The Loom

Archives for February, 2006

Set Your Watch

This image came out a couple months ago in Nature, but I just came across it today. I quite like the way it sums up the history of life–something that’s maddening hard to do, since the time scales are so vast. It shows how life’s diversity has been accumulating for billions of years. This chart…

The Dawn of Brains and Bones

Go back far enough in our history–maybe about 650 million years–and you come to a time when our ancestors were still invertebrates. That is, they had no skulls, teeth, or other bones. They didn’t even have a brain. How invertebrates became vertebrates is a fascinating question, made all the more fascinating because the answer tells…

Painting Evolution

This is why I was so lucky to get Carl Buell to illustrate my first book.

The Origin of Species, Side By Side

In tomorrow’s New York Times, I have an article about how new species evolve. It describes new research into how a population can split into two species. The idea that species can evolve when populations get geographically isolated is well-supported by evidence, but the idea that individuals living side by side can split apart (called…

The Evolution of 3-D

You and an oak tree have something in common: you’re both big. Unlike viruses and bacteria, you and an oak tree are both made up of trillions of cells. There’s something else you and an oak tree have in common: you both began as an individual cell, which then divided again and again, its daughter…

Randy “Flock of Dodos” Olson Speaks

Randy Olson, director of the movie, Flock of Dodos has conversation here about his movie. A lot of commenters were offering opinions on how evolutionary biologists should communicate with the rest of us. I thought I’d publish his entire comment here in a post of its own. (Added note: Randy is fielding questions and opinions…

Nice Company

The nominees for the 2005 Koufax Awards: Best Expert Blog have been posted. Many thanks to whoever put the Loom on the list. The voting hasn’t started yet, but please keep this blog in mind when it does. I don’t hold out too much hope, since the list contains quite a lot of impressive bloggers.…

Answers to your parasite questions

My this one from Gal Haspel, who spent seven years in grad school contemplating the sinister glory of Ampulex compressa. Update 2/15: Gal is now fielding questions in the comment thread, discussing new research on matters such as how the wasp knows where in the brain to put its stinger. Fascinating stuff. Please post any…

Movie Night

Last night I drove into New Haven, Connecticut, to catch an advanced screening of Flock of Dodos, a movie about evolution and intelligent design. Afterwards I took part in a panel discussion. It was an interesting evening, not only because the movie was quite good, but because it provoked a noisy discussion. I don’t want…

DailyKos Interview

Over at DailyKos, DarkSyde has been interviewing science bloggers. Here’s our exchange. Greetings to visitors from DailyKos–make yourself at home. If you’re looking for a few samplers of the stuff I write, you may want to check out the “Starting Points and Old Favorites” list in the righthand column. I had hoped to respond to…