Hello and welcome to Thoughtomics!
My name is Lucas Brouwers. I am a Dutch science writer with a background in molecular biology and bioinformatics. After obtaining my MSc degree Radboud University in Nijmegen, I decided that a science career is not for me. I am currently employed by a Dutch daily newspaper where I write about biology.
Thoughtomics is a blog about evolution. Evolution fascinates me because it happens all around us, all the time. From the development of drug resistance in hospital bacteria, to the wiring of our brain and the origins of cancer: they are all products of evolution. Wherever there is life, it evolves.
I selected some posts from the previous incarnation of this blog to give you an idea of the kind of topics that interest me. Amongst other things, I wrote about where milk comes from, how baleen whales lost their teeth and why some otherwise harmless bacteria produce neurotoxins.
Please note that English is not my native language, so I might make the odd spelling or grammatical mistake every now and then. I’d be more than happy to correct them if you point them out to me in the comments.
So why is this blog named ‘Thoughtomics’? The suffix ‘-ome’ is added to describe fields of biology that study ‘totalities’. A genome is the totality of genes in an organism, a proteome to the totality of its proteins. Following this logic, a ‘thoughtome’ is the total body of thoughts of a single organism, in this case – me.
The banner of this blog was made by Joep Gerrits, a talented artist and friend. It is a tribute to a famous drawing that Charles Darwin made in one his notebooks. Darwin introduced his small sketch on page 36 of Notebook ‘B’ on the Transmutation of species with just two words: ‘I think’.
As small and insignificant as it might seem, this sketch is the first depiction of evolution as a branching process, without any direction or order. Lineages simply give rise to new lineages. Some of the branches in Darwin’s tree have forked ends. These are the living species, while those branches without any markings at their ends represent the species that have become extinct. The observation that species come and go is not trivial. It reveals that the natural world is ever changing and never the same. Erasmus Darwin, the grandfather of Charles, wrote the following words when he learnt about the changing nature of the cosmos, but I feel they also apply to his grandson’s insights:
O’er the wreck, emerging from the storm,
Immortal Nature lifts her changeful form,
Mounts from her funeral pyre on wings of flame,
And soars and shines, another and the same.
~Erasmus Darwin, The Botanic Garden (1791)
It would take two decades before Darwin felt he had collected enough evidence for his initial thought. He published the Origin of Species in 1859. This all goes to show that in science a single thought is never enough. In that spirit, let me promise you that many diverse thoughts and stories will appear on this blog in the near future. I’ll hope you will enjoy them and leave a comment behind every now and then.
See you around!
Darwin’s tree from Wikimedia Commons.