570 posts tagged with evolution.
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The origin of life?!

The origin of life?! I heard from an authority in molecular biology today that a group of researchers funded by the Carnegie Institution and NASA believe they've discovered the origin of RNA, and with that, the origin of life. This new discovery grew out of NASA's Deep Impact mission to study the composition of comets. Specifically, they started investigating a kind of carbon that forms in layers, with each layer slighly offset from the previous one in a helix shape. Significantly, the thickness of these carbon layers corresponds with the thickness of each twist in a strand of RNA. It turns out that the individual building blocks of RNA are capable of bonding to this layered carbon when exposed to UV radiation. Once this has happened, apparently formaldehyde can then bond to the building blocks of RNA on the carbon "pattern", allowing the bonded RNA to slough off into the primordial soup. Over time, some of these RNA strands could fold and bond to themselves, forming DNA. Formaldehyde, the initial bonding material, would eventually be replaced by a more chemically sophisticated substance, creating the chemical bond that we observe today in DNA. Expect a paper on it to be released in approximately three months with all the details.
posted by insomnia_lj on Nov 6, 2005 - 66 comments

Don't fear the (bird) reaper

Evolutionary biologist Paul Ewald, author of The evolution of infectious disease and an expert on the development of pathogen virulence (see this, this and this for a good intro), responds to this editorial in Scientific American and pours cold water on fears of pandemic influenza.
posted by docgonzo on Nov 4, 2005 - 23 comments

Nature abhors a gradient

Nature abhors a gradient. So I was reading about the latest developments in the Behe Panda trial and I came across a link to this way of thinking, in essence that the 2nd law of thermodynamics is the guiding force behind complexity (summarised here). Like any good scientific theory, they have a blog but can they explain the Tuatara, which seems a little lacking in contemporary gradient reduction?
posted by Sparx on Nov 4, 2005 - 33 comments

Flap your wings and fly to Daddy...

noitulovE - Rewind the rhythm of life, find the purpose of evolution?
First link direct to Quicktime, second to lyrics, third to lauding press release
posted by nelleish on Oct 24, 2005 - 18 comments

$250,000 award

$250,000 award - if you can prove Darwin's theory of evolution.
posted by snark9 on Oct 18, 2005 - 119 comments

Kitzmiller v. DASD

Intelligent Design on trial! The ACLU of PA is blogging the current trial in Dover, PA between the parents of students and the local school board which wants to teach students Intelligent Design. Over at The Panda's Thumb, they're also keeping track of the goings on. The main ACLU website has statements from most of the plaintiff's experts in the case, including this long, well-supported pdf from philsopher Barbara Forrest, whose testimony is being used to dismantle the canard that ID is not Creationism. Over at the Legal Affairs Debate Club Beckwith and Laylock argued, last week, about whether teaching ID is legal. For background: this 2002 special report from Natural History Magazine on Intelligent Design Creationism.
posted by OmieWise on Oct 6, 2005 - 81 comments

Philly is touched by His Noodly Appendage.

Live next week in a Harrisburg, PA federal courtroom: the ACLU and a coterie of concerned parents fight the ongoing defenestration of empiricism.
posted by killdevil on Sep 24, 2005 - 40 comments

So these two turkeys walk into a bar...

Bringing new meaning to the term 'wingman' : Study demonstrates kin selection among wild turkeys
posted by expialidocious on Sep 21, 2005 - 5 comments

Were there ape pirates?

