Life Science

A list of reviews of Nicholas Wade’s book “A Troublesome Inheritance,” mainly by anthropologists and others who have investigated issues surrounding the concept of “race” in humans. Bethune, Brian: Inheritance battles Daniels, Anthony: Genetic disorder Dobbs, David: The Fault in Our DNA Fuentes, Augustín: The Troublesome Ignorance of Nicholas Wade Geneticists, Lotsofthem: An Open Letter…

We know a lot about the sexy bits of male cephalopods — ask about hectocotyl arms and spermatophores sometime — but would you be surprised to learn that we don’t know much at all about squid ladybits? Of course you wouldn’t.

DNA: The Web Inside the Strands

Only 1% of the human genome codes for proteins, which might make you wonder what the rest of the nucleotide sequence is good for. In 2012 the Encyclopedia of DNA Elements (or ENCODE) announced that a full 80% of the genome played a biochemical role, interacting with proteins in some way. But a new study…

How we got here

It’s been 25 years since Gould’s Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History crystallized the debate over the importance of contingency in evolution, most famously illustrated by his metaphor of “replaying the tape of life”. If we could roll back the history of life on earth and restart it in the pre-Cambrian,…

We do, however, require a formal seminar of our biology undergraduates in their senior year. We must make sure none of them ever see this comic!

In 1925, dogsledders raced through the frozen Alaskan bush to bring antiserum to the isolated village of Nome.  The antiserum arrived in time, saved the lives of many villagers from the horrors of diphtheria, and inspired the Iditarod, a famous race in celebration of the dog sledders’ heroic feat. West Africa could use a similar effort today.…

2 + 2 = 17, for certain values of 2

A while back, I responded to Behe/Luskin’s claim that his model proving the impossibility of evolution of chloroquinone resistance was vindicated. I pointed out (as did Ken Miller) that showing that a particular trait required multiple point mutations did not affect the probability in the naive way that Behe and Luskin calculated — in particular,…

The most brilliant business plan ever

Take a look at the kind of profit you can make from various businesses. This is pretty good money. We all know Apple’s business model is to build cool gadgets with high end stuff inside that it then sells at a high markup for premium design and ease of use — they’re at least creating…

Physiologist Laurie Goodyear (Joslin Diabetes Center, Harvard Medical School, MA) and her colleagues recently published a study in the American Journal of Physiology that shows how overexpressing a protein can increase exercise capacity. The protein of interest was tribbles homolog 3 (TRB3), which is a mammalian form of the tribbles protein found in fruit flies…

The fuddy-duddies still thrive

Kate Clancy comments on a ‘satire’ published in a serious journal. Genome Biology published a satirical piece by Neil Hall today, and since I’m American and he’s British I don’t find it funny. No wait, it’s that I’m female and he’s male. Or maybe that I’m junior and he’s senior. I’ve got it, it’s because…