Saturday, March 29, 2014

#56 Snowflakes

This past Tuesday was March 25th, 2014, 5 days after the start of Spring. Still we got 2 inches of snow and it’s been freezing cold. In fact, snow has been a regular weekly occurrence this whole month. This winter has been one of the coldest on record in the last 100 years.

So this article will be a tribute to the lowly snowflake. May I not see another one until next winter!

In reading the Wikipedia article on snowflakes, it says that scientists aren’t really sure how snowflakes get made or what holds them together.

In warmer clouds an aerosol particle or "ice nucleus" must be present in (or in contact with) the droplet to act as a nucleus. The particles that make ice nuclei are very rare compared to nuclei upon which liquid cloud droplets form; however, it is not understood what makes them efficient. [1]

The exact details of the sticking mechanism remain controversial. Possibilities include mechanical interlocking, sintering, electrostatic attraction as well as the existence of a "sticky" liquid-like layer on the crystal surface. The individual ice crystals often have hexagonal symmetry. Although the ice is clear, scattering of light by the crystal facets and hollows/imperfections mean that the crystals often appear white in color due to diffuse reflection of the whole spectrum of light by the small ice particles. [2]

It’s amazing that something as simple as some frozen water is a mystery to today’s scientists. Whoever claims that scientists have discovered all the truth is either not digging deep enough or intentionally deluding themselves.

Snowflakes are absolutely fascinating. Here are some amazing photos of snowflakes to remind you of what they can look like. These are by a famous snowflake photographer. [3]

Some photos from CalTech. [4]

Here is a link to some time-lapse photography of snowflakes being formed. It is almost like they are alive. [5]

Your typical snowflake has about 1019 (10 quintillion) water molecules.[6] Since there is an unbelievably huge number of molecule combinations going into a snowflake, it pretty much guarantees that old saying that “no two snowflakes are identical.”

When you looked at the snowflakes in the pictures, do you get some type of feeling in response? What is that feeling? Do you have any thoughts about where such amazing patterns could have come from? Do you marvel at the intricate details? Do you think, “Wow, what an amazing accident!!!”, “What an amazing accident”, “What an amazing accident,” over and over and over again every time you look at a different snowflake? Hardly.

Scientists may not be able to explain it yet, but one thing we can be sure of is that the ability of water to turn into snowflakes has been a property of water since the very origin of water. It could not be something that was added or “evolved” at a later time.

Long before there was life on earth and long before any inkling of “evolution” existed, there was water. And surely that water had the capability to make snowflakes.

If there is a creator of water, that intelligent being endowed it with the capability to make snowflakes long before we came along to look at and appreciate them.

If there was no creative intelligence, then it must have all come from NOWHERE. All of it. Then, of course, there is no purpose to anything? Without a purpose, what value is there? When you look at something that has no value, it does not inspire you. Think of a piece of junk. You don’t feel inspiration or amazement.

The joy that is experienced from the beauty of a simple snowflake is almost universal among human beings. We all feel it. How could that be? That we all have a reaction of awe and wonder at snowflakes is not accidental or a mistake. There was no ancient “natural selection” for only people who could appreciate snowflakes and they were the only people able to survive.

There is an overall design built into human beings so we can appreciate the precious gifts around us, all the way down to the lowly snowflake. Even one scientist, Dr. Masaru Emoto, goes so far as to proclaim that humans by using thought energy can change the patterns of ice crystals. [7] Very interesting research (but controversial of course). His pictures are really interesting and he has been featured in movies like What The Bleep Do We Know. [8]

Not just snowflakes, but all of the tiniest particles of the universe are awe inspiring. DNA is a beautiful spiral staircase. At the other extreme are the largest entities of the universe which inspire awe as well. The amount of beauty we can discover is mind boggling, possibly even infinite.

There must be God.


[3] Famous snowflake photographer: Alexey Kljatov

[5] Time lapse photography of snowflake.

[8] Website of movie: What The Bleep Do We Know?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

#55 Jigsaw Puzzles

I’m sure you must know what a jigsaw puzzle is. Probably you have put together many in your life starting from really simple ones with maybe only four pieces when you were a child.

Some of the most challenging jigsaw puzzles can get up to 1,000 pieces or more and take hours and hours to put together.

Piece by piece you put them together. For the whole puzzle there is only one way to put it together. The two pieces that are supposed to fit together next to each other must be arranged that way or the whole puzzle will not be correct. No two pieces are interchangeable. Every piece has exactly one other piece that fits on each side.

Once the puzzle is completely put together, then you can see the whole picture. There is a total uniqueness of each of the individual pieces, but they make up an intricately interconnected whole design.

