Spoilers for Kim Stanley Robinson's "Aurora" ahead. So, the story is like this: A multigenerational arkship is on it's way to Tau Ceti, they find their primary target for colonization hostile and discuss whether to move to another planet in the same system, live there in domes while terraforming it. One reason for not doing this is stated thusly: [more inside]
I'm interested in good science fiction in any format (book, film, comics, etc.) that explores that idea that we are not alone in the universe, but wildly mismatched with everybody or nearly every else in terms of civilization stages, kinds of technology, perception, etc. [more inside]
I read an article several years ago in which the following argument was made: "life" exists to modify carbon. The assertion was that "life" arose as the most efficient method for creating certain forms of carbon utilizing all available resources, including sunlight, etc. Does anyone know of the article or of the broader theory?
Say you had a religious education, and were never taught the first thing about evolution. Now you're no longer religious. How would you learn what you'd missed? [more inside]
Where are the best places on the web to find long comment sections of debate about the "controversy" of evolution and global warming? CNN had very long comment sections until they wised up and began opening comments for very few articles. Yahoo Answers has some, but they often only have 10-20 replies. FreeRepublic tends to veer into slamming Democrats, and I'm looking for more religious and non-science based arguments, like, "My grandpa was not a monkey," and "It's freezing outside, some global warming, huh?"
A few years ago I went into my school's SciFi library and I was given a book of short stories which I read several of sitting on the floor of the library. And then I put down the book and I don't remember what it was called. One short story was about a world in which computation speeds get faster and faster until someone, eventually makes computers capable of running models on the order of complexity of a world's worth of physics very very quickly. I think the computers may have been the shape of small cubes. [more inside]
I'm looking for academic papers (but also stories, movies, news articles, or anything else!) that talk about this: most of the ideas we come up with about alien life involves those aliens being carbon-based lifeforms with eyes of some sort and internal organs and appendages. But where are the other, more wild (and probably likely) ideas? [more inside]
I'm looking for a book or other resource to serve as an introduction to evolutionary psychology out of personal interest. I know that there is a lot of pseudo-science out there under this banner - so I'm only interested in resources that are well referenced. Does anyone have any suggestions?
Why did the humans who came to Europe switch from dark to light skin pigmentation? Did they lose skin colour...? [more inside]
I want to read about Augmented Reality. Tech developments IRL; techno-utopian / transhuman dreams, and hard-fought aspirations; and any sci-fictional dystopian nightmares you know of. [more inside]
What are some good resources to help explain the Big Bang, evolution and, the meaning of life to my delightful 5 year-old nephew? Fairly equal emphasis for each, but I am stumped most by "but why are all the things and people here, mayurasana?" than the rest. [more inside]
I'm a cataloging librarian who works a couple hours a week on the reference desk. This morning I had a patron come in to ask me for sources that back up the claim that the probability that life on earth formed by random chance is so small that some kind of divine intervention is more likely. [more inside]
Why do kittens, bunnies, puppies, and their ilk seem so much cuter than human babies? This is something I've always wondered, and I am surprised that it doesn't seem to have been asked here. I've seen some idle speculations about the reasons in various places around the Web, but nothing resembling evidence. Is there any actual research related to this topic? Or is the question based on flawed assumptions somehow? [more inside]
Looking to find either the author's name or his article. [more inside]
Please help me learn about the evolution and cognition of house cats. [more inside]
Further science/philosophical reading about human evolution and the woes of our modern life. Looking for suggestions, please! [more inside]
Which animal has the hardest eyes? I was thinking about how eyes are pretty soft and it might be advantageous for a creature to have "natural goggles" protecting its squishy eyes. Which animal's eyes have the toughest coating? (I do not care to hear about the protective qualities of retractable eyeLIDs, only the surface which can not be retracted, and which must be seen through.)
