Sunday Morning Links (07/25/10)

Just a collection of blogs I enjoyed over the past week. Don’t worry – I’m working on that recombination suppression post I mentioned. I get the gist of it all, but there are a lot of details I’m still trying to wrap my head around. Hoping for a Monday post but I might have to delay it to Tuesday. Anyway, here are the links, presented in the order I found them:

Ed Yong at Not Exactly Rocket Science: The olm: the blind cave salamander that lives to 100. A strange animal I had never heard of before. It’s also endangered, of course. Check out the cool pictures!

Becky Ward at It Takes 30: The geometry of evolution. Becky describes how our understanding of Darwin’s finches, 170 years in the making, is still incomplete. Some scientists are now working on how the famous beaks change shape. It’s strange it has taken so long!

Jerry Coyne at Why Evolution Is True: Baleen whales: a lovely transitional form.

Razib Khan at Gene Expression: Disease as a byproduct of adaptation. I like Razib’s framing of sickle cell anemia as a response to malaria as “disease as a byproduct of adaptation.” (There were three ‘as of’s in that sentence. Awkward.) The post highlights the fact that not all adaptations lead to a more perfect organism or any other nonsense of the sort. The post itself describes research on another possible heterozygote advantage: Lysing recently evolved subspecies of trypanosomes may require risks of kidney disease, much like resistance to malaria requires sickle cells. I didn’t understand everything, particularly the methods, but I got the gist. Quite interesting.

Evolving in Monkey Town: How a Girl Who Knew All the Answers Learned to Ask the Questions by Rachel Held Evans. A book about how a Christian-raised woman came to accept both evolution and Christianity. I’m mostly interested because I think Evans may provide a perspective that has been missing in the are-science-and-religion-compatible debate: not a New Atheist, not an “accommodationist,” not a high level theologian, but an average Christian (or pretty close, I think). Given that convincing US citizens that evolution is real means convincing people like Evans, it’s an important voice to listen to. Her blog can be found here.

Ethan Siegel at Starts with a Bang: The Biggest Star We’ve Ever Found! As the title says, scientists have found a star that is 265 times more massive than the sun (and was 300 times the mass at one time). Lots of pretty pictures and staggering numbers.

Patrick Clarkin: A Human Biology of War: The Proximate and the Ultimate. Can evolution, health, and war be combined into a human biology?

PZ Myers at Pharyngula: It’s more than genes, networks and systems. Even those who accept evolution may not really understand it (myself included). I’m beginning to think that educating those that already accept evolution can do more good than trying to convince creationists of anything. I have no solid evidence for that though… More of a Colbertian gut thing.


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