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Explain life, the universe, and everything to a 5 year-old.

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]
posted by mayurasana on Apr 5, 2013 - 10 answers

What are the odds? Is intelligent design more plausible than chance?

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]
posted by rabbitrabbit on Feb 14, 2013 - 33 answers

Hey, how did we get here and who do we have to thank?

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]
posted by cincinnatus c on Jun 15, 2012 - 8 answers

The modulation of our sense of smell

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]
posted by peacay on May 19, 2012 - 7 answers

Why are there no lobsters the size of horses or horses the size of shrimp?

Why are there no lobsters the size of horses or horses the size of shrimp? [more inside]
posted by jeb on Apr 25, 2012 - 23 answers

Christian apologetics book recommendations that accept the fact of evolution

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]
posted by huxham on Apr 3, 2012 - 12 answers

Why do birds migrate?

Why do birds migrate to the Arctic and Antarctic? [more inside]
posted by selenized on Nov 16, 2011 - 11 answers

Why are Chimps So Strong?

How is it chimps are stronger than humans? [more inside]
posted by musofire on Nov 11, 2011 - 13 answers

The Origins of Life

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]
posted by whitewall on Aug 20, 2011 - 6 answers

Why is the concept of evolution seen as contrary to Christian teaching?

Why is the concept of evolution seen as contrary to Christian teaching? [more inside]
posted by brownrd on Jul 27, 2011 - 43 answers

Do paleontologists ever assume that a fossil was a unique animal?

Do paleontologists ever assume that a fossil was the only animal of its kind? Couldn't unique fossils have been mutants that never bred?
posted by vash on Jun 27, 2011 - 25 answers

A world in perpetual twilight?

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]
posted by rdc on May 23, 2011 - 14 answers

ID for evolution-themed '80s board game

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]
posted by Johnny Assay on May 23, 2011 - 7 answers

Did this computer game about evolution actually exist?

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]
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks on May 13, 2011 - 6 answers

Birds? Those are dinosaurs!

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...
posted by TigerMoth on Apr 26, 2011 - 1 answer

Dear Mr. Darwin: How is babby formed?

How did sexual reproduction become evolutionarily advantageous? [more inside]
posted by AngerBoy on Apr 20, 2011 - 23 answers

Evolution book title?

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.
posted by blargerz on Apr 11, 2011 - 4 answers

The chicken or the egg?

Did the word "evolve" exist before Darwin came up with the theory of evolution?
posted by Glendale on Apr 5, 2011 - 5 answers

Always a step ahead.

Why are arthropods the only animals with more than four legs? [more inside]
posted by curious nu on Mar 1, 2011 - 41 answers

Pop Science/History like Botany of Desire?

What are some good books about the history or evolution of different plants or animals? Overblown metaphor aside, I really liked Michael Pollan's 'The Botany of Desire' and would be interested in learning the history of other domesticated plants like roses or oranges. Or books on evolution that get into things like insects or whales.
posted by Caravantea on Jan 9, 2011 - 24 answers

Science is all LIES

How do I gently but firmly steer a very misguided 14-year-old to respect science? I'm not a teacher, but I am in a mentoring role and feel I owe it to her to try. [more inside]
posted by AnOrigamiLife on Jan 5, 2011 - 51 answers

What website will give the last common ancestor of two species?

Is there a website out there where I can enter the names of two species and be given the approximate date when their last common ancestor lived? Bonus points if it tells me what sort of species this ancestor probably was, and for showing me the part of the tree of life relating to these species. Thanks!
posted by chorltonmeateater on Sep 10, 2010 - 6 answers

Can't remember, need help: Work of fiction about evolution

Can't remember, need help: Work of fiction about evolution [more inside]
posted by gb77 on Sep 3, 2010 - 2 answers

Bodies? We don't need no stinkin' bodies.

What sci-fi or dystopian (or even utopian) stories of the future involve a form of humanity that has outgrown the need for any corporeal manifestation in favor a completely cerebral existence? [more inside]
posted by mediocritease on Aug 30, 2010 - 40 answers

Empathy Outside the Species

Why do species feel empathy and aesthetic attraction (non-sexual) toward members of other species? [more inside]
posted by outlandishmarxist on Aug 26, 2010 - 19 answers

Is this zoo statement about tree branches (and apes) true?

What's the real reason apes evolved to move through trees using arms rather than legs and a tail; why do they swing rather than jump? Surely not because "a tree branch can hold more weight above than it than below it" (as purported by a suspect sheet of "fun facts" at the zoo). [more inside]
posted by theDTs on May 28, 2010 - 21 answers

It's fun when they are fetching, and agree to see an etching, that you keep at your lily pad...

What happens to slimy amphibians during a drought? Do they shrivel up and die? [more inside]
posted by Jon_Evil on Dec 11, 2009 - 3 answers

Why do baby teeth come in in the order they do?

Why do baby teeth come in in the order they do? [more inside]
posted by Bugbread on Oct 5, 2009 - 13 answers

Did Richard Feynman have a brother?

I'd like to learn about biology. Can you recommend some books to get me started? [more inside]
posted by SamuelBowman on Jun 30, 2009 - 21 answers

The County Formerly Known As...

Is there a word or term that expresses the following concept more accurately than "rename"? [more inside]
posted by Tube on Jun 17, 2009 - 25 answers

Where are the ear-shaped microphones?

Ears have evolved over many many years to be perfect for us to hear with. Why have I never seen an ear shaped microphone?
posted by devnull on Jun 5, 2009 - 22 answers

The evolution man

Help me remember the illustrator's name who drew that original cartoon about evolution, which depicted the gradual transformation of a man starting as a monkey. [more inside]
posted by procrastinator on Dec 5, 2008 - 11 answers

name that wireframe evolution Amiga game from 1990ish!

Name that 3D wire-frame evolving-creature-in-a-hostile-environment Amiga game from 15ish years ago. [more inside]
posted by cortex on Aug 16, 2005 - 10 answers

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