Shrink Validity Is Shrinking
May 18, 2012
Should you trust the diagnosis of a psychiatrist? If it helps, individuals are free to choose. Behind the scenes, however, there are severe, deep-seated debates about whether psychiatrists understand disorders, let alone diagnose them properly.
Improbable Ape Speaks Randomly
May 15, 2012
It's not uncharitable to call someone an ape when he calls himself that.
Lamarckism: Dead but Useful
May 11, 2012
Lamarck's theory of evolution was supposed to have died in 1859 when Darwin published his theory of natural selection. Despite textbook depictions of Lamarckism as obsolete, Lamarckian language still surfaces from time to time, even in prestigious journals.
From Toxin to Medicine
May 10, 2012
Botulinum toxin (botox) is now big business in health and fashion, but few may remember it derives from one of the deadliest substances known in nature. Other examples show that some forms of "natural evil" can be seen in a different light.
Evolution for Men and Women
May 8, 2012
Two recent entries in the evolution literature have application to one sex or the other.
Stem Cells Getting Healthier
May 6, 2012
Over the past decade, stem cells have been a hot news item. Here are some late breaking news stories about them.
Why You Are Waterproof
April 29, 2012
Can you imagine inflating like a water balloon every time you jumped in a swimming pool? Or what if water leaked out of your skin every time you drank a glass of water? Your skin forms an impermeable barrier to water, a new study found, because of a unique way certain molecules are arranged.
January 7, 2012
Scientists sometimes just prove the obvious, like that men and women are different. If we can talk body without talking bawdy, there are some new discoveries about body works that should put a spring in your step today about how your body works.
Human Variability Can Be Rapid
December 19, 2011
All living humans are interfertile – one species by definition. People from all parts of the globe can marry and have children, even though global travel is relatively recent in human history. Yet we know there is considerable variability between tribes and nationalities. Does this variability take millions of years? Does it lead to the origin of new human species? Recent evidence shows that variations can be rapid, both genetic and acquired, without reducing interfertility.
Good Science Requires Good Ethics
December 16, 2011
Science is conducted by humans for humans. It is not done in a vacuum. Even the lone researcher working in a basement hopes to make a discovery worth sharing. The need for ethical science shows most clearly when humans experiment on humans – with or without their consent. Two recent articles underscore the indispensability of moral grounds for science, and a third raises questions about the source of morality.
Early Man Stories Evolve
December 11, 2011
Early man evolved, evolutionary scientists assure us. But it's not clear what is evolving more: our ancestors, or the tales told about them.
Biomimetics for Your Christmas Wish List
December 8, 2011
Biomimetics (the imitation of nature) continues to promise cool gadgets and useful materials that will someday yield prized gifts under the tree. Some of them might even save your life.
Follow the Stem Cell Money
November 15, 2011
A major clinical trial using embryonic stem cells was suddenly halted this week. Meanwhile, trials with adult stem cells are steamrolling ahead. Why the difference?
Selling Confabulation as Science
November 11, 2011
Science is supposed to be all about demonstrable proof through experiment. Should some scientists get away with confabulation – mere storytelling? Look at these recent headlines published on science news sites and consider whether some serious housecleaning is in order.
Animal Plan: It Works Well
November 10, 2011
There were Greek and Roman naturalists who were intrigued by what they saw in the living world, but their observational tools were limited to their five senses. Modern science has expanded our senses far beyond the capabilities known just a century ago. We are privileged to live in an age of discovery that is revealing even more wonders beneath the surface of living things, wonders worth knowing about. Here are just a few.