A team of scientists has discovered that dung beetles climb on dung balls and dance around in circles before taking off. This dance is not one of joy, however — the insects are checking out the sky to get their bearings. Melissa Block and Audie Cornish have more.
Tagged with “biology” (48)
Frances Ashcroft’s new book details how electricity in the body fuels everything we think, feel or do. She tells Fresh Air about discovering a new protein, how scientists are like novelists and how she wanted to be a farmer’s wife.
These days anyone can contribute to a great scientific endeavour, whether it’s astronomy, molecular biology or sleep research. Clare Freeman investigates the growing importance of citizen scientists and crowdsourced research.
In this week’s show we delve into the world of crowdsourced science to find out why scientists are increasingly relying on members of the public to make observations, gather information and analyse vast clumps of data. The list of crowdsourced projects is seemingly endless, from folding proteins in computer games, to discovering new planets and searching for extraterrestrial intelligence.
Prof Chris Lintott started his first crowdsourcing project in 2007, Galaxy Zoo. He explains to Clare Freeman how this and all the other Zooniverse projects have developed over the years. It’s not just the technology that has advanced but also the community, with citizen scientists willing to spend more time than ever scouring data.
In the two months since our Science Weekly call-out, almost 6,000 Britons have contributed to Prof Russell Foster’s crowdsourced survey of sleep "chronotypes" – whether you’re an owl or a lark. He reveals the initial results comparing the sleep patterns of Germans and Britons.
Knowing your chronotype can help you maximise your intellectual performance, but could your school or employer be persuaded to let you start work later or earlier depending on your chronotype?
The author of more than 25 books, including two Pulitzer Prize-winning works of nonfiction, E.O. Wilson has won a raft of scientific and conservation prizes, including the prestigious National Medal of Science. Wilson’s writing explores the world of ants and other tiny creatures, illuminating how all creatures great and small are interdependent. A Harvard professor since 1953, his ideas have had an immeasurable influence on our understanding of life, nature, and society. He remains an outspoken advocate for conservation and biodiversity, fighting to preserve the wondrous variety of the natural world. In The Social Conquest of Earth, Wilson lays out a reexamination of human evolution—addressing fundamental questions of philosophy, religion, and science—in explaining how socially advanced species have come to dominate the earth.
In conversation with Steven L. Snyder, Ph.D.
Stewart Brand, author of Whole Earth Discipline and founder of the Whole Earth Catalog, is working on a new project to bring back extinct animals. From the passenger pigeon to the wooly mammoth, Brand explains why and how the project, "Revive and Restore," plans to bring back some extinct species.
Edward O. Wilson has revolutionized science and inspired the public more often than any other living biologist. Now he is blending his pioneer work on ants with a new perspective on human development to propose a radical reframing of how evolution works.
First the social insects ruled, from 60 million years ago. Then a species of social mammals took over, from 10 thousand years ago. Both sets of “eusocial” animals mastered the supremely delicate art of encouraging altruism, so that individuals in the groups would act as if they value the goal of the group over their own goals. They would specialize for the group and die for the group. In recent decades the idea of “kin selection” seemed to explain how such an astonishing phenomenon could evolve. Wilson replaces kin selection with “multi-level selection,” which incorporates both individual selection (long well understood) and group selection (long considered taboo). Every human and every human society has to learn how to manage adroitly the perpetual ambiguity and conflict between individual needs and group needs. What I need is never the same as what we need.
E. O. Wilson’s current book is The Social Conquest of Earth. His previous works include The Superorganism; The Future of Life; Consilience; Biophilia; Sociobiology; and The Insect Societies.
Jim al-Khalili talks to Steven Pinker, a scientist who’s not afraid of controversy. From verbs to violence, many say his popular science books are mind-changing. He explains why toddlers say “holded” not held and “digged” rather than dug; how children’s personalities are shaped largely by their genes and why, he believes the recent rioters had plenty of self-esteem. Huffduffed from http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/tls
Astronomer Dimitar Sasselov and his colleagues search for Earth-like planets that may, someday, help us answer centuries-old questions about the origin and existence of biological life elsewhere (and on Earth). Preliminary results show that they have found 706 "candidates" — some of which further research may prove to be planets with Earth-like geochemical characteristics.
Biologist Mark Pagel shares an intriguing theory about why humans evolved our complex system of language. He suggests that language is a piece of "social technology" that allowed early human tribes to access a powerful new tool: cooperation.
Award-winning zoologist, science writer and author Dr Matt Ridley (UK) delivers the keynote address at the University of Melbourne’s Festival of Ideas 2011. In it he explains how genes, culture and technology evolve to drive human innovation. Ridley has published articles and reviews in The Times, Guardian, Times Literary Supplement, Literary Review, New Scientist, Prospect, New Statesman, Time, Newsweek, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Atlantic Monthly and The Economist, and written more than 10 books.
Presented by University of Melbourne, July 2011
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