The number of communicating alien civilizations = R* x fp x ne x fl x fi x fc x L
. The formula is the Drake Equation
, and modern estimates range from several thousand to none but us. You can solve it yourself
. What is your estimate of the number of alien civilizations out there?
The design challenge.
After some work on genetic algorithms
was accused of having 'frontloaded' solutions, Dave Thomas issued the challenge - human design vs his mutating code to find Steiner Trees^
. If the answer is frontloaded, it should be derivable. And now the results are in
Whales are ridiculous,
thanks to their evolutionary origins as
coyote-like mammals moved into the water about 45 million years ago and became more and more adapted to the marine life
A new study
by evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa
suggests there are more beautiful women than handsome men, finding that attractive people are significantly more likely to have a daughter than a son. Previous Kanazawa research found big and tall
parents, scientists, mathematicians, engineers
, and violent men
tend to have sons; while nurses, social workers and kindergarten teachers tend to have daughters. [Via]
"Pandas are endangered because they are utterly incompetent... Pandas are badly designed, undersexed, overpaid and overprotected. They went up an evolutionary cul-de-sac and it is too late to reverse."
450 Species of homosexual animals and counting ...
Fascinating Seed article concerning the existence of homosexual animals and Darwin's conception of heterosexuality.
Do you like pickup trucks? How about automotive history and evolution? Here are some pictures of old pickups
, from the blatantly-obviously named oldcarandtruckpictures.com
. And since I got complaints on IRC that the wheels weren't big enough...
When taking lessons
in English from the BBC
, be sure to follow up with remedial "playground-speak"
The bats and frogs and Montane voles
and garden moles
and the swimmers
All hope that they will be the winners
When we are gone, through choice
'Twill be a cause to celebrate
Will old return
or new arrive
once again can thrive?
Sexual ornaments grow out of all proportion
It seems that men will be men throughout the animal kindom, not just our little lonely corner of of it.
Most body parts grow proportionally with the rest of the body as individuals of a species become larger, although scientists have long known that visual cues of reproductive prowess are a special case.
But is this the case with everyone
the origin of fun bags.
The age old question of where breasts came from may
have finally been answered!
[boobs] first evolved as an immunoprotective gland that produced bacteriocidal secretions to protect the skin and secondarily eggs and infants, and that lactation is a highly derived kind of inflammation response. [...] Milk is actually a kind of anti-microbial snot mixed in with a lot of fat and sugar.
All vertebrates have an innate immune system consisting of molecules which are hostile to microbes. It appears that the nutritional content of the milk is a product of mutation and repurposing of these immunological molecules! Xanthine oxidoreductase, which produces natural preservatives and disinfectants is also responsible for the essential role of encapsulating fat droplets which promotes suspension in water. Lactose (sugar) "requires a specific synthetic complex consisting of β-1,4 galactosyltransferase and α-lactalbumin for its production." As it turns out, α-lactalbumin is a modified (mutated) version of an awesome little molecule that literally skins bacteria alive - lysozyme!
just won't go away. New evidence suggests the development of the human embryo
mirrors our species' course of evolution. This guy
seems to be stirring up all kinds of trouble these days. It makes me wonder: does this new information help determine the quality of being human
? From the link: "Another supposed vagary produced by the abortion issue is the question as to when the embryo or fetus becomes human. Rivers Singleton, Jr. states in his article in Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, that, for some, conception defines the point of being human, whereas, for others, various periods of development suffice to 'distinguish human from non-humans
Another black eye for ID
link): Zoologist Dan-Eric Nilsson of the University of Lund in Sweden explains how the complex human eye could have evolved gradually from a primitive light-sensitive eye-spot. Via Swift
Writing has been around for a long time
, but that doesn't mean
we've mastered it yet. Want to make fiction
? Perhaps it makes itself
, perhaps it makes you
... Self reference
breeding infinite hyperrealities
. Which world
will you choose?
evolution of cooperation
apparently the evolution of cooperative behavior has been something of a rough spot for evolution researchers. Some guys (Mikhail Burtsev & Peter Turchin
) developed a computer simulation that helps to explain how the essential selfishness of survival is not mutually exclusive to altruism and cooperation as well as how these behaviors can arise naturally. (further reading from google: ###
Evolution: A Web Companion.
