Thursday, September 03, 2009


It's kind of sad but really, the only thing I want to blog about is TV right now. I don't like talking about work and there isn't much else going on right now.

Don't get me wrong, I love my work. But I find it kind of boring to talk about with non-scientists. It's not really a conversation so much as me assessing what level of science literacy the other person has, then giving them the appropriate song and dance about my research. Even bright people working in related fields can be difficult to talk to because I've come to realize that loads of scientists know shit all about evolution. I don't think it would be an overstatement to say evolution is the unifying theory in biology and yet I recently spoke to a biomedical engineering PhD student with clumsy and incorrect grasp of evolutionary biology.

Sure you might argue that a grasp of evolutionary theories is not required for a biomedical engineer but that's where the underlying theory bit comes in. Unless you're working exclusively on human and/or human derived cells there is one basic aspect of your work that depends on evolution. That is, common descent. The reason you can use mice to study human disease is because we were one species a long time ago.

Bringing it back to TV (and my previous post) it makes me crazy how evolutionary biology is presented on Heroes. Every time the words "evolutionary imperative" are uttered on the show, I cringe. Also, I know it's supposed to be science fiction but even if there were mutations that allowed telekinesis, flight and super fast healing, you couldn't identify them all using the same set of molecular markers. That's not how molecular markers work damn it! In my mind, this is where it crosses from science fiction into fantasy. Oh Heroes, I wish I could quit you.

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