Archive for Science – Biology

Excellent News

Michael Reiss resigns. Teaching creationism in Science lessons, is he fucking mental? Oh no, he’s an ordained priest – a job, it seems to me, which is wholly incompatible with being Director of Education at the National Academy of Science. Good riddance to the fucktard.

On what you think you know…

The excellent Jonathan Drori at TED recently.

Orangutan captured using Spear to Fish with

Via, this is amazing:

On the Responsible use of Psychoactive Drugs

Brought to you from the excellent people at Erowid, this:

Fundamentals of Responsible Psychoactive Use

* Investigate the health risks and dangers of the specific psychoactive and of the class of drugs to which it belongs.

* Learn about interactions with other recreational drugs, medications, supplements, and activities.
* Review individual health concerns, predispositions, and family health history.

* Choose a source or product carefully to help ensure correct identification and purity
(avoid materials with an unknown source or of unknown quality).

* Know whether the drug is likely to reduce the ability to drive, operate equipment, or pay attention to necessary tasks.

* Take oneself “off duty” from responsibilities that might be interfered with (job, child care, etc.), and arrange for someone else to be “on duty” for such responsibilities.

* Anticipate reasonably foreseeable risks to oneself and others and employ safeguards to minimize those risks.

* Choose an appropriate occasion and location for use.

* Select and measure dosages carefully.

* Begin with a low dose until individual reactions are known and thereafter use the minimum dose necessary to achieve the desired effects: lower doses are safer doses.

* Reflect on and adjust use to minimize physical and mental health problems.

* Note changes in health over time that may be related to use.

* Modify use if it interferes with work or personal goals.

* Check in with peers and family and accept feedback about one’s use.

* Track reactions to specific drugs and dosages in order to avoid repeating mistakes.

* Seek treatment if needed.

* Decide not to use when the time isn’t right, the material is suspect, or the situation is otherwise problematic.

More, here at Cato Unbound

Would you let another Woman Breastfeed your Child?

If you cannot breastfeed your own child, would you let another woman do it for you? We happily let our children consume the milk of another species, yet most people would recoil at the suggestion of “Milk Maids”. The rather startling (but brilliantly shot) photograph of GMTV presenter Kate Garraway is being used to promote a program she has made for Channel 4 – Other People’s Breast Milk – to be shown Wednesday 9th September at 10pm.

On Neuroimaging, Alzheimers and Stress

An old essay of mine, I dug out:

Humans have been curious about what the structure of the Brain is for hundreds of years. Galen (200-300 AD) instructed his students that they should not make drawings of these “internal embodiments” without physical evidence. Galen’s students had already been making rudimentary drawings of pig’s brains by this time and made some very primitive assessments of what the various areas of the brain were for (Clarke & Dewhurst, 1995). In the years following Wundt’s founding of the empirical paradigm of experimental psychology, the discipline has grown to encompass many new areas and the boundaries between Neuroscience, psychology and Medicine in areas such as brain imaging are now blurred.

The last ten years have seen the “explosion in scope and scale” (Thompson, 2002) of neuroimaging techniques. Major diseases of the brain can now be studied in a way that would have been impossible until recently. Neuroimaging has two distinct fields. Structural – revealing the physical structure of the brain and functional – revealing the physiological processes within the brain. Structural imaging techniques are comprised of Computed Tomography (CT) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). “CT is widely available and relatively inexpensive. It is also fast. A whole head scan can be performed in less than 30 seconds.” (O’Brien & Barber, 2000) As a mechanism for elucidating structure, it is excellent and most useful for determining space-occupying brain lesions such as tumours and subdural haematomas (O’Brien & Barber, 2000). CT is now almost universally available in the UK National Health Service as the first modality of imaging available to Doctors. (CT Scanning in the NHS, 2007)

SPECT is a form of functional computed tomography widely used in clinical neuroscience and neuropsychology. Godfrey Hounsfield of EMI laboratories and Allan McCormick of Tufts University, USA invented computed tomography independently. They shared the Nobel Prize for Medicine in recognition of their work and the substantial medical benefits brought to bear by this new technology. SPECT is also a type of nuclear medicine, it is functional and like other functional imaging methods does not directly measure the neural activity of the brain, but a correlate of this; blood flow. Other neuroimaging techniques measure physiological features such as oxygenation and other metabolic pathways. Prior to SPECT scanning, the researcher injects a radioactive isotope into the patient. The process is very quick and significant amounts of the isotope get in the brain within 2 – 5 minutes of the injection (O’Brien & Barber, 2000). This is mostly, but not always, Technetium-99, attached to the compound HexaMethylPropylene Amine Oxime to become 99m-HMPAO.
99m-HMPAO is a radioligand. Ligand is a term from the chemical sciences and refers to the organic molecule used to contain the radioactive isotope.

