Janice Boekhoff
 

Amazing Eyes

170299448_58cd484b32_mOur eyes are nothing short of amazing, astounding and awesome. Here are some facts about your eyes you might not have known:

  • Computer usage won’t damage your eyes. According to the American Academy of Opthamology, the feeling you have of eyestrain after using a computer has more to do with dry eyes than with actual strain. While using a computer, most people blink less often than normal, causing their eyes to dry out.
  • It’s very rare, but two blue-eyed parents can produce a brown-eyed kid and two brown-eyed parents can produce a blue-eyed kid.
  • Your eyes are not full size at birth. This one was a surprise even to me. At birth your eyes are approximately 16 millimeters wide and they grow to 23 millimeters by age three. They will be full grown at about 24 millimeters wide by the time you hit puberty—a size that is slightly smaller than a gumball.
  • The length of your eye determines what type of eyesight you have. Nearsighted people have longer eyeballs, while farsighted people have shorter ones. Even a change as small as a millimeter will change the prescription for your eyes.
  • Having 20/20 vision isn’t the same as having “perfect” vision. What it means is that you can see at 20 feet what an average person can see at 20 feet. The best recorded vision was about 20/10, meaning what most people can see at 10 feet, this person could see at 20 feet.
  • The visual center of your brain (the occipital lobe) is actually located in the back of your head. If you fall hard and hit the back of your head, it’s possible to go temporarily blind as a result.

How did our amazing eyes form? To fit the timeline of evolution, many evolutionists subscribe to the theory that eyes evolved spontaneously multiple times. This is the only way to account for the development of the eye in many different and divergent branches of the evolutionary tree.

But this isn’t a theory that makes much sense. The eye is only useful as a complete structure. What evolutionary advantage would non-functional parts have to cause them to evolve once, much less multiple times?

What makes more sense is that the eye is an awe-inspiring structure that speaks to the beautiful design of our creator.

References: http://kidshealth.org/parent/general/eyes/vision_facts_myths.html, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/20/eye-facts_n_4441884.html

Photo Credit: photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/19013087@N00/170299448″>eye_1</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a>

Dominant Curly Hair

 

 

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My hair when I was in college.

I love to study genetics. Okay, I love it to a point. It can be hard to follow all the single nucleotide polymorphisms on such and such gene, leading to a certain particular allele. But when I take the time to understand it, I’m amazed at how complex and unique God made our bodies.

As I age, I become more interested in the genetics of hair because my hair has gone through some changes in my lifetime. I was born with slightly wavy hair (my mom had wavy hair and my dad had curly hair) that went mostly straight in my adult years. But things changed when I got pregnant with my first child. My hair went curly and I had no idea how to handle it. It became a big, dry mass of hair, somewhat similar to a bee hive.

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My hair now.

For years I worked with it and finally got control of it. I came to love my curls. Now that I’m done with having kids (for 7 years now) my hair has started to relax a little. It’s returning to its original wavy state and it makes me sad, but it has also made me delve into the genetics of curly hair.

Did you know curly hair is dominant? I think most people are surprised to hear that because it seems like more people have straight hair (45% of Caucasians). But this is in part based on what we define as curly.

True curly hair has both copies of the dominant gene for curly hair (C), or in genetic terms CC, and comprises only 15% of the Caucasian population. The 45% of people who have straight hair have two recessive copies of the straight gene, in genetic terms ss. The other 40% of Caucasians have wavy hair, genetically shown as Cs, because hair type is an example of incomplete dominance. Incomplete dominance means that when individuals have a dominant gene and a recessive gene, their hair type will not be expressed by only the dominant gene, but instead will be a mixture of the two.

If we include wavy haired people in our assessment of curly haired people, both segments add up to 55% and it’s easy to see how the gene for curly hair is dominant.

In 2009, scientists discovered the gene they believe is responsible for curly hair—trichohyalin. You won’t remember that (and neither will I), but every time you style your hair, think of how many complicated sets of genes are at work in you right now. God designed you Himself, even down to the multitude of hairs on your head.

I wouldn’t be able to say it any better than the way singer and song writer, Jonny Diaz, put it in his song More Beautiful You:

And you were made with such care, your skin, your body and your hair

Are perfect just the way they are

There could never be a more beautiful you

Don’t buy the lies, disguises and hoops, they make you jump through

You were made to fill a purpose that only you could do

So there could never be a more beautiful you

References: http://www.gbhealthwatch.com/Trait-Hair-Curl.php, http://genetics.thetech.org/ask/ask45, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/science-news/6751910/Curly-hair-gene-discovered-by-scientists.html, http://phys.org/news/2009-11-gene-curly-hair.html

Photo Credit: First photo: I have no idea, probably my dad. Second photo by Kinsey Christin.

