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Category archives for Biology

Is There Too Much Hypothesis Testing?

About a month ago, we were told that theory is dead. That was the thesis of Chris Anderson’s article in Wired. Rather than testing hypotheses using the scientific method, Anderson argues that scientists are merely generating loads of data and looking for correlations and stuff. The article was a bit muddled, but that’s Anderson’s main…

Crocodile Fishing

So, I’m just hanging out here by the side of the water waiting for my lunch. Sure, I could go in the water and get my lunch. But that’s not how I roll. I wait patiently for my prey to get within striking distance, and then I attack. So, here I am just hanging out…

Attack of the Horny Peacock

Last month I mentioned that I had been in Barcelona at the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution conference. I arrived in Spain early in the morning, and, after I got checked in to my hotel, I went with a couple friends to the Barcelona Zoo. This zoo is famous for housing Snowflake, the albino…

New Gene Makes Flies Less Gay

We all know that Drosophila are the gayest bunch of gays that ever gayed up genetics. This is especially true when you create mutations in fruitless (nee fruity), “the gay gene”. Male flies with mutations in fruitless will try to get it on with other males (e.g., doi:10.1016/S0092-8674(00)81802-4). That’s gay! But fruitless is an old…

The End of Theory?

Wired Magazine has published an article by Chris Anderson arguing that theory is dead (The End of Theory: The Data Deluge Makes the Scientific Method Obsolete). The argument: with our ability to generate vast amounts of data, there is no need for theory. Now, it’s hard to parse what Anderson means by “theory” from the…

The Phylogenetics of Animal Testing

Phylogeny Friday — 30 May 2008 Research on animals in under attack throughout the world. Animal rights activists not only stage rallies against animal testing, but they also engage in criminal behavior. They vandalize property, sabotage experiments, and terrorize researchers. How can scientists fight back? Michael Conn and James Parker have written book documenting the…

Whad’ya Know About Protists?

My advisor has recently got me listening to Whad’ya Know. My first reaction: It’s like Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! Only not as funny, not as interesting, and not as good. I’ve been downloading the podcasts for the past couple of weeks, and I’m not sure whether I’ll keep subscribing in iTunes. I’m only bringing this…

Varmus Screws the Pooch

Harold Varmus is one of the most high profile advocates of open access to biomedical research. As one of the cofounders of the Public Library of Science (PLoS), he has played an important role in making published results freely available to all. And he’s a Nobel Laureate, which ain’t too shaby either. Varmus was interviewed…

Sleep, Sex, and Drosophila

60 Minutes ran a special on the science of sleep this week. The special included an interview with Scott McRobert about sleep deprivation and mating in Drosophila. So if lack of sleep impacts our appetite, our metabolism, our memory, and how we age, is there anything it doesn’t affect? How about sex? Scientist Scott McRobert…

Genomics and DNA Barcoding

Identifying and cataloging biological diversity is challenging. One way to do go about IDing all the life forms is to sequence a known region of the genome in all those species. This is known as DNA barcoding. An article in PNAS reports on the DNA sequence of a gene found useful for DNA barcoding in…