Pharyngula

PZ Myers

There’s a new vampire series on FX by Guillermo Del Toro, The Strain. I haven’t seen it — I don’t get that channel — but I’ve read the book, which I found interesting for making vampires utterly disgusting, and also for stealing biological analogues for the infection (alas, I thought the story started very well…

Ladybrains evolved in the Pleistocene

Dr Gijsbert Stoet thinks we should stop trying to correct gender disparities. Speaking at the British Education Studies Association conference in Glasgow on Friday, he argued: "We need to have a national debate on why we find it so important to have equal numbers. Do we really care that only five per cent of the…

Cephalopods are the cutest creatures on the planet. How can you deny it?

There’s the leak in the pipeline

We’re always talking about this curious phenomenon, that we see lots of women at the undergraduate and graduate level in biology, but large numbers of them leave science rather than rising through the ranks. Why is that? It seems that one answer is that elite male faculty in the life sciences employ fewer women, that…

What are you going to simulate?

The EU is sinking €1.2bn (and the US is proposing to spend more, $3 billion) into a colossal project to build a supercomputer simulation of the human brain. To which I say, “What the hell? We aren’t even close to building such a thing for a fruit fly brain, and you want to do that…

Closure on the Obokata/STAP affair

I’ve been following the story of stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency (STAP) cells with considerable interest, and there’s a good reason for that: from the very beginning, it contradicted how I’d always thought about cell states, and if it were true, I’d have to rethink a lot of things, which was vexing. But on the other…

Mary’s Monday Metazoan: Evil Rising

We’ve had a very wet summer so far here in the upper Midwest — the potholes are full of water, our backyard is sodden, the plants are thriving, but that also means that this plague is drifting in vast clouds everywhere. The horror. The horror.

The debate about intelligent, extra-terrestrial aliens goes on, with the usual divide: astronomers insisting that the galaxy must be swarming with alien intelligences, which is popular with the media, and the biologists saying no, it’s not likely, there are probably swarms of single-celled organisms, but big multicellular intelligences like ours are probably rare. And the…