Category: A New Look at Biology

When Scientists (Dis)Agree

As a follow-up to the last post, sometimes people who ask me about global warming say, “there was a some document issued by National Academy of Sciences (or Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, etc.) that global warming is real, so it must be real, right?”

Well, actually, if anything, the fact that there is a consensus statement or a policy document from a scientific body on global warming is a pretty good indicator that the issue is NOT settled. Continue reading “When Scientists (Dis)Agree”

Evolution and Other Controversies

Once in a while, someone asks me if I think global warming is real. I usually respond that I believe it is, but that I don’t have a good enough understanding of it to really give an opinion.

What I usually don’t go into is that while I have a reasonable amount of information FOR global warming, I have very little information AGAINST global warming. The reason I feel unqualified Continue reading “Evolution and Other Controversies”

Reductionism and Redundancy

When Xerox launched model 914, the first real copier in history, they didn’t know if it would be a success or a miserable failure. Before then, no one copied anything, mainly because it would take hours to days to make a single copy of a single page of a document, and it was horrendously expensive. In short, there was no market for copiers. The initial estimates were that the entire market may be a few million dollars. Continue reading “Reductionism and Redundancy”

What’s in a Name?

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”

When I tell people that it’s becoming more and more clear, based on recent research, that fructose is bad for health, they almost always have one of two reactions. Some people, who have heard of the recent data, just nod. Others pause, raise their eyebrows and say, “wait, does that mean fruit is bad for you?” (The answer is Continue reading “What’s in a Name?”

Emergent Phenomena

“Reductionism: Instagram approach to science”

One of the greatest strengths, and one of the greatest failings, of modern science is reductionism. Reductionism has allowed us to dissect and understand some of the most important natural phenomena. Some would argue that reductionism is at the heart of the Scientific Method. Marvin Minsky has said, “In science one can learn the most by Continue reading “Emergent Phenomena”

Decision Making

One mystery of drug productivity at large pharma is the persistent low productivity despite the fact that there are tremendously talented scientists at every large pharma company. Their expertise is often encyclopedic, and their creativity is often very evident. Despite this, productivity at large companies have been less than impressive. The productivity appears to be low in comparison to small biotechs, but even more shocking, Continue reading “Decision Making”

Hiding in Plain Sight

Jakob Vinther was the first person who figured out that you could tell what colors dinosaurs were by looking at melanosomes, the tiny bags that hold pigments in a cell.

The first time he discovered the melanosomes in dinosaur fossils, he was just a graduate student. Elated, he immediately sent photos of them to his mentor, Derek Briggs. Briggs almost laughed. Continue reading “Hiding in Plain Sight”