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Irreducible Complexity

For the past few days I've been fiddling with a set of data that measure the effects of single...

Evolution By Redneck Selection

Do you enjoy hunting or eating seafood?  If so, then you are an agent of detrimental evolutionary...

When Transcription Factors Go Rogue

All the cells in our body have the same set of genes.  The reason that we have arms, legs...

Redneck Astrophysicists Tackle Dark Energy

The astronomy/physics sector of the internets is all abuzz about Dark Energy.It was originally...

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Justin GerkeRSS Feed of this column.

I'm interested primarily in quantitative and evolutionary genetics, genomics, and biotechnology.... Read More »

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Last weekend I visited the St. Louis Zoo to witness their first ever Penguin Walk.
A cyber-war has broken out between creationists and evolutionary biologists.  PZ Myers is calling upon those who are critical of creationism/intelligent design to crash an online poll about a zoo partnership.  In the few hours after his first call to arms, the YES votes (those critical of creationism) mushroomed from around 200 (20% of the vote) to 18,000 (95% of the vote).  Go vote in the poll to take part in this Stephen Colbert-esque demonstration of grass roots power.
Squirrels are also facing an economic crisis.  Apparently, acorns are disappearing all over the country...or at least on the East Coast.  I know some fellow turkey hunters on the East Coast have reported a very spotty acorn crop.  Supposedly it's not just acorns, but hickory nuts as well.  This is very bad news for woodland creatures.  Acorns are a mainstay of their winter diet and are a valuable source of protein after the grasshoppers die in first fall frosts.  No acorns or hickories means less food for squirrels, turkeys, etc.  That in turn means less food for owls, coyotes, and so on.  If this year really is worse than most in terms of acorns, it will be interesting to see how wildlife nu
During the 2000 presidential election I was living in a fraternity house with a roommate serving in the Air Force.  When Bush was projected to be the winner, he jumped up and yelled,

"We're gonna have toys!  We're gonna have more toys!"

As he predicted, the next 8 years resulted in plenty of work and funding for the flyboys.  With the election of Barack Obama, perhaps us geneticists can start doing the same kind of dance.
As Adaptive Complexity writes, last week's issue of Nature  included the publication of  West-African and Han Chinese individual genomes.  The ability to sequence and analyze individual genomes for a reasonable price is a major technological advance of the past few years.  But, you can't learn a whole lot about populations from the study of individual genomes.  For that reason, I'm not sure you will ever see another individual genome published in a high-profile journal (unless it's a cancer genome).
I had lunch today with Jim Anderson, a Professor in the Department of Cell and Systems Biology at the University of Toronto.  Jim asks questions about how genetic changes over time (evolution) leads to the generation of new species (speciation).  Jim's way of asking questions is by watching the generation of new species in the lab.

A little background: