Sunday, November 18, 2007

On Evolution

I often hear people asking the question: Do you believe in Evolution? Well, for starters, Evolution happens. It is a fact, not something you believe or not believe in.

Evolution is one of the topics not taught in schools in India. As a result, many people I speak to have an incorrect notion of evolution. Back in high school, I remember learning about botany and zoology and the difference between classes of animal kingdom, but nothing about how this variation came about. We learn the answer to the 'What' question, totally sidetracking the more fundamental 'How' and 'Why' questions.

In reality the process of natural selection (via which evolution occurs) is a simple and fascinating concept. Unfortunately most of the literature on the net, like this Wikipedia article, is rife with scientific terminology, making it too intimidating for a layman to understand.

Here is an amazing clip from Carl Sagan's Cosmos series where he explains natural and artificial selection using the Heikegani crabs as an example in a very clear and lucid manner. Check it out...



Carl Sagan is one of my favorite authors and the entire Cosmos series is worth watching. Or if you prefer the book, it is equally good. Definitely something worth checking out.

5 comments:

Nandan said...

Interesting! I guess if non-believers saw this video, they will at least accept the theory on its 'face value' :)

Nikhil said...

Lets hope so..

Gypsy said...

Evolution may not be a separate course, but it has been an integral part of any education related to biological and health sciences (even in India) Have you not studied in school "why" our ancestors had a tail and we don't have it anymore? and "how" the brain size's been getting bigger (or so we assume)..
but its true that evolution is like air, we can't see it right in front of our eyes but it does exist!

Nikhil said...

No... which school did you go to? What were the answers given to you?

Actually "Our brain size's are getting bigger" is debatable, with various studies arguing either ways. Our brain sizes did indeed get bigger during early human evolution. But we are not sure if in today's world bigger brains mean higher probability of you passing your genes to the next generation.

Gypsy said...

ok may be u are rite according to this article http://www.lifescied.org/cgi/content/full/4/1/97

but I remember studying the basics in school days, and the phenomenon of passing only the useful and favorable genes to the next generation, 'if u dont use it, u lose it' funda....