23 February 2008

Weekly sampler 7

I still owe you a summary of Howard Van Till's address at the Grand Dialogue and something about Richard Colling's talk at Calvin. Plus I'm barely halfway through the "junk DNA" series, and I haven't gotten to the part where I show you just how irresponsible Hugh Ross and Reasons to Believe really are. Sorry about that; here are some of the things that have been distracting me.

1. Illusions can be creepy and exhilarating, as we discover the limits of the reliability of our own senses. More than that, they are useful tools in the construction of models of sensory processing by the brain, and thereby of theories of consciousness. At the excellent blog Cognitive Daily, Dave Munger presents a jaw-dropping optical illusion, and explains what it tells us about how visual information is handled by the brain. If you have built your worldview around the perfection of your sensory input, you might want to skip this one.

2. I've just started exploring this site, Comparative Mammalian Brain Collections, with the marvelous URL of brainmuseum.org. The section on brain evolution starts with a cool little march through mammalian brains, increasing in size. Look for the bat brains! There's even a link to a manitee brain site.

3. Speaking of the Colling lecture, you can find audio and Collings' slides on the Christian Perspectives in Science series site.

4. Anyone else considering a glimpse into their recent evolutionary past? I'd love to be able to afford the ~$200 for a trip down genetic memory lane, but it's not happening now. Someday, though, I'm sure I'll do it, since there's no way I can resist participating in something called the "Matheson Surname DNA Project." (Click on Results to see the interesting part.)

5. If this blog occasionally sails over your head, or gives you vertigo, here's a well-regarded online biology textbook, created by a community college in Arizona. What I've seen looks very good.

6. Genetic diversity among humans should be important and interesting to anyone who is concerned about human evolution, regardless of his/her viewpoint. Humans were once thought to be relatively poor in the genetic-variation department, but new findings (in the last 4 years or less) are painting a new and different picture. An entire supplemental issue of Nature Genetics was recently devoted to this subject, and Nature has just made that supplement freely available. Check out the commentary by Jonathan Sebat ("Major changes in our DNA lead to major changes in our thinking") and consider how these developments might be relevant to creationists.

No comments: