Animal

Category archives for Animal

The Shadow Biosphere

Let’s define alien. Definition number one: unfamiliar. By that description alone, a good 99% of life on this planet is alien. Breathing water, living nestled in thermal vents, stalking prey on the veldt, growing out of the Earth and eating sunlight, without eyes, without legs, with extra legs, color-blind, carapaced, marsupial, with exoskeletons, with jelly…

Synthetic Life Lives

What do these three quotations have in common? Hint: it lives in a petri dish. “To live, to err, to fall, to triumph, and to recreate life out of life.” — James Joyce “What I cannot build, I cannot understand.” — Richard Feynman “See things not as they are, but as they might be.” —…

Information Overload!!!

I don’t have the attention span to write this article. In the course of penning this introductory paragraph, I’ve taken umpteen email breaks, gotten distracted by several Wikipedia wormholes, and taken an hour’s time out to watch Frontline documentary clips on YouTube. It has taken me, in toto, seven days to write a five-paragraph article…

One of Buckminster Fuller‘s most interesting conceits was his dislike of specialization, which he likened to a kind of intellectual prison, restraining “bright” people from truly understanding the complex, and general, systems of which they were a part. After all, he argued, what causes extinction in the animal kingdom? Overspecialization. Of course, it’s logical, and…

A Call to Paws

These days, few things are as commonplace in the landscape of scientific research than the perpetual yowl of opposition. Despite the fact that huge announcements in the sciences often aren’t, off the bat, that thrilling (“two galaxies a million light years away collided and we aren’t sure where the mass went!”), there still always seems…

This bird has blown

If you can’t infer from the heady smell of musk and cheap cologne emanating from your computer screen, let me inform you officially and scientifically that this is the Universe Sex Issue. Although, as a serious science forum, Universe tends to avoid this terrifically subjective topic, I was asked to write a column for the…

Animal Liberation, Human Liberation

I’m not going to lie: this blog will rarely concern iself with Pressing Science Ethics Issues. This sort of thing — the morality of Stem Cell Research, “Is Cloning O.K”? — should remain where it rightly lives, which is to say, “town hall” style discussions on public television. This is not to dub these issues…