After Man: A Zoology of the Future by Dougal Dixon

By Anya Vostinar on 21 July, 2015 in Review / 0 Comments
After Man: A Zoology of the Future by Dougal Dixon

After Man: A Zoology of the Future by Dougal Dixon is a fictional non-fiction book proposing possible evolutionary tracks for the species that remain 50 million years after the Age of Man. As a fan of sci-fi and evolution, I couldn’t resist asking Dr. Ofria if I could borrow it when I spotted After Man on his shelf. As with most popular audience books, After Man doesn’t do a perfect job describing evolutionary events, but it is highly entertaining to read through. I also suspect that a very fun unit could be created around After Man for a high school or intro biology course.

The Setup vs. Research Trade-off

By Emily Dolson on 14 July, 2015 in Productivity / 0 Comments
The Setup vs. Research Trade-off

The start of summer also can often mean it’s the start of working on new projects and teaching new skills to undergraduate students. On the one hand, you want to teach students the best practices for various tasks. On the other hand, using all of the most appropriate libraries can incur a pretty hefty cost in the amount of time it takes to get up and running. Recently, I was talking an undergrad through the basics of data analysis. The data analysis for this project shouldn’t be too complicated, but I felt like it would be irresponsible not introduce him to numpy, scipy, and pandas. However, we were having some issues getting all of these libraries to play nicely with said undergrad’s current Windows set-up. On the one hand, since he has been thinking for a […]

Sturgeon Quest: Why Exploratory Hypotheses Rock

By Emily Dolson on 7 July, 2015 in Productivity / 0 Comments
Sturgeon Quest: Why Exploratory Hypotheses Rock

The summer after I finished high school, I took a trip to the Pacific Northwest with my mom, aunt, and cousin. Our goal? To find a statue of William Clark (of Lewis and Clark) with a sturgeon. Along the way, we got to experience local culture, see the beautiful area, and have an all around great time. Which was, of course, our real goal. The sturgeon statue was just an excuse to look around, something to force us to actually engage with the area. Sometimes a hypothesis is the same way.

What is “Fitness”?

By Mike Wiser on 30 June, 2015 in Information / 0 Comments
What is “Fitness”?

One of the key concepts in evolution is fitness. You’ve probably even read something about how evolution is “survival of the fittest”. But what does that mean?   Like many terms, fitness has a specific meaning in science that’s somewhat different from what it means in everyday life.