Why is our universe appear to be fine-tuned for the existence of complex life? Theoretical models are increasingly indicating that it could be because of Cosmic Natural Selection.
Should we purposefully transmit messages to space? That is the question posed by a team of earth and space scientists due to an increasing number of independent groups sending purposefully directed high-intensity messages into the cosmos.Read More
Are there evolutionary patterns related to the evolution of size? If so, how do we make sense of these patterns? And what are the largest living systems that have ever existed?
The coelacanth is often referred to as a "living fossil". This is because many evolutionary scientists believe that it has not changed much in the past 300 million years. Is this possible? Does evolutionary change occur at variable time scales?Read More
A few days ago biologists Alexei Sharov and Richard Gordon published a paper that sent shock waves throughout the academic community. In their paper titled Life Before Earth they propose that life originated before the formation of our planet. How did they come to this conclusion? Is it possible?Read More
The origin of life. If there is a more controversial (or complex) scientific problem I have yet to encounter it. Will we ever have a deep understanding of the transition from non-life to life?Read More
A new evolutionary concept has been proposed that explain how complex structures evolves in nature: complexity by subtraction. Is this a useful concept to debunk pseudoscientific claims? Does this concept force us to change our understanding of evolutionary theory?
Two important studies from evolutionary anthropology and cosmology have forced us to reconceptualize our past. In order to properly contexualize these discoveries we must develop an understanding of deep time. What is the best approach to understanding time scales of millions and billions of years?Read More
Thomas Nagel wrote a landmark philosophy paper in 1974 titled “What Is It Like to Be a Bat?” Within this paper Nagel wanted to understand if it was possible to conceptualize the subjective experience of another organism. Today, this philosophical problem is still debated, but there are also deeper implications regarding whether we can even understand another human’s subjective experience.Read More
Researchers have known for two centuries now that male suicide occurs at a much higher rate than female suicide. Can a cultural explanation alone explain this disparity? What do evolutionary theorist know about suicide? And can it help us decrease the male suicide rate?Read More
A few months ago I pondered what it would have been like if other species within the genus Homo had survived into contemporary times. I hypothesized that based on our poor track record of violent conflict modern humans would have treated them very poorly. We may have a chance to see if I am right, because Harvard geneticist and synthetic biology pioneer George Church claims he could bring Neanderthals into the 21st century.Read More
I have often wondered about whether key human adaptations represented universal traits for the development of high intelligence and technological complexity. Evolutionary biologist E.O. Wilson argues that there were four preadaptations that are necessary. However, I contend that we should remain cautious because we need more data before making any broad conclusions.Read More
Yesterday, I read a famous scientific article on adaptation by evolutionary biologists Stephen J. Gould and Richard Lewontin, titled “The Spandrels of San Marco and the Panglossian Paradigm: A Critique of the Adaptationist Programme” (Gould & Lewontin, 1979). Gould & Lewontin criticize what they call the “adaptationist programme” school of thought within evolutionary biology. This paper made me cognizant of the pitfalls of adaptive theory, and allowed me to re-evaluate my own understanding of evolution.Read More
The likelihood of a transition to a planet dominated by non-biological intelligence is essentially dependent on one large philosophical assumption: that the substrate of intelligence and consciousness is unimportant. Although I contend that this is currently an unanswerable question, the answer may define our future.Read More
John Grotzinger, Curiosity’s chief scientist, recently revealed to NPR that the Mars rover has made a discovery “for the history books.” Is it life? There are several lines of evidence indicating that it is. This would be the biggest scientific discovery of our generation. If Curiosity did discover life, what type of life could it be? What is it based on? And how would it change the way we view life in the universe?Read More