The Aquatic Ape Theory (often referred to as the AAT or AAH) says humans went through an aquatic or semi-aquatic stage in our evolution and that this accounts for many features seen in human anatomy and physiology. Using the principle of convergent evolution, it says that life in an aquatic environment explains these features, and that a transition from ape to hominid in a non-aquatic environment cannot. See also: BBC (excellent), Wikipedia, Google.
posted by grumblebee on Sep 20, 2005 - 48 comments

Brain Gain

Genes Reveal Recent Human Brain Evolution. Two important new papers in the journal Science (available here) from the evolutionary geneticist and rising star, Bruce T. Lahn (see this recent profile from The Scientist), are potentially the tips of some very large icebergs. The papers document how two genes related to brain properties that underwent strong selection during the course of hominid evolution, have continued undergoing strong selection since the emergence of anatomically modern man. The papers wonderfully illustrate how biological evolution is an ongoing process as well as the artificial distinction between “micro” and “macro” evolution, and promise to be controversial for two reasons: First, the brain genes underwent the strongest selection during two periods of cultural and technological efflorescence (roughly 37,000 and 5,800 years ago). Second, the genes are distributed very differently in modern human population groups, existing at very high frequencies in some groups and being very rare in others, ensuring that the modern function of these genes will be a source of more research and much impassioned debate. More observations from anthropologist John Hawks.
posted by Jason Malloy on Sep 8, 2005 - 54 comments

Intelligent Design by Trial and Error

A more efficient microbe genome. A more efficient sorting algorithm. A more efficient keyboard layout.
posted by fatllama on Aug 26, 2005 - 8 comments

Bone Wars!

Bone Wars is an educational game that "simulates the process of creating a scientific hypothesis and testing it against new data" (A good thing to teach kids with people like these guys running around). The game is based on the legendary Cope/Marsh feud: a conflict that caused one Dinosaur to be classified twice and could make for a really cool movie someday.
posted by brundlefly on Aug 16, 2005 - 17 comments

God's Darwin or Chance's Drawin'?

Did the discovery of evolution lead to Darwin's agnosticism, as claimed? Carl Zimmer wonders. More importantly, can evolution be reconciled with Christianity?
posted by daksya on Aug 11, 2005 - 90 comments

loonie oh loonie oh loonie oh loonie-oh!

Have you ever thought your boss might be a sociopath? According to some, you just might be right. A recent film called The Corporation actually goes so far as to argue that American-style free markets select for sociopathic tendencies. While some on the left seem all too eager to chime in with their self-righteous “I told you sos,” others on the right dismiss all such notions to defend free markets with open contempt… Which is strange when you consider that free market theory owes its existence to Darwin’s theories of natural selection, which many on the right don't accept. Seriously--help me sort this out, or else I'm going to have to conclude we've all gone crazy.
posted by all-seeing eye dog on Aug 3, 2005 - 86 comments

Evolution: Views Differ

Bush comes out in favor of teaching "intelligent design" alongside evolution in American schools. Is this the latest evidence of the White House willing to champion worthy but controversial ideas that have been sidelined by liberal bias, or strictly from Paul Krugman's theoretical headline, "Shape of Earth: Views Differ"? [Meanwhile, elsewhere in the Lone Star State, Texas educators ignite brouhaha by adding Bible study to the public-school curriculum].
posted by digaman on Aug 2, 2005 - 343 comments

You have evolved to like this interview.

The fitness of evolutionary psychology
posted by daksya on Jul 4, 2005 - 22 comments

there is a statistically significant inverse relationship between pirates and global warming

Pirates, Global Warming and Intelligent Design. (oh my)
posted by analogue on Jun 23, 2005 - 22 comments

Bibliture

Reason #48713 for teaching the Bible in schools: "The classics of British and American literature are filled with biblical allusions that would be lost on a reader without basic knowledge of the Bible"
posted by afx114 on Jun 22, 2005 - 200 comments

The Complexity of a Controversial Concept

The Logic of Diversity "A new book, The Wisdom of Crowds [..:] by The New Yorker columnist James Surowiecki, has recently popularized the idea that groups can, in some ways, be smarter than their members, which is superficially similar to Page's results. While Surowiecki gives many examples of what one might call collective cognition, where groups out-perform isolated individuals, he really has only one explanation for this phenomenon, based on one of his examples: jelly beans [...] averaging together many independent, unbiased guesses gives a result that is probably closer to the truth than any one guess. While true — it's the central limit theorem of statistics — it's far from being the only way in which diversity can be beneficial in problem solving." (Three-Toed Sloth)
posted by kliuless on Jun 20, 2005 - 6 comments

Mutafilter

Evolution resources from the National Academy of Sciences.
posted by daksya on Jun 11, 2005 - 12 comments

Bye, bye birdie...

