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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There is an interesting story in New Scientist about The Science&Entertainment Exchange, a program initiated by the National Academy of Sciences to improve the science in movies and TV [New project aims to unite science and Hollywood]. It would be hard to make it worse, so this strikes me as a very positive development!

The project is described thus:

This comment by Andy was too good not to repost.

Generic press release for genome sequencing

Scientists map genome of (insert name).

A team of researchers from (insert university/institute/lockup garage) has completed mapping the genome of (animal/plant/squashy deep-sea thing).

"We were amazed how (strike one) similar/dissimilar it is to the human genome," said (insert name of lead scientist/grad student/custodian who happened to answer the phone).

The discovery should help scientists (strike all but one) cure cancer/end world hunger/prevent hair loss).

With apologies to Jonathan Eisen for encroaching on his annoyance specialty, here is yet another case of science via press release.
Big hop forward: Scientists map kangaroo's DNA Taking a big hop forward in marsupial research, scientists say they have unraveled the DNA of a small kangaroo named Matilda. And they've found the Aussie icon has more in common with humans than scientists had thought. The kangaroo last shared a common ancestor with humans 150 million years ago.
There are many beneficial aspects to reading and writing blogs about science. I have found that they are often much better than news feeds (which generally are uncritical repetitions of press releases) for learning about research in areas other than my own specialization. This also makes them very useful for teaching, as new examples that otherwise might be overlooked can be found and added to the course material.

My feeling about science news reports is decidedly mixed. On the one hand, I read most of the main news services in order to keep up with research outside of my own discipline. On the other hand, I would say that about once every two or three days I find a story so silly that it makes me physically uncomfortable. This is one of those.

Evolution's new wrinkle: proteins with 'cruise control' act like adaptive machines

It opens:

A team of Princeton University scientists has discovered that chains of proteins found in most living organisms act like adaptive machines, possessing the ability to control their own evolution.

(Repost from one year ago on the older Genomicron -- this got a nice
response from readers and family, so I am posting it once again.)

In Canada, as in many countries around the world, November 11 is a day of remembrance for the sacrifices made during wartime. In Canada, this refers in particular to World War I (1914-1918) and World War II (1939-1945), but also to smaller engagements in which Canadians were (or are) involved, such as Korea and Afghanistan.