Darwin Awards

We salute the improvement of the human genome
by honoring those who remove themselves from it.
Of necessity, this honor is generally bestowed posthumously.

Science Writers Sought

Seeking Science! Wendy needs ten (10) excellent science essays. Each chapter in each Darwin Awards book begins with a science essay, and a new book is coming out. Do you have what it takes to describe cutting-edge research to a smart layperson? Make extra money while doing the Darwin Awards a service.

Take a shot at writing an essay on a hot science area with which you are familiar. Perhaps genomes, species molecular comparison, evolution of protein function, how small nuclear RNA fragments hearken back to the beginning of life, etcetera. Suggest a topic. Educate me!

Final essay length is 1000 words--with a lot packed into those thousand words. Eight essays will be awarded $500 each and possibly published. First drafts Friday, November 20. Final work due Friday, 18 December 2009.

Endogenous Retroviruses and Evolution -- Stephen Darksyde
Love Bites (sexual cannibalism) -- Annaliese Beery

Email an outline (required) and sample paragraphs to Wendy's cheerful team of college students. Articles should be written for an intelligent general audience, and delve deeply into the topic. Style: Dense writing that is relevant (grabs attention) and narrow in focus, as in the biweekly magazine Science News.

Good luck!


Here is a link to all the science essays in Book 4.

Shirley S. could write a great science essay!
Shirley related a fascinating story about actin & myosin, the proteins responsible for movement. Since these molecules are ubiquitous in living organisms, they are particularly well-suited to show evolutionary changes. Recent studies of molecular differences across species shows evolutionary morphing. Her descriptions were exciting, and involved cutting-edge research. "Shirley could write a great science essay!"

Lisa L. could write a great science essay!
Lisa says vaccinations don't need to reach 100% of the population, to be effective. She gave an example of polio, which is so hard to transmit that only 10-20% of the population needs to be vaccinated to prevent an epidemic. "Is that why flu vaccines target only the elderly?" "No, that's a different reason, they are at higher risk of serious complications." She finished by implicating the "Microsoft monoculture" in the spread of viruses. She is a mathematician, and can explain the math behind the facts. "Lisa could write a great science essay!"

Could you write a great science essay?

More topic ideas (some vague) I've gathered over the years:

* Idea of sexual reproduction as a way of increasing the rate of mutation, in order to "keep up" with the slower life-spans of humans vs. pathogens.

Book Review: Descent of Child, or Aquatic Ape book, by Elaine Morgan(sic)?

Book Review: Mean Genes? It was good, when I read it.

The GENETIC EVOLUTION OF 40,000 generations... of E.Coli!

Essay: Population, ala Carl Sagan, "The Persian Chessboard" in _B_&_B_

Essay: Race, "At most wavelengths all human skin is black," per an article I read in Science News in the last 5 years. American indians who receive benefits if they can prove their ancestry, find that it is difficult and must be done by genealogy rather than a quick DNA test.

Essay: Skeletons -- We can see the kinds of work that ancient skeletons performed when they were fully fleshed, by looking at the bone deformations caused by various tasks, such as stone cutter or ___. (My fingernails warp from so much typing, but grew straight when I take a hiatus.)

Essay: Microbes -- The common cold is spread easily; changing habits of cleanliness will eliminate most common colds because they simply do not live long in the air. Covering our mouths when we sneeze, washing hands, keeping hands off of face. (airplanes a problem.) Colds can only "make the rounds" if the population size is sufficent... Idea of small, isolated groups of people; once the disease "makes its way" through the village, it dies itself.


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