Big Biology

Big Biology

By Art Woods and Marty Martin
Big Biology is a podcast that tells the stories of scientists tackling some of the biggest unanswered questions in biology.
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Ep 38: Coronavirus

Big Biology

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Ep 39: Bioelectric Computation
How do animals construct tissues, organs, and limbs in the right places during development? How do some animals manage to regenerate missing body parts? On this episode of Big Biology, we talk with Michael Levin, a biologist at Tufts University who studies how electric fields inside animals guide cells during development and regeneration. His work shows that electric fields play fundamental roles in structuring body plans and, in some species, can even be inherited across generations.
1:09:22
April 2, 2020
Ep 38: Coronavirus
How is COVID-19 transmitted and how broad will the pandemic become? What can mathematical models of infectious disease tell us? What are steps we can take now to slow the spread? On this episode of Big Biology, we speak with John Drake, the Director of the Center for the Ecology of Infectious Diseases at the University of Georgia, who has been working with the CDC to understand the dynamics of the COVID-19 outbreak and to identify strategies for slowing its spread.
33:59
March 17, 2020
Ep 37: Loading the Dice
What forms of consciousness exist in the natural world? What roles did associative learning and episodic like memory play in its origins?  Does consciousness have a function, and is it an adaptation? On this episode of Big Biology, we speak with Eva Jablonka from the Cohn Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Ideas, Tel Aviv, and Moncy Ginsburg, a neurobiologist formerly from the Open University of Israel, about their book called "The Evolution of the Sensitive Soul." We discuss how Universal Associative Learning led to the evolution of consciousness. Cover art by Anna Zeligowski.
1:08:12
March 13, 2020
Ep 36: Intentional Evolution
Is there a role for agency in evolution? Do organismal efforts to maintain homeostasis represent a form of biological intentionality? On this episode of Big Biology, we talk with Scott Turner, a physiologist and emeritus professor of Biology from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. Scott’s book, Purpose and Desire, discusses how holes in standard evolutionary theory might be productively filled by the concept of homeostasis. Scott argues that by attempting to maintain metabolism and exporting entropy to the environment, organisms manifest a form of agency that can affect the evolution of their lineages. His book and ideas have met with some criticism, and in the show, we confront him about whether his position is subtle intelligent design theory.
1:38:47
February 27, 2020
Ep 35: #PruittData
What led to a recent series of research paper retractions in behavioral ecology? How do scientists trust the data their collaborators share? Earlier this year, several journals retracted papers using data collected by the biologist, Jonathan Pruitt, data that upon inspection were found to have several problems. On this episode, we talk with Dan Bolnick, Editor-in-Chief of The American Naturalist, one of the journals involved in the retractions. We talked with Dan about how he and others discovered the problems, the current status of the investigation, and the consequences of the flawed data for other authors on the retracted papers and the field as a whole. Check out our website, bigbiology.org, for more resources on this topic. Episode art: Bernard Dupont (CC BY-SA 2.0)
35:27
February 17, 2020
Ep 34: Matrix Matters
What is sensory drive, and how has it affected the evolution of communication? How do surf perch and other animals sense and signal in noisy environments? On this episode of Big Biology, in front of a live audience at the Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology Annual Meeting, we talk with Molly Cummings, a professor of integrative biology at the University of Texas at Austin. We discuss the balance animals must strike between standing out and blending in to the places they live.
53:49
February 13, 2020
Ep 33: Magic Puzzle Box
What is Maxwell's demon, and what is its role in biology? How do molecular demons underpin life? Does life really defy entropy? On this episode of Big Biology, we talk with Paul Davies, a cosmologist at Arizona State University and the Director of the Beyond Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science. His recent book, "The Demon in the Machine," tackles Schrodinger's big question "What is life?," arguing that information is the key that distinguishes living from non-living things. You can learn more about Paul’s book as well as his other work on the role of information in biology via our website: bigbiology.org.