When they assemble a jigsaw puzzle, most people look at the picture on the box. Why? It’s because it helps them to know the overall design and get an idea of where certain features and pieces go. This makes the assembly easier. Imagine how much harder it would be if you never ever saw the picture on the box and didn’t know what you were making. It would be a lot harder.

Now imagine how much harder it would be if there were no picture glued on the pieces to start with. In other words, all the puzzle pieces are the same color or blank. That probably makes putting the puzzle together 10 or even 100 times more difficult.

Not let’s go another step more difficult. Take 5 or 6 different puzzles with no pictures and mix up all the pieces. How much longer would it take you, an above average intelligent being, to correctly assemble all those 5 or 6 puzzles?

Here’s the point. The Theory of Evolution is essentially saying that in the beginning there are only pieces of the puzzle. There is no big picture. Somehow, magically the pieces are assembled into this amazingly interconnected, complex universe.

In my article on DNA [1], I talked about how the human genome has 3 billion characters. Every living being has its own genome with hundreds of thousands or billions of characters uniquely arranged. In my article on Trophic Cascade [2] I talked about the intricate interconnectedness of every living creature in nature from the top of the food chain down to the organisms in the dirt. In my article on the Moon [3], I talked about the incredible precision of its placement in the sky and beneficial effects on the Earth. Those are just some examples and there are hundreds more.

Now think of a jigsaw puzzle with 3 billion pieces that you are trying to assemble. It would take a while wouldn’t it, especially if there were no pictures on the pieces? But, now the most important part, try to subtract any and all intelligence before the assembly starts. Without any intelligence, how long will it take to assemble the picture?

We know that just in nature on Earth alone there are way more than 3 billion pieces of complexity. That’s not to mention the rest of Universe. There are 8,000,000 to 100 million species of living beings [4] which each have their own DNA. All of those millions of species are intricately connected within their local ecosystems which magnifies the complexity in quantum leaps.

Evolutionists believe all of this came about without any intelligence anywhere to be seen.

Someday maybe they’ll step back and see the big picture. When you see an amazing design, you know there must be a designer, even if you don’t see him.

There must be God.

[2] Proof for God #54, Trophic Cascades and Wolves.

Friday, March 7, 2014

#54 Trophic Cascades and Wolves

Here is a very eye-opening story about a relatively new discovery in research on ecological systems.

Scientists used to believe that conservation efforts to restore ecosystems must follow the pattern of evolution. In other words, you had to start at the bottom in the lowest “trophic” levels. The term, “trophic”, refers to different levels of the food chain, for example plants, insects, etc.

A “cascade” is like a stream falling down a waterfall and breaking into more and more streams with each rock it splinters against.

The concept of “trophic cascade” describes when a large carnivore at the top of the food chain has a cascading effect down to all the lower levels and it spreads out in many, many directions and has many diverse, even unexpected impacts.

The most stunning example to date comes from Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. There had been no wolves in the park for 70 years until they were re-introduced in 1995 to 1996. If you have 4½ minutes to watch this video, I think you will be astounded:  How Wolves Change Rivers. [1]

Synopsis of the video: Wolves kill some species of animals for sure, but we now know they give life to many others. Elk populations had built up until by grazing they reduced much of the vegetation to almost nothing. Wolves killed some of the elk and it radically changed the behavior of the elk and they avoided certain parts of the park where wolves could kill them easily, especially the valleys and gorges. Vegetation in those areas started to regenerate immediately. [3] The heights of some of the trees multiplied 5 times. In just 6 years aspen, willow, and cottonwoods came back. [4] Birds then started moving in. Songbirds and migratory birds moved in. Beavers started to increase because of the young trees. [5] Beavers built dams in the rivers and provided habitats for otters and muskrats, ducks and fish, reptiles and amphibians. When the wolves killed coyotes, the number of rabbits and mice increased. Then came the hawks, weasels, and foxes to eat those prey. Also badgers, ravens, and bald eagles came to feed on the carcasses left by the wolves and other available small prey. Bears came back too. Bears also killed some of the elk and reinforced the impact of the wolves. Even more amazingly, the wolves changed the behavior of the rivers. Because of the new vegetation, the rivers meandered less. The river banks had been stabilized and collapsed less often. The channels were straighter and became deeper. There was less soil erosion. Pools formed for all the wildlife to drink from.

