I love spaghetti. If I have a choice of what to eat, I will invariably choose pasta in some form.
It hit me that the process of cooking pasta can be a good analogy for the process of evolution.
Imagine you are cooking a pot full of pasta in various forms: penne, elbows, bowties, and angel hair. OK, 10 minutes or so in boiling water, and it's ready.
The next step is to drain the water from the pasta. You set your colander up in the sink, and dump the potful of water and pasta into it (watch out, because the water is scalding!). The colander separates the water from the pasta.
The process of filtering the water from the pasta is the crucial step--think of the various shapes of pasta as a species of animal, and the different shapes represent genetic mutations to that species that have happened through natural processes. The water represents the environment in which the species lives. The colander represents natural selection. Separating the water out via the colander's holes represents a change to the species' environment. The process of natural selection is the "filter", where organisms that can adapt to the change angel hair) are allowed through the filter of natural selection (the colander holes), and all others (penne, elbows, and bowties) are selected for extinction because they didn't fit through the colander holes. The angel hair represents the individuals that could adapt to the change in their environment.
I have to think this through a bit more, but after dinner!
Saw this in the news today, and I thought it was a joke.
This level of truly shocking lack of basic science knowledge displayed by the idiots ruling our government is just unbelievable. Unbelievable. And they had the nerve to question a climate scientist about his specialty. Idiots. That's all I'm gonna say.
See for yourself:
It's a Sunday morning. I'm working on a piece of art while the classic movie "War of the Worlds" is playing in the background. I'm a big fan of the science fiction films of the '50s and '60s. Compared to today's blockbuster films with tons of CG effects, they might seem primitive--all effects were done with models, stop-motion animation, and in-camera procedures. I don't know--I love them. Maybe it's nostalgia, since I grew up watching the old monster movies on television.
One thing those old films had in common, though: Scientists were the heroes. The military takes a crack at destroying whatever threat they are up against, but it's the scientists who invariably save the day by applying the scientific method."War of the Worlds", "THEM", "The Thing From Another World", "When Worlds Collide", etc.
Contrast the respect for science in those films with the contempt many of today's politicians and laymen express.
Hopefully, that will be turned around. Application of science and critical thinking are the only thing that can save humanity.
66 million years ago, a giant asteroid slammed into Earth, dooming 75% of life on the planet to extinction (including the dinosaurs).
However, there's always that silver lining. The death of all those creatures left a void in the ecosystem that could be filled by the survivors, eventually evolving into the species we see around us today.
Scientists believe this is what happened to a group of fish called acanthomorphs. Fossil evidence shows a veritable explosion of new forms filling the open niches formerly occupied by wiped-out species. Acanthomorphs became a diverse group that fills today's oceans.
Read more about it here: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/04/180417155615.htm
Imagine a creature that can go several decades without eating. That can withstand wild temperature extremes and radiation levels that would be deadly to us humans. That can even survive being exposed to the vacuum of space!
No, I'm not referring to the frightening "xenomorph" from the "Alien" films. That species, while pretty awesome and scary--doesn't exist.
A REAL critter that embodies those traits is the microscopic, yet tough-as-nails, tardigrade.
A fascinating article in National Geographic posits that tardigrades could survive cataclysms up to the end of the world, when the sun becomes a red giant that boils the seas of Earth.
Check out the article here:
70 million years ago, a very duck-like, duck-sized raptor spent its days swimming and catching fish in the lakes and rivers of what is now Mongolia.
An amazingly complete fossilized skeleton of Halszkaraptor escuillei reveals a strange dinosaur, one that spent a good part of its time in the water hunting its aquatic prey, but was also able to move about effectively on dry land. Its forelimbs bore very long fingers, which would have been good for swimming. Strong hind limbs would have propelled it through the water or over land (and yes, they were equipped with the hyperextended claw shared with its more deadly relatives).
Halszkaraptor's neck was similar to a heron's, flexible and quick. Small teeth were perfect for gripping slippery fish or amphibians. Biologists performed an x-ray scan of the skeleton, and noticed structures in the little raptor's skull that could have aided in sensing disturbances in the water, similar to crocodiles and modern aquatic birds.
This amazing fossil find shows that paleontologists are still making new discoveries, and illustrates the amazing biological diversity on Earth driven by evolution.
Go here to read the National Geographic article:
The methodology of science is one of the most powerful tools we humans have ever devised.
The use of critical thinking and a rational approach to problem-solving, plus the actual procedure of asking a question, performing experiments, allowing peers to critique the approach used (lather, rinse, repeat) is amazingly effective. Application of science has saved untold millions of lives, led to awesome breakthroughs in technology, and helped us to reach out into space.
Children need to be introduced to this rational approach to solving problems as soon as possible. Weighing evidence and following the evidence where it leads are important in myriad large and small ways.
Unfortunately, there are continuing attempts to introduce magical thinking into public school science classes as if it is actual science--I'm referring to creationism/intelligent design, or whatever nomenclature those people are currently using.
Teaching creationism in a private religious school is not the issue. Teaching creationism in Federally-funded public schools IS a problem. It is a violation of the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution, because the government would be tacitly favoring/supporting one particular religion over any others.
This ongoing situation can only be fought effectively in the courts. Check out the PBS documentary "Judgement Day: Intelligent Design on Trial" for a look at what is at stake.
That's where the National Center for Science Education comes in. The NCSE engages in legal battles (and there are a lot of them) to keep religious instruction from being taught in public schools. The NCSE also sponsors outreach and teacher programs. They focus on supporting biological evolution, and climate change issues.
Full disclosure: I support the NCSE through donating my time in the form of graphic design and illustration for their publications. I think they are awesome.
Please check out their work via their website: ncse.com, and consider pledging support for their important and crucial work.
We HAVE to keep science in science classes.