Google is commemorating the achievements of the scientist Julius Richard Petri today with a Google Doodle that shows his invention - the Petri dish - in action.
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Friday 31 July 2009
Professor Brian Goodwin, the visionary biologist, mathematician, philosopher and teacher has died at the age of 78. Goodwin was a scientist of outstanding calibre who helped to articulate an intellectually coherent alternative to the neo-Darwinist notion that natural selection, acting on randomly mutating selfish replicators such as genes, is the fundamental process that drives evolution. As a philosopher and teacher, Goodwin in his later years urged us to combine a deeply intuitive approach to nature with an open-ended rationality in service of sustainable living.
Friday 24 July 2009
Charles Darwin thought the toucan's oversized beak was a sexual lure for attracting potential mates, while some modern-day biologists suggested it was either for peeling fruit or to warn off territorial rivals. A new study has found, though, that the outrageously big structure helps to keep the bird cool in the heat of the tropical day.
Thursday 09 July 2009
Friday 05 June 2009
Wednesday 29 April 2009
The news that Britain will soon host an atheist summer camp conjures up bizarre visions of children sitting beneath a starry sky singing lyrical passages from Richard Dawkins, accompanied by the strum of a guitar.
Tuesday 14 April 2009
"Darwinism" is often associated with a quite narrowly defined scientific picture. Central to this are the view of evolution as change in the frequency of genes; evolution as overwhelmingly driven by competitive natural selection; and the assumption that living things can be arranged on a branching tree, the branches of which are genetically isolated from one another.
Tuesday 10 February 2009
It is surely embarrassing for science to be defended on the grounds that it is founded on an absolute prior commitment to a highly disputed and deeply problematic philosophical view. If ever there was a dogmatic faith that zooms well past the evidence, this is it.
Friday 30 January 2009
Sunday 11 January 2009
Thursday 04 December 2008
Sesame Street, with its cast of weird monsters with big mouths and bright primary-coloured hides, is not only still thriving, but has gone global almost four decades after its birth. The legendary puppeteer Jim Henson, the alter ego of Kermit the Frog, may have been dead for 18 years, but characters he introduced to Sesame Street as long ago as 1969 - Big Bird, Elmo, Oscar the Grouch, Snuffleupagus and The Cookie Monster – are almost exactly as they were back then, though now they are multilingual.
Tuesday 05 August 2008
It is a very strange thing, the way in which the evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins has come to resemble that which he most despises. There is something almost biblical in the desire of this high-profile hard-rationalist to smite the unbelievers, and remove them from the face of the earth, using the implacable power of science and reason. God knows, as he wouldn't say himself, how we'd manage without the chap.
Friday 25 July 2008
Wednesday 09 July 2008
Mozart is said to have been inspired by the repertoire of musical notes produced by his pet starling. Now scientists can explain how the songbird is able to control such a varied voice.
Sunday 18 May 2008
Darwin came up with the theory of evolution, right? Wrong. Evolution, if not in the scientific mainstream, was part of the common intellectual currency of his time. His own grandfather espoused a version of it. What Darwin proposed was the blind, purposeless and godless mechanism by which it worked: natural selection.
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