November 9, 1986
We should ponder the fact that Charles Darwin's Origin of the Species, probably the most influential of all theories (though now under challenge), asserts that the survival of types is dependent upon traits that avoid influences that threaten their extinction. In the light of current announcements of the catastrophic spread of AIDS, is there not an implication that far in the future there will be a tendency toward the extinction of promiscuous and drug-addicted people? Leon S. Rhodes Bryn Athyn.
August 11, 1997 |
Life is good for Pennsylvania State University physicist Lee Smolin. He's thought of a way to explain why the laws of nature are what they are - why electricity, gravity and the other forces are set just right to organize the universe into planets, stars and galaxies, as opposed to, say, a vast swarm of dust grains or inert rocks. He also has a theory to explain the origin of life, but he says he wants to do some more checking before he goes public with it. "I have an optimistic sense," says Smolin, 42, from one of his New York haunts, a Brazilian cafe in SoHo, near his part-time home in Brooklyn.
September 8, 2000 |
The apparent tendency for people to play fair and demand a fair deal from others - even at a cost - has long baffled economists and other social scientists. But researchers who took a different approach say they have found a way that natural selection could have bred a kind of fairness instinct into the human race. Not that Darwin's evolution offers a straightforward answer to the puzzle. "Natural selection generally prefers the strategy of keeping everything to yourself," said Martin Nowak, a theoretical biologist at Princeton University's Institute for Advanced Study, lead author of the paper in today's issue of the journal Science.
September 16, 2010
George C. Williams, 83, an evolutionary biologist who helped shape modern theories of natural selection, died last Wednesday at his home in South Setauket on Long Island, near Stony Brook University, where he taught for 30 years. The cause was Parkinson's disease, said his wife, Doris Williams. Mr. Williams played a leading role in establishing the now-prevailing, though not unanimous, view among evolutionary biologists that natural selection works at the level of the gene and the individual and not for the benefit of the group or species.
April 29, 2012
1. c. Earth, not the sun, moves. 2. j. Theory of natural selection. 3. d. General relativity. 4. e. Law of falling bodies. 5. g. Planetary orbits are elliptical. 6. a. Classification of species. 7. i. Some genes can "jump. " 8. h. Rules of heredity. 9. f. Laws of motion. 10. b. DNA is a double helix.
June 27, 2010
By Jerry Fodor and Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini Farrar, Straus & Giroux. 264 pp. $26. Reviewed by John Horgan I wanted to like What Darwin Got Wrong by philosopher Jerry Fodor and cognitive scientist Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini. I had several reasons. I love the spectacle of scientific dogmas - even ones to which I cleave - getting whacked by intellectual tough guys like Fodor. I've enjoyed Fodor's sardonic essays over the years, especially his skewerings of the much-hyped field of evolutionary psychology, which purports to explain everything we think and do in Darwinian terms.
May 13, 2003 |
Like Beckett's tramps in Waiting for Godot, the two women in Natural Selection inhabit their own little world, doing pretty much the same thing day in and day out. Myrtle and Avis, the 40ish characters of Theatre Exile's world premiere presented in Walnut Street Theatre's Studio 5, busy themselves in a small room by putting lids on bottoms to form small, square cardboard boxes. Their employer is a mysterious "they," and there are no visible signs of supervision; the pair's workday is controlled by a buzzer that periodically indicates their breaks.
October 20, 1996 |
Scientists have a reputation for butting up against religious beliefs and explaining away miracles, but few are more outspoken in dismissing the role of God than British zoologist Richard Dawkins. Like an apostle for Charles Darwin, Dawkins, 55, is taking his message about evolution to the people through lectures, television appearances and five books that have propelled him - at least in England - to the popularity of a Carl Sagan. His literary flair, caustic wit, irreverence and out-on-a-limb positions have won him a following.
May 2, 2011 |
Darwinism is more often associated with the liberal left than the conservative right, but it's moved a long way across the political spectrum from Darwin's day, when it was embraced by advocates of free-market economics, colonialism, and similar ideas today associated with the right. Apparently, Darwinism is still sometimes invoked in arguments for economic conservatism. It's reflected in a recent e-mail I received from a reader: "Maybe you should write about the current reversing of evolution by humans, using technology.
February 12, 2010 |
Creation marks Paul Bettany's second go-round as a 19th-century naturalist in a movie from screenwriter John Collee. In Master and Commander, Bettany was the proto-Darwin whose findings about how animals use camouflage to elude predators had immediate application during the Napoleonic Wars. In Creation, he is Darwin himself, decades pregnant with the research for his seminal On the Origin of Species, but too hopeless to deliver the manuscript. Does Darwin have prepartum depression because he fears the laws of natural selection he has so carefully documented will challenge the laws of God?