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
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
), 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]
posted by Rhaomi
on Jun 6, 2011 -
Our minds boggle at how the wolf could become the chihuahua, the Saint Bernard, the poodle and the Komondor
. Artificial selection was likewise responsible for transforming the humble wild mustard plant Brassica oleracea
into cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and the breathtaking fractal Romanesco
, all in the span of a few centuries. [more inside]
posted by overeducated_alligator
on Aug 23, 2010 -
The Village Dog Project
is an ongoing
research project to document genetic diversity in pariah dogs. These dogs haven't been subject to breed pressure, and may be able to help researchers learn more
about the transition from wolf to dog. (via
posted by Pants!
on Jun 23, 2009 -
How We Evolve:
"A growing number of scientists argue that human culture itself has become the foremost agent of biological change, making us — for the past 10,000 years or so — the inadvertent architects of our own future selves." [more inside]
posted by homunculus
on Oct 9, 2008 -
Humans are evolving more rapidly
than in the distant past, according to a new study
published in PNAS. "The massive growth of human populations has led to far more genetic mutations, and every mutation that is advantageous to people has a chance of being selected and driven toward fixation. We are more different genetically from people living 5,000 years ago than they were different from Neanderthals
", says lead author John Hawks. [more inside]
posted by stbalbach
on Dec 10, 2007 -
Are you a Highly Sensitive Person?
This trait ... is inherited by 15 to 20% of the population, and ... seems to be present in all higher animals. Being an HSP means your nervous system is more sensitive to subtleties. Your sight, hearing, and sense of smell are not necessarily keener .... But your brain processes information and reflects on it more deeply. Being an HSP also means, necessarily, that you are more easily overstimulated, stressed out, overwhelmed. This trait ... has been mislabeled as shyness (not an inherited trait), introversion (30% of HSPs are actually extraverts), inhibitedness, fearfulness, and the like. HSPs can be these, but none of these are the fundamental trait they have inherited ...
| latest research
(fascinating!) | newsletter
posted by grumblebee
on Apr 8, 2007 -
New research from evolutionary scientist Bruce Lahn suggests that humans and the now extinct
Neanderthal species mixed, and humans snatched up a valuable brain gene in the process. (The gene, MCPH1, and Lahn, discussed last year
on MeFi) This comes on the tails of yet another new study providing morphological evidence
that there was nontrivial interbreeding between humans and Neanderthals in Eurasia, despite the fact that Neanderthals may have been genetically closer to chimps
than humans. Contrary to popular imagination, though, the Neanderthal species had bigger brains and sophisticated intellects
, at least roughly on par with that of human beings. The gene regulates brain size during development, but its exact utility to humans is still unknown (and controversial
). The origin of this gene and the question of Neanderthal mixing will soon be answered more definitively by the, just launched, 2 year project to map the Neanderthal genome
, headed by Svante Pääbo (profiled in recent Smithsonian
articles). Pääbo calls
Lahn’s study "the most compelling case to date for a genetic contribution of Neandertals to modern humans."
posted by Jason Malloy
on Nov 8, 2006 -
Genes Reveal Recent Human Brain Evolution.
Two important new papers
in the journal Science
) 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 -
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 -
'If you want to know what Utopia is like, just look around - this is it,'
the article asks is human evolution over? Two interesting "facts?" "points?"
1) the blending of our genes which will soon produce a uniformly brown-skinned population. Apart from that, there will be little change in the species.
2) Just consider Aids, and then look at chimpanzees,' says Jones. 'You find they all carry a version of HIV but are unaffected by it. Something very similar could soon happen to humans. In a thousand years...
Link via www.cursor.org
posted by bittennails
on Feb 4, 2002 -
Why the Future Doesn't Need Us
is the cover story in this month's 'Wired'. It was written by Bill Joy, chief scientist at Sun. In it he makes a very convincing case for strict regulation of genetics, nanotech, and robotics, given that any of these could cause the extinction of the human species in the next 30 years. What do you think?
posted by Sean Meade
on Mar 22, 2000 -