What Makes Us Introverted or Extroverted?

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What makes us introverted or extroverted? Neurologists and psychologists alike have studied this question for decades. Is it in our brains? Our genes? Our upbringing? How did God make our personalities so different and why?

Known as social butterflies, extroverts are recharged by social interaction, while introverts are known for needing time alone to recharge. It’s a matter of what energizes you.

Theories abound as to how this part of your personality is expressed in your brain. But recent research has started to generate some answers. A study in 2005 by Michael Cohen of the University of Amsterdam tested subject’s reaction to gambling while they were in a brain scanner. He discovered that extroverts showed a stronger response in the part of their brain responsible for processing emotional stimuli and the part that generates rewards (the dopamine system). Those same subjects also had a gene known to increase dopamine in the brain.

So, extroverts could really be responding to an increased level of dopamine that floods their brain during higher-risk activities, which could include socially high-risk things such as attending parties and socializing with crowds. Whereas, the dopamine system (reward system) in the introverted brain is just not as responsive. Without the reward of dopamine, interacting in those ways loses its appeal for the introvert.

Of course, more studies need to be done to confirm this theory, but it does seem to make sense of the large amount of psychological data that says extroverts rate themselves as happier throughout their lifetime when compared to introverts. Please hear me on this, these results don’t mean that extroverts are actually happier. There may be other reasons they report higher happiness levels. Perhaps extroverts are more willing to be disclose their emotions in a survey or they may define happiness in a different way than introverts.

I’ve discovered I have become more introverted the older I get. Is this true for everyone else? (I’d love to know your answer in the comments section). Experts agree that as we mature into our personalities, they can change, but there doesn’t seem to be an agreement as to which direction that occurs—toward extroversion or toward introversion.

One thing seems clear—our genes in part determine our personality—so God must have designed it that way. How could we say one personality trait is better than another? I believe He enjoys our diversity of personality. We are all made in God’s image and our personalities reflect parts of Him.

 

References: http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/beautiful-minds/will-the-real-introverts-please-stand-up/, http://io9.com/the-science-behind-extroversion-and-introversion-1282059791, http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20130717-what-makes-someone-an-extrovert, http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702304279904579515702293041712

Photo Credit: ID 38166678 © Stuart Miles | Dreamstime.com

Giraffe Head Rush

My husband and son when he was 18 months old

There’s something I just love about big things. For instance, my husband is 7 feet tall (keep in mind the giraffe in the picture is bending way down), I love big dogs, especially Great Danes, and I think giraffes are amazing. Giraffes can reach heights of 19 feet tall, making my husband look short.

Have you ever wondered how giraffes get blood up to their head more than 6 feet away from their heart? How do they bridge the distance when they stand without getting a head rush and how do they keep their head from exploding when they lean down?

Scientists once thought the giraffe had an extra-large heart to pump the blood up its long neck. This was an assumption that turned out to be incorrect. At about 25 pounds, the giraffe’s heart is average (if not a little small) when compared with other large animals.

Turns out the giraffe gets blood up to its head the same way my husband does—high blood pressure.

The key for the giraffe is in the construction of the heart. The left ventricle of a giraffe’s heart is very thick and has a small opening for pumping blood. This gives it a strong beat capable of generating twice the blood pressure of a human (about 280/180 mm Hg). Also, the heart beats faster at 150 beats per minute, again double that of a human. This creates the pressure needed to pump the blood up to the neck when a giraffe is standing.

But what about when it leans down? The giraffe has a special configuration of blood vessels called a rete mirabile that acts as a pressure-regulating system. The rete mirabile is a dense network that can temporarily re-route the blood so not all of it flows to the brain and the giraffe’s head doesn’t explode.

It amazes me to see how God designed the complex innermost parts of the stately giraffe. Perhaps my affinity for big things comes from knowing how huge and limitless our God is. Nothing is too great or overwhelming for Him to handle.

 

References: http://www.giraffeconservation.org/giraffe_facts.php?pgid=4, http://news.bbc.co.uk/earth/hi/earth_news/newsid_8368000/8368915.stm, http://animals.about.com/od/hoofedmammals/a/tenfactsgiraffes.htm

Photo by Janice Boekhoff 2005

Chickenasaurus?

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For years, scientists have been trying to “prove” that dinosaurs evolved into birds by tinkering with the DNA of existing birds.

