The Gene Genies, Part 2: The Genes that Wouldn’t Die.

Evolution with Foresight: an oxymoron, right? Evolution has no foresight. Natural selection only promotes what works in the moment. If a particular mutation doubles your reproductive rate, you will fill the world with thy numbers; the process doesn’t understand too much of a good thing, doesn’t care if greater fecundity today means overpopulation, starvation, and […]

The Gene Genies, Part 1: The Squids of Lamarck.

You know the drill. DNA holds the source code; RNA carries it to the ribosomes; ribosomes build stuff for the cell. Of course, the details of cellular operation are a million times more intricate than this— some RNA acts not to courier code but to switch genes on and off, for example— but it’s this […]

Your Brain on Gore.

Some of you have seen this already.  It’s a few days old, this revelation of yet another difference between liberals and conservatives. In addition to the usual polarities on abortion, gun control, climate change, evolution— you know the list— here comes another wedge issue some of you may not have been expecting: Animal mutilation. Turns […]

Posted in: evolution, neuro, scilitics by Peter Watts 79 Comments

“Just to be Clear, I Don’t Expect You to Embrace Any of This…

“I’m told a lot of lawyers tend to show up at these things, and my guess is the standard legal toolbox does not come with a middle finger to stick to the authorities. Then again, lawyers also know better than most what an ass the law is; they know that some are more equal than […]

The Darwinian Dead

So I’m spending all this time dealing with the legacy of the stationary dead, only to come up for air and notice that the walking ones are back on the march. I’ve never read the Walking Dead graphic novels (unlike, apparently, every thirteen-year-old at Bowmore Public School), but I’m a big fan of the AMC […]

Posted in: evolution, ink on art by Peter Watts 61 Comments

Lateral Transfers

The whitecap’s skin glows with a golden tan of cultured xanthophylls.  Joel’s smile grows a little more brittle.  He’s heard all about the benefits, of course. UV protection, higher blood oxygen, more energy — they say it even cuts down on your food requirements, not that any of these people have to worry about grocery […]

Posted in: biology, biotech, evolution, fiblet by Peter Watts 20 Comments

Coincidence? You Decide!

   New York Times (NYT), LaChance et al1(L) Blindsight endnotes (BSE), “Vampire Domestication: Taming Yesterday’s Nightmares for a Better Tomorrow” (VD)   Dr. Tishkoff’s team interprets these divergent DNA sequences as genetic remnants of an interbreeding with an archaic species of human … the geneticists estimate that the archaic species split from the ancestors of […]

Posted in: blindsight, evolution by Peter Watts 19 Comments

Going Viral.

When you’re a first-time lecturer in a department full of senior faculty, odds are you’ll get crap time slots when it comes to your teaching load. When you’re a first-time lecturer whose supervisor is the most-detested rival of the department head, you’re pretty much guaranteed as much. Which is how I ended up teaching Advanced […]

Posted in: a-life, evolution, writing news by Peter Watts 28 Comments

I Shared my Flesh with Thinking Cancer.

Some of you may remember that line.  It’s from “The Things“, that unabashed piece of fan-fic I wrote a while back (and which seems to be getting way more love than I was ever expecting). A few of you may even remember the research that inspired it — I  blogged about it a few years […]

Extraordinary Claims

I’ve had a fondness for Daryl Bem ever since his coauthored paper appeared in Psychological Bulletin back in 1994: a meta-analysis purporting to show replicable evidence for psionic phenomena. I cited it in Starfish, when I was looking for some way to justify the rudimentary telepathy my rifters experienced in impoverished environments. Bem and Honorton […]

Posted in: evolution, fringe, scilitics by Peter Watts 44 Comments