Daily Archives: June 22, 2008

Drs Myers and Decker: Advice on Teaching Evolution

i-68efa548cdb44e33126c5936c96fe3ed-evolution_2008.jpgContinuing with our discussion of the Evolution 2008 conference … many things have been going on and I have more to report than time to report it. But I will get to all of it, I assure you. Tonight, I just want to cover part of today’s Education Symposium (moderated by your’s truly) … not all of it at once, thought, as it is kind of complex.If you happen to work for the University of Minnesota or know anyone who does, best to not read this or let anyone know about it. This is a little to heavy to be spoken of openly. (Since there are only 11 of you who read my blog, I think we’ll be safe.)I want to comment briefly on two of the talks, one by PZ Myers and one by Mark Decker. The other talks in the symposium were excellent, but I want to address them separately.First, to dispel rumors that PZ Myers passed out on he lawn in the middle of the campus; This is simply not true. It is true that he had slept only four hours over the previous two and a half days, and had just flown in that morning from Vegas, but he did not pass out on the lawn. In fact, we were able to wire him up quite nicely. Here are before and after photos of a little treatment we applied to get him through the afternoon (This is me on the right and our techie in the middle, in the first photo).BEFORE:i-c8cfc6454ec454c5288df0e8b8bf56ae-PZ_Myers_Fixing_Up.jpgAFTER: Continue reading Drs Myers and Decker: Advice on Teaching Evolution

Happy Birthday The Computer and Other Tech News

It was actually yesterday, June 21st, but sixty years ago, when the first “modern computer” which in this case is defined as a computer that could store it’s own memory, as born i Manchester, England. It’s name was Baby.

The Small Scale Experimental Machine, or “Baby”, was the first to contain memory which could store a program.The room-sized computer’s ability to carry out different tasks – without having to be rebuilt – has led some to describe it as the “first modern PC”.Using just 128 bytes of memory, it successfully ran its first set of instructions – to determine the highest factor of a number – on 21 June 1948.”We were extremely excited,” Geoff Tootill, one of the builders of Baby told BBC News.”We congratulated each other and then went and had lunch in the canteen.”Mr Tootill, and three other surviving members of the Baby team, will be honoured by the University and the British Computer Society at a ceremony in Manchester.bbc

In other news: Continue reading Happy Birthday The Computer and Other Tech News

Genome Size and Flight in Bats

i-68efa548cdb44e33126c5936c96fe3ed-evolution_2008.jpgContinuing with our discussion of the Evolution 2008 conference, I was hoping to meet T. Ryan Gregory yesterday. He is listed on the Evolution 2008 program as an author of a talk on genome size. Goodnews/badnews: Gregory did not show, but the talk, given by his coauthor working in his lab, was excellent, so we didn’t need him.The research was done, and the paper delivered, by Jillian Smith. The title of the paper was “Genome size evolution in mammals” but it was more focused on specific results Jillian had come up with regarding bats.i-3117c0a3e6ded7c6ab8d12c4393c42c2-bat.jpg

The bottom line is this: Genome size does not have a lot of function or interest other than simply knowing the size of the genome you are about to delve into on a research project (so it’s like knowing how far away your field site is so you can budget travel, or how big your grocery store run is so you can decide if you can walk to the store or drive, etc.). But there are a couple of ways in which genome size might be interesting in a way that relates to adaptation and/or evolution. Continue reading Genome Size and Flight in Bats

Michael Estes and Eric Harmon on Air America Minnesota Ahteists Talk Radio Today

i-3f2f66a0b2d43a01afdc6acfdd6aa34b-mn_atheists.jpgMinnesota Atheists’ “Atheists Talk” radio showSunday, June 22, 2008, 9-10 a.m. Central TimeIn honor of Juneteenth, Michael Estes will discuss “African American Freethinkers in the Civil Rights Movement.” He will then be joined by Eric Harmon to discuss “The Affects of Religion in the African American Community.”image.jpgAtheists Talk” airs live on AM 950 KTNF in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.To stream live, go here.Podcasts of past shows are available at Minnesota Atheists orthrough iTunes. For all other podcast systems, such as one you might be running on Linux, use this feed.