Posted on September 11, 2015 * Comments

Like my last fossil, a common everyday trilobite, this specimen came from the Hunsrueck slate in Germany. You can see the fool’s-gold color typical of pyritization a bit better here. But what is it? I’ve told you the locality (and therefore the age), so I’m not going to feel bad that there is no sense of scale here.

Posted on September 09, 2015 * Comments

Thomas Henry Huxley

Thomas Henry Huxley’s admiration of William Paley’s Natural Theology (1802) is relatively obscure, at least in comparison to that of Charles Darwin (who wrote to a friend just before the Origin was published, “I do not think I hardly ever admired a book more than Paley’s Natural Theology. I could almost formerly have said it by heart.—”). Yet Huxley’s admiration seems to have started earlier and continued later. In part 1, I quoted passages from Huxley (above) and his sometime student Henry Fairfield Osborn that together suggested that Huxley was a fan of Paley’s when he was a boy (regarding Natural Theology as a Sabbath treat) and when he was a middle-aged scientist at the height of his powers (keeping the book at his bedside). But Huxley invokes Paley for a specific purpose: to defuse the complaint that Darwin’s views “abolish Teleology.”

Posted on September 08, 2015 * Comments

You know how they used to peddle orange juice by saying, “It isn’t just for breakfast any more?” That’s how I feel about informal science education. No, silly: not that it isn’t just for breakfast any more. That it isn’t just for kids any more. (Unlike Trix, silly rabbit, which are just for kids.)

Posted on September 07, 2015 * Comments

Last Friday we took a look at a nicely preserved fossil from the Pennsylvanian. Since this is Answer Monday, I will drop the cagey act and tell you now that it is clearly a plant. Here you can see the fossil with scale.

Posted on September 04, 2015 * Comments

This week on Fossil Friday, we have a lovely specimen.

Plant -- or not a plant?

Posted on September 03, 2015 * Comments

We’ve been developing some new initiatives at NCSE to try and better serve teachers. After all, teachers are ultimately going to make the difference if the next generation is to get an evidence-based science education.

Posted on September 02, 2015 * Comments

Thomas Henry Huxley

Although William Paley’s Natural Theology (1802) represented a tradition of thinking about the natural world that was supplanted by Darwin’s revolution, Darwin himself expressed admiration for Paley. In his autobiography, for example, he mentions having read Paley’s Natural Theology as well as his View of the Evidences of Christianity and Principles of Moral and Political Philosophy at Cambridge University: “The careful study of these works...was the only part of the academical course which, as I then felt and as I still believe, was of the least use to me in the education of my mind.” Writing to John Lubbock on November 22, 1859—two days before the publication of the Origin of Species—he confided, “I do not think I hardly ever admired a book more than Paley’s Natural Theology: I could almost formerly have said it by heart.—”

Posted on September 01, 2015 * Comments

AP GeologyClimate change is the most urgent existential issue we face, yet education about climate change is often missing in action from K–12 schools. Every high school offers biology courses, but few offer earth science courses in which climate change would be a major topic. Why?

Posted on August 31, 2015 * Comments

Nikita Daryanani is a summer intern at NCSE. She recently graduated from UC Davis with a degree in Environmental Policy Analysis and Planning, and is interested in global climate change and environmental justice.

Posted on August 31, 2015 * Comments

Last week, I unleashed my inner Ansel Adams and gave you a dramatically lit fossil with distinct ridges. What was it?