1:02:45
January 30, 2020
Ep 32: Diluting Disease
How is declining biodiversity affecting the occurrence and spread of Lyme disease? Is there a way to reduce the transmission of tick-borne diseases using ecological approaches? On this episode of Big Biology we talk with Felicia Keesing and Rick Ostfeld, two disease ecologists working at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, New York. Felicia is a professor at Bard College, and Rick is a staff scientist at the Cary Institute. They study the ecology of tick-borne illnesses including a remarkable phenomenon called the dilution effect. In front of a live audience, we discussed the dilution effect, a term Felicia and Rick coined 20 years ago that is based on their study of ticks, mice and the causative agent of Lyme disease, a bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi. White-footed mice, which are common in the forests of the eastern and central U.S., are especially good at carrying Borrelia and are often responsible for passing it on to ticks. Felicia and Rick observed that biodiverse ecosystems tend to have fewer infected ticks and hence lower rates of Lyme infection. In other words, high host diversity dilutes the risk of disease.
50:13
January 16, 2020
Ep 31: Methusalicious
If natural selection is constantly ridding lineages of detrimental traits, why do all organisms wear down with age? Why does restricting the diet slow down the aging process? On this episode of Big Biology we talk with Jenny Regan and Dan Nussey, scientists at the University of Edinburgh who study why some organisms age at different rates and what phenotypic plasticity might have to do with this with variation. We discuss how aging happens, why species vary, and some of the major theories scientists use to explain it. We also discuss a paper that Jenny and Dan recently published in Functional Ecology, which proposes an evolutionary explanation for the life-extending effects of diet restriction. Their idea is that mechanisms that evolved to coordinate phenotypically plastic responses ultimately underpin aging. Read Jenny and Dan’s recently published Functional Ecology paper that describes why diet restriction has anti-aging effects.
1:07:43
December 30, 2019
Happy Holidays!
Make a donation to Big Biology through Patreon at Patreon.com/bigbio or at bigbiology.org
06:58
December 14, 2019
Ep 30: Know Your 'Ome
What can direct-to-consumer genetic companies tell us about our health and ancestry? How do scientists figure out which genes affect particular traits? Is Art related to a Nigerian prince? Is Marty a Neanderthal? On this episode of Big Biology we talk with Samantha Esselmann and Ruth Tennen, product scientists at 23andMe, about how the company uses its massive trove of data to help people learn about the genetics of their ancestry and health. We talk about the accuracy of results and what the numbers in their reports say about us. Samantha and Ruth work closely with 23andMe’s population geneticists and content writers to develop engaging scientific content for 23andMe's health reports and educational initiatives. Samantha has a PhD in Neuroscience from UCSF. Ruth got her PhD in Cancer Biology from Stanford and served as a science policy fellow at the State Department.
50:56
December 6, 2019
Ep 29: Lick Your Kids
How important are pathways other than DNA for transmitting traits from one generation to the next? On this episode of Big Biology, we talk to neuroscientist Frances Champagne from the University of Texas at Austin. Using rodents, Frances studies how early-life experiences affect epigenetic marks and how those marks are passed from one generation to the next. We asked her how those marks influence rat behaviors, why this mechanism alters modern evolutionary theory, and whether the growing interest in epigenetics is vindicating Lamarck’s old ideas about the inheritance of acquired characteristics.
54:42
November 22, 2019
Ep 28: Evolution Now
How do new species form? How long does it take for evolution to happen? What can hybrids tell us about the process of speciation? On this episode we talk with Peter and Rosemary Grant, two Princeton biologists who spent decades studying finches on the Galapagos Islands. Their work on bird beaks provides some of the strongest evidence for how fast natural selection can occur and more recently the genes involved. Their newest work on hybridization could fundamentally change how we think about speciation in animals.
51:07
November 8, 2019
Ep 27: Flight of the Ur-Sect
Why did conventional thinking in aerodynamics fail to explain how insects fly? What can robots teach us about how insects do it? How do insect brains direct their incredible aerial feats and get around in the world? Michael Dickinson is a biologist at Caltech who uses robots to study how insects fly. More recently, he has focused on insect neurobiology and behavior. On this episode, Art and Marty talk with Michael about the mysteries of tiny insect flight, and how the presumably simple brains of such animals enable them to navigate sometimes vast distances.
