The Loom

Archives for July, 2006

What A Waste of Quicktime

The Washington Post has an article today called And the Evolutionary Beat Goes On . . .. It is based on some interviews with scientists who are documenting evidence of natural selection in humans. I won’t be surprised if it gets emailed hither and yon, but not for the text, which is based on stuff…

As I wrote in May, there have been some signs that scientists were gearing up to reconstruct the Neanderthal genome. Now it’s official, as Nicholas Wade reports in the NY Times. [link fixed] I’m particularly intrigued that the paleoanthropologists doing this work are teaming up with a hot little biotech company down the road from…

Hopping to Wyoming

As I browsed the new papers published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, I was brought up short by this frolicsome picture. It’s a nice example of the visual display of information done right. It shows the spread of primates 55 million years ago across the Northern Hemisphere. I’m always…

If our genes are wired like circuits, does that mean nature is an electrician?

Dodos in Kansas

Randy Olson visited the Loom a few months ago in connection with his movie about our national fun and games with evolution and intelligent design, Flock of Dodos. He provoked a lot of discussion with his main point, that biologists were doing a poor job of reaching out to the public. Some skeptics wondered whether…

In the Beginning Was Linux?

It was eight years ago that some computer programmers got together and issued a manifesto for something they called open source software. Conventional software development–kept hidden behind walls of intellectual property, copyright, and secrecy–was clumsy and slow. It would be far better, the open source advocates declared, to make software open to all. It would…

A good article on the importances of big animals helps put the new dodo fossil discoveries in some ecological context. If you can’t bring dodos back, at least bring in the giant tortoises!

Yarn Versus Science: Who Wins?

A couple readers have emailed me asking what I think of the recent Nature article on blogs by scientists. I agree with Revere that it’s great that Nature (and specifically, Nature reporter Declan Butler) is paying such close attention to blogs in science. The top 50 list they provide is a good launch pad for…

I just want to make one thing clear. When Ann Coulter talks about her Giant Raccoon Flatulence Theory, she’s talking about me. Don’t let anyone else tell you that they are a giant flatulent raccoon. They’re all just a bunch of wannabes. For I am the One True Giant Flatulent Raccoon. Allow me to explain…

The Dodo Graveyard

In today’s New York Times I have an article about the discovery of a vast graveyard of dodo fossils. The fossils date back an estimated 3,000 years. Dodo fossils are exquisitely rare, and so it’s quite something to find an entire assemblage of them. But as the leader of the expedition that found them told…