Field of Science

New and tasty header

Ever since moving to my new blog home, here at Field of Science, I have been looking for some appropriate and interesting image(s) for my header. Not being much a visual artist myself, I spent some time last week perusing various open source image galleries for inspiration and free graphics. Given the various keywords that you might imagine, I quickly gave up on that strategy hoping that the internet big brothers weren't watching too closely...

But as luck would have it, my colleague Maurine Neiman (who also works on the evolution of sex) suggested the image that now graces my header. Thanks, Maurine!

Cellular Mitosis (krispy kreme), (2005) is the work of the artist and photographer, Kevin Van Aelst. Kevin describes his work:

"My color photographs consist of common artifacts and scenes from everyday life, which have been rearranged, assembled, and constructed into various forms, patterns, and illustrations. The images aim to examine the distance between the ‘big picture’ and the ‘little things’ in life—the banalities of our daily lives, and the sublime notions of identity and existence. While the depictions of information--such as an EKG, fingerprint, map or anatomical model--are unconventional, the truth and accuracy to the illustrations are just as valid as more traditional depictions. This work is about creating order where we expect to find randomness, and also hints that the minutiae all around us is capable of communicating much larger ideas."
Some of you might recall Kevin's work above called Chromosomes (2005). I remembered seeing this clever piece which recently made its way around the scientific blogs. So after visiting Kevin's website and enjoying all of the interesting work, I decided to write him to seek permission for using the mitosis image for my header—which he granted right away (thanks, Kevin!). Although I suggested that he do a similar series for meiosis (which is much more interesting than mitosis!), he told me that he is currently not able to work on such a project. I assume that means that he is doing very well with many other projects; the evidence from his website is consistent with that interpretation.

Mary Roach orates on orgasms

Mary Roach is the author of Stiff, Spook, and most recently—and very relevant to me—Bonk . She gave a very entertaining TED talk on "Ten things you didn't know about orgasm". It's both funny and informative.

I read Bonk last summer (?) and while I enjoyed much of it, I also had some mixed feelings. Perhaps I'll put together a review sometime.

In the meantime, enjoy...

Thanks to Pleiotropy for the lead.

SG&E has joined Field of Science (FoS)

Just when I thought that I would leisurely make my way back into blogging...

Over the weekend I got an invitation from Edward, the editor and proprietor of Field of Science, to join his stable of blogs. I was already a follower of Steven Salzberg's blog Genomics, Evolution and Pseudoscience which had recently moved to FoS. So I shot Steven an email to seek his advice, and on his hearty recommendation, I joined with little hesitation.

Now after little more than a day, I'm here with a brand spankin' new look and feel to my blog. I hope that you will enjoy it. Thanks, Edward!

On sabbatical at NESCent!

After many months of blogging hiatus, I am planning to get back in the groove over the next few months. Starting this week, I am a sabbatical scholar at the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent) in Durham, North Carolina. I'll be here through July, 2010. My major project will be to write a semi-popular book on the origin and evolution of sex. This will also be a great opportunity for me to recharge my batteries and to tie up some loose ends that have been accumulating.

I plan to use this blog venue to sketch some ideas that might end up in my book, so I hope that I'll be able to re-gain (or perhaps newly gain) your attention and comments! Stay tuned...

P.S. I'm twittering @johnlogsdon

GBE: Genome Biology and Evolution

Just a short note to promote the fact that the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution (SMBE) has launched a new journal, Genome Biology and Evolution (GBE). The founding Editor is Takashi Gojobori and the Editor-in-chief is William (Bill) Martin, who was the previous Editor of the main SMBE journal, Molecular Biology and Evolution (MBE).

According to the GBE website:
"Genome Biology and Evolution publishes evolutionary advances at the forefront of genomics. Papers considered for publication report novel findings in the field of evolutionary biology that concern natural genome diversity, population genomics, the structure, function, organisation and expression of genomes, comparative genomics, proteomics, and environmental genomic interactions. Major evolutionary insights from the fields of computational biology, structural biology, developmental biology, and cell biology are also considered, as are theoretical advances in the field of genome evolution."

It is an on-line only, Open Access journal published for SMBE by Oxford Journals (who also publish MBE). See here for more information. Congratulations and good luck to Bill, Takashi and the Editorial Board! I had better read the instructions to authors and then get busy preparing my first submission (of what will likely be many).

Nature's 15 Evolutionary Gems

This week's issue of Nature (1 Jan 2009) includes a 17-page article by Nature editors Gee, Howlett & Campbell entitled "15 Evolutionary Gems". It's a tidy summary of key articles published in Nature in the past decade that each provide clear evidence for evolution. The summary article (and apparently all of the primary articles) are "free to download and disseminate, and each is accompanied by a brief editorial introduction to its context and significance". The article is featured in Nature's special website Darwin 200.

The summary article starts...
"Most biologists take for granted the idea that all life evolved by natural selection over billions of years. They get on with researching and teaching in disciplines that rest squarely on that foundation, secure in the knowledge that natural selection is a fact, in the same way that the Earth orbits the Sun is a fact.

Given that the concepts and realities of Darwinian evolution are still challenged, albeit rarely by biologists, a succinct briefing on why evolution by natural selection is an empirically validated principle is useful for people to have to hand. We offer here 15 examples published by Nature over the past decade or so to illustrate the breadth, depth and power of evolutionary thinking. We are happy to offer this resource freely and encourage its free dissemination."