June 8, 2001 |
It's called Evolution, but the would-be comedy about an alien life form that crashes to Earth and spawns mutants with enormous sphincters is quite the devolution from Ghostbusters. Same director (Ivan Reitman). Similar premise (wiseacre underachievers fight ALFs, against worse judgment of bureaucrats). Yet the result is stunningly unfunny. Reitman never establishes his film's tone. He wavers between jolting the audience and joking with it, and the result is that we are too scared silly to laugh at the ensuing silliness.
December 14, 2002
It's a match made on Earth. A recent issue of Science devoted a big spread to the origins of the dog and the beginnings of the human-canine relationship. The tale shows that love has a role in evolution; it's not all about necessity and dirty old survival. Experts say about 85 percent of all dogs are descended from a small number of female Asian wolves. The man-dog thing, which apparently got started in Asia around 15,000 years ago, is a great story about how two species mutually selected, and how one of them - the dog - actually changed itself to please its new pal. Why did dogs select humans?
December 26, 2003 |
Neysa Grassi's abstract paintings are not edgy; they're deep. This latest show of smallish gouaches on paper at the Locks Gallery shows Grassi continuing the slow but rewarding evolution of a compelling mode of visual expression. Where some of her earlier work has called up a sense of the interior of the body with fleshy colors and forms, this new series suggests water and atmosphere. Dynamic loops of raking parallel lines could be waves or air currents, and foggy breaths of green or blue alternately obscure and reveal the swirling layers below.
November 12, 2005 |
Think it's a challenge to make a marriage work for 43 years? Try spending months at a time on a desolate outcrop of volcanic rock, exposed to the fierce equatorial sun, cut off from human contact except for the odd graduate student or two. That recipe works for the marriage of Princeton University professors Peter and Rosemary Grant. It has been pretty good for science, too. More than a century after Charles Darwin developed his theory of evolution after traveling to the Galapagos Islands, the Grants went to the South American archipelago and actually watched evolution happen.
May 24, 2009 |
There is a symmetry as bittersweet as homemade hoisin to the notion that Jose Garces' Chifa is building its Chino-Latino head of steam at the same moment Susanna Foo has announced plans to turn off the lights for good at her seminal atelier of French-Chinese cuisine. On the surface, it's simply a case of one era's fusion visionary ceding the spotlight as the star of the next act takes the stage. Foo's Frenchified dumplings and tea-smoked duck are taking their final bow this summer on Restaurant Row, while Garces' Latin spin on noodle bowls, pork-belly buns, and ceviches splashed with "tiger's milk" is only just starting to bask in the glow.
August 7, 2012 |
When Pennsylvania State University biologist Andrew Read injected mice with a component of several promising malaria vaccines, he got a disquieting result: The malaria parasites spread through the immunized mice and evolved to become more virulent. Unvaccinated mice infected with these super-parasites got much sicker than those infected with ordinary malaria. The findings, Read said, should not discourage research on malaria vaccines - the disease kills hundreds of thousands of African children every year, and the parasites tend to develop resistance to drugs.
January 2, 2012 |
It's a common misconception that evolution is a matter of faith, because it happens too slowly to observe. Here's the way one reader sees it: "I don't see any fish walking around, nor do I see any other creature in mid-evolving mode. . . . Simply stated, both creationism and evolution should be taught as competing theories; both are not provable, and both cannot be duplicated in a lab. " But evolution does happen in the lab, in real time, and it's bad news for us because such rapid evolution allows organisms that can kill us by evading drugs, vaccines, and our own immune systems.
December 23, 2002 |
The sentence added to the mission statement of the Phoenixville Area School District last month seems like one of those "who can disagree with this" morsels of educational philosophy. It reads: "Critical thinking, along with objective and thorough investigation of data and theories in all areas of study is necessary to ensure the success of the educational program. " To school board vice president and Phoenixville resident David M. Langdon, however, that phrase is an invitation for students to have classroom discussions of alternatives to the theory of evolution, including one called "intelligent design," which says that life is so complex that it must have been initiated by some higher, intelligent power.
October 10, 2011 |
Several weeks ago I got a call from a reader who wanted me to investigate whether humans are still evolving, and if so, into what. Will we become superbrainiacs, or will we mentally degenerate, as in the film Idiocracy , or Planet of the Apes ? Or, will we split into two species, as H.G. Wells imagined in The Time Machine ? In the last few years, scientists have come up with some clever ways of getting at this question, and they're picking up signs that people are evolving.
August 23, 2011 |
Presidential candidate Jon Huntsman has had a rollicking last few days. It all started with a tweet he posted Thursday: "To be clear. I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy. " Lunacy? Heresy? Politics. Huntsman was aiming at a rival, Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, who was dissing evolution and climate change on a roll through New Hampshire. The tweet spurred thousands of followers, retweets, and blog rants, inflated Huntsman's Klout score (one measure of influence on the Internet)