (see 02/15/2007).  Once the building blocks are assembled, animations show the ingredients of protocells coming together with little trouble at all.  The site makes all its visuals freely available to educators.    Where did this website come from?  A look at the About page shows that the animator is Janet Iwasa, a National Science Foundation (NSF) Discovery Corps Postdoctoral Fellow, working in collaboration with Jack Szostak from Massachusetts General Hospital and the Museum of Science.  A click on the link for the NSF site reveals that Janet received a $200,000 3-year grant primarily to “present chemical evolution in a clear and engaging way” to the general public.  As could be expected, the pro-evolution blog Panda’s Thumb is thrilled.A picture is worth a thousand blurs.  Visualization is one of the most powerful, attractive and deceptive means of propaganda.  For years we have presented technical reasons why these origin-of-life schemes do not work, mostly with admissions from the evolutionists themselves.  Recently, for instance, the treatises by Robert Shapiro and Leslie Orgel take opposite sides on the leading theories and essentially falsify each other.  Pigs don’t fly, Orgel said.  Well, with animation, they can!  Clever artwork can make anything seem real.  Mountains of contrary evidence are almost powerless against the propaganda power of misleading visualizations.    Think of the thousands, perhaps millions, of public school students who could be subjected to the seductive mythology of chemical evolution with these videos.  How many teachers will tell them about the problems?  Damaging cross-reactions, the implausibility of a genetic code arising from repetitive crystals (10/30/2007), the thermodynamics that drive reactions toward disorder, the problem of chirality (see online book), and a dozen more falsifying facts that militate against the story are glossed over in these visuals.  There is not one stage of the evolutionary timeline that is not subject to severe objections.  Gaze into the crystal ball of Iwasa’s miracle visions, though, and it suddenly seems so real.    What’s real is that evolutionists are enraptured by imagination, not evidence (see 01/17/2007 commentary).  Their faith rests on visions that could never come true in the real world.  This isn’t the science lab; it’s Disneyland.  It’s Journey into Imagination with Figment.  Fun.  Amusement.  Entertainment.  Escape.  Fantasy.  Virtual reality, conveyed by intelligently-designed false fronts backed by humans managing computers and machinery to create the illusion that impossible things happen every day (see 06/27/2005 commentary).  What they fail to remind you is that when it’s over, you have to re-enter the real world, get into your car, and drive home.  Then you have to balance your checkbook and realize what a fortune you just spent on titillating your imagination instead of getting any useful work done.    Disney loves to advertise the power of imagination, as do evolutionists (see 04/17/2008 and examples in the Baloney Detector under visualization).  The difference is that the Disney company knows their imagineering is just for show, but the evolutionists believe their visions are real.  They confuse their imagination with science.  That’s a very dangerous delusion.  Now, empowered with hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars, these Priests of the Magic Kingdom are on an evangelistic crusade to spread their gospel of imagination to the next generation of impressionable students.    Disraeli warned that error is often more earnest than truth.  It will take some earnest reality checks to snap this crowd out of their hypnotic state.  Do your duty to prevent a whole generation of amusement-addicted, imagination-inebriated zombies from overrunning the world.  Want to get really mad about what’s happening with visualization in school?  Read this.(Visited 36 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Cartier finalist fights illiteracy in South Africa

