The disaster movie was always the quintessential Seventies genre. Films such as The Poseidon Adventure, The Towering Inferno and Avalanche summed up a seedy, disillusioned decade. They were pessimism writ large... and trashy. Movies which gave new meaning to emergency flares, as a hand-picked selection of personality disordered fashion victims fell prey to whatever natural disaster had been visited on their hotel, airplane or tower block.

McGuffin meets the yeti

ESAU by Philip Kerr Chatto pounds 15.99

Letter : Entrenched elite at UK universities

Sir: Ted Wragg's article (15 August) made such a sensible case against a superleague of elite universities, one can only wonder why anyone would think it a good idea.

Letter: Competition and natural selection

Sir: I am delighted to see a digestible and coherent explanation of evolution aimed toward the uninitiated, but David Bodanis (The DIY University; "Evolution", 7 August) has risked misleading his readership on one or two important points.

Letter: Genes only give us potential

Colin Tudge calls for the "testing of testable hypotheses" in studying behaviour ("Outrage at violence is the easy way", 14 July). But, counter to his social Darwinism, no genes have yet been found that code for anything as complex as altruism and violence. Besides, all that genes give us are capacities. Whether and how these are developed depends on the environment we interact with and create.

Wedlock or deadlock?

Marriage is a snare, a delusion, a refuge, a circus. It spells the end of romance and the beginning of... what, exactly? Is it just `a nice, soft wife on a sofa with a good fire', as Charles Darwin described it, or the greatest challenge of our lives? Roy Porter examines the secret history of an imperishable institution, and, overleaf, we hear from its advocates.

Abraham Lincoln's image

Abraham Lincoln's image

Letter: Support for the Galapagos Islands

Sir: Your article "A hit squad to save Darwin's paradise isles" (11 March) did an excellent job in appraising your readers of some of the very serious threats to the biodiversity of the Galapagos Islands, but at the same time it gave a misleading impression of the role of the Galapagos Conservation Trust, downplayed the role of the Galapagos National Park and omitted all mention of the Charles Darwin Foundation.

One might think that Hitler had more or less done for the eugenic idea

It's hard not to be impressed by the forcefulness with which people pass on their talents (or lack of them) to future generations. It perhaps shouldn't be all that surprising that they pass on their habits of mind, too. Anyway, Charles Darwin was the grandson of a man who thought about selection, and Charles's grandson, another Charles, died in the 1960s having (like his grandfather, I gather) thought about eugenics.

Life, death and the disciple of Darwin

Tom Wilkie meets a man who knows why modern life makes us sick

LETTER: National treasure

From Mr Robert Banks

BOOK REVIEW / Acid from the tree of life

A new study of Darwinian theory strenuously defends the great evolutionist. By Ray Monk; Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life By Daniel C Dennett Allen Lane, pounds 25


DARWIN'S DANGEROUS IDEA by Daniel C Dennett, Allen Lane pounds 25

Darwin's hits

From Dr Jeremy J. D.

Finding freedom in the bugs

In a rare, exclusive interview Stephen Jay Gould, science's great communicator, talks to Tom Wilkie
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