Someone was awake at GECCO

Hooray, I have evidence that at least one person didn’t fall asleep at my GECCO keynote: here’s a summary. He even managed to pay attention right up to the dramatic conclusion, which I usually keep a secret, but now the beans have been spilled.

Wait…the biology-oriented keynote at last year’s GECCO was a panel with Lewis Wolpert, Steve Jones, and Richard Dawkins? I would have been a lot more nervous if I’d known I was following up that act.


  1. E.V. says

    ‘Then he pulled a live baby out of his briefcase and bit its head off.’
    Taking a cue from Ozzie, I see. PZ as science rock god! SHWING!

  2. Darby says

    I may disagree with you on evolvability as an actual feature – let me try a few things related to it…

    How about organisms from long-stable microenvironments that have extremely efficient DNA-repair mechanisms, sort of an anti-mutation metabolism (like horseshoe crabs, or pelagic sharks, or maybe cockroaches)? Doesn’t that affect their evolvability? They have kind of evolved NOT to evolve?

    Does a species turnover time – generational time – affect their evolvability? That may just be a degree thing…

    If you buy into silicate clays as being templates for early “living” molecular complexes, couldn’t it be said that the complexes had evolvability, but the clays didn’t?

    I have a feeling that this is all going to be a syntax-based disagreement, but I have to ask.

  3. Robert Thille says

    I watched the Wolpert/Dawkins/Jones talk and Jones & Wolpert seemed idiotic about the ‘pigs will never fly’ thing. Unless you mean that what you’d end up with wasn’t a pig, but that’s the same as saying a pig can’t fly _now_. I’m doubtful that you could evolve a pig into a single-celled organism, but I think other than that, given the right pressures and enough time, I think you could evolve pretty much any possible multicellular life form (at least in form and function, if not genetics) from any other.

  4. rpwiegand says

    At least two were awake, as I was there and attentive. Three if you count yourself … unless you can lecture while dozing (a skill I would dearly love to master).

    Indeed, I even posted a question as a comment on one of your other posts about GECCO.

    I agree, it was a good talk. Very accessible to the non-biologists among us.

    And don’t worry about following last year’s discussion panel; I found it rather disappointing. Very little was discussed that we had not heard before. Aside from the extraordinary coolness factor (Wolpert, Jones, Dawkins, British Natural History Museum) … the event was not spectacular.

    Okay, there wasn’t a giant dinosaur fossil in the room when you spoke, but I learned more at your talk (even if I didn’t get to see a mouse with bat wings).

  5. DavidONE says

    ‘Then he pulled a live baby out of his briefcase and bit its head off.’

    One would have expected a slow disembowelment before being flambéd, served on a bed of crackers and washed down with a nice Chianti, given recent events.

  6. Sven DiMilo says

    now the beans have been spilled

    Damn good thing they weren’t Magic Beans, or else outraged Magic-Beanist trolls would already have this thread bloated up to hundreds of comments. Ordinary beans, albeit spilled, let a guy post a single-digited comment, sit back, relax, enjoy the (kinda slow, but relaxing) discussion. Not like those nutty Magic=Baked-Goods threads.

  7. Great Northern, out of Cheyenne says

    I am outraged–OURAGED!! at this spilling of beans by a fat nerdy so-called athiest so-called assciate Professer at some poedunk prairie collage!! You are so Imature and intolerint that you would desicrate the very Heart and center of my Religion?! HOW DARE YOU Please RESPECT MY BELEIF and keep the dam beans IN the Holy Purpl Chivas Bag where they dam well belong and APOLOGIZE!! Or else!!!1! BIGIT!! I KNOW you dont have the BALL’S to spill Any Hummus out of the bag JERK

  8. kx says

    I attended the talk, but somehow I can’t remember how he bit off the baby’s head.
    I think it was a nice talk, although I met quite some people who hoped to see some ID bashing. However, telling scientists that ID is crap would be like carrying coals to Newcastle.

    As stated above, GECCO last year definitely had the cooler location (A Dinosaur attending the talk), but since the questions had to be handed in before the discussion it somehow sucked.