Simmer Down: Viruses Not ‘Fourth Domain’ of Life

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

Biologists have categorized life into three large domains: Bacteria, Archaea (weird, bacteria-like microbes), and Eukarya (unicellular and multicellular organisms such as fungi, plants, and animals that possess nucleated cells). Under this classification system, viruses are left out in the cold. They certainly are not “alive” in the classical sense because they are not capable of metabolizing or replicating on their own. But it does not feel quite right to classify them as “inanimate,” either, because they are built of biological molecules and contain genetic information. Thus, for the most part, viruses languish in the no man’s land between the living and the dead. Continue reading

End the Hype over Epigenetics & Lamarckian Evolution

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

You might recall from high school biology a scientist by the name of Jean-Baptiste Lamarck. He proposed a mechanism of evolution in which organisms pass on traits acquired during their lifetimes to their offspring. The textbook example is a proposed mechanism of giraffe evolution: If a giraffe stretches its neck to reach higher leaves on a tree, the giraffe would pass on a slightly longer neck to its offspring. Continue reading

Nobody Wins in Fundamentalist ‘Creation Debate’

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

Thus far, the biggest event of the year for the scientific community was the “Creation Debate” between Bill Nye (“The Science Guy”) and Ken Ham, a Young-Earth Creationist and founder of the Creation Museum. Other than this 3-minute clip which summarized the essence of the debate, I didn’t bother watching.

Why? For three reasons. Continue reading