1:05:41
October 24, 2019
Ep 26: The Long Road to Mexico
How does a tiny insect migrate thousands of miles from Canada to Mexico each year? What does the decline of monarch butterflies tell us about the ecological health of our continent? How are scientists using gene editing to understand how insects have evolved to tolerate poisonous plants? Anurag Agrawal is a biologist at Cornell University who studies plant-insect interactions, including monarch butterflies. He is the author of a new book called "Monarchs and Milkweed: A Migrating Butterfly, a Poisonous Plant, and Their Remarkable Story of Coevolution.” On this episode, Art and Marty talk with Anurag about the incredible migration of the monarch butterfly, the recent decline in population and a fascinating study where scientists edited the genomes of fruit flies to make them resistant to a poisonous plant that monarchs eat.
1:09:25
October 10, 2019
Ep 25: Dopamine Unto Others
What does neuroscience have to say about morality, politics, and cross-cultural communication? How are neurobiology and philosophy connected? Pat Churchland is a neurobiologist and philosopher at UC San Diego, where she has spent years studying connections between mind and brain. Tune into this episode to hear Marty and Art discuss these questions as well as Pat's new book "Conscience: The Origins of Moral Intuition."
1:11:08
September 26, 2019
Ep 24: Mental Smoke Detectors
Why hasn’t natural selection eliminated human diseases? Are bad feelings like anxiety and depression adaptive? Can we use evolutionary biology to improve medicine? Randy Nesse is a doctor and a scientist at Arizona State University who uses evolutionary biology to inform the practice of medicine. In his latest book, “Good Reasons for Bad Feelings,” he discusses how natural and sexual selection may have shaped our psychological and emotional lives. On this episode Art and Marty talk to Randy about evolutionary psychiatry.
1:12:58
September 13, 2019
Ep 23: Beauty of the Beasts
Why are animals loud and conspicuous when that increases their risk from predators? How does noise pollution affect mating behaviors? How can robots help biologists study complex topics such as sexual selection and mate choice? Gail Patricelli is a behavioral ecologist at UC Davis, where she studies how individual variation in animal signaling and communication affects mate choice and reproductive success. Gail uses robots to investigate the process of sexual selection in sage-grouse and other species with elaborate mating displays. Tune into this episode to hear Marty and Art talk to Gail about these topics and more!
1:02:44
August 29, 2019
Season 2 Preview
Season two of Big Biology starts on August 29. On this preview, Art and Marty talk about some of the guests they’ll be interviewing and some of the topics they’re most excited to discuss. This season we’ll be featuring scientists who study talking plants, consciousness and epigenetics, and much more! Hold on to your pipettes folks, Big Biology is back!
13:53
August 15, 2019
Ep 22: Whale Aware
Is intelligence similar in humans and dolphins? Do dolphins and whales have their own culture and language? How do they perceive the world around them? Janet Mann is a biologist at Georgetown University, where she studies how dolphins form social groups, use tools, and communicate with one another. Tune into this episode to hear Marty and Art talk to Janet about these topics and Janet’s book, Deep Thinkers: Inside the minds of whales, dolphins, and porpoises.
1:04:54
May 30, 2019
Ep 21: Replaying the MP3 of Life
Why do some rove beetles look like ants? Why do living things evolve similar solutions to common problems? Is there predictability within the evolutionary process? On this episode, Art and Marty talk with Joe Parker, an entomologist at Caltech. Joe has been collecting beetles since the age of 16, when he first became amazed by their incredible diversity. He now focuses on rove beetles and studies their evolutionary relationship with ants to understand how different species converge upon similar traits.
55:06
May 9, 2019
Ep 20: Ask Us Anything
In this episode, we've taken a break from our regular format to answer some of your questions such as what's the chance of human-like intelligence on another planet and if we had the technology, what organism would we want to bring back, Jurassic Park style? Tune in to this episode to hear Marty and Art answer questions like these and what goes into making our podcast! Have a question you want answered? Reach out to us on Facebook or Twitter!