The machine measures the gamma ray (photonic) activity from the decaying radioactive isotope. The specific way the images are generated in the scan is the tomography in SPECT. The word tomography comes from the Greek word for slice; since the SPECT machine can gather images sliced through the brain in the three standard planes – Coronal, Sagittal and Axial. These represent the view through the brain from the front, side and top. The tomographic representations depict each pixel. These are approximately 1mm square. These squares then stack together in 3 or 4mm lengths to form a three dimensional shape. This is the smallest unit of brain imaging, which we call a voxel. The changes in the counts of gamma activity, which are correlated to the relative regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) in the cerebellum that form the dataset for further analysis. The scanner is able to measure the concentration of the radioactivity in the cells in the brain and hence determine the amount of blood flow reaching each part of the brain. The SPECT scanner “mathematically manipulates these two dimensional pictures to form a full three-dimensional image of the brain by creating these voxels. (Bremner, 2005)

Where blood flow is significantly insufficient, areas of the brain may have started to die. We are able to determine specifically those affected areas of the brain, by comparing the differences in the SPECT images. Baseline images of the brain are made and these are compared to activation images (where the patient is performing a task) and a statistical filter is applied to the mathematical models of the images. These filters create a third image that is a picture of the brain showing only the active/non-active areas. Medical professionals can then interpret the images and progress the diagnosis of the patient. This form of brain imaging is particularly useful in the differential diagnosis of brain disorders. Due to the specific temporal and spatial resolutions of SPECT scanning it can reveal details of the differing physiological states in the geography of the brain, which are used to distinguish between types of dementing illness. (Hart & Semple, 1994) There are disadvantages to SPECT: the scanning is not performed in real-time; the radioligand is fixed in the brain following the injections, so the images are essentially a snapshot of the brain a few moments after the injection has taken place. Compared to MRI the resolution of the images is actually quite poor (10 – 15mm) and, of course, there is a need for exposure to radiation – which is always a risk to be balanced against the benefits of getting good images of the patient. Scanning of the patient in SPECT can take 30 minutes and “so may not be appropriate for the very restless or disturbed” (Thompson, 2002)

We can use other neuroimaging techniques to elucidate structures in the brain to assist in making the differential diagnoses referred to earlier. The (O’Brien & Barber, 2000) paper describes the major differences between the imaging modalities. In cases of Alzheimer’s disease, Structural CT and MRI show white matter lesions (Neurofibrilliary tangles and neuritic plaques) and Ventricular enlargement. SPECT imaging shows “hyper perfusion” (reduced blood flow to the cerebral cortex) (Hart & Semple, 1994) – this is in contrast to cases of Vascular dementia when structural neuroimaging shows infarcts and deep lesions whereas SPECT only shows “patchy” patterns of hyper perfusion (O’Brien & Barber, 2000). It is worth describing here a third method of imaging, which is in some senses, superior to SPECT – particularly in relation to temporal and spatial resolution. Positron Emission Tomography (PET) imaging uses quantum mechanical properties of the fundamental particles to generate image maps of the brain. Positrons (anti-matter electrons) are emitted in the radioactive decay of atoms which are neutron deficient e.g. 15O. When released these positrons collide with and mutually annihilate electrons they meet. Discharge of measurable gamma radiation occurs. We measure these gamma patterns in a PET scanner.
PET images are created in real-time and have spatial and temporal resolutions that give highly detailed pictures of the brain. PET scanning though is still very limited in its availability and application. This is because the radioisotopes used in the procedure have very short half-lives and as such, most PET scanners are located near the facilities that produce those isotopes.

