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Biology

Birds, Eh?

Penguins: evidence of Intelligent Design or gay Commie bastards? You decide. [Having provided this link about animal behaviour and evolution I am now bracing myself for a breathtakingly confused Cuthbertson post accusing me of elevating “my radical politics” over “what science tells us about human goals and social realities” by failing to point out that […]

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Learning To Talk

File this one under “Amazing If True”: “Cornell University and Tel Aviv University researchers have developed a method for enabling a computer program to scan text in any of a number of languages, including English and Chinese, and autonomously and without previous information infer the underlying rules of grammar. The rules can then be used […]

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Evangelical Scientist Refutes Gravity, Sequences Human Genome

“Things fall not because they are acted upon by some gravitational force, but because a higher intelligence, ‘God’ if you will, is pushing them down,” said Gabriel Burdett, who holds degrees in education, applied Scripture, and physics from Oral Roberts University. The funny thing about this Onion story, is that the made-up fundamentalist “scientist” quoted […]

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Separated At Birth

To minimize the inevitable public disapproval it is crucial when creating a cloned mammal in your laboratory to make as little mention as possible of your previous failed attempts to do so, and to give your successful clone a cute name: “Dolly” the sheep, “Ralph” the rat, and now “Snuppy”, the Afghan puppy who thinks […]

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Three Celebrity Scientists Go Hunting

MMR vaccine chancer Andrew Wakefield, Arpad “poisonous GM potatoes are poisonous” Pusztai*, and Gilbert “100 000 dead in Iraq war” Burnham go hunting together for rabbits. After only a few minutes walking, all three of them simultaneously catch sight of the same bunny in the distance. Wakefield shoots a tranquilizer dart from his rifle, but it […]

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Ethnic Aesthetics

“Any random group of thirty Vietnamese women will contain a dozen who make Julia Roberts look like Lyle Lovett.” P. J. O’Rourke (1994), All The Trouble In The World: The Lighter Side of Overpopulation, Famine, Ecological Disaster, Ethnic Hatred, Plague, and Poverty I’ve written here before that I believe humans are naturally disposed to discriminate […]

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Your Momma

A PooterGeeker wrote to ask how she could take part in the Genographic Project. The answer is here, though some of us “in the business” might get a little bit sniffy at the idea of a human sample group that is not only partly self-selecting, but includes people who’ve paid to be experimental subjects. Of […]

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Watch The Exxxtreme Mini Bears!

Tardigrades—“water bears”—are amazing. They are mostly less than a millimetre in length, but have a complete multicellular anatomy and physiology with recognisable limbs and organs. Despite their complexity they can go dormant and become hardy little spheres of just-add-water life. In this form they are resistant to all sorts of unpleasant treatment and harsh environments. […]

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Better Than Brand X

Worried about MRSA? Scared of infecting your little ones with your nasty cold? University of North Carolina researchers recommend the most effective anti-microbial hand-washing product known to modern science. Also on a science kick, Mick Hartley’s ‘Blog always features excellent serious reading material, but what has given rise to the longest (and most amusing) comment […]

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Jungle VIPs

Scientists are almost as susceptible to a certain type of urban myth as the rest of the population. One popular one was that there are 100 000 genes in the human genome. When the first estimates of “the number of genes”—I use quotes because exactly what constitutes a single gene is subtle, complex, and controversial—based on […]

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You Scratch My Back

This morning I received a bottle of champagne (coincidentally my favourite alcoholic drink) from a family of complete strangers, as thanks for my doing them a favour, one I enjoyed doing and for which I had refused payment. Biology geeks might see the connection between this “exchange” and the death of John Maynard Smith on […]

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