'The expanding universe is both awesome and humbling. When looking closely at nature—whether through a telescope, microscope, or computer visualization of collected data—one cannot help being struck by the intricacies and complexities observed. The magnitude of the cosmos, the power of natural forces, and the extent of deep time, however, alert us to how small and transient we are...'
Related :- The Writings of Charles Darwin
); Talk Origins
; Understanding Evolution.
Well, this settles everything:
Kirk Cameron debunks evolution.
(Embedded .swf). This animated story of life since about 13,700,000,000 shows everything from the big bang to the formation of the earth and the development of bacteria and other organisms to the ascent of man and humans effect on the earth. Other work discussed one year ago yesterday, what an evolution! (The animation is pretty large, you may have to scroll your screen, or just open the .swf directly)
There have been many knock offs
of the Ichthys symbol
. None of these symbols have caused as much controversy as the Darwin fish
. Recently some scientists in Northern Canada have made a discovery
that may eliminate some of that controversy, it’s called the Tiktaalik roseae
Inadequately scrawled, with his young, old heart,
And his drawl, and his infinite paradox
And his sadness, and kindness,
And his artist sense
that drives him to shape his life
To something harmonious,
even against the schemes of God. [MI]
The night's event
featured speakers Daniel C. Dennett, Matt Ridley, Sir John Krebs, Ian McEwan, and -- the man himself -- Richard Dawkins. It was, as you might suspect (based on the title), an event celebrating the thirtieth anniversary of Dawkins' seminal work
If you didn't get a chance to attend, you can still read the full transcript or stream/download the audio of it in MP3 format (many thanks to Helena Cronin, founder/director of Darwin@LSE
, for hosting the file).
Thanks to 3QD
for the link.
"I am under censure for mentioning numbers...." "I am instructed NOT to use hard numbers when telling kids how old rocks are. I am supposed to say that these rocks are VERY VERY OLD... but I am NOT to say that these Ordovician rocks are thought to be about 300 million years old."
Essentially, they are not allowing Bob to teach a certain set of scientific data in order to protect their ability to provide students the good science curriculum they do teach. The directors... have heard from them more than enough times that teaching evolution would be "political suicide".
In Arkansas, even supporters of teaching evolution
feel they must hide, obfuscate, and water-down evolution.
As the Pentagon ousts plans to turn insects into cyber war machines
you'd be forgiven for asking the question: Where does the real digital end
and the faked life begin?
Are we simulating life synthetically
? or just speeding up
an entirely natural process
? Technologically engineered life is here to stay
. Its not far fetched to speculate
may become all there is.
A Kurdish family
in Turkey can only walk on all fours
. Some claim that their genetic defects have led to a sort of "backward evolution."
An upcoming BBC documentary
(pdf) will share their story.
Ten things evolutionists can do to improve communication.
Speaking as a battle-scarred survivor of a few battles over evolution
on teh Interweb, I plead guilty to ignorance of a few of these rules. But I wonder, too, what good any of these would do in the grand scheme of things: could we expect Creationists to act as honorably
, or as honestly
? And what would the Flying Spaghetti Monster
A monstrous discovery
suggests that viruses, long regarded as lowly evolutionary latecomers, may have been the precursors of all life on Earth.
"We haven't even begun to scratch the surface. The numbers are mind-boggling. If you put every virus particle on Earth together in a row, they would form a line 10 million light-years long. People, even most biologists, don't have a clue. The general public thinks genetic diversity is us and birds and plants and animals and that viruses are just HIV and the flu. But most of the genetic material on this planet is viruses. No question about it. They and their ability to interact with organisms and move genetic material around are the major players in driving speciation, in determining how organisms even become what they are."
Before the class, Crocker had told me that she was going to teach "the strengths and weaknesses of evolution." Afterward, I asked her whether she was going to discuss the evidence for evolution in another class. She said no.
A "Biology 101" class turns into a gripe session for creationists
at a state school, the Northern Virginia Community College. The lecturer then whines about being discriminated against when she fails to teach the subject she's hired to teach.
