Oct 292007
PZ Myers is one the internet’s most sarcastic and unapologetic atheists, and occasionally this leads him to say things I find extremely disagreeable. His lightning-rod status, however, means that he occasionally picks up some very interesting stuff from the interwebs. By this I do not mean his regular e-mails from the religious fringe, but instead the stuff he finds in support of evolution. As a case in point, this post where he gets an interesting video in which watches are evolved in silico from random parts. You should go check it out; it will take about 10 minutes for an entertaining explanation. Particularly note the way that the evolution plays out—relatively stable forms persist for huge numbers of generations and then rapidly change into completely different forms. Apply this knowledge the next time someone trots out the “no transitional fossils” argument.

Also, RIP Arthur Kornberg, Nobel Prize winner and great biochemist. Despite his gifts, his own research might be his secondary contribution, as his biological and scientific progeny may prove the greater. They already include another Nobelist. As scientists, we are always tempted to see our own work as being of paramount importance, but the training we give to our students and the spirit of enquiry we impart to our children are truly our greatest gift. Any scientist who neglects these aspects of his or her legacy is a failure, no matter how many splashy publications decorate his or her CV.

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