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Do You Belong in the Zoo?

People are gawking at people in the London Zoo, each probably wondering what side of the cage they belong on.  In one of the primate exhibits, eight scantily clad white people are on display, reports AP (see MSNBC and Yahoo).  Wearing fig leaves pinned onto their swimsuits, they play, they scratch, they groom each other, […]

History Channel Documentary on Human Ancestry: History or Fiction?

The History Channel aired a program called “Ape to Man” Monday evening August 7, alleging that modern science had finally pieced together the solution to the puzzle of human evolution.  Although it included debunking episodes of Piltdown (11/18/2003) and Java Man (02/27/2003), the flavor of the show was that the picture of human origins has […]

Tailpipe Soot: Can It Live?

Better stay clear of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH).  They come out of your tailpipe and furnace, line your chimney, and generally are products of unhealthy processes like industrial waste and cigarette smoke.  According to Environment Canada, “PAHs are a concern because some of them can cause cancers in humans and are harmful to fish and […]

Life on Mars – and Titan?

Life has not been found on Mars, but some scientists, according to National Geographic News, are worried that we are contaminating the planet with Earth germs that will make the search for Martians more difficult.  Speaking of Mars, a report in Science Now claims that Mars rarely got above freezing in its entire history.   […]

Do Butterflies Evolve Via Team Stripes?

A BBC News story is claiming that butterflies split into competing teams when differences in their wing patterns emerge.  Based on a paper in Nature,1 this is supposed to be an example of a rarely-observed mechanism for speciation, called reinforcement: in this case, “These wing colours apparently evolved as a sort of ‘team strip’, allowing […]

Has Anti-Semitism Been Good for Jewish Evolution?

National Geographic News gave favorable coverage to a controversial theory by anthropologists at University of Utah that anti-semitism was a form of natural selection.  The racism against Jews in Europe, while selecting for higher intelligence, also selected for certain types of diseases.  Reporter James Owen did point out that not all anthropologists agree with the […]

Something from Nothing Dept.

How do you get optimization by chance?  In a Concepts piece in Nature this week,1 William J. Sutherland (U. of East Anglia, UK) suggested that the constraints of the environment will drive living systems toward optimal solutions.  He thinks that’s how “selective forces” shaped your teeth and jaw, for instance.  Economists and engineers use optimization […]
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