Natural history

A lit­tle red bee­tle walks over my arm. On this won­der­ful­ly warm Sat­ur­day I have noth­ing on my to-do list, so I can enjoy our square meter of veg­etable gar­den. Dur­ing the week, Fred­dy is the hero in the gar­den who keeps every­thing alive. The bean plants tum­ble over their grow­ing strings and bloom abun­dant­ly. …

Darwin at Tahiti

Because today is the birth­day of Charles Dar­win, I have browsed the essays of Stephen J. Gould to find some­thing to write about. Gould was an evo­lu­tion­ary biol­o­gist, with a great inter­est in the his­to­ry of sci­ence. He is one of my favorite authors. We have one book of him, a yel­lowed Pen­guin edi­tion of …

The Selfless Gene (2)

What is the dif­fi­cul­ty about liv­ing with God and Dar­win? If we ask Dar­win him­self, he gives a clear answer in the quote above: Nat­ur­al selec­tion appears to be a process of waste, cru­el­ty, suf­fer­ing, and destruc­tion of the weak. Ich­neu­monidae are wasps that lay their eggs in the lar­vae of oth­er insects, after which …