Perhaps you’ve wished, while paging through a heavy textbook on evolutionary biology, that learning the subject could be a little more like an Eminem concert? If so, rush over to a New York theater where the rapper Baba Brinkman is ready to fill your brain with his one-man show, “The Rap Guide to Evolution.”
The project began when Brinkman got a call from evolutionary biologist Mark Pallen, who asked him to compose a rap in honor of Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday. Says Brinkman: “All winter I sent him copies of my rap lyrics, and he came back with corrections, which means my hip-hop show is peer reviewed.”
Here’s a segment of his show:
Olivia Judson, who praised the show in The New York Times, says she suspects this is “the only hip-hop show to talk of mitochondria, genetic drift, sexual selection or memes.” She continues:
[Brinkman] is a man on a mission to spread the word about evolution — how it works, what it means for our view of the world, and why it is something to be celebrated rather than feared.
Brinkman is performing his show through Saturday, May 8th at the Bleeker Street Theatre in New York City. If you can’t make it to the show, head to DISCOVER‘s Bad Astronomy blog for another sample of his fine work–featuring remixed Richard Dawkins.
Bad Astronomy: Evolution: That’s a Rap
Discoblog: Sneak Preview of Darwin: The Musical
Discoblog: Buzz Aldrin, Rapper?
Discoblog: Worst (and Best) Science Rap of the Week
Discoblog: Carl Sagan Sings Again: Symphony of Science, Part 4
Charles Darwin lived to the ripe old age of 73 (which was pretty darn good for the 19th century), but despite his longevity, he spent many of the years of his life famously dogged by ill health. Today’s doctors have tried to apply what medical science has learned since Darwin’s time to diagnose the famous naturalist, and now another researcher has tossed out a suggestion: Darwin had cyclical vomiting syndrome (CVS).
Writing in the British Medical Journal, physician John Hayman argues that CVS was most likely responsible for Darwin‘s intermittent malaise. The disease, caused by a mitochondrial DNA mutation, shows up mainly in children, Hayman says, but can persist into adulthood. Its symptoms, including headaches, anxiety, and abdominal problems, match many of Darwin’s. From the Los Angeles Times:
2009 represents a double-dip of Charles Darwin milestones. A plethora of Darwin stories in the press have marked his 200th birthday. And today, as 80beats has already noted, is the 150th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of Species, an occasion that sparked another round of Darwin fever.
TIME, however, observed the day by posting a Q&A with British author Dennis Sewell, who is selling a book on “how often — and how easily — Darwin’s big idea has been harnessed for sinister political ends.” Sewell isn’t an evolution denier, but rather among the crowd crowing that Darwin was a racist and responsible for inspiring eugenics.
Sigh. While it’s probably true that Darwin was influenced by the racial attitudes of his time and place—Victorian England–DISCOVER has covered the other side of that coin: that the scientist was an abolitionist and rather progressive for his day. Even Ray Comfort, in his rambling, Darwin-bashing introduction to a “new edition” of Origin that creationists passed around college campuses recently, concedes: “However, after much research, I do concede that you won’t find anything in Darwin’s writings that would indicate that he in any way felt blacks were to be treated as inferior or that his views of them were due to their skin color.” Even if the opposite were true, and Darwin the man was actually a howling racist, Darwin’s theory of evolution would still smash the fallacy that different races belong to different species.
It seems people can’t get enough of songs about science. Scientists can’t stop making them, and we can’t stop watching them. David Haines loves science and he loves songs, so he’s putting on a concert called Tremendous Journey to celebrate his love.
Haines gives the deets to New Scientist:
The concert will feature 15 songs about the science of life and evolution. It’s a shorter version of my “science oratorio”, Lifetime. We open with a song called Mr Darwin, which tells the story of his historic voyage aboard the Beagle. Then there is Selfish Gene, a song referring to Richard Dawkins’s work, and Living Light, Queen Bee, Bacteria and Taxonomy.