1:00:34
April 19, 2019
Ep 19: Microbial Garden of Eden
How does our indoor, modern lifestyle affect our microbiome? How does this novel microbiome affect our health? On this episode, Marty and Art talk with Rob Dunn, an applied ecologist at North Carolina State University. Rob studies the organisms that we come into contact with every day, from the microbes in our bodies to the insects in our homes. Tune into this episode to hear Marty and Art talk to Rob about the crazy diversity of microbes on our skin and its importance in our health and our food. Many of the ideas we discuss are from Rob’s most recent book, Never Home Alone.
44:39
April 4, 2019
Ep 18: Bug in the system
How can cicadas eat nothing but tree sap for 17 years? How do endosymbiotic relationships evolve? What do bacteria-insect symbioses teach us about the evolution of mitochondria and chloroplasts? On this episode, Art and Marty talk with John McCutcheon, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Montana. John studies symbioses between bacteria and cicadas—exploring what each partner provides for the other, how cicadas transmit bacteria to their offspring, and what the consequences are for the evolution of bacterial genomes (hint: they are extreme!). This research raises basic questions about what an individual even is.
47:18
March 21, 2019
Ep 17: 1000 ways to make a baby
How did sex evolve? Why are there sexes at all? what are the evolutionary costs and benefits of sex? On this episode, Art and Marty talk with Hanna Kokko, an evolutionary ecologist at the University of Zurich. Hanna studies the evolution of sex and the vast panoply of strategies that organisms use to reproduce. Check out this nice graphical illustration of her work on her website!
1:00:06
March 7, 2019
Ep 16: Rules of Life
What role does one part of the federal government, the National Science Foundation, play in biological research in the US? How will their new funding initiative help us discover Rules of Life? On this episode, Art and Marty talk with two NSF directors, Joanne Tornow. the head of the Biological Sciences directorate, and Arthur “Skip” Lupia, the head of the Social, Behavioral and Economic Science directorate. They talked with them about one of NSF’s Big Ideas. One Idea, called Rules of Life, challenges scientists to study some of the same ‘big’ questions that we’ve addressed on this podcast, including how genotypes become phenotypes. They also asked how an agency dedicated to advancing science operates within an executive branch that has publicly criticized some major scientific conclusions.
36:26
February 21, 2019
Ep 15: Climate change: should they stay or should they go?
How is climate change affecting the distribution of animals? How will these changes in species distribution affect us? Tune in to hear Marty and Art talk with physiological ecologist Jenn Sunday about how climate change is affecting the distribution of life on Earth. Jenn is a professor at McGill University who attempts to answer these questions at a global scale.
1:11:44
February 1, 2019
Ep 14: Plasticity? Sounds fishy.
Does plasticity always help organisms adapt? What happens if it doesn't? Could it speed up evolution Tune in to hear Art and Marty talk with evolutionary ecologist Cameron Ghalambor about the role of non-adaptive plasticity in evolution. Cam is a professor at Colorado State University who tackles these questions by studying guppies. We interviewed Cam at a bar in Tampa, FL during a conference for the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology.
1:17:34
January 17, 2019
Ep 13: Unraveling Genetic Knots
Do single genes cause variation in traits or are gene effects more complex than that? How do genes interact with one another, and how do those interactions alter the pace and direction of evolution? Do those interactions constrain or facilitate evolution? Tune in to hear Art and Marty talk with Mihaela Pavlicev about these questions and more! Mihaela is a geneticist at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, where she studies big new ideas about links between genes and traits.
37:36
December 20, 2018
Ep 12: Containing Cancer with Squirrel Ecology
Will cancer ever become just another chronic but manageable disease? What can a squirrel biologist teach us about treating cancer? In this episode, Marty and Art talk with Joel Brown about how to contain cancer using basic ideas from ecology and evolution. To Joel, cells in tumors are like organisms in ecosystems, and fighting cancer means using what we know about species in nature to tilt the playing field against the worst kinds of cancer cells. He and his team at the Moffit Cancer Research Center in Tampa, Florida, are starting to have some remarkable success treating different kinds of cancer. We interviewed Joel in front of a live audience at Circa 1949 in Tampa, FL—our first live event! We had a great time interacting with the audience and plan to do more events like this in the next few months. If you’d like to host a Big Biology event, please email us at info@bigbiology.org!
