Moore’s Law, The Origin Of Life, And Dropping Turkeys Off A Building

I’ve already mentioned the nonsensical paper “published” in (surprise, surprise) arXiv in...

Genome Reduction In Bladderworts Vs. Leg Loss In Snakes

In one sense, I am happy that there is enough interest in the concept of “junk DNA” (and by...

Another Just-So Story, This Time About Fists

“It is demonstrable,” said he, “that things cannot be otherwise than as they are; for as...

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T. Ryan GregoryRSS Feed of this column.

I am an evolutionary biologist specializing in genome size evolution at the University of Guelph in Guelph, Ontario, Canada. Be sure to visit Evolver Zone

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One of the most common hypotheses that I hear with regard to possible non-coding DNA function is that it serves to protect genes against mutation. Junk DNA, according to this proposal, is there to provide a defensive shield against mutagens (usually this includes UV, ionizing radiation, chemical mutagens, viruses, and/or oxygen radicals). I am very skeptical of this explanation, but I am willing to take it seriously if it is studied seriously. In fact, one of my current graduate students first came to talk with me when he was an undergraduate and asked me about this possible function.
It's alive!

It's alive!

Oct 23 2009 | 1 comment(s)

For those who enjoyed our first set of bacteria art images, you will definitely want to check out Microbial Art.

It's alive!

It's alive!

Oct 23 2009 | 0 comment(s)

For those who enjoyed our first set of bacteria art images, you will definitely want to check out Microbial Art.

From Oct. 9-30, the University of Guelph and Ed Video are hosting a special art exhibit entitled "This View of Life: Evolutionary Art for the Year of Darwin". It was organized by professors in four departments: Integrative Biology, Philosophy, History, and English and Theatre Studies, and was curated by Scott McGovern of Ed Video. The exhibit features art by 10 artists, all inspired by the themes of evolution, Darwin, and biodiversity.

The Gregory Lab contributed some installations as well, which are shown in this brief clip from just before the opening reception on Oct. 16 (about 200 people attended the event).
I liked it. Overall, I think the Discovery Channel did a good job of capturing the painstaking work that goes into scientific research, in this case spanning more than 15 years from discovery to publication. Some other quick thoughts:
  • This was not hype. If anything, it was pretty modest, given the amount and significance of the work involved. I didn't see the Darwinius special, but even the previews had me wincing.
Some instructors have lamented the challenges of teaching students who are constantly logged-on, plugged-in, facebooked, etc. Guess what? I like teaching the iGeneration*. I enjoy using YouTube clips in my lectures, putting together online discussions, and making use of blogs and online resources. I like the fact that they all have laptops (but not if they're rude enough to play games during class). I appreciate that I can upload my lecture notes as PDF files and they will all be able to bring them to lectures. I have a BlackBerry, an iPod, a netbook, a blog (obviously), a document scanner, and miscellaneous other gadgets. I hate being offline as much as my students do.