One fifth of all bird species are in danger of extinction. And right when we're finally understanding where they came from, too.
posted by jefgodesky on Jun 3, 2005 - 3 comments

Science, race, and genetics

The Natural History of Ashkenazi Intelligence (PDF). A fascinating new theory from physicist turned renegade evolutionary theorist, Gregory Cochran (see this Atlantic Monthly cover story on Cochran's already path-breaking germ theory of disease), and genetic anthropologist Henry Harpending, proposes that a unique evolutionary history, and a number of improbably clustered neurologically related genetic diseases among Ashkenazi Jews could help explain their incredible intelligence test scores and extraordinary intellectual achievements (e.g. Ashkenazi Jews are 3% of the American population but win 27% of the Nobel Prizes). The paper is set for publication in the Journal of Biosocial Science, and is already getting major press in the New York Times and The Economist. Does the recent Harvard fracas over Larry Summers herald a new "arms race" in academic debate about genetics, man and society for the 21st century? [compelling post by Jason]
posted by mathowie on Jun 3, 2005 - 68 comments

Uh-uh-uh! You didn't say the magic word!

Fig-leaf-eating Velociraptor Scandal! Look, I've got nothing against religion but if you believe a word of it you are, in the words of Robert Burns, "a dumbass fuck".
posted by Pretty_Generic on May 22, 2005 - 181 comments

Guess I'm a creationist now

Guess I'm a creationist now. As a heterosexual Italian male, this issue has my full attention. Dr. Elisabeth A. Lloyd argues in the book, "The Case of the Female Orgasm: Bias in the Science of Evolution," has no evolutionary function at all. When I was a kid trying to learn how to play a musical instrument and get girls a wise old man told me women go out with trumpet players, but they go home with harmonica players. Perhaps I'll start a blues band in Polynesia. Friday fun perhaps?
posted by Smedleyman on May 20, 2005 - 69 comments

Hot squirrel-on-squirrel action

Evolution, social harmony between those of different colors, and rodent roofies: "He used to smear a tree behind his Silver Spring home with a mixture of peanut butter and Valium and then tattoo the squirrels that he found passed out below."

All this and more in the story of the ongoing displacement of the grey squirrel by the black squirrel in the Washington, D.C. region.
posted by NortonDC on May 19, 2005 - 22 comments

Technological Human Evolution

Inward Technology - Directed Evolution of Humans (W.Post - reg.)
"The next frontier..is our own selves"
"We should not just accept but embrace the new technologies"
"But the promise of mastery is flawed. It threatens to banish our appreciation of life as a gift.."
the author, the book via via
posted by peacay on May 16, 2005 - 12 comments

Christian fundamentalists and radical Islam: Two great tastes that go together over creationism!

"Set your irony meters on maximum." All this week, a three-member subcommittee of the Kansas State Board of Education is holding hearings on how to teach science. [background] Creationists, er, advocates of "intelligent design," are using it to bootstrap their claim that evolution through natural selection and creationism are two sides of a story. While many scientists are boycotting what one newspaper is calling "Barnum on steroids," IDers have brought out the big guns -- including one Mustafa Akyol, a Turkish, Muslim, newspaper columnist with a Masters in history and a close associaton with a group that presents evolution "as a conspiracy of the Jewish and American imperialists to promote new world order and fascist motives." Get your official scorecard to the Scopes Trial II here!
posted by docgonzo on May 10, 2005 - 125 comments

I got your evolution right here!

