I get paid to study microbial evolution. These writings are for my non-scientist friends and family (hi guys!) and anyone else who sees any value in them.
The content will mainly be pointers to... Read More »
A while ago, I read an argument that understanding economics is more important than understanding evolution. The author's point is that evolutionary theory does not provide the layman with particularly useful information, whereas economic theory has many applications, particularly in public policy. Therefore, as concerned citizens interested in promoting good public policy, we should give priority to learning about and discussing economic theory.
If I had a kid who might want to go into research for a living, I'd want them to read this story. It gives some insight into what is actually involved in doing research, even though it avoids the frustrating parts of the job.
Not long ago, I read J.R.R. Tolkien's mythopoeia masterpiece, The Silmarillion (his creation myth for the world of The Lord of the Rings). Upon finishing it, I immediately picked up Sparks of Life, a history of the spontaneous generation debates. As I was trying to wrap my head around the different theories of spontaneous generation, I felt like I was reading the same kind of book as The Silmarillion.
Birds in general are impressive creatures, but the Supurb lyrebird takes the cake for its ability to mimic sounds. Here's a video demonstrating its ability to mimic construction sounds. You can listen while you read the rest of this post:
One of the most interesting things about plants is that they do exhibit behavior (i.e. movement in response to their environment), even if humans rarely notice it. We don't notice their actions because they act very slowly. In fact, the usually act by growing!
The hominin fossil record documents a history of critical evolutionary
events that have ultimately shaped and defined what it means to be
human, including the origins of bipedalism; the emergence of our genus
Homo; the first use of stone tools; increases in brain size; and the
emergence of Homo sapiens, tools, and culture. The Earth's geological
record suggests that some evolutionary events were coincident with