Physicists try to do biology. WTFness ensues.

I’ll just let this soup sandwich of an abstract speak for itself:

We find that the global relationships among species should be of circular phylogeny, which is quite different from common sense based on phylogenetic trees. A domain can be defined by a distinct phylogenetic circle, which is a global and stable characteristic of […]


Dear Genome: Say what?

Here’s the first sentence from a paper published recently in Genome by Vibhu Ranjan Prasad and Karin Isler:

Gene content, the number of genes coding for proteins, is correlated with genome size in both noneukaryotes and eukaryotes (Lynch and Conery 2003; Konstantinidis and Tiedje 2004; Gregory 2002, 2005).

Say what?

The whole C-value […]


A seriously cranky press release.

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know that I often feel frustrated by press releases that are overhyped, misleading, and/or laden with buzzwords and cliches. Today I received by email the most over the top press release I have ever seen. It’s the sort of thing one might expect to […]


Worst. Journal. Ever.

From the website:

Medical Hypotheses takes a deliberately different approach to review: the editor sees his role as a ‘chooser’, not a ‘changer’, choosing to publish what are judged to be the best papers from those submitted. The Editor sometimes uses external referees to inform his opinion on a paper, but their role is […]


Genome size + Cambrian Explosion = Nonsense squared.

I really am thinking about writing a Sokal-style paper for a physics journal to see if they’ll accept it.

The Cambrian explosion triggered by critical turning point in genome size evolution Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2010 Jan 11. [Epub ahead of print] Li DJ, Zhang S

The Cambrian explosion is a grand challenge to […]


Say what?

Here is an abstract to a forthcoming paper in Trends in Genetics: Evolution is a quest for innovation. Organisms adapt to changing natural selection by evolving new phenotypes. Can we read this dynamics in their genomes? Not every mutation under positive selection responds to a change in selection: beneficial changes also occur at evolutionary […]


A frustrating press release (or, adaptation is not random).

My feeling about science news reports is decidedly mixed. On the one hand, I read most of the main news services in order to keep up with research outside of my own discipline. On the other hand, I would say that about once every two or three days I find a story so silly […]


Dinosaurs made from pseudogenes?

Matt Ridley, author of such books as The Red Queen, Genome, and The Origins of Virtue (and not to be confused with biologist Mark Ridley), asks the question “Will we clone a dinosaur?” in Time Magazine. His answer, at least in terms of the Jurassic Park sense of cloning a dinosaur from ancient DNA, […]


Genome size, code bloat, and proof-by-analogy.

I recently did an interview with New Scientist for what, I am happy to say, was one of the most reasonable popular reviews of “junk DNA” that has appeared in recent times (Pearson 2007). My small section appeared in a box entitled “Survival of the fattest”, in which most of the discussion related to […]


Just when I thought it couldn’t get any stupider, along comes the BBC.

I honestly, and obviously naively, thought that I had seen the stupidest speculation passed off as science news with the LiveScience “report” that humans will be marrying robots within 45 years (at least in Massachusetts) [The story that caused me to stop reading LiveScience].

But I stand corrected — or, rather, sit dumbfounded — […]