Tangled Bank #106 at Nobel Intent

Our collection of links to good science writing is up on Nobel Intent, part of Ars Technica. Follow the link to Tangled Bank 106.

Hmm, this looks interesting:

Darwin’s tomatoes, incidentally, show that a single base change in regulatory DNA can radically alter an organism’s morphology. The Tangled Up in Blue Guy then tracks what happens as such mutations spread within a population in an easy-to-follow discourse on population genetics.

Nobel Intent banner

What is a reflow?

On Doug T.’s blog, you can learn about reflows: what is a reflow and how are they calculated?

Hint: a reflow calculates where elements are placed on your screen.

There’s also reflow for PDF files and for images.

A sudden thought

Here’s an example of cultural Darwinian evolution: survival of the slickest.

vengeful godPharyngula commenter Richard Harris wrote,

Warfare, & the desire for culture, spread the gods of the Mesopotamians, Babylonians, Assyrians, etc, throughout the Middle East in ancient times.

The Hebrews, wandering through this region & Egypt too, saw many cultures with gods ruling societies as if they (the gods) actually lived amongst the people, or the priests & rulers, anyway.

So the Hebrews, putting 2 & 2 together, ended up with just the one god, & its been passed on to our society. We’ve inherited a version of the feckin’ nonsense.

When he mentioned tribes being ruled “as if the gods were living among them,” a little light went on in my head. Why was there a “holy of holies,” an inner room that no one could enter but the priests? That was where The God Lived. Nowadays we read the Bible and think of the inner sanctum as a spiritual thing, “the presence of God.” But what a con! What a foolproof con! “There’s a big, powerful, dangerous god in my tent and he will smite you unless you make offerings. Bring me oil, and bread, and the choicest, unblemished animals. The blood is sprinkled on the altar for God, the meat is cooked, and the offering must be eaten only by the priest and his family. Of course you can’t see him—the very sight would strike you dead!” Oh, and your prosperity offering will be returned to you a hundredfold as God brings you good luck and defeats your enemies.

It was like televangelism, even before we had television.

Aside from providing a free living in normal times, it means survival in hard times. The God must be fed first, before anyone else. So the priest’s family, by extension, gets to eat even if food is short. What a beautiful con!

Darwin Central: Official paternity test for Expelled

The folks over at Uncommon Descent Report a news release from Expelled: The Movie.

Success has many fathers, but according to the producers, their baby is adopted.

Here’s a chance for you to be the judge. Turn the page and decide for yourself, which, if any, of the following suitors is the real father.

XV or not XV

I think it’s J, which, by a strange coincidence, is the biology video made by XVIVO and Harvard University.

Learn more about Expelled.

Astronomy photo of the day: Logarithmic spirals

These beautiful curves are brought to you courtesy of NASA and… NASA.

storms and galaxies

Go read the explanation and follow some of the other links.

I notice that the storm is much smoother than the galaxy. It forms quickly and the forces creating it are relatively stable. The galaxy, on the other hand, is pushed and pulled by neighbouring “storms” of equal strength. Our galaxy, for example, is on a collision course with the Andromeda galaxy, travelling at half a million km an hour. Luckily, humankind will be long gone when they collide, a couple of billion years from now. So much for the privileged planet!

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