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Your Eye Sees Trouble Before You Do

In slapstick comedy, the fall guy gets the pie in the face when the clown in front of him ducks.  It’s funny because most of us instinctively duck when we see something coming.  But two recent experimental studies are revealing new automated capabilities built into the eye and brain that are quicker and more automatic […]

Mutation: Not a Bug, a Feature

Evolutionary biologists are sometimes risque with the way they discuss mutations.  They treat them almost like magic wands, able to produce wondrous new organs and functions by accident. Health to them, death to you:  One article on Science Daily discussed a mutation that causes congenital heart disease in humans, but may have been a stepping […]

Your Throat Has Tasteful Antennae

Our airways are lined with cells that have beating oars called motile cilia.  Like galley slaves on a Roman ship, they beat in coordinated waves, setting up currents that propel dust and foreign matter out toward the mouth.  Scientists just found out another amazing capability of these motile cilia: they can “taste” toxic chemicals and […]

Appendix to The Origin: “Darwin Was Wrong”

The appendix, that lowly dollop of tissue relegated to vestigial organ status by the Darwinians, is alive and well with new respect.  Science Daily announced results of the “first-ever study of the appendix through the ages.”  Conclusion: “Charles Darwin was wrong: The appendix is a whole lot more than an evolutionary remnant.  Not only does […]

Don’t Just Sit There; Do Something

Inactive people have the most health problems.  That’s why the American Psychological Association is warning that sedentary lives can be deadly, according to Science Daily.  A speaker at an APA convention called physical inactivity “the biggest public health problem of the 21st century.”     Some 25-35% of adult Americans – 40 to 50 million […]

Spleen Scores, Darwin Loses

Hold onto your spleen if you can.  The lowly organ, “known as much for its metaphoric as its physiological value, plays a more important role in the body’s defense system than anyone suspected.”  Natalie Angier reported in the New York Times that Harvard researchers found that the spleen acts like a fort for disease-fighting monocytes, […]

Epigenetics Rising in Consciousness of Geneticists, Embryologists

The old story of genetics was that all the information is in genes, and when sperm and egg unite, it’s only the combination of genes from parents that affect the offspring.  That view has been under challenge for years now as geneticists and embryologists find more and more evidence for additional heritable factors that affect […]

More Going On in the Brain Than We Realize

The news story about a girl who can see in both eyes with half a brain has stunned neurophysiologists (see New Scientist and Live Science).  Somehow, the remaining parts of her brain underwent a massive reorganization of the circuits involved in vision.  “It was quite a surprise to see that something like this is possible,” […]

The Early Man Gets the Big Brain

“Why are human brains so big?” asked Live Science.  Why are our brains larger relative to body size than almost all other animals?  Rachael Rettner reported on various answers.  To her credit, she pointed out the fallacies of trying to test hypotheses when there is insufficient evidence.     Rettner evaluated three hypotheses about why […]

Paper View: Darwin, of All the Nerve

American neurons are due to get a workout this day.  The taste buds and olfactory neurons will get their exercise first at Independence Day barbecues across the land, then the visual cortex and auditory neurons will max out as the fireworks start after dark.  Escorted by the Editors of Science Magazine, Darwin is here in […]

Computer Programmers Borrow Eye Technology

Computer processing of video images may become twice as accurate with 10 times the speed of earlier models, thanks to what scientists are imitating in the human eye.  “The linear solution to one of the most vexing challenges to advancing computer vision has direct applications in the fields of action and object recognition, surveillance, wide-base […]

Discovering Health and Technology in the Human Body

Why invent technology from scratch, when the body contains substances that point the way to high tech, and can heal almost like magic?  Several articles show that harnessing the body’s own resources is the wave of the future.     Umbilical cords were usually tossed into the maternity ward biowaste can, but now they are […]

Is Darwinism Useful Explaining Cognition?

One would think the evolution of mind involves a straightforward account of improving cognition as one progresses up the evolutionary tree.  It’s not so simple, said two researchers in a Nature essay:1  Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection is broadly accepted among biologists, but its implications for the study of cognition are far from […]

Your Eye Works a Precision Jigsaw Puzzle

You have twin 125 megapixel video cameras in your eyeballs.  Each pixel, a rod or cone connected to a neuron, sees only a small bit of the total image.  How do these bits, like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, fit together?  Scientists at the Salk Institute have found that they are finely tuned to fit […]

Can Evolution Be Programmed?

Some researchers are employing “evolutionary computing” as an algorithm to solve problems.  But is it really evolution? Evolved machines:  A company called Evolved Machines in Palo Alto announced a 40-teraflop machine that will be used for the “artificial evolution of neural circuitry” (see press release on United Business Media).  “It is self-evident that in biological […]
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