55:46
December 6, 2018
Ep 11: The Vagina Research Institute (Full Conversation)
Why do some animals have weird genitalia? Why is there conflict between males and females when it comes to producing offspring? Tune into this podcast to hear Art and Marty talk with Patty Brennan about how sex in the animal kingdom is not always about love and cooperation; often it's also about conflict. And, this conflict can lead to some pretty crazy genitalia. Patty is an evolutionary biologist at Mount Holyoke College. Her research shows that the birds and the bees aren't so simple for the birds (or, as it turns out, for most other animals). Follow Patty on Twitter: @sexinnature
1:17:27
November 15, 2018
Ep 11: The Vagina Research Institute
Why do some animals have weird genitalia? Why is there conflict between males and females when it comes to producing offspring? Tune into this podcast to hear Art and Marty talk with Patty Brennan about how sex in the animal kingdom is not always about love and cooperation; often it's also about conflict. And, this conflict can lead to some pretty crazy genitalia. Patty is an evolutionary biologist at Mount Holyoke College. Her research shows that the birds and the bees aren't so simple for the birds (or, as it turns out, for most other animals). Follow Patty on Twitter: @sexinnature
20:57
November 15, 2018
Ep 10: Tangling the Tree of Life
How has the Tree of Life changed since Darwin? How do genes jump from one species to another? Why do we have viral genes in our DNA? Tune into this podcast to hear Art and Marty talk with David Quammen about his new book “The Tangled Tree: A Radical New History of Life.” In this podcast, they discuss how recent advances in genetics has changed our way of thinking about evolution and the relatedness of plants, animals, and microbes. They also discuss David's methods to his madness as he chooses the topics for each of his books. David is an award winning science writer and journalist. He has published over 15 books and written numerous articles for National Geographic, Rolling Stone, and the New York Times Book Review.
1:15:22
October 18, 2018
Ep 9: Information, Aliens, and the Origin of Life (Full Conversation)
What is life? How did life arise from non-life? What did life look like at its origin? Tune into this podcast to hear Art and Marty talk with Sara Walker, an expert in astrobiology and theoretical physics at Arizona State University. They discuss how life might have arisen on Earth and why biologists and physicists should work together to find a theory of life. Her ideas could help decide what to do about artificial intelligence (SPOILER: The robots will take over, but it’s going to be OK). They might also help us find life on other planets.
1:02:59
September 22, 2018
Ep 9: Information, Aliens, and the Origin of Life
What is life? How did life arise from non-life? What did life look like at its origin? Tune into this podcast to hear Art and Marty talk with Sara Walker, an expert in astrobiology and theoretical physics at Arizona State University. They discuss how life might have arisen on Earth and why biologists and physicists should work together to find a theory of life. Her ideas could help decide what to do about artificial intelligence (SPOILER: The robots will take over, but it’s going to be OK). They might also help us find life on other planets.
16:12
September 22, 2018
Ep 8: Immune System: Make Love not War (Full Conversation)
Is there a constant battle between our immune system and pathogens? Does the fighting ever end? Does the immune system do more than just provide defense against pathogens? Tune into this podcast to hear Art and Marty talk to Fred Tauber, a professor emeritus of medicine and philosophy at Boston University, about how the immune system does more than just protect our bodies from pathogens. Fred has published a number of books on immunity and philosophy. Including his most recent book, "Immunity: the Evolution of an Idea," where he explores the ideas he discusses here in greater detail.
59:43
August 19, 2018
Ep 8: Immune System: Make Love not War
Is there a constant battle between our immune system and pathogens? Does the fighting ever end? Does the immune system do more than just provide defense against pathogens? Tune into this podcast to hear Art and Marty talk to Fred Tauber, a professor emeritus of medicine and philosophy at Boston University, about how the immune system does more than just protect our bodies from pathogens. Fred has published a number of books on immunity and philosophy. Including his most recent book, "Immunity: the Evolution of an Idea," where he explores the ideas he discusses here in greater detail.