Move Over Darwin!
Do you believe God belongs in government?
Do you believe President Bush is doing The Lord's Work?
If so, then show your love for God & the USA!
posted by nofundy on May 9, 2005 - 67 comments

Singularity

According to the developmental spiral we are heading towards an unfathomable point in time known as singularity. Could the futurists and science fiction writers such as Vernon Vinge be right?
posted by ttopher on May 6, 2005 - 57 comments

Just a Ruse?

Are evolution's advocates giving fire to creationists? So says Michael Ruse, "philosopher of biology (especially Darwinism)", who claims that outspoken evolutionists (e.g. Richard Dawkins) should do more to make evolution compatible with religion, rather than touting it as a worldview of its own.

Tell that to Nosson Slifkin (NYTimes, login required), an Orthodox rabbi whose books were banned by a number of eminent rabbis for "seek[ing] to reconcile, rather than to contrast, sacred texts with modern knowledge of the natural world."

That said, will those like Slifkin and Rev. Dr. Arthur Peacocke be able to make a difference, or will they be ignored and scorned?
posted by greatgefilte on May 3, 2005 - 82 comments

NewPoopFlingers.com

This monkey business has finally gone too far [warning: cackling].
posted by thedevildancedlightly on Apr 13, 2005 - 17 comments

So are we at high tide or low tide?

Fossil records show Biodiversity comes and goes in a 62 million year cycle. The analysis, performed by researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and UBC, has withstood thorough testing so that confidence in the results is above 99-percent.
posted by furtive on Apr 8, 2005 - 37 comments

Once upon a time

Evolution - a fairytale for grownups! "Clearly" proving that such amazing inventions must have been designed. Silly Darwin.
posted by Mwongozi on Apr 8, 2005 - 51 comments

Chaz has a posse!

Scientific American to stop reporting science, more creationism. There's no easy way to admit this. For years, helpful letter writers told us to stick to science. They pointed out that science and politics don't mix. They said we should be more balanced in our presentation of such issues as creationism, missile defense and global warming...But spring is in the air, and all of nature is turning over a new leaf, so there's no better time to say: you were right, and we were wrong.
posted by mr.curmudgeon on Mar 25, 2005 - 208 comments

My Uncle Is A Man Named Steve (Not A Monkey)

"The purpose of the Fellowship Baptist Creation Science Fair is to get kids excited about Creation and motivate them to discover the truth of our Lord on their own."
Winning exhibits this year include "My Uncle Is A Man Named Steve (Not A Monkey)", "Women Were Designed For Homemaking", and "Using Prayer To Microevolve Latent Antibiotic Resistance In Bacteria".
Via
posted by Mwongozi on Mar 24, 2005 - 74 comments

Eat it, Rand.

An evolutionary basis for altruism. These findings suggest that true altruism, far from being a maladaptation, may be the key to our species' success by providing the social glue that allowed our ancestors to form strong, resilient groups. Sharing isn't just caring, it's surviving.
posted by schroedinger on Mar 21, 2005 - 44 comments

Charles Darwin stickers and bookmarks

Charles Darwin has a posse.
posted by sudama on Mar 21, 2005 - 33 comments

To the Lost City.

To the Lost City. Researchers at the University of Washington discovered an undersea hydrothermal vent field that promises new information about the origins of life. A monthlong research trip in 2003, documented online, yielded results that have just now been published in Science (subscribers only, sorry). The UW's Lost City site has much of interest, including an online journal from the excursion; pictures and video are also available here and here.
posted by jeffmshaw on Mar 18, 2005 - 1 comment

Secrets of the X chromosome, revealed!

Female X chromosome 'cracked' - "The discovery, by an international consortium of scientists, shows that females are far more variable than previously thought and, when it comes to genes, more complex than men." Nature reports two new studies; one on the complete sequencing of the X chromosome for humans, which sheds some light on how sex evolved and how women differ from men, and another on how women express many genes from X chromosomes previously thought dormant.
posted by kliuless on Mar 16, 2005 - 31 comments

The Hobbit's Brain

The Hobbit's Brain. Recent analysis of the Homo floresiensis skull (previous discussion) gives clues about its brain structure and ancestry. The technical paper is here [Science subscription required].
posted by painquale on Mar 3, 2005 - 7 comments

weird science?

