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Darwin’s Kids Doodled All Over His Original Manuscript

How the naturalist’s scribbling children accidentally saved a priceless historical artifact

On a page from Charles Darwin’s original manuscript of On the Origin of Species, two mounted swordsmen face off—one’s steed a mighty galloping carrot while the other, wearing a plumed yellow turban, approaches on a menacing-looking, four-legged eggplant. No, this isn’t an early, discarded theory, in which the English naturalist hypothesized a vegetable origin for equine life, but instead, a series of doodles created by his children on the backs of his handwritten manuscript pages. After the book’s publication, Darwin gave his kids these pages, covered on one side with the notes and scrawls that would eventually become one of the most influential scientific works in history, as drawing paper. And it’s a good thing he did; out of the almost 600 pages of Darwin’s original work, only 45 remain and at least four of these are likely to have been preserved only as sentimental mementos of his progeny’s childhood fancies.

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Science So Bad It’s Good

The unexpectedly popular BAHFest searches for the year’s most laughable evolutionary theory, and rewards its creator

Trophy by Kyle Horseman

Last week, 1,000 inquisitive San Franciscans gathered inside the Castro Theatre for the second annual Festival of Bad Ad Hoc Hypotheses, or BAHFest.

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You’re an Animal

Are humans out of place in the modern world?

Sea turtles can have a hard time in the modern world. When hatchlings are born on the beach, they instinctively head toward the brightest part of the horizon. They developed this instinct over millennia because the brightest part of the horizon had always been the ocean, where light reflected off the water. These days, this instinct often leads them astray. In developed areas, they head toward brightly lit beach houses or coastal roads instead.

This is a case of so-called evolutionary mismatch, when traits that evolved in one environment have negative consequences in another. The turtles’ instinct works well in a natural environment, without artificial light. In a man-made environment, it is often fatal.

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Why Broccoli Tastes Bad and What We Should Do About It

Since education alone isn't making for healthier diets, why not reengineer vegetables to taste better to all of us?

Everyone eats. And yet we all have different likes and dislikes. While we adapted as a species to seek certain foods out of biological necessity, our tastes are hardly uniform. Why do some people like brussel sprouts and broccoli? Certainly, genes, experience, and cultural norms play a role. So do our tongues, which are not created equal.

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