October 21, 2009

reproductionEvidence Humans Are Still Evolving—and Women of the Future Will Be Shorter and Heavier
Medical advances mean that many people who once would have died young now live to a ripe old age. This has led to a belief that natural selection no longer affects humans and, therefore, that we have stopped evolving. “That’s just plain false,” says Stephen Stearns, an evolutionary biologist at Yale University. He says although differences in survival may no longer select “fitter” humans and their genes, differences in reproduction still can. The question is whether women who have more children have distinguishing traits which they pass on to their offspring. (Bob Holmes, New Scientist)

Pope Makes It Easier for Disaffected Anglicans to Convert to Catholicism
The Vatican said the pope had approved a document known as an “Apostolic Constitution” to accept Anglicans who want to join Catholicism, either individually or in groups, while maintaining some of their own traditions. (Philip Pullella, Reuters)

Our View of the Universe
Before an audience of about 200 in the Yale University Art Gallery auditorium, lecturers Joel Primack and Nancy Abrams argued that people have a special place in the universe. Because of man’s unique place in the cosmos, they said, humans should pay greater attention to global warming and other major issues. (Maxwell Kushner-Lenhoff, Yale Daily News)

Giving Flies False, Fearful Memories
A flash of laser light can alter the brains of fruit flies so that they learn to fear pain that they never actually felt. (Shanta Barley, New Scientist)

Q&A
Margaret Atwood

Whether humans experience the genetic apocalypse or waterless flood found in her latest speculative effort, or the fantastically clever but simple ways of forestalling an enviropocalypse most scientists have already priced into the market, Margaret Atwood suggests that science can save us all. Hailing from a family of scientists, she’s well aware of technology’s power to help humanity evolve rather than wiping it out. What matters is who’s wielding that power, and why. (Scott Thill, Wired.com)

Category: Field Notes

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