Thursday, February 19, 2009

Evolution is a soap opera

picture of evolution from pharyngula
Did you know that evolution is like a soap opera? No, nor did I until I read Pharyngula today.

Pharyngula points out that evolution is not a simple progression with us at the end of it as many people seem to believe. The trouble is, that idea makes a good story which is probably how the view has come to be so popular. Looking for a way to explain the complexities of evolution in a way that will grab our imagination he comes up with
evolution is like a soap opera. I can see it.

Both have lots of characters and story lines, every one full of anguish and drama, some ending happily (for a while), others ending miserably;
It's worth popping across there to read the whole post.

I thought that those of you who write science fiction might be interested both in the soap opera idea and in the picture of evolution. I like the way that we're tucked up in one corner as just part of the web of life. I wonder what an alien ecosystem would look like.

14 COMMENTS:

pjd said...

My wife used to watch The Young and the Restless, and I was tortured by it in the evenings on tape when she was at work.

The thing I found about soap operas? Watch it for a week and you know everything that's happening. Go away for six months. Come back and turn on an episode, and... you are right were you left off before. Some minor characters may have come and gone in the meantime, or someone got cancer (and is in remission) or got shot (and was cured). But everything else played out at the glacial speed of real life.

I bet if I tuned in today, I'd recognize at least 80% of the characters, even though I haven't seen it in over 10 years.

So yeah, I guess it is like evolution in that way.

Whirlochre said...

OK — so explain Ross Kemp.

Robin S. said...

This is such an amazing way to look at life. Or Life, I guess I should 'say'. And I love that poster, too!

fairyhedgehog said...

pjd - I love your deconstruction of soap operas!

Whirl - I had to google Ross Kemp and I'm still none the wiser.

Robin - It's a pretty good poster, isn't it?

writtenwyrdd said...

the soap opera angle reminds me of the old pulp stories about god/aliens playing with humanity and watching us from afar, laughing.

Or the Book of Job where it's God and Satan making book on the poor sod.

Scott from Oregon said...

I always wondered why we put ourselves in the front of the line...

fairyhedgehog said...

Writtenwyrd - that makes me think of something out of Pratchett's Discworld.

Scott - It doesn't look quite the same with us stuck on one corner. It's a bit like realising that the sun doesn't go round the earth, I suppose.

Mariana Soffer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
scarlet-blue said...

Oh, I like this idea. I shall go away and think about it.
Sx

Kevin Musgrove said...

Nice picture, thanks for flagging it up.

I'm always fascinated by the "experimental" creatures that have walk-on parts and don't get the repeat option. The Burgess Shale Fauna has some nice oddities you might enjoy.

freddie said...

This is great. I love the poster.

Sarah Laurenson said...

Very fascinating. And I love the idea of applying this to an alien lifeform.

fairyhedgehog said...

scarlet, freddie and sarah - glad you liked it!

Kevin - I read "Wonderful Life" about the Burgess Shale and found it fascinating reading. I've come late to biology because I was such rubbish at it at school. I could never see how the diagrams related to real life objects or why it mattered anyway.

Sophie in the Moonlight said...

I LOVE the link from Pharyngula's post to a side by side image of a brain cell and the Universe. Remarkable!!

Thanks for the bit of science perspective you added to my day, got the old brain cells moving around a little. Goddess knows they need the exercise.

Post a Comment

The comments are the best part of this blog, so please do join in.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...