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Science secrets: book review


The subtitle of this book by historian Alberto Martinez is, “The truth about Darwin’s finches, Einstein’s wife, and other myths,” and if you read it you will learn that


The sixth BILL is a visit with two of the biggest names in evolutionary biology, a couple of scientists who have undertaken one of the great long-term studies in recent scientific history. They are Peter and Rosemary Grant, whose work was the subject of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Beak of the Finch by Jonathan Weiner.

BILL the sixth is “How and why species multiply”, a tag-team lecture by Peter and Rosemary Grant presented as part of the Darwin’s Legacy course at Stanford University in 2008.

The lectures comprise a wide-ranging, engaging, and accessible introduction to the findings that emerged from the Grants’ three decades of research in the Galapagos archipelago. A book by the same title has just been released by Princeton University Press.

Don’t be put off by the length of the YouTube video; Peter begins his lecture at :14, Rosemary starts at :48 and finishes at 1:14, so the actual lecture is an hour. The remaining time is a panel discussion/Q&A that I haven’t previewed. Rosemary’s excellent lecture can stand alone, so feel free to start at :48 to enjoy a clear and engaging account of the influences of song and size on genetic variation and speciation. She ends with a nice summary of the whole lecture.

As usual, tips and comments are below the fold. Recommendations for future BILLs should be sent to the BILL czar (BILL at pandasthumb dot org) or can be left in the comments.

Quite a party


I went to the Keith Thomson lecture and Darwin’s 200th celebration at the California Academy of Sciences Nightlife event last night. The lecture was great, the wine was strong, the company was nerdy but fantastic, and the music was thumpin. However, I’m not sure Darwin ever imagined there would be a dance party in front of a Darwin’s finches display:


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