Larry Gonick is a veteran American cartoonist best known for his delightful comic-book guides to science and history, many of which have previews online. Chief among them is his long-running Cartoon History of the Universe (later The Cartoon History of the Modern World), a sprawling multi-volume opus documenting everything from the Big Bang to the Bush administration. Published over the course of three decades, it takes a truly global view -- its time-traveling Professor thoroughly explores not only familiar topics like Rome and World War II but the oft-neglected stories of Asia and Africa, blending caricature and myth with careful scholarship (cited by fun illustrated bibliographies) and tackling even the most obscure events with intelligence and wit. This savvy satire carried over to Gonick's Zinn-by-way-of-Pogo chronicle The Cartoon History of the United States, along with a bevy of Cartoon Guides to other topics, including Genetics, Computer Science, Chemistry, Physics, Statistics, The Environment, and (yes!) Sex. Gonick has also maintained a few sideprojects, such as a webcomic look at Chinese invention, assorted math comics (previously), the Muse magazine mainstay Kokopelli & Co. (featuring the shenanigans of his "New Muses"), and more. See also these lengthy interview snippets, linked previously. Want more? Amazon links to the complete oeuvre inside! [more inside]
A New State of Mind. "New research is linking dopamine to complex social phenomena and changing neuroscience in the process."
Cosmic Evolution -- Particulate, Galactic, Stellar, Planetary, Chemical, Biological, Cultural (Via the Exploratorium)
The "Blind Watchmaker" ain't so blind after all. An article in this week's Journal of Theoretical Biology claims that simple chemistry makes the evolution of complex organisms with nervous systems inevitable. Is random Darwinism being replaced by a more sophisticated notion of "directed evolution"? Could this confirm the "intelligent design" theory of Creation? This may have profound consequences for our understanding of how life has come to be on this planet (and others).