Check out his song, Mister Darwin, below:
Discoblog: Worst (and Best) Science Rap of the Week
Discoblog: Buzz Aldrin, Rapper?
Discoblog: “Air Guitar Hero” Helps Amputees Test Out New Arms
Video: YouTube / greatplanthunt
Forgive them, Darwin, for they know not what they do. Former child star Kirk Cameron, known for his role on the incurably bubbly ’80s sitcom Growing Pains, has announced via Youtube a plan to subvert the 150th anniversary of the publishing of Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species. His brilliant plan? He wants to deliver 50,000 copies of an “altered version” of the book to students at dozens of U.S. universities. In other words, he wants to commit mass vandalism.
According to the Huffington Post:
Cameron explains that this “very special” edition of the “Origin of Species” will include an introduction explaining “Adolf Hitler’s undeniable connection” to the theory of evolution, and highlighting “Darwin’s racism” and “his disdain for women.” Cameron’s edition also exposes the “many hoaxes” of evolutionary theory, while presenting a “balanced view of Creationism.”
Watch the video here:
And for an excellent play-by-play response, watch this:
For more of the story, see HuffPo.
• The kelp best known as an ingredient in miso soup has invaded the San Francisco Bay, worrying environmentalists because of the risk it could pose to the area’s delicate ecosystem. Just when you thought it was safe to go in the water…
• One small step for man, one giant leap for Twitterkind! Nature News is twittering the Apollo 11 mission in real-time as it happened 40 years ago.
• If you’ve ever yearned for the chance to re-make Star Wars: New Hope, here’s your chance: The Web site Star Wars: Uncut is crowd-sourcing the movie, offering 472 15-second clips of the film to re-make.
• The Toronto International Film Festival will commence with a documentary of Charles Darwin, brought to you by movie stars and real-life couple Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connelly, who star as Darwin and his wife, respectively.
• And finally, check out this video of, well, the world’s fastest everything…clapper, cup stacker, sprinter. We got tired just watching it.
David DeWitt takes his educational duties seriously. Each year, the biology “professor” and director of the Center for Creation Studies at Liberty University takes his class on a field trip. Their destination is the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History, where the students in his Advanced Creation Studies course can bolster their “biblical view of natural history” by viewing a “temple of evolution.” In other words, they’re going to check out the enemy.
Adding to the ludicrous quotient even more, DeWitt’s trips are part of a recent trend: Plenty of adult creationists are reportedly taking these so-called “creation vacations” too. While scientists and science-lovers everywhere were celebrating Darwin’s 200th birthday, creationists saw the event as a chance to visit natural history museums, aquariums, geologic sites, and dinosaur parks to challenge evolution.
So what’s a trip to a museum like with a creationist? First, DeWitt’s class went through the fossil exhibit. His only complaint was that one of the films shown failed to discuss DNA, and only talked about amoeba. He bashed the film for being too ’80s, and called it “embarrassing” [ed. note: Oh the rich irony in that word choice].
When the class headed to the dinosaur exhibit, they had no objections—they don’t deny the existence of dinosaurs, they just believe that God created all animals on the sixth day. Never mind the fact that dinos first appeared 215 million years ago, and were wiped out about 65 million years ago. Or the plethora of fossil records proving that birds descended from dinos.
Moles can eat their own weight in worms each day. But they’re no match for human worm grunters—also known as worm snorers, fiddlers, or charmers— who can collect thousands of worms each day, selling them for bait. Worm grunting involves thrusting a stick into the soil and rubbing it with a piece of steel to generate vibrations that send earthworms fleeing to the surface. It’s quite popular in the southeastern U.S.— but until now, no one really understood why it worked.
Ken Catania, a mole expert at Vanderbilt University and MacArthur genius award winner, made the connection between moles, worms, and human grunters. The humans are fooling the worms by unknowingly imitating the sound of a burrowing mole. The worms instinctively surface (faster than you’d think) because moles generally stay underground when foraging.