What could slow down the pace of change (religious/scientific/economic/cultural) in a civilization? (Please see specific details inside.) [more inside]
How were the ideas expressed in The Origin of Species received among country people and laypersons in Victorian England? [more inside]
Why did the human body evolve to crave nicotine? [more inside]
How many generations am I (or you) the product of? That is, how long is the continuous sequence of paired organisms in the chain of reproduction for a human in the 21st century? [more inside]
Was reading about microchips that are designed to allow a few mistakes (known as 'Sloppy Chips'), and pondering equivalent kinds of 'coding' errors and entropy in biological systems. Can a fair comparison be made between the two? [more inside]
What foodstuffs taste the same today as they did millenia ago? [more inside]
How and why do we become accustomed to smells? What makes some odours personally super-pungent one day and unnoticed 'background noise' later on, despite the smell remaining objectively unchanged? [more inside]
Why are there no lobsters the size of horses or horses the size of shrimp? [more inside]
Looking for recommendations for books on Christian apologetics that take seriously the reality of evolution rather than denying it in favor of the argument from design. [more inside]
Evolutionary biologists: I'm trying to recall the concise explanation a professor gave in an evolution and ecology course about why dragons just plain did not exist. [more inside]
Conversations with my Father-in-law have lead him to lose his faith in God. My mother-in-law is not coping well with this and blames me. What do I do? [more inside]
Help me find this children's book about evolution that I used to read as a kid. [more inside]
What are some article length studies readily available on the internets that summarize the evidence for evolution? [more inside]
Why do birds migrate to the Arctic and Antarctic? [more inside]
How is it chimps are stronger than humans? [more inside]
Is intelligent design actually an actual philosophically true scientific theory? The question is not asking if ID is “true”, but how well does it pass the scientific theory tests?
Let's see if this can be done without causing any ideological controversy. The simplest yet most descriptive explanation of a true scientific theory is below. "A set of statements or principles devised to explain a group of facts or phenomena, especially one that has been repeatedly tested or is widely accepted and can be used to make predictions about natural phenomena." An actual theory must be falsifiable as well. My understanding is that Intelligent design does not fit the bill as a set of empirically proven facts or pass the falsifiability test. Also, I understand that Darwin's theory may have the most facts supporting his theory (therefore it is the best explanation for the evolution of life we currently have), but that it may not be falsifiable as well. The basic question is what is intelligent design if not a theory? I don't think it qualifies as a hypothesis either. Please explain to this scientific layman. Bonus points if you can explain how The Theory of Natural Selection is falsifiable.
Does anyone know how to hunt down an animated film they used to (or still do) show at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History? It was attached to the marine life/oceans exhibit and was about the origins of life and natural selection. Absent finding a copy of the film online, does anyone else remember seeing this? [more inside]
Why is the concept of evolution seen as contrary to Christian teaching? [more inside]
Do paleontologists ever assume that a fossil was the only animal of its kind? Couldn't unique fossils have been mutants that never bred?
Tips for travelling to the Galapagos Islands? [more inside]
If an exoplanet had a light side and a dark side (like Earth's moon, slowly spinning in orbit to keep one face towards earth), might life evolve around the penumbra? [more inside]
Half-remembered board game ID question: In the mid-'90s, my family was visiting some friends who owned a strange board game involving evolution, species, a hexagonal grid, and lots and lots of dice. What was it? [more inside]
Sometime in the late '80s or early '90s I read, in a computer magazine, a review of a game where you had to create a creature by manipulating "genes" for various traits then release it into a wireframe ecosystem. Did this game ever actually exist? Anyone heard of it? [more inside]
Why do humans (and most mammals) have two nostrils instead of one? Seems redundant.
Can'tFindThisVideoAgainFilter: YouTube, perhaps; within last 6 months. A couple of guys go back in time (!) and keep a diary. They return to the present and assert that birds are just dinosaurs. Pretty sure the punchline was something close to my tagline above. Much better than as described...
How did sexual reproduction become evolutionarily advantageous? [more inside]
I can't remember the title of a very thorough "defense of evolution" type book. It presented hundreds of arguments used against evolutionary theory and argued against them, usually only with a paragraph or two. It was large, detailed, straightforward, and non-polemical.
Did the word "evolve" exist before Darwin came up with the theory of evolution?
What traits can a group of organisms possess that an individual cannot possess (e.g. a ratio of males to females)? To put it more generally: in reference to units of selection, can you cite any examples of a whole being greater than the sum of its parts (particularly the sum of its genes)? [more inside]
Looking for a chronologically sequenced, preferably animated, geographical map of human evolution [more inside]
Why are arthropods the only animals with more than four legs? [more inside]
Evolution: What would be a simple and clear way of explaining to an 8 year old how African people with dark skin, big eyes and curly hair turn into Japanese people with lighter skin, smaller eyes and straighter hair over X amount of years? [more inside]
Given enough time and the right circumstances, would it be possible for non-land-based mammals to develop human levels of intelligence? What about non-mammals, land-based or otherwise? [more inside]