Quote of the Day

“Ten thousand years ago in what’s now Mexico, for instance, farmers took a weed called teosinte and created corn. Teosinte’s tiny ears contain only about a dozen kernels; an ear of modern-day maize has about 800. Selective breeding turned a scruffy grass into a starch-packed staple of the global meal. IT SOUNDS SIMPLE, BUT HUMANS […]

The abstract gene

“Early geneticists knew perfectly well that they were studying statistical correlations (if one makes such-and-such a change in gene x, then allows the organism to develop in a fixed environment e, one will observe alteration f, etc). In later generations, however, the language of causation started to creep in, and with it the idea of a fixed relationship between […]

The Monday Morning Smörgåsbord

This week I’ve decided to highlight only texts from science blogs around the web. There is a lot of great writing out there, much of it far superior in content and style to science communication in traditional media outlets. We’ll kick-off with John Hutchinson‘s What’s in John’s Freezer? Hutchinson is Professor of Evolutionary Biomechanics at the […]

Epilogue: Requiem for Applied Science

Thursday’s post on the zombiefication of science policy by the trendy buzzword virus left a lingering aftertaste that I could not quite place. Part of it was probably just residual snobbery, a pointless resentment that the translational excellence crowd did to the English language what Michael Bolton did to soul music. As a final note […]

Magic Words

The chimps in the genus Homo display many worrisome tendencies, among them a tendency to groupthink. Groupthink will often creep into the most unexpected places, and do quite a bit of damage. A sure sign of cultish behaviour is the spread of mantras that are repeated over and over again by acolytes. “Magic words” are […]

The Monday Morning Smörgåsbord

‘I’ll start with the question I’m most often asked: “What can I do about the ants in my kitchen?” My response comes from the heart: Watch your step, be careful of little lives. Ants especially like honey, tuna and cookie crumbs. So put down bits of those on the floor, and watch as the first […]