Friday, May 09, 2003

Bush and Science Check out Nicholas Kristof's column from the New York Times today. It is available here. Kristof's discusses the chilling effect the religious right, through its influence within the Bush administration, is having on AIDS research. Kristof is not hard enough on Bush, in my opinion, but his points are well taken.

The Bush administration's track record on science issues does not inspire confidence. Check out this Chris Mooney article from two years ago, for example.

The Evolution of Complexity An important article in the current issue of Nature discusses recent advances in our understanding of the evolution of very complex systems. The article is only available by subscription online, but check out the summary here.

The article disucsses a recent experiment in the field of artificial life. The idea is to construct self-replicating computer programs that mimic many of the features of actual organisms. The programs reproduce, mutate and compete with each other for various resources determined by the programmers. In the present experiment, the artificial critters were seen to evolve the ability to perform complex logical operations via numerous small gradations. The analogy between the artificial life forms and their organic counterparts is sufficiently strong, that studying A. Life can shed light on the real thing. It is yet another blow to those creationists who say complex systems can not evolve by natural means.

Prime Bummer In a previous blog item I reported on an important advance in our understanding of the distribution of prime numbers. In now seems that there is a gap in the proof. Go visit the American Institute of Mathematics for the gruesome details.