The Loom

Archives for August, 2005

Clint Is Dead, Long Live Clint

Clint, the chimpanzee in this picture, died several months ago at a relatively young age of 24. But part of him lives on. Scientists chose him–or rather, his DNA–as the subject of their first attempt to sequence a complete chimpanzee genome. In the new issue of Nature, they’ve unveiled their first complete draft, and already…

The Chromosome Shuffle

Our genes are arrayed along 23 pairs of chromosomes. On rare occasion, a mutation can change their order. If we picture the genes on a chromosome as ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ a mutation might flip a segment of the chromosome, so that it now reads ABCDEFGHISRQPONMLKJTUVWXYZ or it might move one segment somewhere else like this: ABCDLMNOPQRSTUEFGHIJKVWXYZ In…

The Beauty of Deceit

Sometimes a picture can tell you a lot about evolution. This particular picture has a story to tell about how two species–in this case a fly and an orchid–can influence each other’s evolution. But the story it tells may not be the one you think. Coevolution, as this process is now called, was one of…

Well, Dr. Chopra has given us part two of his ruminations on evolution with a post that will make physicists cringe as much as biologists. My favorite line: “Consciousness may exist in photons, which seem to be the carrier of all information in the universe.” Excuse me while I chat with my flashlight.

Bush, Frist…McCain

From an article on how John McCain may be positioning himself for a presidential run in The Arizona Star: McCain told the Star that, like Bush, he believes “all points of view” should be available to students studying the origins of mankind. “Available” is a wonderfully vague word. Senator, Senator, a follow-up question please? Just…

The Kanisza Virus

Scientists have been making some remarkable discoveries about viruses recently that may change the way we think about life. One place to start understanding what it all means is by looking at this picture. You can’t help put see a bright triangle with its three corners sitting on top of the black circles. But the…

A View From the Left (Sigh)

Here is an error-filled post about evolution by Deepak Chopra, frequent poster to the lefty blog, Huffington Post. I don’t have time to point out the many ways in which Chopra mangles his description of biology, but PZ Myers has. Clear evidence that scientific illiteracy does not respect political boundaries.

Malaria For Brains

The red blob in this picture is a human red blood cell, and the green blob in the middle of it is a pack of the malaria-causing parasites Plasmodium falciparum. Other species of the single-celled Plasmodium can give you malaria, but if you’re looking for a real knock-down punch, P. falciparum is the parasite for…

The Tubercular Hominid

New branches on the tree of life have just turned up in Africa. Some are cuter than others. In Madagascar, our primate family was enlarged by two adorable species of mouse lemurs. Meanwhile, other scientists made an uglier discovery in the small country of Djibouti, in the Horn of Africa. They found a surprising diversity…

The Big Picture

This article in the New York Times is a pretty useful overview of the political and financial support behind the Discovery Institute, the main anti-evolution think tank. It describes how the Institute has spent $3.6 million dollars to support fellowships that include scientific research in areas such as "laboratory or field research in biology, paleontology…