Neuropsychology is now starting to look at functional mental illness. Traditionally imaging has focussed mostly on the organic illnesses, but new techniques mean this is an area of great contemporary relevance. Post-mortem examinations of the brains in patients with Schizophrenia often show “subtle morphological differences” to normal brains. Myelin sheathing in axons may also be damaged. (Jalili, et al., 2007) studied the disconnective topography of live subjects using Electroencephalography (EEG). They found reduced clustering of neurons, decreased cortical thickness and increased cell-packing density. They hypothesised that this disconnectivity gives rise to the pathophysiological mechanisms underlying some of the presentation in schizophrenia patients. They go further to say they are “confident” that that these changes to the morphology of the brain are the underlying reasons for Schizophrenia. Other functional illnesses have also been considered.

Borderline Personality disorder (BPD) is characterised by a pervasive pattern of emotional instability. It is a very severe risk factor for suicide in adolescents and young adults. There has been little research into the biological nature of this illness, though its “incidence in psychiatric settings has been assessed as high as 15-20%” (Lis, Greenfield, Henry, Guile, & Dougherty, 2007) Lis et al considered a number of research papers published over the period 1980 -2006 to review the information pertinent to BPD. They found consistent evidence of the reduction in volumes in the frontal and temporal lobes; volume loss in both the amygdala and the hippocampus in the patients studied. Co-morbid disorders (such as Post traumatic stress disorder or addictions) are shown to change the patterns of brain morphology also. Lis et al are seeking, along with many other researchers, to find the links between changes in brain morphology and the psychopathologies exhibited by the patients. Their review also points out the contrasts in brain images in patients who present with the same diagnosis but different on-going symptoms. This will make it difficult to form direct links between brain structures and those disorders – and as we might expect, the situation is more complex than cause and effect.

Alzheimers disease is characterised by “widespread cortical atrophy” and “ventricular enlargement.” (Hart & Semple, 1994) Diagnostic criteria include demonstrable evidence of short or long-term memory impairment, impairment in abstract thinking, impairment of judgement and interpersonal disturbances. As the disease progress, sufferers lose gross and fine motor control, orientation in space and time and eventually speech – leading to an inability to communicate even the most simple of thoughts. It is an extremely distressing illness for the patients and cause considerable stress on family members caring for those people. Seyle (1956) cited in (Bennett, 2000) created a threes stage model based on the physiological changes which occur in the Human body when we are experiencing a stressor which is beyond our normal control. Later Lazarus and Folkman (1984) also cited in (Bennett, 2000) created what is now the widely accepted cognitive model for stress; its function, mechanisms and associated problems; they also defined coping as “…constantly changing cognitive and behavioural efforts to manage specific external and internal demands…” Coping strategies have two main theories – the transactional approach and the trait approach. The first is the application of multiple strategies across and within different situations, whilst the trait theory describes how people bring their own personal models to situations to enable them to cope and move forward. Clearly coping strategies are going to be of great importance to the carer of the Alzheimer’s patient. However some people do not cope well in these circumstances and there are a very real problems for families coping with this disease as we will see. Alzheimer’s can be difficult to diagnose and (Barrett, Keller, Damagaard, & Swerdlow, 2006) have shown that up-to 28% patients are mis-diagnosed in the first instance. They report qualitatively, in their study, this, as causing “huge distress” to both families and patients. Improvements in neuroimaging will help to improve the lives of patients through arriving at the correct diagnosis and therefore embarking on the treatment plan sooner. Services can be put in place to assist families after the initial diagnosis when stress levels are extremely high. They conclude that further research is required on “educating those who disclose and those who receive dementia diagnoses”

In their paper (Braekhaus, Osksengard, Engedal, & Laake, 1998 ) describe symptoms of carer stress in the social and depressive dimensions as “frequent” and highlight the particular needs of this group in relation to information and intervention strategies, though they do not define what these strategies ought to be. We might hypothesise about the nature of these interventions being: Medication, Therapy and increased social activities.

In quite a remarkable paper (Perodeau, Lauzon, Levesque, & Lachance, 2001) describe how carers of dementing relatives who use or misuse psychotropic drugs are more likely to have a wide variety of coping and “emotion-reducing” strategies and are more likely to seek out effective alternative support from outside the family network. Oddly, participants’ who used psychotropic drugs also reported greater stress levels because of their relatives’ behaviours and more difficulty in the interpersonal relationship. They hypothesised that by lowering emotional reactivity with their drug use, these people are more able to cope than non-users. Based on the Lazarus and Folkman (1984) model of Stress-Appraisal-Coping, the researchers called for better use of the cognitive behavioural model to break the cycles associated with prescribed or illicit drug use in these circumstances. The control of “affective lability” may mean that risks are incorrectly appraised in this group of people. There are obvious dangers in this.