14:14
August 19, 2018
Ep 7: Genes Don't Do Crap (Full Conversation)
What is the connection between an organism's genes and its environment? Can the environment alter an organism's characteristics without altering its genetics? Can an organism alter its environment and change the course of its own evolution? Tune into this podcast to hear Marty and Art talk to Massimo Pigliucci, a professor of philosophy at CUNY-City College in New York, about how the environment can alter an organism's physical characteristics without altering its genetics, and how our ability to alter our physical environment may have altered the course of human evolution. Massimo began his career as an evolutionary biologist, and has published numerous scientific and philosophical journal articles and over 10 different books.
43:22
July 20, 2018
Ep 7: Genes Don't Do Crap
What is the connection between an organism's genes and its environment? Can the environment alter an organism's characteristics without altering its genetics? Can an organism alter its environment and change the course of its own evolution? Tune into this podcast to hear Marty and Art talk to Massimo Pigliucci, a professor of philosophy at CUNY-City College in New York, about how the environment can alter an organism's physical characteristics without altering its genetics, and how our ability to alter our physical environment may have altered the course of human evolution. Massimo began his career as an evolutionary biologist, and has published numerous scientific and philosophical journal articles and over 10 different books.
16:18
July 20, 2018
Ep 6: Shrimp Fight Clubs and Basic Science (Extra)
How do mantis shrimp punch as fast as a bullet… underwater? How do they break open one of the toughest materials on earth? Tune into this podcast to hear Art and Marty talk to Sheila Patek about how mantis shrimp pack such a powerful punch and why we should care. For example, mantis shrimp hammers can be used hundreds of thousands of times to break open the tough shells of snails and clams, and this research may help inspire lightweight, heavy duty military armor. Sheila studies the mechanics of ultrafast movements at Duke University. You may have seen her work featured recently by Science News (and numerous others) about the rules of animal fight clubs. But we can't talk about those.
06:55
June 29, 2018
Ep 6: Shrimp Fight Clubs and Basic Science (Full Conversation)
How do mantis shrimp punch as fast as a bullet… underwater? How do they break open one of the toughest materials on earth? Tune into this podcast to hear Art and Marty talk to Sheila Patek about how mantis shrimp pack such a powerful punch and why we should care. For example, mantis shrimp hammers can be used hundreds of thousands of times to break open the tough shells of snails and clams, and this research may help inspire lightweight, heavy duty military armor. Sheila studies the mechanics of ultrafast movements at Duke University. You may have seen her work featured recently by Science News (and numerous others) about the rules of animal fight clubs. But we can't talk about those.
1:03:27
May 17, 2018
Ep 6: Shrimp Fight Clubs and Basic Science
How do mantis shrimp punch as fast as a bullet… underwater? How do they break open one of the toughest materials on earth? Tune into this podcast to hear Art and Marty talk to Sheila Patek about how mantis shrimp pack such a powerful punch and why we should care. For example, mantis shrimp hammers can be used hundreds of thousands of times to break open the tough shells of snails and clams, and this research may help inspire lightweight, heavy duty military armor. Sheila studies the mechanics of ultrafast movements at Duke University. You may have seen her work featured recently by Science News (and numerous others) about the rules of animal fight clubs. But we can't talk about those.
14:58
May 17, 2018
Ep 5: Please Don't Kill the Bats (Full Conversation)
How do diseases spread from animals to humans? Is it possible to forecast where disease outbreaks will occur and when they will blow up into major health crises? Tune into this podcast to hear Marty and Art talk to Barbara Han about how we track infectious diseases and whether we'll ever be able to predict outbreaks.
51:54
March 28, 2018
Ep 5: Please Don't Kill the Bats
How do diseases spread from animals to humans? Is it possible to forecast where disease outbreaks will occur and when they will blow up into major health crises? Tune into this podcast to hear Marty and Art talk to Barbara Han about how we track infectious diseases and whether we'll ever be able to predict outbreaks.
14:54
March 28, 2018
Ep 4: The Science and Politics of Basic Biology (Full Conversation)
Is there a role for basic research in our society? Do scientists studying animals waste tax-payer money? How does learning about evolutionary biology benefit humans? Tune in to this episode to hear science journalist and writer Carl Zimmer talk about the importance of basic research and the future of biology.
