Author Archives: James Urton

About James Urton

I went to school to become a molecular biologist.  At some point in this long education, I discovered that I love communicating science to the general public: talks, writing, at a pub, on the street corner...  Whatever venue will let me hold your attention for a few moments.  Unfortunately, I can't do this for a living, since no one will pay me.  So, I have a job as a molecular biologist at the University of Washington, where I get to work with great scientists on some really awesome projects, and I'll blog about science here at Muller's Ratchet in my spare time. Why should the general public want to know anything about science? Here's my explanation (which also explains why I chose the name Muller's Ratchet for this site). Briefly as a graduate student (before I had to devote all of my time to graduating), I blogged at Adaptive Radiation.

Constant as the Northern Star

Some species struggle to adapt to climate change Change is afoot. Climate patterns across the globe are shifting as the planet steadily warms. That climate change is occurring is largely a settled issue in the scientific community. The debate has … Continue reading

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Birds of a Feather

As we learn in our earliest playground adventures, cheaters are out there trying to exploit the labor of others.  Cheaters want to prosper, and sometimes they do.  For every Bernard Madoff languishing in prison, there could be another languishing in … Continue reading

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A plume of magma may explain North America’s odd geology Earth’s active geologic processes are a blessing and a curse.  They help sustain life.  Yet, the last sign I saw as I entered the Washington State Fair this summer pointed … Continue reading

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The Next Generation

Seattle Center is a 74-acre complex of theaters, music halls, parks, sport facilities, museums, and restaurants tucked neatly within Seattle’s Lower Queen Anne neighborhood.  The iconic Space Needle, crown jewel of the facility since the 1962 World’s Fair, hugs the … Continue reading

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The solar system’s early days were chaotic.  Our celestial neighborhood began as a rotating cloud of gas and dust.  Some 4.6 billion years ago, the massive center of this cloud condensed into the sun.  Leftover gas and dust, spurred by … Continue reading

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Divining Rod

Another Earth, full of life.  The idea inspires awe and wonder, as well as sober reflection on the savage thrashing we give our own blue oasis.  These notions are fuel for science fiction.  But recent missions have inched Earth-like planets … Continue reading

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Leave Them Alone and They’ll Come Home

Humanity leaves a great deal of collateral damage in its wake.  From Fukushima Daiichi to climate change, destruction is often the common denominator of our footprints.  With extinctions on the rise and ecological communities threatened from the Arctic to the … Continue reading

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