Some interesting things
Here are some web pages you might be interested in. They are presented simply
because I think they are interesting and ought to be more widely known.
- A web page Wayne Maddison and I made in 1998 for the European Community
Summer School on Methods for Molecular Phylogenies. It was held at the Newton Institute
for Mathematical Sciences in Cambridge, England. The fun part is the graphic of
an evolutionary tree (made out of what symbols?) leading to the images of
Isaac Newton and Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz, with their respective symbols for
differentiation beside the branches.
- ROMMY II. Ever wonder what the hard core of the Hennig Society really thinks? Bob Murphy of the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, Canada lets it
all hang out. His rock opera is an invaluable historical document of the conflicts in
systematics and molecular evolution.
- A photo given me by the late Alan Robertson. It shows attendees at a
meeting on evolution in Italy, the International Union of
Biological Sciences Symposium on Genetics of Population Structure in 1953.
The image is a large
(over 500k) JPG file. A list of the people is shown, and you can click
on their pictures to see web pages briefly describing them. Even without
this you should readily recognize
Mather, Ford, Mayr, Waddington, Haldane, Dobzhansky,
Fisher, Carson, Robertson, and Falconer.
- ... and here are 40 photographs of population geneticists and other evolutionary
biologists that I took in the 1960s and 1970s. They are a Flickr album and
they can be downloaded in high resolution.
- J. B. S. Haldane has frequently been credited with the remark that he
would not lay down his life for his brother, but would for two brothers or
eight first cousins. (Haldane had no brothers, and his sister, the novelist
Here is a passage in a 1955 paper where he
shows that he appreciated many of the points made in 1964 in W. D. Hamilton's
famous work on kin selection.
- Even earlier, the great figure of modern animal breeding, Jay Lush,
appreciated the logic of kin and group selection as early as 1948, as can
be seen in the quote here.
- And of course, if anyone gives me an honorary degree, that is by
definition a cool event, in this case on
30 November 2005 at the University of Edinburgh.
- Two interviews with me at other peoples' blogs:
- On the Blind Scientist blog on 19 April 2007 (the owner of the blog is not blind, by
the way -- he is blind in the experimental sense only).
- On the blog Dechronization on 23 April 2009.
- Well, I suppose that being called (along with a lot of other
people) a “mastermind of evolutionary biology” is cool.
Artist Günter Bachelier has used some sort of genetic algorithm to
modify an image of me, 1000 times. See them here.
- Morris Goodman, who was born in 1925, died on November 14, 2010. He was
one of the earliest pioneers of molecular evolution, and was active in the
field, with large-scale genomics projects underway when he died. Here is
an interview I did with him earlier in
2010, mostly about the early days. It is an MP3 sound file. Enjoy.
- Two anecdotes about Sewall Wright.
- There seems to be a trend for fine wines from Austria to be named
Felsenstein. Now there are two of them:
Actually there are more! Watch this space.
- I must have attended at least 3,000 presentations by seminar speakers in
my career. Finally someone asked me for suggestions. Here they
are in a heartfelt rant. I hope it has some good effect.
- Thanks to Bruce Walsh, I have received a special honor. A species of noctuid moth
has been named after me: Ufeus
felsensteini. So my name is associated with a real contribution
to taxonomy. Actually, there is another -- in 1959, while doing a summer
project at the Jackson Memorial Laboratory, I trapped the first
Southern Bog Lemming (Synaptomys cooperi) ever found on Mount Desert Island, Maine (it is known from
the mainland nearby). This is
mentioned in this paper: Manville, R. H. 1960. Recent changes in the
mammal fauna of Mount Desert Island, Maine. Journal of Mammalogy
41: 415-416, and the specimen was sent to the Smithsonian Natural
History Museum in Washington.
- In 2013 I was asked to run for President of the Society for Molecular
Biology and Evolution. Here is my not-entirely-solemn
campaign statement. I won, and will serve as President-Elect in 2014,
President in 2015, and Former President in 2016 (these are all posts and all
require you to work on the council of the society).
- 9 reasons why
numbered internet lists are stupid.