[Resolved, the Kansas Dept. of Education is hereby directed to collect comments from the public regarding the various proposed changes to the Science Curriculum Standards, either contained within the Science Curriculum Standards Draft or contained within the minority report.] Kansas Citizens for Science are arguing that the intelligent design folks are just trying to put religion in the schools. But are the proposed changes in the minority report really pro-religion, or are they just pro-"raise kids to be inquisitive"? I, for one, am honesty not sure.
posted by bingo on Feb 24, 2005 - 56 comments

Teach Evolution: Leave No Child Behind

Teach Evolution: Leave No Child Behind. Teaching the age and history of our planet takes us back about 4.6 billion years; it is included in only 55% of our 50 State’s science education standards. Human evolution is included in only 8% of the state science standards, and is therefore not required in almost all American elementary, middle or high school science courses. (Don't forget Darwin Day is tomorrow, kids!)
posted by travis vocino on Feb 11, 2005 - 10 comments

What Comes Next?

What Comes Next? Big scientists answer some big questions: apparently Elvis may still be alive in a parallel universe.
posted by Holly on Feb 10, 2005 - 29 comments

Talkin' about creationism...

Evolution is so last two billion years... I just love this guy's beautiful mind.
posted by Finder on Feb 3, 2005 - 40 comments

Stickers Unstuck

Evolutionary Stickers Struck-down. (login req'd)
"In a ruling issued today, U.S. District Judge Clarence Cooper said the stickers, which call evolution 'a theory, not a fact,' violate the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution."
(A pseudo-follow-up to a post from November 2004)
posted by grabbingsand on Jan 13, 2005 - 37 comments

Evolutionary Immunology

The evolution of the antibody-based immune system. And a few predictions about ID and evolutionary immunology for 2005.
posted by homunculus on Jan 4, 2005 - 9 comments

Are you a monkey or a man?

"The lawsuits are coming," school board member Angie Yingling said. "It's like being on the Titanic. Everyone seems to see the iceberg, but no one is steering away." The ACLU sued the Dover (Pennsylvania) Area School District today to prevent the district from enacting their recent controversial decision to teach "intelligent design" in the classroom.
posted by MegoSteve on Dec 14, 2004 - 39 comments

Richard Dawkins on Nilsson/Pelger

Creationists argue that the complexity of the human eye could not have arrisen by random Darwinian natural selection, since it "must be perfect to work at all". The Nilsson and Pelger computer experiment refutes this with a method of awesome beauty, showing that a human-quality eye is not just possible under Darwinian evolution, but nigh-inevitable. This is from Do Good By Stealth, chapter 3 of River Out of Eden, which is maybe the greatest thing I've ever read.
posted by Pretty_Generic on Dec 10, 2004 - 67 comments

The unusual twist is accuracy—both biblical and scientific!

Coming soon, the Creation Museum. Tired of those pesky evolutionists getting all the natural history museums? Want to see dinosaurs threatening Adam or entering the ark? Then hie yourself to Petersburg, Kentucky, where what is billing itself as "the world's most unusual museum" will soon be opening its doors. "Uneasy answering questions about radiocarbon dating? Rock layers? Natural selection? Do you want to believe in six literal days, but you’re still confused about the big bang or Grand Canyon? You’ll find answers here!" Some background on founder Ken Ham and his theory that dinosaurs are "missionary lizards" who draw young minds to evolution and must be reclaimed.
posted by CunningLinguist on Dec 6, 2004 - 60 comments

The Dawkins FAQ.

The Dawkins FAQ. Interesting Q&A session about evolution, biology, genes, etc with an expert. Dawkins claims no final answer on the "gay gene" or a Darwinian explanation of homosexuality.
posted by skallas on Nov 27, 2004 - 56 comments

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