Cognitive scientist Donald Hoffman is trying to answer a big question: Do we experience the world as it really is … or as we need it to be? In this ever so slightly mind-blowing talk, he ponders how our minds construct reality for us.
Tagged with “biology” (59)
A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived | Jesse Mulligan, 1–4pm, 3:08 pm on 20 September 2016 | Radio New Zealand
Each of us carries an epic poem in our cells. DNA tells the story of our murky origins, shaped by evolution, to our current obsession with tracing our ancestry.
That nucleic acid has the genetic information needed to make all living things. But it’s not the whole story, not even close according to former geneticist, now host of the BBC’s Inside Science.
Adam Rutherford says the human genome should not be read as instruction manuals, but as epic poems.
His new book A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived separates the myths about what DNA can and can’t tell us about ourselves, where we came from and where the human race is going.
He uses a metaphor to help people get their head around what DNA is – that of sheet music and an orchestra.
“More often than not people have referred to DNA as a blueprint or an instruction manual.
“Sometimes that can be quite misleading because if something’s a blueprint it implies that all the plans are laid out and it has this association with biological determinism – what your genes are is what you will be.”
And he says we now know that’s not true.
“The sheet music for a piece of music is the same whether you buy it in 1906 or 2006 but the interpretation of that is down to the conductor and the orchestra and all of the annotations, the layering and the performance.
“This feels like a better way of describing nature and nurture which results in the symphony which is us.”
As to forking out hard earned money to find out your ancestry, through DNA profiling don’t bother, he says.
“We now know about ancestry that we’re all incredibly inbred, the last common ancestor of all Europeans was only about four or five hundred years ago.
"If you pay them to tell you your ancestors were vikings, it’s true, but only because everyone is. The truth is all of us have ancestors who were vikings and Jews and Indians."
Jason Palmer, editor of the Espresso daily-briefing app, is joined by geneticist and broadcaster Adam Rutherford to get to the bottom of the stories told by human DNA. They discuss the genetics of sprinters, the misguided nature v nurture debate and how promiscuous humans’ forebears were.
Original video: https://soundcloud.com/theeconomist/the-economist-asks-how-has-dna-shaped-the-human-race
Downloaded by http://huffduff-video.snarfed.org/ on Sat, 20 Aug 2016 09:36:21 GMT Available for 30 days after download
We are one tool away from learning which distant planets already have life on them and which might be welcoming to life.
MIT Planetary Scientist Sara Seager is working on the tool. She is chair of the NASA team developing a “Starshade” that would allow a relatively rudimentary space telescope to observe Earth-size planets directly, which would yield atmospheric analysis, which would determine a planet’s life-worthiness.
Despite 1,000-plus exoplanet discoveries by the Kepler spacecraft and the hundreds more expected from the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite after 2017, neither instrument can make detailed observation of the atmosphere of small rocky planets, because each star’s brilliance overwhelms direct study of the rocky motes that might harbor life. A Starshade cures that.
A former MacArthur Fellow, Seager is author of Exoplanet Atmospheres (02010) and an astrophysics professor at MIT. Her maxim: “For exoplanets, anything is possible under the laws of physics and chemistry.”
E O Wilson has been described as the "world’s most evolved biologist" and even as "the heir to Darwin". He’s a passionate naturalist and an absolute world authority on ants. Over his long career he’s described 450 new species of ants.
Known to many as the founding father of socio-biology, E O Wilson is a big hitter in the world of evolutionary theory. But, recently he’s criticised what’s popularly known as The Selfish Gene theory of evolution that he once worked so hard to promote (and that now underpins the mainstream view on evolution).
A twice Pulitzer prize winning author of more than 20 books, he’s also an extremely active campaigner for the preservation of the planet’s bio-diversity: he says, "destroying rainforest for economic gain is like burning a Renaissance painting to cook a meal".
E O Wilson talks to Jim al-Khalili about his life scientific.
Here’s to a long life – which, on average, is longer today than it was a century ago. How much farther can we extend that ultimate finish line? Scientists are in hot pursuit of the secret to longer life.
The latest in aging studies and why there’s a silver lining for the silver-haired set: older people are happier. Also, what longevity means if you’re a tree. Plus, why civilizations need to stick around if we’re to make contact with E.T.
And, how our perception of time shifts as we age, and other tricks that clocks play on the mind.
This week Guardian science editor Ian Sample meets particle physicist Professor Jonathan Butterworth from University College London to talk about his new book Smashing Physics. It’s an insider’s account of one of the most momentous scientific breakthroughs of our times: the discovery of the Higgs boson announced in July 2012.
Jon discusses what it’s like to work on the largest science experiment in history and why such ambitious – and costly – endeavours benefit us all.
Next up, British Association media fellow Nishad Karim reports from the UCL Symposium on the Origins of Life. Be it life on Earth or life elsewhere in the universe, this symposium covered it all with a range of experts from cosmology and biology to meteorology, discussing some very big questions. Where did we come from? Did life begin on Earth or elsewhere? Are we alone?
Nishad spoke to several of the presenters including Dr Zita Matins, an astrobiologist from Imperial College London, and Dr Dominic Papineau, a geochemist from UCL. Dr Martins is a specialist in finding organic material essential for life in meteorites, and Dr Papineau looks for old organic life a little closer to home, analysing Earth rocks.
Other speakers included Dr Francisco Diego, a UCL cosmologist, who discussed the life of the universe itself from beginning to now, 13.8bn years later.
And finally, Ian asks Guardian environment writer Karl Mathiesen whether 2014 will be the hottest year on record.
In his new book Life at the Speed of Light: From the Double Helix to the Dawn of Digital Life, Craig Venter writes of the brave new world synthetic biology may some day deliver: from consumer devices that print out the latest flu vaccine to instruments on Mars landers that analyze Martian DNA and teleport it back to Earth to be studied or recreated.
As E.O. Wilson accepts his 2007 TED Prize, he makes a plea on behalf of all creatures that we learn more about our biosphere — and build a networked encyclopedia of all the world’s knowledge about life.
British zoologist Richard Dawkins turned evolutionary theory on its head when he published his book, ‘The Selfish Gene,’ in 1976. His recently released autobiography, ‘An Appetite for Wonder,’ sheds light on the first 35 years of Dawkins’ life, from his birth in Kenya, to his fascination with science at Oxford, to the origin of his gene-centered view about natural selection. He joins us in the studio.
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