Biology

Category archives for Biology

I’ve written before about a recent whale vertebra that someone had dropped into a lake far from the sea in northern Sweden. This past summer, fishermen trawling off the country’s southern coast caught two old whale bones, and they’ve turned out to belong to a grey whale, a species that’s been extinct in the Atlantic…

I got a great letter from Reggae Roger Wikell, which I publish in translation with the permission of Roger and Mattias Pettersson with the awesome metal hair. For context, note that these two scholar friends of mine are the area’s foremost authorities on Mesolithic sites that have ended up on mountaintops due to post-glacial shoreline…

The Value of Biodiversity

Occasioned by a comment on my recent entry on the movie Avatar and the Gaia hypothesis, here’s a re-run of a blog entry from March 2006. As comments to a recent entry, I’ve had an interesting discussion about environmentalism with a friend. We both agree that biodiversity and ecological systems should be preserved. But we…

It’s time for the annual Global Population Speak Out. We all know that in order not to crash the planet we need to consume less energy and raw materials and we need to emit less pollutants. But it doesn’t seem to be generally known that nothing an affluent Westerner does can have anywhere near as…

Fieldfares

Great flocks of fieldfares (Turdus pilaris, björktrast) are hanging around Boat Hill, feeding off the frozen parkland rowan berries instead of migrating. They’re so ruffled up against the cold that they’re hardly recognisable as the streamlined summer birds we’re used to. Their cousins the blackbirds sit alone like big black apples here and there in…

The Swedish Skeptic Society‘s annual awards for 2009 were announced yesterday. Professor emeritus of ecological zoology Staffan Ulfstrand receives the Enlightener of the Year award, “… for his engrossing and pedagogical books about evolution [such as Savannah Lives: Animal Life and the Human Evolution of Africa] and his many pop-sci talks, particularly during the double…

Why Malt the Barley for Beer?

Dear Reader, usually the deal here on Aard is that I tell you what to think and you reply, zombielike, “Yes… Master… Kill… Kill…”. But today, let’s turn the tables. I’m going to ask a question about a simple scientific-culinary matter that has baffled me for decades. And I hope someone out there knows enough…

Dan Simmons’s Scientific Let-Down

Dan Simmons published a wonderful, galaxy-spanning, mind-blowing sf novel in 1989: Hyperion. Then he followed it up with three more novels of which I have read two. They’re OK, but not as good as the first book. Science fiction is of course stories where fabulous things happen and are explained by science and technology rather…

Ed Yong’s excellent post about fruit-bat fellatio received some even better, eye-opening comments from one Russell and Frog: Russell: “Tan is falling into the fallacy that animals have sex for the purpose of procreation. Or of writing as if. Those bats are having sex because they’re horny, and the fellatio is somehow making their sex…

Here’s a confusing press release from the University of Gothenburg. Researcher Jonas Warringer is trying to find ways to slow the rate of genetic adaptation in certain microbes down to keep them from evolving resistance to antibiotics. But look at this (and I translate): Slowed-down evolution can counteract antibiotic resistance … The resistance of an…