(Ford, Goode, Barrett, Harrell, & Haley, 1997) support the assertions of other researchers than gender differences in subjective stressors are nil. However, female caregivers report “increased burdens” that are likely associated with the “gender socialization process.” Some female caregivers report specific difficulties with behaviours (such as wandering) in the Alzheimers patient and the paper describes the benefits of having behavioural and supportive interventions in family groups where these stressors are most apparent. There are problems associated with the experimental methodologies here in as much as the there is a reliance on subjective reporting. One way to negate this effect is to create experiments where the reports of caregivers are corroborated by direct behavioural observation.

We have seen how effective neuroimaging can give dementia sufferers a chance of early diagnosis and that this is beneficial to both the patient and the patient’s relatives. Early diagnosis offers the opportunity to put in place effective interventions for both patient and carers and many researchers have highlighted good information as being a starting point. From the stress models we can see that information leads to options that may not have been present without it. It is empowering for both patient and carer. The carers are more able to make a robust appraisal of stressful behaviours and seek appropriate interventions.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) interventions are oft cited in the research as being a model for preventing stress overload in people with caring responsibilities (Balfour, 2006) From the Perodeau (2001) paper, CBT may also offer hope to those carers who use/misuse psychotropic drugs in order to deal with their day-to-day responsibilities. Current capacity in the CBT system is poor, however the Governments proposed expansion of this service (an extra ten thousand therapists within 10 years) should offer hope to carers and patients alike in carrying the burden of this isolating illness.


Balfour, A. (2006). Thinking about the experience of Dementia: The importance of the unconscious. Journal of Social Work Practice , 20 (3), 329-346.

Barrett, A. M., Keller, M., Damagaard, P., & Swerdlow, R. H. (2006). Short terms effects of Dementia disclosure – how families describe diagnosis. Journal of the American Geriatric Society , 54 (12), 1968-1970.

Bennett, P. (2000). Introduction to clinical health psychology. Maidenhead & Philadelphia: OUP.

Braekhaus, A., Osksengard, A. R., Engedal, K., & Laake, K. (1998). Social and Depressive stress suffered by spouses of patients with mild dementia. Scandinavian Journal of Primary Mental Health Care , 16, 242-246.

Bremner, D. J. (2005). Brain Imaging Handbook. London: W W Norton & Co Ltd.

Clarke, E., & Dewhurst, K. (1995, March 2). Imaging the Brain from Antiquity to the Present.

CT Scanning in the NHS. (2007, August 17). Retrieved April 24, 2008, from NHS Direct:

Ford, G. R., Goode, K. T., Barrett, J. J., Harrell, L. E., & Haley, W. E. (1997). Gender. Roles and cergiving stress: An examination of subjective appraisals of specific primary stressors in Alzheimer’s caregivers , 1 (2), 158-165.

Hart, S., & Semple, J. M. (1994). Neuropsychology of the Dementias. Hove: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Ltd.

Jalili, M., Lavoie, S., Deppen, P., Meuli, R., Do, K. Q., Cuenod, M., et al. (2007). Dysconnection Topography in Schizophrenia revealed with State Space analysis of EED. PLoS One (10), e1059.

Lis, E., Greenfield, B., Henry, M., Guile, J. M., & Dougherty, G. (2007). Neuroimaging and genetics of Borderline Personality Disorder – A Review. Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience , 32 (3), 162-173.

O’Brien, J., & Barber, B. (2000). Neuroimaging in Dementia and Depression. Advances in Psychiatric Treatment , 6, 109-119.

Perodeau, G., Lauzon, S., Levesque, L., & Lachance, L. (2001). Mental health stress correlates and psychotropic drug use among aged caregivers to elders with Dementia. Ageing and Mental Health , 5 (3), 225-234.

Thompson, P. M. (2002). Bioinformatics and Brain Imaging: Recent Advances and Neuroscience applications. UCLA School of Medicine, Laboratory of Neuroimaging, Brain Mapping Division and Brain Research Institute. Los Angeles: Society for Neuroscience.

Mind Hacks on the fMRI Smackdown

Top psychology site Mind Hacks has an excellent post on the mounting controversy around the use of fMRI to understand and map the functions of the brain against the behaviour of the individual. This controversy has been building for a while, and I guess it will remain far from settled for some time to come.

