In which The Independent jumps the shark

A couple of weeks ago Oliver Wright of The Independent ran a hatchet job, both horrible and nonsensical, about the head of the RCGP, Clare Gerada — the tireless and currently ubiquitous critic of the NHS privatisation Health and Social Care Bill. You may remember Ben Goldacre wrote about Oliver […]

Model splicing

This is another archival repost, written for the old blog in January 2008. The central dogma of molecular biology, first described by Francis Crick in 1958, describes the flow of information between DNA, RNA, and proteins.[1] The central dogma is interesting, but I believe that its use in teaching is […]

The selfish gene drives an operon

This is another archival repost first written for the old blog in 2007. On Monday I mentioned John Maynard Smith’s videos at People’s Archive. They really are marvelous, and you should watch them all. One of the topics he discusses is horizontal gene transfer in bacteria, a subject I discussed […]


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Light years upstream, dipping in the River out of Eden

This is another archival repost, originally written for the old blog in May 2008. Darwin’s 1837 phylogeny, with root and branches. I’ve talked about Horizontal Gene Transfer (HGT) on the blog a few times before, particularly in the context of bacteria acquiring genes for things like antibiotic resistance, and in […]

One god short of an atheist

This is another archival repost originally written for the old blog in november 2007. “Yes I agree, but this is different. Don’t lump us in with those charlatans!” Criticise quack miracle cures, irrational superstition, loony pseudoscience, and religion, and you will get in return an example of the comment above. […]

Robustness: a new battlefield in the evolution wars?

This is another archival repost from the old blog, originally written in oct 2007. Evolution, from the point of view of the geneticist, is the change in allele frequencies that occurs in populations over time. New alleles are created by random mutation, and others slowly disappear through natural selection or […]

Thursday paper: Epigenetics and drug tolerance

This is another archival repost, originally from oct 2007. Are you an addict? I bet you are (I saw you gambling addicts coming!). It might be coffee, chocolate, or tobacco, rather than alcohol, heroin, or self-harm, and you might not be wasting away because of it, but you’re probably addicted […]

Antibiotics in an anti-science age

This is another repost originally written for the old blog in 2007. Over the next few years or decades, traditional antibiotics will largely be replaced by bacteriophages. Like everything in biology and medicine, this is ultimately down to evolution. Pathogenic bacteria are alive: they reproduce, with slight imperfections, and are […]

Science and sci-fi: biochemistry on your PC

This is another archival repost from the old blog, this one from May 2007. The Hollow Man was on the television the other day, confirming once again my belief that hollywood lacks the imagination to make sci-fi even a fraction as interesting as real science. There was, however, a most […]

Horizontal transfer and the modern species

This is another archival repost originally written for the old blog in april 2007. Bacteria tend to get ignored to some extent by writers of popular science and science blogs, except in the context of disease and medicine. There is a general assumption that, as single celled organisms, they must […]