The Loom

Archives for January, 2005

Mutants Today and In Days Gone By

Thanks to the many people who left comments on my recent post about some recent work on the intersection of stem cells and human evolution. I noticed that several people expressed variations on the same theme, one which deserves a response. To recap briefly: a great deal of research indicates that a couple million years…

Recently I assisted the folks at Soundprint with an hour-long radio documentary about how humans are driving evolution in new directions. Here’s the show, available on Real Player.

Of Stem Cells and Neanderthals

Last October, word leaked out that something might be seriously amiss with the embryonic stem cell lines approved by President Bush for federally funded research. Today, the full details were published on line in Nature Medicine. It’s an important paper, and not only because it points out a grave problem with the current state of…

Non-Random Sponsor

My thanks to Nova for becoming my first blog sponsor. I’ve always been leery of the random scattershoot of ads you see on many blogs, and so I was relieved that I wound up with a better fit. (Full disclosure: I wrote the companion book to the big series on evolution that the Nova/WGBH team…

The Hobbit War: An Indonesian View

The Guardian has a long but disjointed report about the dispute over Homo floresiensis. Articles like these rarely give a very good picture of scientific disputes, since all parties involved only get a couple catchy quotes apiece. I’ve been particularly puzzled by Teuku Jacob, the elderly Indonesian paleoanthropologist who sparked the controversy by taking possession…

Unscrewing the Inscrutable has been updating progress of the Huygens probe as it screeches towards the surface of Titan. So far (8:20 am) it still seems to be going well. The first real data will come later this morning. Of course, the really exciting stuff for us bio-freaks will come in a few months. Correction:…

Scrape off Those Stickers!

Scrape off those stickers! AP reports that a judge has ruled that those goofy “Evolution is just a theory” stickers must be taken off of textbooks in Georgia. Now, how about those “Continental drift is just a theory” stickers on the geology textbooks?

More To Read: Tangled Bank

More to read: The Tangled Bank–The Tangled Bank is a semi-regular banquet of posts from various blogs on biology. Thanks to the powers that be for including one of mine in the latest issue. Go read it for the rest, which are fascinating.

Dinosaur-eating Mammals (You heard me right): Jeff Hecht at New Scientist has a good write-up of the discovery of a dog-sized 130-million year old mammal with dinosaur bones in its gut. Most mammals may have been humble little critters during the Age of the Dinosaurs, but at least a few seemed to have turned the…

Mysteries Near and Far

The more time I spend talking to biologists, the more they remind me of detectives. I have two stories in tomorrow’s New York Times that make this connection particularly clear. In the first, E.O. Wilson attempts to solve the mystery of a plague of ants that devastated some of the earliest Spanish settlements in the…