Banner
Melville on Science vs. Creation Myth

From Melville's under-appreciated Mardi: On a quest for his missing love Yillah, an AWOL sailor...

Non-coding DNA Function... Surprising?

The existence of functional, non-protein-coding DNA is all too frequently portrayed as a great...

Yep, This Should Get You Fired

An Ohio 8th-grade creationist science teacher with a habit of branding crosses on his students'...

No, There Are No Alien Bar Codes In Our Genomes

Even for a physicist, this is bad: Larry Moran, in preparation for the appropriate dose of ridicule...

User picture.
picture for Hank Campbellpicture for Heidi Hendersonpicture for Bente Lilja Byepicture for Ian Ramjohnpicture for Wes Sturdevantpicture for Patrick Lockerby
Michael WhiteRSS Feed of this column.

Welcome to Adaptive Complexity, where I write about genomics, systems biology, evolution, and the connection between science and literature, government, and society.

I'm a biochemist

... Read More »

Blogroll
Warner Music Group tries to protect property it doesn't even own:

In the first installment of a planned video blog of their American tour, A23’s Tom Shear recorded a nine-and-one-half minute video describing the band’s plan to connect with its fans through social media during the tour. Mr. Shear invites fans to follow the band on Twitter, friend him on Facebook and follow the band via a video diary he plans to update during the tour on its YouTube channel, A23CompassTour2010. The final five minutes of the video is a montage of the band’s just-completed European tour set to the song Impertinence from their new album Compass.
Sean Carroll at Cosmic Variance on Entropy and the Meaning of Life:

We know that entropy increases as the universe evolves. But why, on the road from the simple and low-entropy early universe to the simple and high-entropy late universe, do we pass through our present era of marvelous complexity and organization, culminating in the intricate chemical reactions we know as life?...
Morning Science Quote

The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.

- H.P. Lovecraft, "The Call of the Cthulhu" (1928)





David Brin got his PhD and worked as a physicist before becoming a much-awarded sci-fi writer. He's got some great advice to would-be writers plus some interesting reflections on art vs science as a career:
As a child, despite my talents and background, it was science that struck me as truly grand and romantically noble -- a team effort in which egotism took a second seat to the main goal. The goal of getting around all the pretty lies we tell ourselves. I strove hard to be part of it.
Bad habits of ineffective science: Trends in Biochemical Sciences has a piece on Mental inertia in the biological sciences. I'm not quite sure what to make of it, but the piece does contain some interesting thoughts on hot topics vs. important topics:

Almost any scientist wants to work on solving an important problem, but at any given moment, it can be difficult to distinguish the topics that are ‘important’ from those that are ‘hot’. Often the scientific community does not immediately recognize the true significance of the work, and it can remain obscure for many years...
End of the World Sci-Fi


Oryx and Crake (2003)
The Year of the Flood (2009)
by Margaret Atwood


In Atwood's world of Oryx and Crake, biotechnology has ruined the world, in more ways than one. As the result of a near-omnipotent ability to manipulate biology, society has become structured around biotech consumer products and services, with a major division between the consumers and the powerful biotech companies. The consumers (the "pleebs") live in a polluted, crime-ridden world outside of the highly secure, isolated, wealthy compounds where the employees of the biotech corporations live.