Journalist: Author, A Planet of Viruses; Science Ink: Tattoos of the Science Obsessed
Life As A Side Effect

It's been over 150 years since Charles Darwin published the Origin of Species, but we still have trouble appreciating the simple, brilliant insight at its core. That is, life's diversity does not exist because it is necessary for living things. Birds did not get wings so that they could fly. We do not have eyes so that we can read. Instead, eyes, wings, and the rest of life's wonder has come about as a side effect of life itself. Living things struggle to survive, they reproduce, and they don't do a perfect job of replicating themselves. Evolution spins off of that loop, like heat coming off an engine. We're so used to seeing agents behind everything that we struggle to recognize life as a side effect. I think everyone would do well do overcome that urge to see agents where there are none. It would even help us to understand why we are so eager to see agents in the first place.