You can find lots more information about the uses and limitations of fMRI at these sites:

fMRI 4 Newbies

Functional MRI & The Brain

Columbia University’s fMRI Page

All About fMRI

Introduction to FMRI, University of Oxford

Brain Map

This is a great little introductory tool, particularly for Undergraduate Psychologists. Go here.

You can get more information on the structures and functions of the Brain at these sites:

Columbia University Brain Atlas

Florida University Brain Atlas

Harvard University Brain Atlas

Michigan University Brain Atlas

Utah University Brain Atlas

Washington University Brain Atlas

Wayne State Brain Atlas

Scientists ‘Grow’ first Red Blood Cells

Scientists at Advanced Cell Technology in Worcester, Massachusetts have succeeded in growing stable red blood cells from stock Embryonic Stem Cells. Not only that, but the red blood cells they have created are Type O, which means they are universally transfusable – not having the antigen issue of types A and B. Type O blood occurs naturally in about 8% of the Caucausian population (less in others) so is highly prized.

The team’s crucial achievement was getting the cells to expel their nuclei, just as they would in the body. “Experts said it was impossible, and we were pretty surprised ourselves when it worked,” said Lanza.

Researchers had previously grown blood cells from ESCs, but never achieved this “enucleation” step, which is important beceause it means the cells can’t divide and become cancerous. The key seems to be to grow the blood cells on connective “stromal” cells from the bone marrow, where blood cells are made in the body.

Tests on the red blood cells suggest that they deliver oxygen just as efficiently as donated red blood cells. The team was also able to produce the red blood cells in bulk, creating populations of as many as 100 billion cells.

Journal reference: Blood, DOI: 10.1182/Blood-2008-05-157198

Gorilla Grieves for Baby

Turkish Creationist challenges Dawkins to Evolution Debate

From today’s Guardian, here:

Richard Dawkins is used to being provoked by loony American evangelical creationists. But his latest challenge comes from a strange Turkish figure called Harun Yahya whose lavishly produced (and frankly preposterous) four-volume tome The Atlas of Creation caused a stir last year when it was sent to thousands of academics across Europe.

Yahya (real name Adnan Oktar) has invited Dawkins to debate Darwin’s theory of evolution with him publicly. Yahya believes the theory “has lately suffered a global collapse”.

Yahya says…

Let Dawkins ask the same questions to us, and let us give our answers. Let us supply our evidence, and let him bring his – if he has any. Then let the public decide who is right. We want the public to know on a larger scale how Darwinism is a false theory and how it is the greatest deception of the world’s history. We are confident that the days are soon to come when people will laugh, asking themselves “How could we ever believe this theory?”

Renown self-publicist and Film faker is out of luck, Dawkins has consistently said he won’t take part in these debates as it lends the oxygen of publicity and an audience to those whose ideas are so ludicrous, it’s hardly worth having the argument at all. Dawkins himself explains here how the “stumped” film came about. I very much doubt whether he’d want to give this guy any more credence. Which is a shame in a way, as I love nothing more than seeing Creationists get bitch-slapped. 

Actually that reminds me of something…

DNA Art Projects

Love these. Via.

The Genius of Charles Darwin – Episode 3

The final part of Dawkins’ series on Charles Darwin is now available at Channel 4 Catchup, here. Enjoy!

Purves and Dawkins: Bitch Fight!

Libby Purves of The Times on Part 1 of Dawkins’ program on Charles Darwin:

Professor Dawkins met a class of children, some of them indoctrinated by that crazily literal minority who think the world began 6,000 years ago on a divine drawing board. Instead of explaining natural selection and letting them work out that maybe the Creator works in more mysterious ways than the Genesis myth, he offered them a choice as stark as any bonkers tin-hut preacher from the Quivering Brethren shouting: “Repent or burn!”

Evolution or God – take your choice, kid! The moment one of them found an ammonite on the beach, Professor Dawkins demanded instant atheism. OK, he is provoked, as we all are, by nutters. But most believers are not creationists. Some are scientists. They reckon that an omnipotent being capable of giving humans free will is equally capable of setting a cosmic ball rolling – Big Bang, abiogenesis, all that – and letting it proceed through eons of evolution, selection and struggle. One of the oddest aspects of Dawkins’s TV programme, rich in antelope-mauling and gobbly snakes, was his emotional implication that, gee, Nature is too cruel to have been invented by God! A wet, mawkish, bunny-hugging argument.

