The Loom

Archives for September, 2006

Let Evolution Be Your Guide

PZ Myers did an excellent job yesterday of dismantling the latest from intelligent-design advocate Jonathan Wells. Wells wrote a piece on WorldNetDaily called “Why Darwinism is Doomed.” It is based some new research identifying an important gene involved in the human brain–which I blogged about last month. Wells claims that this discovery is a serious…

Historical Heat

I always like to consider questions of the day from the perspective of deep time. How hot is it these days? Look back 1.35 million years, and you can see it’s pretty hot. Here’s a chart, published yesterday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (free paper here). It combines historical records with…

Last week I caught some of the talks at this year’s Dwight H. Terry Lecture at Yale. The lectures are in their hundredth year, and this time around the topic was “The Religion and Science Debate: Why Does It Continue?” The speakers include Ken MIller, talking about his experience at the Dover intelligent design trial,…

Star-Nosed Genius

Congratulations to the new crop of Macarthur genius grant winners, including Ken Catania, a neuroscientist at Vanderbilt University whose muse is the star-nosed mole. It turns out that a single strange animal can reveal a lot about how nervous systems develop and evolve. For more on Catania’s work, see my blog post from last year…

Over the weekend I wrote about the natural history of the Escherichia coli strain that has contaminated spinach. According to reports today, 109 people have been identified as sickened with Escherichia coli O157:H7, and one has died. In the comment thread of my post, the subject of antibiotics came up. It turns out that antibiotics…

Headed for Notre Dame

I’m gearing up for some autumn talks. First up: Notre Dame University University of Notre Dame. The title of the talk is, “The Darwin Beat: Reporting on Evolution in a Controversial Age.” When: Thursday, September 21, 4 pm. Where: Jordan Hall Auditorium, Rm. 101 More information here. I’ll let you know about some more talks…

The Story Behind The Killer Spinach

Don’t eat your spinach. That’s the word coming today from the FDA: they want everyone to avoid bagged spinach until they can get to the bottom of a nasty outbreak of Escherichia coli O157:H7, a virulent strain that infects an estimated 70,000 people in the United States and kills about 60. A number of people…

Mooney Gets the Treatment

Welcome to the club, Chris Mooney… Chris Mooney is the author of the excellent book, The Republican War on Science. He examines big hot-button scientific issues of the day such as global warming, stem cell research, and, of course, evolution. It’s a polemic, to be sure, but a well-researched one. Over the past couple weeks…

Before 1833 there were no scientists. It was in that year that William Whewell, a British philosopher, geologist, and all-around bright bulb, coined the word scientist. His mentor, the poet Samuel Coleridge, thought the English language needed a term for someone who studied the natural world but who did not inhabit the lofty heights of…

The comment thread over on my recent creationist-critique post has been very lively. A second creationist has joined in the fray, and I’ve posted a response.