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Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week: Cell Networks

A team of Chinese scientists analyzed protein interactions in yeast cells, and titled their paper in PNAS1 “The yeast cell-cycle network is robustly designed.”  They “demonstrated that the cell-cycle network is extremely stable and robust for its function,” and “able to survive perturbations.”  The beginning of the paper expresses the wonder the stimulated their research: […]

Do Birds of a Feather Demonstrate Parallel Evolution?

A puzzling phenomenon emerges from evolutionary considerations of bird plumage coloration and patterning.  Hopi E. Hoekstra and Trevor Price describe the problem in the March 19 issue of Science1 and provide examples: The pages of any bird guide reveal a spectacular diversity of colors and color patterns.  Although color patterns vary within species, often they […]

Butterflies in Amber Stun Discoverers

New Scientist reports that exquisitely-preserved butterflies have been found in amber from the Dominican Republic.  “It was just incredible,” exclaimed a Smithsonian researcher.  It’s no different than if you took a modern day butterfly and put it under a light microscope.”  But this prompted a puzzle: the amber is estimated to be up to 25 […]

The Evolution of Cultural Diversity

Darwinism can explain anything these days, including everything from war (see 09/16/2003 headline) to the Golden Rule (see 02/22/2004 headline), so why not culture?  All the arts, sciences, and languages are candidates for naturalistic explanation this week.  The self-proclaimed successors of Adam Smith, Mark Pagel and Ruth Mace, put forward their conjectures in “The cultural […]

Neanderthals Not Our Cousins, Expert Claims

The news media are reporting claims that Neanderthals and modern humans never interbred, based on work from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.  Both EurekAlert and Nature Science Update repeat the claim that the institute’s study of DNA and bones from four Neanderthals and five modern humans from scattered locations rules out any interbreeding. […]

Privileged Planet Website Opens

A website featuring a new book by Guillermo Gonzalez and Jay Richards, The Privileged Planet, has opened.  The subtitle of the book is How Our Place in the Cosmos Is Designed for Discovery.  The authors take issue with pessimistic views, such as those of Steven Weinberg and Carl Sagan, that our planet is “pointless” or […]

Scientific Elitism Trumps Democracy

They don’t want it, but they’re going to get it.  Britons have expressed outrage and anger over genetically-modified foods, such as pesticide-resistant maize, reports Jim Giles in Nature.1  But the government has listened to scientists who have assured government ministers it is safe.  On March 9, they approved commercial planting of GM maize “in the […]

Much Ado About Nothing

How much can you say about nothing?  Some people can say quite a lot.  One astrobiologist just wrote a large book about it: Lonely Planets: The Natural Philosophy of Alien Life by David Grinspoon (Harper Collins, 2003).     Larry R. Nittler reviewed this new book in the March 12 issue of Science.1  Nittler describes […]

Major Cave with Fossils Found in Arizona

Arizona Central has announced a major cave discovery east of Tucson.  The cave, named La Tetera, was discovered eight years ago but was kept secret till today.  The first human exploration only began New Years Day 2002.  The cave, located within Colossal Cave State Park, is said to rival or exceed Kartchner Caverns in the […]

The Evolution of Omnipotence

With a headline like “New Theory: Universe Created by Intelligent Being,” one might think that National Geographic News has gone creationist and rediscovered Genesis 1.  The opposite would be true.  The article by John Roach explores the radical thinking of a lawyer/scientist named James Gardner, who has just published a book, Biocosm: The New Scientific […]

Evolution Battle Heats Up in Ohio

CNN has reported that the Ohio school board voted 13-5 in favor of an optional set of lessons called “Critical Analysis of Evolution.”  The usual opponents are lining up on both sides; some scientific organizations are claiming it is a “religious effort cloaked as science,” but others consider it a victory for students and for […]

Hubble Deep Field Surpassed: Ultra Deep Field

If you remember the awe of seeing the first Hubble Deep Field image in 1995, check out the new HUDF: Hubble Ultra Deep Field (see also the New Scientist report).  The field of view, just one-tenth the size of the full moon, is a composite of 800 images taken for 11.3 days.  The 1995 image […]

Chameleon Tongue Beats Jet Aircraft

Did you know a chameleon’s tongue is so fast as it shoots out toward its prey, it reaches 50 G’s – five times faster than a fighter jet can accelerate?  Science Now describes how the chameleon does it.  Scientists only recently found out the secret with high-speed photography and careful examination of the tongue structure, […]

Rethinking the Geological Layers

One of the most formative ideas in Darwin’s intellectual journey was the concept of gradualism, the principle of “small agencies and their cumulative effects.”  This idea became a dominant motif in his philosophy of life.  Describing how the assumption of gradualism permeated his last book (on earthworms) shortly before his death, Janet Browne, in her […]

The Paleoanthropologist Mantra: “We Need More Fossils!”

Everyone join in and chant “the mantra of all paleontologists: We need more fossils!”  If you are a seeker of bones that might give clues of human ancestry, repeating this phrase might relieve stress.     In quotes above is the concluding line of an editorial by David R. Begun in the March 5 issue […]
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