Biology

Category archives for Biology

As someone who rides BART to work when I don’t bike, this is a disturbing finding: On BART Trains, the Seats Are Taken (by Bacteria): The Bay Citizen commissioned Darleen Franklin, a supervisor at San Francisco State University’s biology lab, to analyze the bacterial content of a random BART seat. The results may make you…

Hughes asks the Question of the Year?

Virginia Hughes, once the benevolent overlord here at Scienceblogs, asks the Question of the Year: What is Life, Anyway? She notes that many of the major scientific discoveries or advances of the year hinged on that question, and this month’s Astrobiology has a series of essays on the state of our understanding. She explains: Is…

Deep Thought

I’m so glad I didn’t blog about the arsenic bacterial. The paper’s basic methods were probably flawed, and NASA won’t defend themselves. In short, we don’t know yet whether there’s even a story yet, let alone one deserving a press conference. “We cannot indiscriminately wade into a media forum for debate at this time,” senior…

Leigh Van Valen, R.I.P.

Wilkins reports Leigh Van Valen, paleontologist and evolution polymath (theorist, philosopher, mathematician, proponent of the Ecological Species Concept, and coiner of the Red Queen Hypothesis) has died. He was 75, and will live on through his many students and his astonishingly broad body of research, which touched on everything from the evolution of whales to…

Supporting Science, Benefitting Society

That’s the full video from my panel at Netroots Nation this summer. Mark Sumner (DailyKos’s DevilsTower, and the author most recently of The Evolution of Everything), Greg Dworkin (DailyKos’s DemfromCT), and Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway (co-authors of the excellent and important Merchants of Doubt.), joined me to talk about threats to science in today’s…

My favorite part of the report above on “Chupacabras in Texas?” is when the rancher comments that the “chupacabra” he shot was “acting just like a neighbor’s dog.” The reason is pretty simple. It was a neighbor’s dog. It got mange and lost its hair. I think the term for a Texas rancher who can’t…

l cannot fathom why Robert Gibbs, the President’s Press Secretary, would dispute that the animal scurrying past the President’s feet is a vole. The short tail, the shape, the fur, all scream meadow vole (Microtus pennsylvanicus). And yet: “Where I’m from, that’s a rat” Press Secretary Robert Gibbs declared Friday, a day after whatever-it-is scurried…

I can’t say I disagree with these pro-octopus sentiments, though having a cheap and charismatic supergenius escape artist does not preclude having a panda too: Washington needs a new animal celebrity, one more in line with our character, intellect, values and personality. We need to love and celebrate an animal that is more than a…

Claude Levi-Strauss, R.I.P.

Afarensis and John Hawks bid farewell to a giant.

Evolution bests cockroaches

It’s said that cockroaches would survive a nuclear war, but can they withstand scientists who understand evolution? A new study finds that evolution-based Integrative Pest Management was more effective than conventional treatments at killing cockroaches in North Carolina schools. This is good news for asthmatics and people with allergies, since cockroaches produce allergens and are…