Fats recovered from Ediacaran fossil, 558 mya, shows that animals then were “large,” “abundant”

Yes, you read that right and our physics color commentator Rob Sheldon explains why it was possible below. From ScienceDaily: Scientists from The Australian National University (ANU) and overseas have discovered molecules of fat in an ancient fossil to reveal the earliest confirmed animal in the geological record that lived on Earth 558 million years […]

Is there a crisis inside the physics of time?

Did Carlo Rovelli, start a fashion for debunking time with The Order of Time? Here’s science writer Marcia Bartusiak, author of Dispatches from Planet 3, asking whether it is time to just get rid of time: You might say that quantum mechanics introduced a fuzziness into physics: You can pinpoint the precise position of a […]

Experiment to probe the weak points of the Standard Model of our universe

Better known as Big Bang cosmology, it is not very popular in some quarters: Developed in the 1960s and ’70s, the standard model has some sizable holes: It can’t explain dark matter — an ethereal substance so far detected only by its gravitational effects — or dark energy, a mysterious oomph that causes the cosmos […]

Globalization threatens the “ecosystem” of science, says researcher

One of three such trends, according to a Cambridge nanoscientist, and author of The Secret Life of Science: How It Really Works and Why It Matters: The scientific ecosystem also serves us in ways that are harder to articulate. It instills in us an appreciation for the beauty of mathematics, a belief in the inherent […]

At the Guardian: The “widespread notion that academia is morally superior is ridiculous”

A former biochemist and now medical writer, he has tried both the academy and industry: For the last 18 months or so I’ve been working very closely with people with different roles (medical affairs, marketing, access, etc.) of one particular company. We’ve been preparing for the launch of a new indication for their product, following a […]

Researchers: Primate relationships more complex than thought

According to new research: When it comes to figuring out which individual among a group of primates is the most dominant, some scientists simply look for the one that’s being the most assertive or aggressive. New research suggests this approach grossly underestimates the social complexity of nonhuman primates, and that there’s more to social dominance […]

The cat is back: Is quantum theory dead, alive, AND contradicting itself?

No, we wouldn’t pay any attention either except that the story is from Nature and they don’t do April 1 in September: In the world’s most famous thought experiment, physicist Erwin Schrödinger described how a cat in a box could be in an uncertain predicament. The peculiar rules of quantum theory meant that it could […]

Did a broken gene improve running and help humans conquer the planet?

Humans apparently have a broken version of CMP-Neu5Ac Hydroxylase (CMAH), which helps build a sugar molecule that impacts running: Despite our couch potato lifestyles, long-distance running is in our genes. A new study in mice pinpoints how a stretch of DNA likely turned our ancestors into marathoners, giving us the endurance to conquer territory, evade […]

Plants as “revolutionary geniuses”?

We’ve been talking about intelligence in termite mounds. Not “of” termite mounds but “in” them. From a review of The Revolutionary Genius of Plants: A New Understanding of Plant Intelligence and Behavior, by plant biologist Stefan Mancuso, To overcome the human bias toward brain-centered intelligence, Mancuso writes, one must consider that, unlike animals, plants can’t move. […]

WSJ publishes Laszlo Bencze’s thoughts on evo psych and who pays on the first date

Readers may remember photographer Laszlo Bencze’s reflections here at UD on why men pay on the first date (or don’t) when we first posted his letter to us here (September 5, 2018). He also sent the letter to the Wall Street Journal, which — we are told — posted it on September 16. You must buy a […]

J. Scott Turner and the “Giant Crawling Brain”

J. Scott Turner, author of Purpose and Desire: What Makes Something “Alive” and Why Modern Darwinism Has Failed to Explain It, features in a long read about his specialty, termites. For a time, superorganisms were all the rage. The concept dealt neatly with what Charles Darwin had called the “problem” with social insects. Darwin’s theory […]

Researchers: Genes cannot “be read like tea leaves”

Which make the effects of mutations harder to predict than hoped. Of course, it’s also a blow for genetic determinism. From ScienceDaily: Ever since the decoding of the human genome in 2003, genetic research has been focused heavily on understanding genes so that they could be read like tea leaves to predict an individual’s future […]

New book: Darwin, unlike some of his followers, was an “evolutionary pluralist”

Now they tell us. But how did his followers get it so wrong? Or were they just funning us all these years? Re Revisiting the Origin of Species: The Other Darwins (Thierry Hoquet, CRC Press, August 13, 2018): Contemporary interest in Darwin rises from a general ideal of what Darwin’s books ought to contain: a […]

Researchers: As soon as macroscopic life evolved, it formed communities

In short, there was no long, slow, Darwinian development of complex communities. We need a word for this: How about… ecological creationism?

How Darwinism played a role in misreading emotions

Efforts to enable machines to read our emotions are hitting a roadblock and, oddly enough, Charles Darwin (1809-1882), founder of popular evolution theory, plays a role in getting it wrong: The world is being flooded with technology designed to monitor our emotions. Amazon’s Alexa is one of many virtual assistants that detect tone and timbre […]

New goal: 66k animal genomes mapped

Earlier this month, 15 genomes were released. The Vertebrate Genomes Project aims to sequence every extant vertebrate species—there are about 66,000—and to make them of the highest possible value. … “What we thought was a ‘genome’ back [when G10K was launched] really wasn’t suitable for in-depth studies,” G10K cofounder David Haussler, a computational biologist at […]

Plants use flashes of fluorescent light to warn leaves against insects

From ScienceDaily: In one video, you can see a hungry caterpillar, first working around a leaf’s edges, approaching the base of the leaf and, with one last bite, severing it from the rest of the plant. Within seconds, a blaze of fluorescent light washes over the other leaves, a signal that they should prepare for […]

Researchers: Fossil record “dramatically distorted”

From ScienceDaily: Using the fossil record to accurately estimate the timing and pace of past mass extinctions is no easy task, and a new study highlights how fossil evidence can produce a misleading picture if not interpreted with care. Florida Museum of Natural History researchers used a series of 130-foot cores drilled from the Po […]

AAAS to introduce new policy for expelling members

The “Fellow Revocation Policy” was announced by president, Margaret A. Hamburg: The governing body of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, founded 1848, voted Saturday to enact a policy under which an elected AAAS Fellow’s lifetime honor can be revoked for proven scientific misconduct or serious breaches of professional ethics. The AAAS Council […]

Why computer programs that mimic the human brain will continue to underperform

Our physics color commentator Rob Sheldon offers a comment on whether simple probabilities can outweigh “deep learning” (as noted earlier here. ) When neural nets [computer programs that mimic the human brain] were all the rage in physics, some 25 years ago, I spoke with the author of a paper who was using neural nets […]

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