LIFE

THE SONG OF SONGS

[10.14.07]

"Songs can survive hundreds of years of geographical and cultural separation."

THE SONG OF SONGS

 Armand Leroi

In this EdgeVideo, evolutionary biologist Armand Leroi reports on his art/science conversation and collaboration with musician Brian Eno which began when the two sat next to each other an an Edge dinner in London. The dinner discussion began with evolution and music, proceeded to the evolution of music, and led to the following question: has anybody attempted to reconstruct the history of human song? People around the world sing in different ways. Is it possible to retrieve that history. Can we do for songs what we've done for genes, for language?

 

ARMAND LEROI is a Reader in Evolutionary Developmental Biology at Imperial College, London. He is the author of Mutants: On Genetic Variety and the Human Body, winner of The Guardian First Book Award, 2004.

Armand Leroi's Edge Bio Page

SOME LIKE IT HOT

[10.14.07]


In this Edge Video, biologist Steve Jones talks about genetics as the study of difference, asking how differences get there, why they are there, and how many there are.

"If you look at people who sequence DNA—the original DNA sequences, which is a wonderful piece of work of course—in Watson's own DNA sequence—it's a very platonic view of what life is all about. You take a human being, an exemple, an exemplar, J.D. Watson. You've got his DNA. That's the end of the story.??"But of course it isn't like that. If there wasn't difference, then we wouldn't have genetics. We wouldn't have evolution. We'd all be stuck in the primeval slime. Genetics has moved on to think about difference. Why are people, why are snails, so different from each other?"

STEVE JONES is a biologist; Professor of Genetics at the Galton Laboratory of University College London and well-known television presenter. His most recent books are Coral, and Y Descent of Men.

Steve Jones's Edge Bio Page

HOW OUR LIMBS ARE PATTERNED LIKE THE FRENCH FLAG

[10.14.07]

logo

"I've spoken to these eggs many times and they make it quite clear...they are not a human being."

HOW OUR LIMBS ARE PATTERNED LIKE THE FRENCH FLAG

Lewis Wolpert

In this EdgeVideo, embryologist Lewis Wolpert talks about how cells divide and introduces the French Flag problem.

"What I'm concerned with is how you develop", he says. "I know that you all think about it perpetually that you come from one single cell of a fertilized egg. I don't want to get involved in religion but that is not a human being. I've spoken to these eggs many times and they make it quite clear ... they are not a human being. The cells divide and the question I'm going to deal with a little bit here...how do the cells know what to do. So, how do they end up looking like ... you? It is amazing that you come from one single cell. I'm sorry to give you a lesson in embryology but you should know how you develop."

LEWIS WOLPERT is Professor of Biology as Applied to Medicine in the Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology of University College, London. His research interests are in the mechanisms involved in the development of the embryo. He has presented science on both radio and TV for five years, was Chairman of the Committee for the Public Understanding of Science. His last book is Six Impossible Things To Do Before Breakfast.

Lewis Wolpert's Edge Bio Page
 

A COOPERATIVE FORAGING EXPERIMENT: LESSONS FROM ANTS

Topic: 

  • LIFE
http://vimeo.com/105811763

"You are a leaf-cutting ant from South America. You will compete against the humans across the aisle in a foraging activity. You're task is to collect as much forage as possible. There's a reason ants are so successful. They're disciplined. They follow a series of rules. The first rule is no talking. Ants can't talk so you can't talk. The second rule is no gestures, facial or otherwise. And to make sure you can't use facial expressions we're going to put a paper bag on your head. The third rule is 'Ant walking'. ...

DO WOMEN HAVE BETTER EMPATHY THAN MEN?

Topic: 

  • LIFE
http://vimeo.com/105811768

"It turns out that when you test newborn babies—this experiment was done at the age of 24 hours old, where we had 100 babies who were tested looking at two kinds of objects—a human face and a mechanical mobile. And they were filmed for how long they looked at each of these two objects. What you can see here is that on the first day of life, we had more boys than girls looking for longer at the mechanical mobile and more girls than boys looking at the face.

SOME LIKE IT HOT

Topic: 

  • LIFE
http://vimeo.com/105880405

"If you look at people who sequence DNA—the original DNA sequences, which is a wonderful piece of work of course—in Watson's own DNA sequence—it's a very platonic view of what life is all about. You take a human being, an exemple, an exemplar, J.D. Watson. You've got his DNA. That's the end of the story.??"But of course it isn't like that. If there wasn't difference, then we wouldn't have genetics. We wouldn't have evolution. We'd all be stuck in the primeval slime. Genetics has moved on to think about difference. Why are people, why are snails, so different from each other?"

A COOPERATIVE FORAGING EXPERIMENT: LESSONS FROM ANTS

[10.14.07]

You are a leaf-cutting ant from South America. You will compete against the humans across the aisle in a foraging activity. You're task is to collect as much forage as possible. There's a reason ants are so successful. They're disciplined. They follow a series of rules. The first rule is no talking. Ants can't talk so you can't talk. The second rule is no gestures, facial or otherwise. And to make sure you can't use facial expressions we're going to put a paper bag on your head. The third rule is 'Ant walking'. ...

~~~

In this Edge Video, Serian Sumner teaches us a lesson about the social nature of ants. She selects fifteen people in the audience at the Serpentine Gallery in London and tells them to imagine they're ants.

SEIRIAN SUMNER is a research fellow in evolutionary biology at the Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London. Her research focuses on the evolution of sociality—how eusociality evolves and how social behavior is maintained. She has worked with a variety of bees, wasps, and ants from around the world, studying their behavior through observation, experimental manipulation, and molecular analyses, including gene expression. She is especially interested in the origins of sociality and the role of the genome in this major evolutionary transition.

DO WOMEN HAVE BETTER EMPATHY THAN MEN?

[10.14.07]

In this Edge Video, psychologist Simon Baron-Cohen looks at one test he's developed to see if there are differences between males and females in the mind.

"It turns out that when you test newborn babies—this experiment was done at the age of 24 hours old, where we had 100 babies who were tested looking at two kinds of objects—a human face and a mechanical mobile. And they were filmed for how long they looked at each of these two objects. What you can see here is that on the first day of life, we had more boys than girls looking for longer at the mechanical mobile and more girls than boys looking at the face. So you can see that these differences when they emerge, first of all they seem to emerge very early—at birth—suggesting that there may be a biological component to a sex difference in, in this case, interest in faces; and secondly, they don't apply to all males or all females, these differences emerge as statistical trends when you compare groups."

SIMON BARON-COHEN is Professor of Developmental Psychopathology and Director of the Autism Research Centre at Cambridge University. He is also a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge. His several books include Mindblindness; and The Essential Difference: The Truth about the Male and Female Brain.

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