first_imgNthabi Sibanda was shortlisted as a finalist in the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards. Puo has produced story books featuring its signature characters, Lula and Lebo, a brother and sister who live in Johannesburg with their pet chameleon. The stories teach children about themes such as colours, parts of the body and transportation, all with Africa-related themes. Large illustrated flashcards help children to become familiar with the images and names of different family members, animals or things that they may see or hear about in their daily lives.(Images: Nthabi Sibanda)MEDIA CONTACTS• Bhekiwe NxumaloPuo Educational Products+27 11 483 3008RELATED ARTICLES• Transforming waste to wealth • A winning open education system • Education at the movies • Getting needy kids hooked on booksWilma den HartighSouth African entrepreneur Nthabi Sibanda was shortlisted as a finalist in the 2012 Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards, an annual international initiative to identify, support and encourage projects by women entrepreneurs who lead companies in sectors ranging from disaster relief to sanitary waste management, education, healthcare and employment.Sibanda’s entry stood out from more than 1 000 applications, and she made it onto the list of 18 finalists worldwide, with only three candidates shortlisted in the Sub-Saharan Africa region.The business plan competition was created in 2006 by French jeweller and watchmaker Cartier; the Women’s Forum, the first forum of its kind that advances women’s empowerment; global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company; and the INSEAD business school.Every year, six female entrepreneurs, each representing a major world region, are selected from 18 finalists. The Middle East and North Africa feature in their own award region, alongside Latin America, North America, Europe, sub-Saharan Africa and Asia-Pacific.The awards initiative is playing an important role in helping women entrepreneurs succeed in the world of business.A new approach to educationSibanda is the founder of Puo Educational Products (“puo” is a Sesotho word for language), a company that produces bilingual printed and digital learning content for children under the age of nine years.Puo’s approach to education is distinct in that the material is both bilingual and relevant to children growing up on the continent as the products are based on African themes, languages and heritage.Through a range of books, flash cards, puzzles and posters Sibanda is making a contribution to improving literacy in the country, promoting a love for reading and fostering an appreciation of South Africa’s cultural and language heritage.She feels honoured that her work has been recognised on such a prestigious platform. “It validates what we do,” Sibanda says. “It is recognition and encouragement to continue.”Puo educational materials are approved by the Department of Basic Education, and the company is a member of the Publishing Association of South Africa. A personal need becomes a businessSibanda’s business idea came about when she wanted to teach her children about their African heritage and native languages. She started looking for reading material in indigenous languages, but struggled to find anything suitable.“When I went looking for books in the retail space I couldn’t find anything,” she says. “And even those I did find were not great quality.”What she did find was shelves filled with stories from western countries, featuring little-girl explorers or safari adventures.“But where was the African heritage?” she wondered, surprised by this gap in the market.Sibanda decided to undertake her own market research and discovered a real need. “Statistics show that only 17% of published material for children is in African languages, and this figure includes the school market,” she says.This was all the motivation she needed to establish Puo Educational Products, which began with flash cards to learn words, puzzles to learn to count, and posters representing Africa and its culture.Sibanda explains that publishers such as Oxford and Penguin do print African-language books, but Puo’s material is innovative as it is supplying the children’s market with bilingual editions, published in English and either Sesotho, isiZulu or isiXhosa.“We want children to be open to the world yet proud of their African heritage,” she says.Honouring her African roots through languageAlthough she has no background in teaching or publishing, Sibanda treasures her African heritage and culture.“I grew up in exile in the US, Zambia and Lesotho, and I’ve always been fascinated by language,” she says. “I only started learning my native African language when I was eight, in Lesotho.”She has extensive business knowledge, having spent five years in management consultancy at Accenture and another five at the Women’s Development Bank, as a consultant in enterprise and community development.“What I wanted to do was create vibrant and creative bilingual material for children that can educate in a fun way and at the same time nurture a love for reading,” she explains.The importance of bilingualismSouth Africa has a great linguistic diversity with eleven official languages, yet business and schooling are mainly conducted in English as a first language, with Afrikaans as the second.The most commonly spoken languages in different regions in the country are isiZulu, isiXhosa, Setswana and Sesotho, but Sibanda believes that more should be done to promote South Africa’s numerous languages.The beautifully-illustrated materials provide a solution to this predicament.Puo has produced story books featuring its signature characters, Lula and Lebo, a brother and sister who live in Johannesburg with their pet chameleon. The stories teach children about themes such as colours, parts of the body and transportation, all with Africa-related themes. The materials can be purchased from Puo’s online store, or from bookshops such as Exclusive Books. T-shirts in different languages are also available through Puo’s online store.Research has shown that a second language benefits children in numerous ways, such as cognitive development, multicultural appreciation and even economic benefits. Reading a bilingual book gives children insight into the structure, unique features and word order of two languages.Sibanda says it is important to start the learning process during the early childhood development stage.“At this age children will earn and speak a language much more easily,” she says. “Bilingualism makes children more adaptable, appreciative of other languages, cultures, as well as their own – our children must know where they come from. “Through Puo’s educational material, Sibanda feels that she is making a contribution to preserve Africa’s languages.“Through language, children feel a sense of belonging and there is so much to celebrate about culture in Africa,” she says.Future expansionSibanda says a great opportunity exists to expand Puo’s reach to other African countries, as well as Europe and the US.Soon their products will be available in digital format. Sibanda has entered into a partnership with a local Apple products retailer who is providing schools with iPads, in which Puo’s content will feature.“The digital platform is an obvious learning tool,” she says, adding that there is a good market for mobile apps in South Africa.Puo also hopes to develop an app that will be available in the retail space, particularly as more children are becoming tech-savvy and the number of smartphone users is increasing.Next year the team will be releasing a range of books about traditional African folk tales with a modern twist, another way to ensure that Africa’s rich oral tradition isn’t lost to future generations.“In and amongst our contemporary lives our African heritage is missing,” she says. “It may be a small company, but Puo has great scope and ambitions – we’re out to show the market what it lacks!”last_img read more

