01 June 2008

Weekly sampler 19

A few interesting and/or important tidbits for Monday.

1. Brian at Laelaps provides a list of some very useful books available electronically for free. Authors include slouches like Cuvier, Lyell and Huxley.

2. PZ Myers has an excellent new column up at SEED Magazine, discussing the pufferfish genome and referring to Ryan Gregory's excellent work. (Larry Moran adds commentary, and is talking about a poll.) If you need a refresher on "junk DNA" and the worthless creationist arguments it has spawned, note that I've added a Junk DNA tag to my topics list.

3. Steve Martin at An Evangelical Dialogue on Evolution is in the midst of an important and informative series of guest posts on "Evangelicals, Evolution, and Academics." Last week, Richard Colling provided some thoughtful reflections on the delicate art of communicating evolution to believers. (Some of my readers will be glad to know that I read Colling's words carefully.) One early line that caught my eye: "Indeed, an ungodly and consuming fear of evolution has engulfed the Christian community." Up this week: yours truly, on the topic of evolution at Calvin College. I wonder if I should update my CV...

4. James Kidder describes himself thus: "I am a Christian, librarian, palaeoanthropologist, evolutionary biologist and web page designer with an all-consuming interest in apologetics and controversies in science and religion." His blog is called "Science and Religion: A View from an Evolutionary Creationist" and I recommend it very highly.

5. If you can't make it to the Field Museum in Chicago to see the Evolving Planet exhibition...well, first try harder. But if you really can't get there, check out this incredible animation of the Cambrian ocean. Wonderful Life, indeed.

6. Baseball meets intelligent design! On the ASA listserv last week, Randy Isaac posted a link to a video, and asked:

How would we apply the explanatory filter to this video? Can we determine by probabilities whether it was edited? Or designed?
You can read about the explanatory filter elsewhere if you must, but what I really want you to do is to simply watch the video with Randy's questions in mind, and see what you think. Then maybe leave a comment here.

7. Read Ken Miller on Expelled, and why he wasn't interviewed, in the Boston Globe.

8. Monkeys can control robotic arms with "just their thoughts." Whereas my non-robotic limbs are wired directly to my motor cortex, and I seem to have far less control of them than these monkeys do...

The brain of S.S. Korsakov (alt. Korsakoff), a dead Russian genius. From Vein and Maat-Schieman, Brain 131: 583-590, 2008.

Oh, and while we're on the subject of brains, you have to check out this post on brains of dead Russian geniuses. (Where are the brains of dead Russian morons?)

9. Ten optical illusions in two minutes. AWESOME video; don't miss it!

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