Welcome back to our coverage of the second round of the Science Spring Showdown. We had two great games yesterday, and another one finished earlier today. The final game of the round, between HIV and Psychology, is just wrapping up now; we’ll bring you the result as soon as that one goes final.

Tom Ribosome: Earlier today, Phylogenetics took on Unipotent in one of the more non-traditional match ups. Coming off of games against classic rivals, Taxonomy and Totipotent, no one was sure what to expect when the tree builders and fated cells squared off. Phylogenetics struggled early, unable to construct any evolutionary relationships. Unipotent weren’t used to playing a team that lacked any sort of cell types. Despite each of their early difficulties, both teams managed to put a couple of points on the board, and the score was 24-21 in favor of Phylogenetics as we went to halftime.

Betty Myelin: Phylogenetics, which had become so accustomed to building trees with DNA data, had to try a different strategy. Co-coach Masatoshei Nei noticed how much the C. elegans fate map resembled a phylogeny. During halftime, the Phylogenetics team came up with a tree building algorithm to show the developmental relationships of different cellular lineages. They unveiled this strategy on their first offensive possession of the second half, and all the Unipotent team members quickly realized that, if they traced their ancestry far enough back, they were all, at some point, totipotent. With no answer to the Phylogenetic trickery, Unipotent fell into an insurmountable hole. Final score: Phylogenetics 67, Unipotent 38.

Tom Ribosome: Phylogenetics co-head coach, Joe Felsenstein, had this to say about a potential match with the Invertebrates in the regional finals:

Yes, we realize that they’re paraphyletic. We’ll be bringing up the issue with Competition Committee, but we’re not looking for an easy way out of this. We’ll play them as they are currently organized. We’ll play them split into monophyletic taxa. We’ll even play the entire animal kingdom if that’s what it comes down to. The issue of monophyly is one that we’re not going to linger on, but we will take advantage of it if it presents itself.

Tom Ribosome: And this just in: the game between HIV and Psychology has gone final. This was a game where HIV started out very aggressive, taking advantage of its high virulence. The Psychology team realized, however, that as long as they did not engage in any dangerous behaviors, they would be fine. In a true show of sports psychology, head coach Phil Jackson made sure his Psychology team avoided all sexual contact, blood transfusions, breast milk, and needle sharing for the entire contest. But, while this was an excellent defensive strategy, it was hardly practical at the offensive end. The score was even at 0 as the teams headed into the intermission.

Betty Myelin: That’s right, Tom; these teams had scored just as many points as you and I. It was quite a pitiful showing. This wasn’t even a defensive battle; it was pure futility. But this is the kind of match Psychology is used to; after being held scoreless in the first half of their game against Neuroscience, they mounted a miraculous comeback for the win. Could they do the same against the top seeded HIV team?

Tom Ribosome: In a word, Betty: no. We could see HIV mutating and evolving within a single host throughout the first half even though they were unable to score. In the locker room at halftime, HIV coach Reverse Transcriptase must have hit upon the perfect combination of virulence and transmission because they came out with a vengeance in the second half. I mean, they went pandemic. There were compromised immune systems around the entire arena, and I could have sworn that I saw some cases of full blown AIDS. There was absolutely nothing that the Psychologists could do. Listening to your problems can only go so far. HIV took this one going away: 48-3

Betty Myelin: To recap, the Invertebrates handle Surgery, 158-37. Photosyntheis squeaked by Genomics, 59-58. Phylogenetics knocked off Unipotent, 67-38. And HIV infected the Psychologists, 48-3. That sets up two interesting games in the Sweet 16: the top seeded Invertebrates take on Photosynthesis, in a battle between heterotrophs and autotrophs, and Phylogenetics and HIV meet up for the first time ever in a game with some tradition. That’s all for now. On behalf of the evolgen sports network, Basic Concepts, and Tom Ribosome, this is Betty Myelin reminding you to maintain homeostasis.


  1. #1 lisa
    March 21, 2007

    what with depleting ozone and global warming and all, i just don’t see anything or anyone stopping good ‘ol photosynthesis from running away with the whole thing!

  2. #2 Signout
    March 25, 2007

    Oooooh. Good color commentary. I could never compete with this.

    Phylogeny vs. HIV: both mysterious, both with incredible impact on epidemiology as we know it. Alas for phylogeny, it lacks the focus I think it’d need to win this game. Plus, I don’t know anything about it. So I’m still going to cheer for HIV. (In a manner of speaking.)

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