Most scientists these days are coming to realize how imperative it is for them to be able to use computers. By this I don’t mean just being able to turn one on, use the internet and basic programs like Microsoft … Continue reading →
Today is the day in the US when everyone celebrates their mothers by giving them gifts, food, flowers, etc. It’s a nice reminder of how difficult of a job being a mom is. Being a mom can be especially difficult … Continue reading →
Today is a doubly exciting day. Not only is May 4th Star Wars Day (due to the fact that you can tell everyone you see today “May the fourth be with you”), it’s also free comic book day! Some lucky … Continue reading →
This is just a link to a message from Wil Wheaton about what it means to be a nerd and why it’s awesome. It’s heartwarming and beautiful and describes why I am a nerd and why I love being who … Continue reading →
Doctor Who is a British television phenomenon that I’ve recently become (a little) obsessed with. It’s a fantastic show, and if you haven’t seen it I recommend you check it out on Netflix. But in the course of watching it, … Continue reading →
Sixty years ago today, on April 25, 1953, Watson and Crick’s revolutionary paper describing the structure of DNA was published in Nature. Deoxyribo Nucleic Acid (DNA) is the building block for all living organisms on this planet. It is composed … Continue reading →
I saw this Science Daily article reporting the results of a recent paper, and thought it was too cool to not share. This is a link to the original paper, if you’re interested. Many frog species have bouts of explosive … Continue reading →
This morning I came across this i09 arcitle about Zack Kopplin’s fight against teaching creationism in science classes in public schools. I looked at the comments (which is not usually a good thing to do) and saw that at least one person claimed that evolution is not testable (as the article states), and that “some facets of it are just as much religion as anything else”. I usually try not to engage people who tend to dismiss evolution in that way, because usually that will get you nowhere, but it occurred to me that the person who wrote that is suffering more from ignorance than anything else. So I thought I would try to educate a few folks at least by writing a blog post.
Evolution can be split into two parts: the pattern and the process. The pattern of evolution could also be called the history of life on Earth. And yes, there is a lot that we do not know about it because we have only an incomplete fossil record. Most of what we know from that is based on observations (painstaking observations in many cases), but that is true of a good deal of what we know about species that are currently alive on Earth. And although the conclusions drawn from the fossil record may not seem testable, scientists use computer simulations to test their hypotheses. This is perfectly in line with the scientific method: make observations (look at the fossils), create hypotheses, test the hypotheses (the computer models), and draw conclusions from the results. Then go back to the beginning and start again!
When it comes to understanding the process of evolution, we’re talking about figuring out HOW it might occur. These processes include things like mutation, natural selection, and sexual selection. This is what I study. And I study it using the scientific method, which comes back to the idea of studying evolution as a testable theory in science (side note: for something to become “theory” in science, its hypotheses MUST be tested and supported repeatably). Anyway, the process can be studied in many ways, such as looking at allele frequencies of genes, looking at differential expression of genes, studying behaviors of animals, using mathematical models, using computer simulations, and the list goes on and on. All of these studies are done in an effort to understand a hypothesis, and at the end of a study/experiment, the data will either support or not support the hypothesis. That is how science works, folks! And yes, maybe in the effort to study evolution we’re not all manipulating an organism like you might in a lab studying cancer, but in some cases you might. It all depends on the hypothesis you’re addressing!
I hope this blog post has convinced you that studying evolution is done actually using the scientific method, and that it’s not just all magical/religious mumbo jumbo. If not, leave a comment!
It’s been quite some time, hasn’t it? Sorry about that…I’ve been working on coming thiiiis close to making my methods work, so that kept me pretty busy all fall. I kept having lofty goals for this blog (reviewing scientific literature, etc), but, well, you know.
Anyway, welcome to 2013! The Mayan apocalypse didn’t happen, so that’s good. And now, there’s an awesome hashtag on twitter called #overlyhonestmethods, and it’s been storified here. It’s a bunch of scientists de-coding the methods of their papers to say what really happened. It’s worth checking out!
Hopefully I’ll be writing again soon, although no promises.
No matter who you favor, what party you support/belong to, I hope everyone goes out and votes today (unless you voted early). Because every vote counts! The news has repeatedly stated that voter turnout will be a deciding factor in … Continue reading →
Neil deGrasse Tyson, for those that don’t know, is a well-known physicist who hosts the show “Star Talk”, which aims to educate people all over the world about science. He’s fascinating to listen to, and now he’s got a show on the Nerdist youtube channel!! It’s educational, interesting, and funny as well. I highly recommend it to everyone!
Bluntly: Best thing that could happen, especially if you're a Star Wars fan. George Lucas is the most influential filmmaker of the last half century and we all owe him a debt in terms of how he's advanced the technical aspects of cinema. But the dude can't write or direct his way out of a paper bag. Equally bluntly: The best parts of the Star Wars extended universe are the parts where he's not writing or directing.
This past weekend I went to Austin Comic Con, and I was like a child in a candy store! I met up with a fellow Vaginal Fantasy bookclubber and we wandered the floor together and went to the Q&A with Eliza Dushku. She was incredibly charming and I almost forked over the $40 to actually meet her but instead I met Wil Wheaton! I got him to autograph my Ready Player One audiobook, which he read. I was so star struck that I unfortunately didn’t have much to say and felt a little like a loser. I was incredibly excited to discover that Ernest Cline was also at ComicCon, so I got him to sign the audiobook too!!
All in all, it was a great experience!
PS. I now have a twitter account! Follow me @sarahpf19
So I know I haven’t updated this blog in a while–I guess that’s what happens when you start to get working on 4 different projects, TAing, and writing grant proposals–but I’ve been meaning to start back up again for a while now. And my first post since getting back from Florida is about Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog, one of Joss Whedon’s wonderful projects. If you haven’t seen it before, you have a wonderful chance to see it for the first time on TV! The CW is broadcasting Whedon’s made-for-the-internet 3-part musical on Tuesday (9pm Eastern/8pm Central), and I am looking forward to watching it! Anyone who hasn’t seen it yet really should, and those of you who are old fans like me can take this opportunity to revel in its awesomeness. I hope everyone tunes in!