Archive for the 'Evolution' Category

Why Ducks are better than Dinosaurs

Most people prefer a good Tyrannosaur to a lowly duck. It’s a matter of choice of course, but when thinking about dinosaurs you probably have visions of ruthless predators with teeth the size of meat cleavers, or titanic herbivores bigger than small buildings, whereas ducks tend to float around in ponds inquiring after handfuls of bread.

However palaeontologists and biologists have revealed evidence that the humble duck may have triumphed over the mighty dinosaurs.

Continue reading ‘Why Ducks are better than Dinosaurs’

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Goldilocks, and other Habitable Zones for Life

Heard of the Goldilocks zone?

It’s the idea that an area of space around a star will be at the right temperature for life to exist. Not too hot, not too cold, hence Goldilocks.

It’s a bit like standing around a campfire on a very cold night. Stand too far away and you freeze, stand too close and you catch on fire and burn to death.

It’s the same with planets orbiting stars too, if they’re too far away then water freezes and life can’t emerge, and if they orbit too close the planet is roasting hot and nothing can live.

It gets a bit more complex than this though, but complex in a fun way. Oh and its also got some pretty big implications for the search for extraterrestrial life…

Continue reading ‘Goldilocks, and other Habitable Zones for Life’

Some BIG Implications of Evolution

In a previous post I described how evolution works.

Lots of people have some vague ideas about evolution, but don’t really know how it actually happens. Don’t worry if this is you, most people are like this, even some scientists! (Mostly physicists)

You can read the post here if you want; I tried to make it as simple but as accurate as possible.

And once you begin to understand evolution, you realise there are some pretty huge implications…

Continue reading ‘Some BIG Implications of Evolution’

How does evolution work?

Most people have some pretty vague ideas about what evolution is, but most of us don’t really know how evolution actually happens.

(Some people even claim evolution isn’t real, but that’s about as sane as saying the Earth is flat, or that the Phantom Menace is better than the Empire Strikes Back).

In this post I’ll try and explain how evolution happens as simply as possible, and tell you why in the future human’s won’t evolve six fingers, wings, or two heads.

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Why humans are NOT more important than other animals, apart from to ourselves

OK, this post is a bit of a change to the usual stuff I write about, mostly Star Wars and Spock n’ that.

It’s a piece I wrote for the Pod Delusion podcast that was aired today (Friday 12th Aug 2011) about why I think humans are not more important than other animals.

For those not in the know, the Pod Delusion is a weekly show featuring political commentary, scepticism and other well-worded and insightful outrage at the world. I’ve made it sound boring, but its not. Listen here, it’s intelligent and witty, and you’ll quickly feel your hackles rising, but in a good way. (I’m in episode 97 around the 35 minute mark, if you’re interested).

A couple of weeks ago the Mancunian singer Morrissey said this at a gig in Poland:

“We all live in a murderous world, as the events in Norway have shown, with 97 [sic] dead. Though that is nothing compared to what happens in McDonald’s and Kentucky Fried shit every day.”

Rightly, most people were appalled, and Dr. Tom Williamson, a biologist and supporter of Norwich City, presented a piece in last week’s Pod Delusion in which he stated that Morrissey’s comments were so heinous because humans are more important than other animals. You can listen to it here, and read a blog post he wrote here.

I disagree with Tom, so wrote this in response…

Continue reading ‘Why humans are NOT more important than other animals, apart from to ourselves’

The Invention of Sex

This is an article I’ve written and just submitted for a science writing prize in the UK, the Wellcome Trust Science Writing Prize. If you’re interested in entering, unfortunately the deadline was today, but there’s always next year, details are found through the link just above. The article is about why, and roughly when, sex was invented. At least on Earth…

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Life in our Solar System – Titan and Enceladus

In a couple of previous posts I looked at the possibility of life existing on some of Jupiter’s moons, including Europa, and then the possibility of life existing on Jupiter itself.

In this post we’ll head further out into the solar system and look at two of Saturn’s moons, Enceladus and Titan.

Continue reading ‘Life in our Solar System – Titan and Enceladus’


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