What We're Reading

Ya-har maties, two seafaring stories this week. Also, profiles of two biologists whose work spans centuries, continents and subdisciplines but is linked by the immense insight each gives to the mechanisms of evolution. How Darwin would have loved meeting them! Oh, and hobbits. What's not to love?


  • Evolutionary Biology's Master Craftsman: An Interview with Richard Lenski, This View of Life, May 30, 2016 -- "Richard Lenski ... has become world famous for presiding over the longest running  evolutionary experiment of all time, on the bacterium E. coli, which has now exceeded 65,000 generations. ... My reason for interviewing him for This View of Life is not only to showcase his research, but also to show how his research illustrates the concept of evolutionary theory as a conceptual toolkit."
  • The Albatross, El Niño and Climate Change: A Tale of Mixed Fortunes, Carbon Brief, June 8, 2016 -- "Originally a good luck omen for seafarers, but now more often a metaphor for the cursed, a new study
hints at which could be more fitting for how albatrosses will fare under climate change," Roz Pidcock explains. A must-read for all you ancient mariners out there.
  • Before the Hobbits There Were Smaller Hobbits, The Atlantic, June 8, 2016 -- MOAR HOBBITS. And they're teenier-tinier than the first ones found on the island of Flores. That these new fossils are smaller and older than the first discovery make it far more likely that the tiny species Homo floresensis was an offshoot of Homo erectus, not a diseased form of Homo sapiens as some have suggested.
  • Happy 100th Birthday, Francis Crick (1916-2004), Why Evolution is True, June 8, 2016 -- Matthew Cobb offers not only good wishes to the codiscoverer of the structure of DNA but also a fascinating description of a recent celebration of his life and work. If a Francis Crick bobblehead made its way to the NCSE offices, we would find it a place of honor next to our treasured Charles Darwin bobblehead...
  • Britain's Royal Navy Warships Are Breaking Down Because the Sea Is Too Hot, CNN, June 10, 2016 -- In an unexpected side effect of climate change, the warships of the British Royal navy are breaking down to the point of complete power loss in the Persian Gulf.