Biochemical Soul Musings on Nature, Science, Evolution, Biology, and Education

4Mar/09Off

Carnival of the Blue 22 – Malaria, Bedbugs, Sea Lice & Sunsets

In an ambitious new day for Marine Science blogging and general marine information dissemination, Rick MacPherson (of Malaria, Bedbugs, Sea Lice & Sunsets) and Jason Robertshaw (of Cephalopodcast) have announced not only of the publication of Carnival of the Blue #22, but also the shiny new Podcast of the Blue, which will from hence forth go hand-in-hand.

I'm quite excited to hear the lovely voices of the people behind the best marine science writing.

In addition, the Current edition of the carnival, hosted by Rick is replete with wonderful oceanic goodness. So go check it out, and be sure to stay tuned for the upcoming podcast.

In fact, he kindly included my own post on Flatfish Eyes & Recapitulation Theory. His description:

More Weird Fish Eyes
If you still need some additional fish weirdness, Carnival of the Blue first-timer (hopefully long-timer) Daniel Brown of Biochemical Soul dredges-up memories of 9AM Developmental Biology class as he explores the evolution of flatfish eyes. This post has it all... some ontogeny, some phylogeny, some eyeball migration. Perhaps with the right encouragement we can get Daniel to focus exclusively on the ocean and change his blog title to Biochemical Sole?

I considered the name change. In fact I considered changing scientific fields completely and moving into studying flatfish development - just to fit this blog into his punny joke. I decided against it...

And if you have yet to make check them out, be sure to check out Carnival of Evolution #9 at Moneduloides, and Circus of the Spineless #36 at Invertebrate Diaries.

1Mar/09Off

Carnival of Evolution #9 – Moneduloides

The next edition of the Carnival of Evolution is now live over at Moneduloides!

It's clear that moneduloides put alot of work into this edition, which contains a great amount of commentary on each submission.

So waste no more time here - go check it out now!

3Feb/09Off

Carnival of Evolution #8 (Part Two)

Welcome back to the Carnival of Evolution - the place where the sideshow freaks of nature, the genetic mutants of the Tree of Life, run the show. Yes - we are all mutants, each of us with our own mutant powers, whether that be gripping plastic electronic mice with opposable thumbs or using specialized spiny penises to scrape the competing life juice of our competitors from the orifice of our beloved (sorry - I've been reading Dr. Tatiana's Sex Advice for All Creation - about the evolution of sex in the animal kingdom).

To what do we owe our gratitude for such wondrous gifts? Why, nothing more than the variable nature of inheritance and a competition for survival and reproduction.

As mentioned in the previous edition of the carnival, posted here just a few short days ago, a whole new slew of evolutionary links appeared in our BlogCarnival.com submission basket upon submission of edition #8.  Thus, in a special unprecedented issue, I now bring you PART TWO of this month's Carnival of Evolution #8.  We have some new faces appearing in this issue, intermingled with familiar acclaimed contributors of editions past.

A quick administrative note to future contributors: don't even think of submitting a post entitled "Teaching Intelligent Design." You will be summarily rejected.

An example of the type of detritus not likely to make it into a blog carnival devoted to the wonders of natural selection includes articles attempting to claim that the amazing complexity of some biological phenomenon is too great to have happened naturally.

via Wikipedia

A sperm's journey through, as Peter Buckland of Forms Most Beautiful puts it,  "potentially hostile vaginal territory" is indeed an utterly astonishing and deadly adventure. But what about wasted sperm, unimplanted blastocysts, and the developmental disorders that plague human reproduction? Ahh, that’s okay…Apparently God still did it.

"Oh yeah? How do you know?" I hear my opponent whine. Well, I don't know. Anyone who has studied or considered the philosophy of science understands that nothing is absolutely knowable. Thankfully, Kuhn and Popper showed us that that's okay - pragmatism works just fine.

The thing about evolution - it has an almost unfathomable mountains of evidence backing it. One simple yet always entertaining type of evidence that can be used to ease folks into an evolutionary understanding is that of human vestigial traits. The List Universe gives us one of the better rundowns of the top ten vestigial evidences of human evolution that I've seen.

But the arguments will continue to spew forth. Luckily The Evolving Mind is there as the Clever Criticisms of Evolution arise – criticisms that aren’t so clever that he can’t refute them - in this fourth part of a series.

