Eric Wieschaus — Research Funding and Identifying Good Research

(Image from LC: I also wanted to pick your brain a little bit about the funding justifications for some research projects. There’s a famous Sarah Palin quote where she criticized fruit fly research. You’ve admitted before that you didn’t go into the Heidelberg Screen experiment knowing that a Nobel Prize would come out of it or that human applications would follow...

Eric Wieschaus — Academic Career

(Image from LC: So I know that in undergrad you got a job washing fly bottles on the weekends and you said “This, the sort of lab environment, is something I could do.” And then later you went into graduate school at Yale initially. Graduate school to me seems like a large step, a commitment to an academic career field. Were you intimidated? Were you confident that you wanted to do lab science for the rest of your life?

Stephen Stearns — A Handy Tool for Visualizing Bird Migrations

( SS: By the way, one of the things I’ve discovered is that the ornithologists at Cornell have used big data to use the radar network that the weather forecasters use all around the country to look at how many birds are migrating in real time and it’s up online. What I noticed is that… Continue reading Stephen Stearns — A Handy Tool for Visualizing Bird Migrations

Stephen Stearns — Minor Curiosities in Evolution, Neurodevelopment Edition

("7 week embryo" by lunar caustic is licensed under CC BY 2.0) LC: So I asked if you have any favorite questions of the “How did this arise?” sort and you mentioned transexuality. I know absolutely nothing about the evolution of human sexuality especially in terms of homosexuality versus heterosexuality or transexuality or asexuality. What’s the elevator… Continue reading Stephen Stearns — Minor Curiosities in Evolution, Neurodevelopment Edition

Stephen Stearns — Data-Driven versus Hypothesis-Driven Research

So we had these lunchtime talks and this guy comes in and he tells a story and he says hypotheses are, maybe I’ll exaggerate a little bit what he says, that hypotheses are useless and they encourage you to be wrong and stick by your original ideas. His example was if you take a telescope, or some sort of imaging device, that you point it at the sky and it says “Is the sky red?”...

Stephen Stearns — An Evolutionary Biologist’s Two Cents on Aging

So for a person in a biotech company to say that they are going to be able to extend the human lifespan without any negative consequences implies that they think they know more about human biology than anyone in fact does. My guess is that once in a while we will get away with it, but many times we won’t, and that the way we will find out is probably going to involve some human suffering and possibly even death. It’s a high-stakes game...