“Since wild wolves have returned to Yellowstone, the elk and deer are stronger, the aspens and willows are healthier and the grasses taller.  For example, when wolves chase elk during the hunt, the elk are forced to run faster and farther.  As the elk run, their hooves aerate the soil, allowing more grasses to grow.  Since the elk cannot remain stationary for too long, aspens and willows in one area are not heavily grazed, and therefore can fully recover between migrations.  As with the rest of the country, coyote populations were nearly out of control in Yellowstone before the wolves returned.  Now, the coyotes have been out-competed and essentially reduced by 80 percent in areas occupied by wolves.  The coyotes that do remain are more skittish and wary.  With fewer coyotes hunting small rodents, raptors like the eagle and osprey have more prey and are making a comeback.  The endangered grizzly bears successfully steal wolf kills more often than not, thus having more food to feed their cubs.   In essence, we have learned that by starting recovery at the top with predators like wolves, the whole system benefits.  A wild wolf population actually makes for a stronger, healthier and more balanced ecosystem.” [2]

The ecosystems we are seeing are definitely not “survival of the fittest” or a “dog eat dog” world. Even the prey of the wolves, the elk population, was not harmed. As a whole they were hardier and more disease free. [6]

All of the species benefitted: the plants and trees, the insects and birds, small, medium, and large animals, even the fish and amphibians. [7] Even the rivers and streams benefitted.

Scientists following evolutionist models got it wrong. All aspects of nature fit together harmoniously.

Just as I explained about how the intricacies of the First Living Cell [8] had to have been designed, we can see this interconnectedness and co-dependency of all creatures at higher levels of nature and conclude it must have been designed as well. Chance and blind mechanisms could not create such complexity, especially not in such a top-down cascade model.

The wolves in Yellowstone are a marvelous example of an intricate ecological system that is impossible to conceive happened randomly or even by Natural Selection. (See my post on how the mechanism of Natural Selection loses variability not gains it. [9]). When something is designed by intelligence, the final goal is known and all the building block steps support the end goal. In this case, the wolf at the top of the mountain of the trophic cascade was already conceived of before all the other creatures ascending up the food chain were put in place. Otherwise the benefits cascading down would not exist.

But scientists are discovering more and more trophic cascades all the time. [10] Every time a new one is discovered it reinforces the evidence for a designer by new orders of magnitude. It is exponentially more difficult to create two trophic cascades than one.

“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.” – John Muir

There must be God.

[1]  How Wolves Change Rivers.

[2]  A Wolf's Role in the Ecosystem - The Trophic Cascade.

By altering elk browsing patterns, wolves have enabled riparian vegetation to regenerate for the first time in decades, creating habitat for beavers, songbirds, fish, amphibians, and a host of small mammals.  Additionally, wolves have improved the herd health of prey species by selecting young, old, diseased, or physically-impaired animals.

[4]  Wikipedia: Trophic Cascade.
Examples of this phenomenon include:
A 2-3 fold increase in deciduous woody vegetation cover, mostly of willow, in the Soda Butte Creek area between 1995 and 1999. Heights of the tallest willows in the Gallatin River valley increasing from 75 cm to 200 cm between 1998 and 2002. Heights of the tallest willows in the Blacktail Creek area increased from less than 50 cm to more than 250 cm between 1997 and 2003. Additionally, canopy cover over streams increased significantly, from only 5% to a range of 14-73%. In the northern range, tall deciduous woody vegetation cover increased by 170% between 1991 and 2006.

[5]   Wikipedia: Trophic Cascade.
Importantly, the number of beaver (Castor canadensis) colonies in the Park has increased from one in 1996 to twelve in 2009. The recovery is likely due to the increase in willow availability, as they have been feeding almost exclusively on it. As keystone species, the resurgence of beaver is a critical event for the region. The presence of beavers has been shown to positively impact streambank erosion, sediment retention, water tables, nutrient cycling, and both the diversity and abundance of plant and animal life among riparian communities.

The return of the wolf has changed elk behavior and reduced some herds, but overall numbers remain strong in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. According to Yellowstone biologist Doug Smith, the Yellowstone herds remain healthy despite its smaller size. The number is more in line with historic levels since wolves were reintroduced and grizzly bears and mountain lions returned naturally. Overall elk populations in the states of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming remain healthy. However, elk populations are now more dynamic with the return of large carnivores and elk distribution has shifted to areas of refuge which make them more difficult to hunt.  Elk populations are affected by many variables including weather, disease, predation, and human mortality.

[7]  Wolves: Good News for Yellowstone Wolves.
Wolves are critical to the overall health of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem as a keystone species, restoring ecological balance. Most notably wolves improve the health of their prey through selecting weak, old, diseased and injured animals. Wolves also change the habits of prey such as elk by reducing their numbers and changing distribution. These changes have contributed to a rebirth in the growth of cottonwood, willow, aspen and shrubs, subsequently benefiting grizzly bears, pronghorn, beaver, cutthroat trout, songbirds, scavengers and small mammals.

[8]  Proof for God #41 The First Living Cell.

[9]  Proof for God #35 Natural Selection.

[10] Wikipedia: Trophic Cascade.
One example of the cascade effect caused by the loss of a top predator has to do with sea otters.