In May 2015, researchers announced they created the first chicken embryos with longer, flatter snouts, instead of beaks. The scientists say these snouts are a throwback to the evolutionary ancestor of birds, the dinosaurs, but are they really?

To create these embryos, researchers focused on two genes that control the development of the middle of the face in chickens. Now, I bet you’re thinking they modified these genes, but no, they didn’t. They used special molecules to suppress the activity of the proteins these genes produce. The resulting embryos had flatter snouts where the premaxillae (small bones of the upper jaw) were not fused like they are in bird beaks. The scientists referred to these embryos as the ancestral dinosaur state of the chicken.

Although the scientists did not allow the embryos to hatch, they have used the CT scans to claim that it would have been easy for evolution to change a dinosaur snout into a bird beak.

Easy? The scientists themselves admit they are not capable of genetically modifying an embryo into a dinosaur at this point. In fact, their easy method didn’t alter the genes of the chicken at all, just the proteins those genes produced.

Do these experiments really give us any information about evolution? All they tell us is that humans (as intelligent beings) can experimentally change through purposeful actions the complex workings of another creature. In this experiment, the scientists didn’t create anything. They were only able to change what was already there, and not even through random selective pressures, but by design.

What do you think? Can you make a Chickenasaurus in a lab? Would it really be a dinosaur?

 

Reference: http://www.foxnews.com/science/2015/05/13/chicken-embryos-with-dinosaur-snouts-created-in-lab/

Photo Credit: ID 20749999 © Mr1805 | Dreamstime.com

Where Did Our DNA Come From?

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Have you ever wondered about your DNA? Maybe you’ve even thought about getting a DNA test just to see what’s hanging out in your genes. Then again, maybe that’s just me.

But if you’re curious about where your DNA might have come from (other than your parents, I mean), I’ll tell you the real answer. Nobody knows.

Evolutionists say that a primitive form of RNA formed in a primordial soup of elements and then modified itself into DNA. This scenario is speculation because no one has ever seen it happen, even in a lab. But for arguments sake, let’s just say it’s possible the nucleotides that make up DNA formed that way. It still doesn’t explain how the information came to be inside our DNA.

For instance, if I see a rock with ancient pictographs on it, I can explain how the rock came to be by natural processes. The minerals crystallized in a specific shape according to their chemistry. But the pictographs are different. They contain information, which implies an intelligence to impart that information. Our DNA is the rock, but encoded within it are volumes of information, basically the recipe for a complete human being.

I recently attended an event where Dr. Charles Jackson spoke and he framed the problem is a creative way. He had us imagine that we were lying on our backs, gazing at the clouds in the sky when one passes by in the rough shape of an “H.” Most people would assume this was a chance occurrence and rightly so. But what if you then saw an “E,” “L,” and “P” following the first letter?

dreamstime_s_36109587Now, HELP is spelled in the clouds. Would you still believe that’s a chance pairing of the clouds or something more?

Most of us would think it’s something more because we recognize this as information and we know that it must come from some intelligent source. As Dr. Jackson continued, he sang the Beattles song “Help” and asked us to imagine that we saw all the lyrics up in the clouds. Would anyone believe that was a random event? Not likely.

So, what is the threshold for discerning when something is random or not. Scientists usually use numbers in the 1 out of 1080 range, but even this is hypothetical. In the 1980’s, two scientists, Sir Fred Hoyle (PhD, astronomy) and Chandra Wickramasinghe (professor of applied math and astronomy), calculated the probability of getting an amino acid to from into a protein randomly, which is something DNA accomplishes on a regular basis.  They determined this would happen 1 out of 10191 times. A number that is well beyond what scientists would accept as randomly possible.

Intuitively, this makes sense to us. As I said, DNA is a recipe for a human being. If we ran across an apple pie, we wouldn’t think it created itself by chance and an apple pie is much less complicated than a human being.

Information always implies an information giver. We have no example of information (like that contained in DNA) that arises without a language, idea, mind or intention. As Albert Einstein said it:

“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.”

What if the reason we can’t solve the puzzle of our origins is because it’s outside of our consciousness? As in, outside of our sphere of comprehension.

Evolutionists say the appearance of designed information in DNA is only an illusion. What makes it an illusion? The fact that they believe God doesn’t exist.

But what if He does? Maybe DNA appears designed because it is.

What do you think? Is design an illusion? Where did the information come from?

 

Reference: https://answersingenesis.org/origin-of-life/can-natural-processes-explain-the-origin-of-life/

Photo Credit:DNA: ID 14506000 © Milan Martaus | Dreamstime.com

Photo Credit: Clouds: ID 36109587 © Hulv850627 | Dreamstime.com

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