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Category Archive: Science

Jul 22 2014

Biology is a hard problem

New genetic disorders pop up all the time — each one represents a child who may face incredible challenges, or even be doomed to death. A child named Bertrand exhibited some serious symptoms — profound developmental disabilities — shortly after he was born, and no one could figure out what was wrong with him. So …

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Jul 21 2014

Mary’s Monday Metazoan: Cruel flower

HHMI

This flower, over many generations, has warped the poor buff-tail sicklebilled hummingbird’s beak into that bizarre curve.

Jul 21 2014

The dose makes the poison

Princeton physicist William Happer is still getting invited on television to say stupid things. I keep hearing about the "pollutant CO2," or about "poisoning the atmosphere" with CO2, or about minimizing our "carbon footprint." This brings to mind another Orwellian pronouncement that is worth pondering: "But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought." …

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Jul 19 2014

I’m willing to pay good money for honest tales of beauty and despair

Chris Clarke has published a short excerpt from his upcoming Joshua tree book. It’s good. It promises great things to come. It’s also mildly sorrowful, but then, that’s what you’re going to get with good environmental journalism. There’s also a deal where you can sign up for weekly stories on the desert, in return for …

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Jul 18 2014

Shermer rides again!

Jesus. He’s written a climatological ‘Dear Muslima’ for Scientific American, defending Bjorn Lomborg. It feeds directly into a common Republican trope: ‘sure, climate change occurs, and maybe humans contribute to it, but it’s just too costly do what is necessary’. He lists a bunch of problems, and then does a “cost-benefit analysis”. The ranking is …

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Jul 18 2014

Friday Cephalopod: You don’t need knees to be mobile

I’m suddenly seeing more to admire in the beautiful octopus.

Jul 17 2014

Quote-mined by Casey Luskin!

Once again, Casey Luskin demonstrates that he’s a biological ignoramus. He is much buoyed by a science report that chloroquinone resistance in the malaria parasite requires two mutations, claims that Michael Behe has been vindicated because that’s exactly what he said, and demands an apology from all of Behe’s critics. Will Ken Miller, Jerry Coyne, …

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Jul 16 2014

Botanical Wednesday: Kiss, kiss

bloginicio flora

Jul 15 2014

The Lyon hypothesis, nicely illustrated

Dang, I teach all this stuff about genes and chromosomes and epigenetics, but I don’t have the advantage of giant floating holographic molecules floating around me. Maybe I’ll have to steal this for my classes. Although it could use some discussion of Blaschko’s lines, to explain why you get a stripey pattern rather than just …

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Jul 14 2014

Mary’s Monday Metazoan: Respect for the nematomorph

HHW_movie

There’s a new vampire series on FX by Guillermo Del Toro, The Strain. I haven’t seen it — I don’t get that channel — but I’ve read the book, which I found interesting for making vampires utterly disgusting, and also for stealing biological analogues for the infection (alas, I thought the story started very well …

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