Flower power, body un-designed, homing in on pigeons, muzzling students, Bugs R Us
How do bees know which flowers to visit to load up on nectar? Which flowers have already been plundered? A team from the U.K.’s University of Bristol believes the attraction is electrical.
“Scars of evolution,” a series at February’s meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, featured speakers explaining how human evolution has produced an inferior product. Speakers covered the un-wisdom of having wisdom teeth (which we recently discussed), fumed about the foot’s failures, bemoaned the back-aching consequences of bipedalism, and belabored childbirth.
How 60,000 homing pigeons got lost when something disturbed the sounds of silence.
It’s a modern mystery: how did 60,000 homing pigeons get lost between France and England on June 29, 1997, during the race commemorating the hundredth anniversary of the Royal Pigeon Racing Association? Unraveling the cause of this bizarre event, Jonathan Hagstrum of the U.S. Geological Survey may have finally filled in the pieces to the more ancient question of how these remarkable birds normally find their way home from distant unfamiliar places in all weather, day or night, in the first place.
Students’ freedom of thought and expression are now in jeopardy in Oklahoma. While some states such as Louisiana and Tennessee have been successful in legislating protection for the rights of public school students and teachers to openly discuss the facts and assumptions underlying controversial scientific topics, others have been less successful. Oklahoma’s latest efforts have included Senate Bill 758 and House Bill 1674. Senate Bill 758, which was largely modeled on Tennessee’s new academic freedom law, died in committee a few days ago without being considered. House Bill 1674 has passed in committee by a narrow margin (9-8) and can now be sent to the House.
“Creator of Species: How what lives on us and in us drives evolution” (New Scientist cover, 14 January 2013)
The cover art for the January 12 issue of New Scientist describes a rather unpopular view of evolution that has been periodically proposed by some evolutionary scientists. According to Richard Jefferson, who began promoting it in the 1980s, it can best be described as the “Bugs R Us” theory. This hologenomic theory of evolution proposes that natural selection acts not on individual organisms but on “holobiontic” units consisting of individuals and all their associated microorganisms.
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