Life Science

The structuralist heresy

Larry Moran has heard the words of Michael Denton, and has come away with a creationist interpretation of structuralism. I have to explain to Larry that Denton, as you might expect of a creationist, is distorting the whole idea. Here’s the Denton/Intelligent Design creationism version of structuralist theory. As Denton says, the basic idea is…

Happy Darwin Day!

I’m about to leave town for the weekend, but I did want to poke my head up just long enough to wish everyone a Happy Darwin Day! And just in time for this most wonderful of holidays, my paper on anti-evolutionary mathematics has now been published. In the journal Science and Education, to be precise.…

We’ve got an interesting seminar coming to Morris next Thursday. Thursday, February 18, 2016, 5 p.m. Location: Imholte Hall 109 The origination of novel structures has long been an intriguing topic for biologists. Over the past few decades it has served as a central theme in evolutionary developmental biology, in part to highlight explanatory gaps…

Zeroing in on Zika and Microcephaly

On The Pump Handle, Liz Borkowski reports on a “public health nightmare” in Brazil that threatens to become more common around the world. The culprit is a virus called Zika, known to cause mild infections since 1947 but now “linked to nearly 4,000 cases of microcephaly – infants born with abnormally small brains and heads.”…

Researchers are spending a lot of time exploring how the microbes living in our guts impact our health. In a new study published in Cell Reports, researchers wanted to know how the gut microbes of wild brown bears changes between summer and hibernation. They discovered that during the summer, the microbial species present in the gut are…

They’re already in their pajamas. The Monterey Bay Aquarium has a new exhibit of the Striped Pyjama Squid. Guess what they look like?

Peter Doherty explains the likely outcomes of the Zika virus pandemic. What we are seeing in the Americas is a classic “virgin soil” epidemic. Enormous numbers of people and mosquitoes are being infected, the virus is transmitting at a very high level, and there may be as many as 4×106 cases. Apart from affected neonates,…

Those troublesome, shaky X chromosomes!

It’s easy to find lists of dumb things creationists say, and I’m familiar with that lot, but here’s a fun new time-waster: Things Anti-Vaxxers Say. Here’s a beautiful example of something I’ve rarely seen so clearly stated: they get the facts totally wrong, actually the reverse of the actual situation, but nope, that doesn’t stop…

This is not how you do science

There is a myth about how science progresses: great men have a eureka moment, and rush in to the lab to do the definitive experiment, often bravely and with the opposition of the Science Establishment, and single-handedly revolutionize a discipline. It’s nonsense. I can’t think of a single example of that kind of work that…

Genetics and Food Security

There is a food crisis sneaking up on us right now. A lot of them, actually. A lot of little one, some big ones. There are always places in the world where food has become scarce for at time, and people starve or move. You’ve heard of the “”Syrian refugee crisis,” and the often extreme…