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British naturalists Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace both set out on epic adventures to study various species and their development. They gathered evidence on the variation among individual members of a species, the relationships among species, and the patterns of geographic distribution across many species. Based on such evidence, they independently came to the same revolutionary conclusions: species change over time by means of natural selection, and species descend from other species.
Over the past four decades, evolutionary biologists Rosemary and Peter Grant have documented the evolution of the famous Galápagos finches. They track changes in body traits directly tied to survival, such as beak length, and identify behavioral characteristics that prevent different species from breeding with one another. Their pioneering studies have revealed clues as to how 13 distinct finch species arose from a single ancestral population that migrated from the mainland 2 million to 3 million years ago.
In some parts of the world, there is an intimate connection between the infectious parasitic disease "malaria" and the genetic disease "sickle-cell anemia." A keenly observant young man named Tony Allison, working in East Africa in the 1950s, first noticed the connection and assembled the pieces of the puzzle. His story stands as the first and one of the best understood examples of natural selection, where the selective agent, adaptive mutation, and molecule involved are known--and this is in humans to boot. The protection against malaria by the sickle-cell mutation shows how evolution does not necessarily result in the best solution imaginable but proceeds by whatever means are available.
The rock pocket mouse is a living example of Darwin’s process of natural selection. Not only is evolution happening right now everywhere around us, but adaptive changes can occur in a population with remarkable speed. This speed is essential if you’re a desert mouse living in an environment where a volcanic eruption can reverse selective pressure in nearly an instant. The film features Dr. Michael Nachman, whose work in the field and in the lab has quantified the selective pressure of predators and identified the genes involved in adaptation. In a complete story, from ecosystem to molecules, pocket mice show us how random changes in the genome can take many paths to the same adaptation—a colored coat that hides them from predators.
In some parts of the world, there is an intimate connection between the infectious parasitic disease "malaria" and the genetic disease "sickle-cell anemia." A keenly observant young man named Tony Allison, working in East Africa in the 1950s, first noticed the connection and assembled the pieces of the puzzle. His story stands as the first and one of the best understood examples of natural selection, where the selective agent, adaptive mutation, and molecule involved are known-and this is in humans to boot. The protection against malaria by the sickle-cell mutation shows how evolution does not necessarily result in the best solution imaginable but proceeds by whatever means are available.
At the University of Montana, Ken Dial researches the mechanics of bird flight. He studies young birds that are learning to fly, and he hopes his experiments will provide new evidence for how flight might have evolved.
Elizabeth Hadly has been studying biodiversity in Yellowstone National Park for 30 years. Accompanied by biologist Sean Carroll, she demonstrates different ways in which climate change is impacting the park’s ecosystems. Bark beetles are surviving the winter at higher elevations and killing a large number of white-bark pine trees, disrupting the food web that includes squirrels and grizzly bears. Climate change is also causing ponds to dry up, reducing the pond habitat and decimating the local amphibian population. Although the park provides protected environments for animals, it is not immune from global threats like climate change.
MIT professor Tom Levenson retells the amazing history of planet Vulcan. It is a story that reveals how the power of an idea can shape the currents of thought, and sometimes, lead researchers down the wrong path. Meanwhile, Harvard experimental particle physicist Melissa Franklin reflects on how the lessons from Vulcan apply to research today and how, in the end, science manages to get things right. Part of the "Think Like a Scientist" series.
For life to survive, it must adapt and readapt to an ever-changing Earth. The discovery of the Antarctic icefish has provided an example of adaptation in an environment both hostile and abundant, where the birth of new genes and the death of old ones have played crucial roles. Researchers Bill Detrich, Christina Cheng, and Art DeVries have pinpointed the genetic changes that enable icefish to thrive without hemoglobin and red blood cells and to avoid freezing in the icy ocean.
Can damage to coral reefs be repaired? Two researchers are looking for solutions to this question. Dr. Steve Palumbi conducts research on the corals around Ofu Island in American Samoa. He is trying to determine why these native corals can withstand ocean temperatures that, in other coral species, would lead to coral bleaching. Along with graduate student Megan Morikawa, Palumbi is testing whether these heat-resistant corals can be transplanted to reefs that have been damaged or destroyed.
Dr. Jeffrey Friedman shows how leptin rewires neural circuits, and how population studies may identify obesity genes. Part of the 2004 Howard Hughes Holiday Lecture Series
What determines how many species live in a given place? Or how many individuals of the species can live somewhere? The research that provided answers to these questions was set in motion by the key experiments of ecologists Robert Paine and James Estes. Their research demonstrates just how fundamental keystone species and trophic cascades are in understanding ecology.
A team visits a medical center to learn how medical equipment and procedures were developed for biomedical technology. They also discuss how biomedical technology is applied in medicine. Part of Invisible Science and Technology Surrounding Series.
So many technological developments have taken place this century that enable medical professionals to practice medicine at a distance. Thanks to information technologies it is no longer necessary to go to the doctor's office for a checkup or diagnosis. Doctors now have the ability to take vital signs, perform tests, or even operate from a distant location.
Human babies drink milk; it's the food especially provided for them by their mothers. Various cultures have also added the milk of other mammals to their diet, and adults think nothing of downing a glass of cows' milk. But worldwide, only a third of adults can actually digest lactose, the sugar in milk. Human geneticist Spencer Wells tracks down the genetic changes associated with the ability to digest lactose as adults. Combining genetics, chemistry, and anthropology, this story provides a compelling example of the co-evolution of human genes and human culture.
When is it necessary to induce or augment a labor? Answers questions expectant parents may have about these procedures. Explores the advantages, risks, common medical methods, and natural alternatives available for both induction and augmentation. An obstetrician lists questions expectant parents should ask their caregivers. NOTE: Concludes with footage of a vaginal birth.
How do horseshoe crabs keep humans healthy? They have blue, copper-based blood, which quickly clots in the presence of bacterial toxins. Medical researchers use it to test intravenous drugs, vaccines, and medical devices, ensuring that they are free of bacterial contamination. Part of "The Remarkable Horseshoe Crab" series.
Most people view antibiotics as miracle drugs. They can get rid of a whole range of infections. But because they are prescribed for so many different ailments, they are easy to overuse. The medical community is now at a crisis point because many of them simply don’t work anymore. Scientists are hunting urgently for new antibiotics--a challenge that is taking them to some remote and unusual places.
In this episode, groups of citizen scientists use apps and maps to help researchers gather data about medical conditions. Sensors on asthma inhalers generate real-time maps of environmental dangers to help patients and physicians in Louisville, Kentucky. In West Oakland, California, citizens confront air pollution and rising asthma rates by collecting traffic data. Citizen scientists are fighting mosquito-borne diseases with apps and crowd-sourced data in Barcelona, Houston, and New Orleans. Part of "The Crowd and the Cloud" series.
Printible 3D model of a band for holding a protective plastic face shield.
(Source: Matter Hackers)
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