Bridge-tunnel inspires transit planners

The opening of the 9.5-mile Oresund bridge and tunnel between Denmark and Sweden Saturday not only advanced the science of crossing complicated bodies of water but got others thinking about the possibilities. Among those are the Seattle-based Discovery Institute. The public-policy think tank sees the Interstate 5 corridor from British Columbia to Oregon, and the rail and highway systems within, as the catalyst for economic growth in the Pacific Northwest. It is particularly concerned about the overcrowded 12.5 miles of Route 520, including the aging Evergreen Point Bridge. There are 120,000 jobs in the two-mile-wide corridor around the limited-access highway. Replacing the floating bridge and its approaches has long been the subject of regional studies and forums. The latest conference -- "State Route 520, a Corridor in Crisis" -- was held last week in Kirkland and was sponsored by the institute. Among the agenda items: the $3.5 billion Oresund Link, connecting Malmo, Sweden, and Copenhagen, Denmark, by rail and highway. The link, across a strait leading into the Baltic Sea, consists of an artificial island with a tunnel on one side and a long bridge on the other. "We are going to have to look at the world's technologies and how it is done," Bruce Agnew, who heads the institute's transportation project, said this week. Read More ›
Message in a bottle
Message in a bottle on the beach
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DNA: The Message in the Message

We are so conditioned to expect scientific breakthroughs that exceed our expectations, Barr observed, that we reflexively reject any idea that science has limits. Yet science reveals not only the rich possibilities of nature but also its limitations. To give obvious examples, we know that we will never fulfill the alchemists’ dream of chemically transmuting lead into gold. We know that a parent of one species will never give birth to offspring of another species. Science reveals consistent patterns that allow us to make negative statements about what natural forces cannot do. To persist in seeking natural laws in such cases, Barr suggested, is as irrational as any primitive myth of the thunder gods. Read More ›

SR 520 and the long-term effects of doing nothing

The surprising thing about the 520 bridge over Lake Washington is how well the thing is working, despite the poor planning that is its hallmark. Decades after the region's growth passed it by, the Evergreen Point Floating Bridge and its larger sibling, the 520 transportation corridor between Redmond and Seattle, is handling groaning levels of buses and cars. This despite decades of neglect, indifference, cross-lake infighting and regional leadership that would sooner run for higher office than face a tough issue head on. Two days of pertinent and penetrating analysis of the 520 problem stirs these emotions. Hosted by Seattle-based Discovery Institute, the forum brought comparisons to bridge spans in Scandinavia and a toll road in Ontario to discussions of a 520 fix. But the fix is in that the fix is a long time coming because of the way we do public business on process-captured Puget Sound. ...Bruce Chapman of the Discovery Institute prefers a tunnel solution. That offers engineering problems that are daunting, given the depth of Lake Washington and the slopes of the approaches to the lake. But that's not really the issue. Engineers can solve problems. It's the rest of us who can't. "520 is a hole in our transportation planning," said Rob Fellows of the state Department of Transportation. Action by the state Legislature once prohibited the department from even planning a 520 solution. "The 520 issue," Fellows said, "is part of the politics of veto." Read More ›

Creationism v. Evolution: Will Religion or Science Prevail?

Since the days of the Scopes' Monkey Trial, the debate over teaching evolution has captivated the nation. Recently, several states have passed laws that require evolution to be taught as theory not fact and some schools have even taken evolution out of the science curriculum. Should teachers be allowed to challenge Darwin's theories about the origins of the world in science class? Or
is the introduction of criticism of evolution just the latest attempt to
substitute religion for science education? Join us for a discussion of
evolution, creationism, intelligent design and a debate over the U.S. Constitution's call for a separation of Church and State.

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Sheet of paper with corrected mistakes in text, closeup
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Pennock’s Convenient Distortion

Robert Pennock’s misquote of me in Books & Culture (Sep/Oct 99, p. 31) is mischief in the making. He quotes me as writing that design theorists “are no friends of theistic evolutionists.” What I in fact wrote is: “Design theorists are no friends of theistic evolution.” (He got the quote right in his book Tower of Babel, but not in Read More ›