Hunting the Homunculus

In the endless search for self-knowledge through the centuries a central question has been how we come to have any knowledge at all. Common sense has no doubts: as John Locke put it “perception is the first step towards knowledge, and the inlet of all the materials of it.” But …

Fascinating Rhythm

It is generally believed that something called Science is an influence that has transformed human life in the last two centuries, but what is the nature of this agency that has such great power? Practicing scientists are often unwilling even to try to define it. If they make the attempt …

I Bee M

The marvels of the societies of honey bees and their communications by dancing are widely known but probably few people realize that these are only the most sophisticated of the many less developed types of bee communities. There are 20,000 different species with all sorts of different cultures, making up …

Evolution Toward What?

It is interesting that the scientific discovery that has had the greatest influence on human thought has no practical use whatever. Darwin’s demonstration that there was a time when no men existed and that we are directly descended from animals provided a whole set of new problems about the nature …

The Ape Who Never Grows Up

It is curious that through the centuries men seem to have been more interested in studying the heavens than things on Earth. Even when they did begin to investigate terrestrial matters it was the inorganic that they studied first. Exact knowledge about living creatures has come last of all among …

Animal Babel

Among the surprises that have come from biology in the last few decades is the finding that animals so often communicate with each other. The discovery that so many species have a sort of language has been one of the intellectual set-backs that our “gut feeling” of superiority has suffered …

That’s Life

It is a curious anomaly of history that men made a careful study of the nonliving world before they seriously examined themselves. For three centuries, the study of physics has been regarded as the very prototype of exact inquiry. Even today it holds pride of place and gets the lion’s …

Save the Whales!

The sea is in a sense our last frontier, and the whales the rulers of it, whom we are in danger of displacing, just as we have displaced the Indians and the buffaloes that they hunted. The hunting and gathering stage of man’s evolution ended on land some 10,000 years ago, but it continues still today in the sea.

Millions of Missing Links

It is odd that whereas man’s knowledge of the stars was one of the earliest forms of science his knowledge of his own origins can hardly be called scientific even today. Probably even the most ambitious student of human fossil bones never expected to win a Nobel Prize. It is …

Bees Without Honey

How much do we depend upon Nature? The question is neither absurd nor rhetorical, and it includes many of our fundamental dilemmas. At one level it is easy to answer that without animal and plant life there would be no food, so of course we are absolutely dependent upon them.

Monkey Business

It would be nice to think that Morris’s attempt to present a biology of Man is meant as a joke, not to be taken seriously. Indeed the author has obviously enjoyed writing it and judging by its success his readers like it too. It is not difficult to see the …

Brains on their Minds

Biology may be destined to be the science of the future, but there is certainly much about it that is very puzzling at present. Indeed, it is arguable that it can ever be a science of quite the same sort as physics and chemistry, because it has to deal with …