Apple Polishes Off iOS 6, To Be Released Next Week

first_imgAlongside the freshly redesigned iPhone 5, Apple formally launched the newest version of its mobile operating system this morning. iOS 6 will ship pre-installed on the iPhone 5 starting September 21, but existing customers can download it from Apple two days earlier. Scott Forstall took to the stage at the Moscone Center and outlined some of the new features of iOS 6, most of which we already saw at the WWDC in June. Among the most prominent enhancements are PassBook, upgrades to Siri, Facebook integration and a radical overhaul of the native Maps application. Since the iPhone launched in 2007, the device has used Google Maps for navigation and directions. Starting next week, iOS users will say goodbye to the Google experience in favor of Apple’s own solution, which features Siri integration, turn-by-turn GPS and 3D flyover maps. Transit directions are conspicuously absent, which opens up a huge new opportunity for third party transit app developers.Maps isn’t the only Google-made app getting the boot from iOS. Also missing will be the preinstalled YouTube app, which Google released its own version of earlier this week. Passbook will be a very interesting feature to watch. Long-swirling rumors of an NFC chip in the iPhone didn’t come to fruition this morning, but it’s inevitable that Apple will integrate the technology. When that happens, Apple’s new ticketing, gift card and coupon management app is ripe to become a full-blown mobile wallet. Siri is also getting a big update. The voice control feature first debuted on the iPhone 4S will pull from more data sources and be a little more polished. New features include looking up movie times and sports scores, finding restaurants, launching apps and making social updates. Siri’s integration with Maps in particular is bound to make the iPhone 5 the ultimate driving assistant. Just as iOS 5 came with deep Twitter integration, the new version will allow users to connect their Facebook accounts for easy sharing from a variety of apps. This feature has been much anticipated. With it, the world’s biggest social network is baked right into one of the most widely-used mobile operating systems. Other new features in iOS 6 include shared photo streams, FaceTime over 3G, cloud-synced browser tabs and cross-device syncing of iMessages.  These are just the highlights. iOS 6 will ship with over 200 new features. Keep an eye on ReadWriteWeb as the launch approaches for a more thorough look.  8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market john paul titlow Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hostingcenter_img Related Posts Tags:#Apple#web A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai…last_img read more

Knicks Expected to Match Houston Offer on Jeremy Lin

[Update] The Knicks are expected to match Houston’s offer on Jeremy Lin—though they could be scared off by a back-loaded contract that forces them to pay heaby luxury tax in 2014-15. Jeremy Lin, the former Harvard guard who made a month-long splash in the NBA last season with the New York Knicks before suffering a knee injury, plans to spend his 4th of July in Houston discussing a contract offer from the Rockets.Lin became a phenomenon with his stellar play that included scoring 38 points against the Los Angelese Lakers on national television. The Asian-American’s play leveled off after teams began to game-plan for him, but he still displayed scoring and passing acumen.He wants to remain with the Knicks, reports say, and New York has the right of first refusal, meaning it can match any offer sheet he signs to retain him.If Lin is offered a back-loaded contract that pays him an eight-figure salary in the third and fourth years, the Knicks could be hesitant to match the offer. With the new collective bargaining agreement employing a more punitive luxury tax beginning in the 2013-14 season, the Knicks are extremely concerned about the financial ramifications of such a deal.The Knicks can offer Lin a four-year deal worth $24.5 million. But an opposing team can offer Lin a poison pill that could go as high as $40 million over four years. Such a contract would pay Lin $5 million in each of the first two years and then go as high as $15 million in each of the last two years.Matching such a contract would give the Knicks four players — Lin, Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler  — making more than $14 million in the 2014-2015 season. Those four players alone would have a combined salary of $72 million, nearly $2 million above the luxury tax.The Toronto Raptors, Dallas Mavericks and Brooklyn Nets have all expressed interest in Lin, according to sources, though he is a backup plan for each of the clubs. read more