47:34
February 14, 2018
Ep 4: The Science and Politics of Basic Biology
Is there a role for basic research in our society? Do scientists studying animals waste tax-payer money? How does learning about evolutionary biology benefit humans? Tune in to this episode to hear science journalist and writer Carl Zimmer talk about the importance of basic research and the future of biology.
15:38
February 14, 2018
Ep 3: Animal Size and Godzilla's Breakfast (Full Conversation)
Is there a limit to animal size? Could Godzilla actually exist? Tune into this episode to hear Art and Marty talk to Jon Harrison and Jim Brown. ​​​​​​​Jon Harrison (Arizona State University) studies the physical limits to insect body size and furthered our understanding of the giant insects that once roamed our planet. Luckily for us, his research indicates that Mothra may never exist. Jim Brown (University of New Mexico) famously put forth the universal quarter-power scaling law, which predicts how many ecological and evolutionary variables (including metabolism, life span, reproduction) of plants and animals change with body size. For example, his theory was able to explain the fact that all mammals average the same number of heartbeats (~ 1 billion) over their life time, regardless of how large they are (mice to elephants) or how long they live (3 years or 70 years)! Elephants hearts just beat really slow.
52:37
January 5, 2018
Ep 3: Animal Size and Godzilla's Breakfast
Is there a limit to animal size? Could Godzilla actually exist? Tune into this episode to hear Art and Marty talk to Jon Harrison and Jim Brown. ​​​​​​​Jon Harrison (Arizona State University) studies the physical limits to insect body size and furthered our understanding of the giant insects that once roamed our planet. Luckily for us, his research indicates that Mothra may never exist. Jim Brown (University of New Mexico) famously put forth the universal quarter-power scaling law, which predicts how many ecological and evolutionary variables (including metabolism, life span, reproduction) of plants and animals change with body size. For example, his theory was able to explain the fact that all mammals average the same number of heartbeats (~ 1 billion) over their life time, regardless of how large they are (mice to elephants) or how long they live (3 years or 70 years)! Elephants hearts just beat really slow.
16:00
January 3, 2018
Ep 2: Harnessing Randomness (Full Conversation)
What is the role of random, stochastic events in biology? How does our body react to such events? Does the presence of random events in our brains give us the illusion of freewill? Tune into this episode to hear Marty and Art talk to Denis Noble, an Emertis Professor at Oxford. Noble has written over 500 scientific articles and 11 books but may be most well known for developing the first mathematical model of heart cells in 1960. Recently, Noble published the book: “Dance to the Tune of Life,” where he notably discusses the necessity and importance of random events that occur within and between our genes, cells, tissues, and organs.
52:35
December 7, 2017
Ep 2: Harnessing Randomness
What is the role of random, stochastic events in biology? How does our body react to such events? Does the presence of random events in our brains give us the illusion of freewill? Tune into this episode to hear Marty and Art talk to Denis Noble, an Emertis Professor at Oxford. Noble has written over 500 scientific articles and 11 books but may be most well known for developing the first mathematical model of heart cells in 1960. Recently, Noble published the book: “Dance to the Tune of Life,” where he notably discusses the necessity and importance of random events that occur within and between our genes, cells, tissues, and organs.
09:13
December 7, 2017
Ep 1: The Drunken Monkey (Full Conversation)
Why do we drink alcohol? Are we just primates looking for a fix? Tune in to this podcast to hear Art and Marty talk to Robert Dudley about the evolutionary origins of drinking alcohol.
26:21
December 6, 2017
Ep 1: The Drunken Monkey
Why do we drink alcohol? Are we just primates looking for a fix? Tune in to this episode to hear Art and Marty talk to Robert Dudley (not to be confused with the First Earl of Leicester of the same name). He is a renown expert in animal flight at UC Berkeley, but has recently begun studying drunken monkeys to understand our attraction to alcohol.
06:20
December 6, 2017
What is Big Biology?
Big Biology is a podcast that tells the stories of scientists tackling some of the biggest unanswered questions in biology.
02:09
December 6, 2017