Charnel Grounds

The practice of interment and its associated rituals are features of human symbolism and practiced by most cultures. One unique burial ritual prevalent in ancient and medieval South Asia was the sky burial. These burial sites - termed charnel grounds - were typically found near large river banks or on mountain plateaus. At these sites,… Continue reading Charnel Grounds

The Present of Things Past

As stated in one of Zeno’s nine paradoxes, an arrow in flight is “somewhere” and “somewhere in transit”, implying the flow of time as a continuum. Thereafter, approximately a thousand years after Zeno, the theologian Augustine of Hippo attempted to categorize time by writing, “perhaps it would be exact to say: there are three times -… Continue reading The Present of Things Past

The Single Aim

Evolutionary biologist Leslie Orgel’s second rule of biology states that “evolution is smarter than you are.” Evolution and its mechanisms can explain much of the seemingly boundless complexity and organization evident in biological ecosystems. As I discussed in my last essay, biological evolution with its objective function of survival and reproduction driven by the processes… Continue reading The Single Aim

Problem of the Criterion

In the 1930s, the evolutionary biologist, Sewall Wright, developed the concept of the fitness (adaptive) landscape as a visualization of evolution. The fitness landscape, conceived as a topographic map that resembles a mountain range with peaks and valleys, described different phenotypes of an organism that can vary over a continuous range of genotypes. The vertical… Continue reading Problem of the Criterion


The 20th-century evolutionary biologist, Theodosius Dobzhansky, said, “nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.” From the perspective of evolution and its twin fitness functions of survival and reproduction, sleep is a seemingly difficult phenomenon to make sense of and explain. When we are asleep, we cannot gather food, socialize, find a… Continue reading 😴💤

The dose makes the poison…

Stress is defined “as a process of altered biochemical homeostasis produced by psychological, physiological, or environmental stressors.” Etymologically, the word is derived from Latin, meaning “tight, compressed, drawn together.” Conceptually, it can be found in the physical sciences as early as the 17th century. In physics, Hooke’s law (F = -kX)  states that the strain… Continue reading The dose makes the poison…


The rise in modern human life expectancy is one of the crowning achievements of the scientific revolution. Throughout the world, life expectancy has increased exponentially over the last two hundred years directly due to technologies such as refrigeration, sewage, clean water, fertilizers, indoor living, antibiotics, and vaccinations. Through these technologies, we began to insulate ourselves… Continue reading Hormesis

Only Entropy Comes Easy

Approximately five hundred years ago, the North African polymath, Ibn-Khaldun, observed that “the goal of civilization is sedentary culture and luxury. When civilization reaches that goal, it turns towards corruption and starts being senile, as happens in the natural life of living beings.” The analogous natural history of socially constructed civilizations and the biologically constructed… Continue reading Only Entropy Comes Easy

Nature, red in tooth and claw

In Wealth of Nations first published in 1776, Adam Smith stated that “it is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them… Continue reading Nature, red in tooth and claw