As both a scientist and a writer, one of my favorite authors to read is Margaret Atwood. She writes lucid prose that simple yet elegant, and she has a knack for creating fictional worlds that you can just see. Her best-known works speculate about the future of humans and society, and almost all of them are dark and haunting with only the thinnest silver lining. Continue reading
Since darwinbookcats is in part a blog about evolution, I’ve recently posted about the scientific opinions of the GOP presidential candidates. One reason is because these candidates have decided to make their opinions on evolution known. But a second reason is because these opinions are important. In a new blog article for the Washington Post, biologist Richard Dawkins explains why. Continue reading
The Washington Post Magazine published an interesting profile yesterday of biologist J. Craig Venter: “Rad Scientist: Maverick biologist J. Craig Venter is in a race to save the planet.” The profile discusses Venter’s company Synthetic Genomics, the J. Craig Venter Institute (JVCI), and his recent effort to create a new species of algae that can generate biofuels and process green-house gases. Venter’s work is truly ground-breaking and will one day change our lives — in fact, it already has (see below). The article by Susan Okie is terrific and is a must-read for anyone interested in genomics and the future of biotechnology. Continue reading
Two months ago, Michelle Bachmann expressed her doubt about the validity of evolution and support for intelligent design. Well, tea-party candidates must really like this topic, because last week Texas governor Rick Perry said pretty much the same thing. In an interview with the Associated Press, Perry said: Continue reading
One common misconception about evolution is that the processes that produce phenotypic change between species (macroevolution) are different from those that produce phenotypic variation within species (microevolution). For example, creationists might accept microevolution, since this can easily be observed in a lab, but would argue that since macroevolution is difficult to observe over the span of one human lifetime, there is no evidence for it and that large-scale differences must be the result of some designer. In reality, however, there is no real distinction between microevolutionary and macroevolutionary changes: the same microevolutionary processes that result in variation within species give rise to macroevolutionary differences between species. And this afternoon, evolutionary biologists from the University of Maryland and Syracuse University published a study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that nicely illustrates this link between microevolution and macroevolution. Their study, titled “Craniofacial divergence and ongoing adaptation via the hedgehog pathway“, highlights the genetic basis of within and between species variation in jaw shape in African cichlid fishes. Continue reading
I’m a bad blogger — I’ve been too swamped collecting data and writing grants to post about the amazing science (microevolution vs. macroevolution) and books (Going After Cacciato, The Satanic Verses) I’ve been reading. What’s more, today I’m going to repost old stuff. I know, terrible. But at least there’s an interesting story behind this one: Continue reading
If you’re like me, the first thing you read when you open Sunday’s newspaper is the comics. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned in twenty years of reading the comics, it’s that being featured in the funny pages is usually an ignoble privilege at best. Well, this Sunday, cartoonist Garry Trudeau lampooned Louisiana’s Science Education Act (LSEA) in his famous comic strip Doonsbury.