The best joke I heard today

A Short History of Medicine

I have a headache:

2000 BC: Here, eat this root.
1000 AD: That root is heathen. Here, say this prayer.
1850 AD: That prayer is superstition. Here, drink this potion.
1940 AD: That potion is snake oil. Here, swallow this pill.
1985 AD: That pill is ineffective. Here, take this antibiotic.
2011 AD: That antibiotic is artificial. Here, eat this root.

A heartbroken photo

A man carries a child into a makeshift hospital after Tuesday's attack in Idlib province.

This is a photo from CNN’s report I am too sad to say more about this photo per se.

People make irrational decisions when they are in a hysterical conditions, like wars. A was itself is bad enough, So I am not too surprised if it get worse, e.g. chemical weapon.

Millions years of evolution plus thousands years of social development lead us to what we are now (which is not easy), so that we are a distance from hunger, violence and brutality, and could enjoy the rationalism, freedom, and pursue what we like. However, if people take it for granted without delicate care of what we are enjoying, things can go wrong so easily. A war immediately brings us back to millions of years ago, but even more brutal and devastating, with the intelligence and technology advancement we accumulated (ironically enough).

When humanity is gone, ugly is the rest.

Blessings to who are suffering.



Watching speciation in action (for 40 years!)

There are many meaningful things to do in one’s lifetime. How about watching the arise of a new species in real time?


A British couple spent half a year on Galapagos island to study Darwin’s finches for over 40 years (since 1973)! The process leading to scientific discovery can be tedious and can take a long time. However, it is also fun and meaningful if you have a good cause. I can imagine how satisfying and exciting it can be if the evolution mechanisms can be clearly illustrated from the micro scale (mutations, protein function changes, etc.) to macro scale (fitness, ecology, etc.). While I am writing the post, the natural world is evolving, and while I am doing my PhD, the natural world is evolving!

This is the introduction of the couple from Wikipedia:

“Peter Raymond Grant FRS FRSC and Barbara Rosemary Grant FRS FRSC are a British couple of evolutionary biologists at the Princeton University who hold the position of Emeritus Professor. They are known for their work concerning Darwin’s finches on the Galápagos Island named Daphne Major. The Grants have spent six months of the year each year since 1973 capturing, tagging, and taking blood samples of the finches on the island. It has been their life work to show that natural selection can be seen within one’s lifetime, even within a couple of years. Darwin originally thought that natural selection was a long, drawn out process. The Grants have shown that this is sometimes incorrect and that these changes in populations can happen very quickly.”

The original Science perspective provides more interesting evolution examples.

The secret of zebra stripes solved—or so scientists say

This piece is very interesting! I am very much amused by the last picture.

Why Evolution Is True

Over the past five years I’ve written several posts on the long-standing and vexing question, “Why on earth do zebras have stripes?” (See posts here, here and here.) If you’ve read those posts, you’ll know about the experiments that seemed to settle the issue, or at least that gave a good indication of the evolutionary forces that promoted the evolution of this striking pattern.

One clue is shown below: a figure from a paper that I described in an earlier post (my emphasis). The top part shows the distribution of various striped equids in Africa (the green and orange are unstriped Asian equids) and the bottom shows range maps of two groups of biting flies: tabanids (horseflies) and Glossina, the tsetse fly; both of these carry equine diseases and also promote infections and blood loss. As I wrote at the time (my emphasis):

Here’s the association between the historical (not present!)…

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