An understandably furious Dawkins replies…..

Sir, In her article about episode 1 of my television documentary, The Genius of Charles Darwin, Libby Purves says that I offered the children a choice “as stark as any bonkers tin-hut preacher from the Quivering Brethren shouting: ‘Repent or burn!’ Evolution or God — take your choice, kid! The moment one of them found an ammonite on the beach, Professor Dawkins demanded instant atheism” (Opinion, August 7).

That is unjust, to the point of outright mendacity, and an insult to any professional educator. It was the creation-indoctrinated children themselves who made the leap: “Evolution = atheism”. I was scrupulously careful not to make that connection in the presence of the children, although I have made it elsewhere, spelling out the nuanced argument in The God Delusion.

She goes on to say, “OK, he is provoked, as we all are, by nutters. But most believers are not creationists.” I expect it’s true that the few believers Libby Purves meets over canapés are not creationists. But “most believers”? Most believers in Bradford? The Scottish Highlands? Pakistan? Indonesia? The Arab world? South America? Indeed, North America? Polls suggest that more than 40 per cent of the British population are creationists. For the subset who call themselves believers, the figure must be considerably more than 50 per cent. Please don’t say “most people”, when what you really mean is Islington and Hampstead Garden Suburb.

Please don’t say “most people” when what you really mean is the Islington and Hampstead Garden Suburb. Brilliant riposte.

Genetic Map of Europe

Scientists have created a genetic map of the European continent, showing the degree of genetic inter-relatedness of the peoples living there.

Genetic Map of Europe (Click to Enlarge)

Genetic Map of Europe (Click to Enlarge)

The map also identifies the existence of two genetic barriers within Europe. One is between the Finns (light blue, upper right) and other Europeans. It arose because the Finnish population was at one time very small and then expanded, bearing the atypical genetics of its few founders.

The other is between Italians (yellow, bottom center) and the rest. This may reflect the role of the Alps in impeding free flow of people between Italy and the rest of Europe.

Data for the map were generated by gene chips programmed to test and analyze 500,000 sites of common variation on the human genome, although only the 300,000 most reliable sites were used for the map. Dr. Kayser’s team tested almost 2,500 people and analyzed the data by correlating the genetic variations in all the subjects. The genetic map is based on the two strongest of these sets of correlations.

Feynman in North Yorkshire

I’ll never cease to be amazed by the great Man’s enthusiasm for Science and the world around him. This is 40 minutes of pure unadulterated geeky joy.

Take the world from another point of view – Part 1

Take the world from another point of view – Part 2

Take the world from another point of view – Part 3

Take the world from another point of view – Part 4

More on Feynman, here, here and here.

Go on, let your inner mad scientist loose…

First DNA molecule made from (almost) entirely Artificial Parts

Bit late to the party on this one, but it’s definitely worth noting.

Chemists at a University in Japan are reporting the first artificially synthesised DNA molecule.

The researchers used high-tech DNA synthesis equipment to stitch together four entirely new, artificial bases inside the sugar-based framework of a DNA molecule. This resulted in unusually stable, double-stranded structures resembling natural DNA.

Like natural DNA, the new structures were right-handed and some easily formed triple-stranded structures. The unique chemistry of these structures and their high stability offer unprecedented possibilities for developing new biotech materials and applications, the researchers say.


Doi et al. Artificial DNA Made Exclusively of Nonnatural C-Nucleosides with Four Types of Nonnatural Bases. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2008; 130 (27): 8762 DOI: 10.1021/ja801058h

The Genius of Charles Darwin – Episode 2

Second episode now available via catch-up at Channel 4 (UK only). In this episode Professor Dawkins examines what natural selection means to Human Beings, and how we struggle against our selfish genes to perform altuistic acts to those who may be unable to reciprocate. There is a brief section with New York’s Naked Cowboy, it’s funny watching RD try to keep a straight face!

Public Understanding of Evolution

Darwin\'s Magnum Opus

Darwin's Magnum Opus

Take the survey, here.

The Genius of Charles Darwin

To mark the 150th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s masterpiece, On the Origin of Species, Richard Dawkins presents the ultimate three-part guide to Charles Darwin. You can watch the first episode (of 3) at Channel 4 catchup (UK only), here