"Who's afraid of evolutionary biology?"
(I've linked Bede before, but this piece bears a much more important message to Christians who feel it their biblical duty to get hot and bothered over evolution and origin-of-life issues.) Also see a Christian response to "Young Earth" apologetics
, and the Young Earth Argument Index
, both from "Old Earth" Creationists who disagree with 6-Day biblical literalism. (Note that Old Earthers may still be Intelligent Design advocates. Heaping spoonsful of salt
all around.) If that's still too "Christian" for you, Talk.Origins
has a summary of other Genesis interpretations.
BBC News: British unconvinced on evolution
"More than half the British population does not accept the theory of evolution, according to a survey.
Furthermore, more than 40% of those questioned believe that creationism or intelligent design should be taught in school science lessons."
Nice to know that the maxim for the UK being five years behind the US still holds true, more or less.
The Clergy Letter Project
has completed acquiring 10,000 signatures from clergy around the country. Their stated goal: For too long, the misperception that science and religion are inevitably in conflict has created unnecessary division and confusion, especially concerning the teaching of evolution. I wanted to let the public know that numerous clergy from most denominations have tremendous respect for evolutionary theory and have embraced it as a core component of human knowledge, fully harmonious with religious faith.
They've declared February 12, 2006 as Evolution Sunday
, a day when "hundreds of Christian churches from all portions of the country and a host of denominations will come together to discuss the compatibility of religion and science."
A conservative Metafilter loves to hate
weighs in on the issue of intelligent design being incorporated into the classroom.
Some of Orson Scott Card's views have been linked to before (see here
; and most notably here
.) This time, he seems to be less reactionary and more thoughtful.
This is related to many prior Mefi threads on this issue some of which include this
; and this
The Cute Factor:
"Cute cues are those that indicate extreme youth, vulnerability, harmlessness and need, scientists say..." (NY Times registration req'd)
Decision in Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover Area School District:
The weight of the evidence clearly demonstrates, as noted, that the systemic change from "creation" to "intelligent design" occurred sometime in 1987, after the Supreme Court's important Edwards decision. This compelling evidence strongly supports Plaintiffs' assertion that ID is creationism re-labeled.
The first Transhuman Conference On the Law of Transhuman Persons:
Whether or not you believe humans are set to evolve into gods, or AI is destined to achieve self-awareness
the idea of the Transhuman
is a thought provoking concept. Philosophers have debated the nature of the self
, of the human for millennia. Is it time to start drafting new laws to govern all
possible sentient beings on this planet? or is it all just a science
? a comfortable humanist illusion
have big butts, short shouts, and big leg joints: long distance running.
is yet another entry in the battle regarding the origin of humans.
is San Francisco's newest museum. The Museum of the African Diaspora is the latest addition to the SOMA neighborhood's expanding cultural riches, and promises to be fascinating (and, as far as I can tell, unique in the world). [more inside]
“Once we realize that Deep Time
can never support narratives of evolution, we are forced to accept that virtually everything we thought we knew about evolution is wrong.”
It’s not the latest salvo from the proponents of intelligent design... [more inside]
Despite the vast number of religions, nearly everyone in the world believes in the same things: the existence of a soul, an afterlife, miracles, and the divine creation of the universe. Recently psychologists doing research on the minds of infants have discovered two related facts that may account for this phenomenon. One: human beings come into the world with a predisposition to believe in supernatural phenomena. And two: this predisposition is an incidental by-product of cognitive functioning gone awry. Which leads to the question ...Is God an Accident ?This is a fascinating essary from the current Atlantic reprinted apparently in full for non-subscribers
Mating Leopard Slugs entwine
- one of the untold wonders of the animal kingdom captured on video....
The BBC gets up close and personal
with Life in the Undergrowth
in their new wildlife documentary. A must see for any animal, insect or
David Attenborough fan...
(If the main vid link doesn't work for you try it from here
- realplayer needed)
Traces of this epic masterpiece of creation can be found in all religious writings and traditions. It is to them that Moses, Jesus, Buddha and Mohammed referred. It is now time to welcome them. To your child's classroom.