The Splendid (Ranongga) White-eye (GrrlScientist)

The Splendid (Ranongga) White-eye (GrrlScientist)

So what else can we do to spread the knowledge? The Mississippi Atheists give us a great post on "how to defend science education in your state" – Stand strong my fellow southern and proud while also intelligent and scientific brethren (and sistren?). The South will rise again (or eventually for the first time)! Author's note: I'm a native Arkansan and Texan.

What if you are someone that is fascinated by evolution, but does not necessarily understand the science behind it or how to read all those weird pictures with the branches? One start would be to take a stroll over to Life Before Death to get a layperson's crash course in how to interpret evolutionary trees.

Of course, once you understand evolution, you can use that thinking to do all sorts of other wacky things - such as compare the language of motorists and their vehicles with chimps and the evolution of language, as The Physics of Chi and the Evolution of Man has done in a very entertaining post. (e.g. In car language, a horn means "Watch out" or "Aahh" or "Hello" or "MOVE!", while yelling out the window generally means "I'm angry for some reason, but I can't tell you why because I'm driving." Chimps have all this and more - minus the driving)

Orius

Or you can muse on how the “second brain” in our belly is actually the first one we evolved, as expounded upon at Doomsday Labs.

Or as Seeds Aside tells us - you can go out and discover new pieces of the evolutionary puzzle, such as the curious tale (and first report) of an insect pollination relationship between a TRUE bug (hemipteran) and a plant.

Or perhaps you may find that the “Great Speciators,” the white-eyes (a bird), apparently do evolve faster than any other avian group on earth - a tale brought to us by the prolific GrrlScientist of Living the Scientific Life.

Alternatively, you could host a debate on "Who was more important: Darwin or Lincoln?" as the Smithsonian's Surprising Science has done ( I was certainly surprised at that one - a better question: "Who would win in a deathmatch: Darwin or Lincoln?").

And finally, if one is feeling particularly ambitious you could attempt to plan an entire year in which you only did things related to Darwin - The Year of Charles Darwin Ultimate Tour (Part 1) - also at Surprising Science.

There are just oh so many things to do with evolutionary knowledge...

With that, the two-part Carnival of Evolution #8 concludes. Join us again in one month as the Carnival of Evolution #9 makes its appearance at Moneduloides. Use this handy form for submissions. We are seeking new hosts, so please volunteer if you have

the will.  Let's make this carnival last!!

For other great reading, check out the Carnival of the Blue #21 (dedicated to the Ocean) at The Oyster's Garter and the Circus of the Spineless #35 (dedicated to invertebrates) at The Other 95%.

3Feb/09Off

Circus of the Spineless – The Other 95%

badge made by me for the love of bugs (not just hemipterans)

badge made by me for the love of bugs (not just hemipterans - the "true bugs")

Do you love invertebrates as much as I?

If so, make your way now over to the resurrected Circus of the Spineless, a blog carnival devoted to the world of invertebrates, hosted this 35th edition by Kevin Zelnio of The Other 95% and Deep Sea News.

And to my old ecology/zoology professor, Dr. Matt Moran - thank you so much for making me memorize every major order of insects! It came in handy reading this edition of the CotS. I love the organization.

Note: Kevin kindly included my own post on Black Widows around my house (with cool videos).

1Jan/09Off

Carnival of Evolution #8 – Update

One thing natural selection is powerless against is selecting for or against anything in an organism post-reproduction. Hence, our bodies are fairly impotent when it comes to fighting cancer (with many exceptions, of course). The mechanisms of evolution are simply blind to most cancers.

It is for this reason that I must delay today's edition of the Carnival of Evolution. My grandfather "Papaw" finally and thankfully ended a long fight with lung cancer thirty minutes before midnight on New Year's Eve. He had just received word that day that the cancer had spread pretty much all over and the prospects for '09 were not looking particularly pleasant.

So, in perfect characteristic fashion, Papaw proceeded to thumb his nose at the potential of an agonizing death by having a heart attack that very day.

He will be missed by many.

The next edition, which was due to be published today, will be published as soon as I return from the funeral next week. Much apologies to all contributors. Rest assured - you will all be included.