An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump is a remarkable 1768 oil-on-canvas painting. It depicts a period of time characterized by a great upheaval in philosophical thought – a high point of the Age of the Enlightenment that saw the fascination with a mechanical philosophy defined by reasoned knowledge and empirical method and that […]Read more "An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump"
Today would have marked the 137th the birthday of influential biologist Sir Alexander Fleming, most notably known for his work with penicillin for which he won the 1945 Nobel prize in Medicine along with colleagues Howard Florey and Ernst Chain. Fleming’s story highlights the underlying serendipity behind many of the greatest discoveries in science, particularly […]Read more "The Wonder Drug"
Epigenetic mechanisms which involve biochemical alterations to DNA structure have been documented to result in heritable changes in gene expression. Unlike mutations, however, epigenetic changes do not involve changes in the primary DNA sequence, such that a nucleotide would change into a different nucleotide. Nevertheless, the field of epigenetics has been a fertile ground for […]Read more "The Charade of Epigenetic Evolution"
August 21st 2017, the effulgent glares of the sun are quelled by the shadows of the Moon into a spectacular phenomenon that unites the entire of North America. The sun’s much fainter corona are projected into prominent display and the sky is gradually darkened into an unearthly hue bedecked with bright stars and planets. The […]Read more "Path of Totality 2017"
In 18th century Europe, a most potent killer was ravaging entire populations. It had been claiming the lives of 400,000 victims a year. Those who survived its horrors were left disfigured or blinded. Those who did not internally bled to death. The destruction caused was so great, the dread so severe enough to merit its […]Read more "The Speckled Monster"
It takes the processes of scientific thought to look beyond the prejudice that human intuition so inconveniently sets upon our views of the natural world. The natural world operates not according to our preconceptions and short-sight but rather according to logical consequences of reasoned thought. The fictional detective Sherlock Holmes once reflected that “it is […]Read more "Remembering Charles Darwin"
The unguided processes of nature quite often lead to an illusion of design – assembled products that seem to be perfectly suited for their environments and that give a certain sense of being deliberately calibrated. There is a reason why this illusion arises, and that is due to the process of natural selection, which so […]Read more "The Illusion of Design"
A classic problem in computational mathematics is known as the Traveling Salesman Problem (TSP). Suppose a traveling salesman wishes to visit a predetermined N number of cities. Each city is represented as a vertex of a given graph and each two vertices are joined by an edge. The traveling salesman must find the most efficient, cost-limiting […]Read more "The Conundrum of the Traveling Salesman"
The ability to numerically ordinate quantities or perceive number is intuitively thought to be a unique human capacity. Such an ability, however, has been demonstrated in non-human animals all the same, including but not limited to dolphins, birds, chimps, ants, and bees. It is thought that the ability to perceive number is an innate ability […]Read more "The Numerical Abilities of Non-Human Animals"
The mere happenstance of a coincidental sequence of events, put together by the blind works of nature, has serendipitously manifested itself in this fascinating complexity around us today, that only appears to bear the illusion of an orderly calibration of deliberate design. This happenstance of undirected natural processes has led to self-directed sentient beings, pondering […]Read more "The Happenstance of Existence"