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Ready, Aim, Flower

How does a plant know the time to flower? A new study describes a process involving genes, sunlight sensors, switches, clocks, feedback loops and messages.

Butterfly Mimics Don't Evolve; They Share

A non-evolutionary explanation has been found for a classic evolutionary showpiece: mimicry in butterflies.

New Chirality Solution Proposed

It's long been a mystery why cells use one hand of two-handed molecules, like left-handed amino acids and right-handed sugars. A new proposal solves the mystery, explaining how this phenomenon called homochirality arises naturally. Wait a minute...

Evolution for Men and Women

Two recent entries in the evolution literature have application to one sex or the other.

Stem Cells Getting Healthier

Over the past decade, stem cells have been a hot news item. Here are some late breaking news stories about them.

Earth Myths with a Sprinkling of Data

Some recent articles on dating methods show that tiny bits of data can be used to generate whoppers.

Animals Have Biological GPS

Global Positioning System (GPS): that's a function. Maintaining a suite of satellites is one method for achieving the function. But there are other ways to figure out where in the world you are, and two very different animals show the way – naturally – using Earth's global magnetic field.

How the Tiger Got Its Stripes: Dunno

A leading hypothesis for morphogenesis (pattern formation, such as tiger stripes) has been shown to be oversimplified. Whatever gave a tiger its stripes is more complicated than developmental biologists thought.

From Wonders of Nature to Wonders of Technology

Living things have solved physics problems like design engineers. Inventors are just now catching on to their tricks in ways that could improve our technology, weaning us off our crude, polluting past and ushering in advanced technology that is not only greener but more effective. The latest stars are two insects and a bacterium.

Is This Plant Really 30,000 Years Old?

A plant said to be 30,000 years old has been brought to life in Russia. A team resurrected a fruit from a rodent burrow in Siberian permafrost, getting it to grow into a whole plant that produces viable seeds. This is now the oldest age claim, by an order of magnitude, for plant material made to live again. Other scientists are startled that plant material could remain viable for so long, since cells have to repair their DNA continually. Other botany news bring different problems to evolutionary theory.

Small Animals Show Even More Design

Your smart phone is a triumph of miniaturization. The first computers were room-filling monstrosities; now, you can hold more computing power than a Univac in the palm of your hand. In the living world, we should't despise small creatures. They can pack a lot of technology into a small space. Here are some record-setting examples of living miniatures reported recently.

OOL for Landlubbers

No part of the universal evolutionary scenario gets more overhauls than the origin of life. Some say it began in the sea, some on the land. Some say it began at the bottom of the sea; others say that is the worst place for life to get going. The latest idea favors freshwater hot springs on land.

More Reasons to Doubt Scientific Pronouncements

It’s unsettling to hear scientists say that long-held beliefs might be wrong, but that’s the nature of science. Scientific “findings” are tentative, not absolute. Some see this as a strength of science, but unless actual progress is demonstrated, that strength is called into question. Recent news casts doubt on various scientific methods and beliefs that had been trusted for a long time.

Innovation as a Dodge

This is not a truck commercial. It’s not about a Dodge as an innovation, but innovation as a dodge. It’s about how a word, innovation, is used as a euphemism in evolution articles. The word seems to mean, “we have no clue how this evolved, but it must have for evolution to be true.” It’s a handy rhetorical trick, because without it, a reader might be tempted to think the evidence supports creation. Some recent articles show how the trick is employed.

Rethinking Parasitism

Parasitism is bad. Parasitism is evil. Parasites wage war against innocent hosts. This is our mindset. What if parasites can do good? This change of heart seems to be happening for one case, the case of transposable genetic elements. If they are only doing harm to the host, why did some biologists find that “positive selection” seems to be maintaining them? That makes it sound like the cells need them.
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