Fake Banner
Experiments on the origin of life

Nobel laureate J. W. Szostak delivered an interesting lecture on his experiments relating to the...

Wait: What Were The Controls? (Kids In Lesbian Households)

A CNN headline reads "Kids of lesbians have fewer behavioral problems, study suggests".Interesting...

What are scientists reading?

I recently took a look around my department to see what academic scientists are reading. I ignored...

Philosophy for kids

About a week ago, I asked the question "What is the most important field of science for the public...

User picture.
picture for Michael Whitepicture for Brian Taylorpicture for Johannes Koelman
Adam RetchlessRSS Feed of this column.

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 »

Blogroll
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.

Decisive Advantage by Chris Potter in the Pittsburgh City Paper.

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!
This should be a good read:

Understanding Climate's Influence on Human Evolution

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