Tyson in the Ring

Didn’t Kill him.  Didn’t hug him. I laughed a lot, though. Neil deGrasse Tyson gave the inaugural Dunlap Award lecture over at the University of Toronto on Friday. A couple of tickets dropped into my hands at the last moment, a bit of karma for a minor role I’d played at the recent Toronto Science […]

Posted in: ink on art, reviews, scilitics by Peter Watts 10 Comments

NSA. BSG. AAAS. FOAD.

Back in 2003 I attended a talk by David Brin, at Worldcon here in Toronto. Brin had blurbed  Starfish; to say I was favorably disposed towards the man would be an understatement. And yet I found myself increasingly skeptical as he spoke out in favor of ubiquitous surveillance: the “Transparent Society”, he called it, and […]

Posted in: rant, scilitics by Peter Watts 51 Comments

Tick…tick…tick…

A reader going by the handle Sylvain linked me to a cool paper a few days back; it’s something I would have killed to have had back when writing Blindsight. Are you ready for this? A tick that turns its victims into vegetarians. Look to Commins et al for the peer-reviewed details; the tl;dr version […]

Posted in: biology, blindsight, scilitics by Peter Watts 12 Comments

Geoengineering and the Evils of Conservation

Well, traditional conservation, anyway. The kind where you presume to “manage” a wildlife population by ensuring, year after year, that its population remains stable. The problem is that as any population varies, so too does its behavior. Mortality curves, reproductive rates, vulnerability to pathogens and predators — a hundred other variables — all change with […]

Posted in: climate, marine, rant, scilitics by Peter Watts 22 Comments

If You Meet Neil DeGrasse Tyson on the Road, Kill Him.

An excerpt from a talk I’m working on, to be delivered a month and an ocean away: Two thirds of North America believes in Angels ; only half accept the reality of global warming. 78% believe that human beings were created by an invisible sky fairy, and 46% believe that this fairy created them in […]

Posted in: scilitics by Peter Watts 124 Comments

Sealing Fate

I’ve got a soft spot for seals. Back in the day I built a fair bit of my truncated biology career on the little beach maggots; Pacific harbor seals formed the very heart of my doctoral thesis, in fact (Attila, Thalidomide, and Strangway: I salute you, wherever you ended up). They even netted me a […]

Posted in: biology, marine, scilitics by Peter Watts 21 Comments

Last Rites, Lost Rights

Take Roger Bradbury very seriously.  He’s no crank: coral reef specialist, heavy background in mathematical ecology, published repeatedly in Science. Chief and director of more scientific panels than you could roll a raccoon over.  So when he says the coral reef ecosystem is already effectively extinct — not the Florida Keys, not the Great Barrier […]

Fruit Flies, Forest Fires, and the Ecstasy of Being Wrong.

I’ve got this friend, known her since we were both grad students back in the eighties: well-regarded in her profession, well-published, even coauthored a few texts on evolutionary ecology. Keeps getting best-teacher awards for her work in the classroom. Occasionally she appears as the resident expert at the local Café Scientifique‘s Valentine’s Day edition, where […]

Posted in: biology, scilitics, sociobiology by Peter Watts 23 Comments

The Constraints of Time, The Limits of Reason

  As a postscript to my previous entry — and as a case study to the current one — I spent a little while over this weekend doodling the outlines of a fake nature documentary riffing off the old “Hinterland: Who’s Who” vignettes that used to run on CBC.  Mine was called “Internet:  Who’s Who”.  […]

Posted in: rant, scilitics, sociobiology by Peter Watts 352 Comments

Black & White

A couple of minor announcements before we get started: First, a quick shout-out for the benefit of the SciFi subReddit admins: Yes, I am both who I claim to be and who this circuitos dude claims I am (even though I don’t Twit); and yes, if there’s sufficient interest I’d be happy to do a […]

Posted in: legal, scilitics by Peter Watts 86 Comments