Life Science

Learning thresholds

Kim Goodsell was not a scientist, but she wanted to understand the baffling constellation of disease symptoms that were affecting her. The doctors delivered partial diagnoses, that accounted for some of her problems, but not all. So she plunged into the scientific literature herself. The point of the linked article is that there is a…

What would analog genetics look like?

How about another of those non-awkward Dawkins Twitter questions? Although this one actually is kind of awkward, in a non-offensive way. I don’t quite know what it means. Does evolution rely upon digital genetics? Could there be an analogue genetics? What features of life have to be true all over the universe?

A new study published in  AJP-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology suggests that electroacupuncture to the abdominal region may prevent increases in blood sugar concentrations after a meal by affecting insulin sensitivity and circulating free fatty acid concentrations.  Granted this is not comparative physiology research, I find it interesting that electrical stimulation can have such a large impact…

Islamists have brain leeches!

Susan Blackmore always lectures entertainingly — really, if you get a chance to hear her, you should — so I can guess how surprised she was when students claimed offense and walked out on her talk. They were religiously indoctrinated, and simply shut down their brains when the word “evolution” came up, and when she…

USA Science & Engineering Festival Announces 2016 Event Dates and Plans for Expanded Outreach

The USA Science & Engineering Festival is proud to announce the return of Lockheed Martin as its 2016 Founding and Presenting Host and expanded outreach activities to engage our nation’s youth in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). “The USA Science & Engineering Festival provides an essential introduction and gateway to the exciting world of STEM,”…

I think this is rather awesome: a detailed examination of the Cambrian fossil Hallucigenia, specifically an examination of the fine structure of its claws, has revealed clear affinities of the long extinct form to this adorable little guy, the velvet worm.

Mimicking geckos

Researchers at DARPA are using geckos to create biologically inspired methods of scaling vertical walls. Check out this video demonstration of “Geckskin”:

Why do cavefish lose their eyes?

It’s another Dawkins question! Why do cave-dwellers lose their eyes? They’re useless, but are they harmful? Costly to make? Or eroded by rain of uncorrected mutations? I thought I’d already addressed this in a blog post long ago, but I searched, and I didn’t — it was my inaugural column in sadly defunct Seed magazine,…

Ophelia has summarized a series of science questions Richard Dawkins asked on Twitter. Hey, I thought, I have answers to lots of these — he probably does, too — so I thought I’d address one of them. Maybe I can take a stab at some of the others another time. I like this one, anyway:…