NOVA - What Darwin Never Knew

This is one of my favorite NOVA episodes in quite a while. Going from Darwin’s early life and Beagle experience to modern day understanding of genes and DNA, a very interesting and enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours.

You can watch it online at the above link, I plan on catching the re-runs over the weekend.

We watched the first half yesterday as it aired, maybe we’ll watch the second half today if there’s time. My kids really enjoyed it a lot. I was kind of annoyed by some of the music and cut effects, but otherwise I liked it. (I realize they were trying to create a sense of excitement, but what they actually did was create a sense of irritation.)

The second hour was much more interesting, IMHO. Lots more DNA/gene mapping, more technical (yet still a little watered down from pure science) information instead of just repeating the history of Darwin.

The narrator’s lisp drove me batshit, but the show was excellent.

Agreed. The first half was a re-hash of stuff you could get in a million other shows.

I’m a huge NOVA fan, but I thought this was a pretty mediocre show. As an introduction to the subject, I guess it would be pretty good. But nothing all that new.

Did they show the part where Darwin never knew his wife was cheating on him with a monkey? But then the monkey evolved into a human so it wasn’t beasitality just cheating :slight_smile:

Not available in my country. This is the main thing that bothers me about the “globalization of information”.

Sounds pretty interesting, though.

I confess to not being much of an expert in the field of genetics, so some of the connections between corrupted DNA and possible evolutionary divergence were pretty interesting to me.

The guy looking through the human genome for clues to the cause of MD and finding a link to jaw muscle development in different primates, for example, was something I hadn’t heard of. If he had of, predictably, found an underlying cause of MD, then I suppose I could say I saw that coming. I didn’t see the jaw muscle thing coming.

Can you get it online?

Not to blow my own horn or anything, but evolution (especially human evolution) is one of my areas of expertise, so I’m often disappointed when programs on that subject air. For example, I was really looking forward to the recent “Becoming Human” 3 part NOVA series, but I was very disappointed with what it turned out being.

Still, NOVA is my favorite science show in TV, and almost always make a point to watch it. I’d also recommend “Secrets of the Dead”.

One thing that really interested me was the part of the doctor studying Microcephaly, I do remember a couple of dopers in GD before telling us that Evolution was not needed at all to do good science in medicine and other fields of science. :dubious:

Point being that regular medical doctors and regular biologists did not need to know a thing about evolution to do good science; that is true, but this program shows how **inadequate **a doctor or biologist you would be if by dogmatic reasons you ignored evolution.

It was clear that the doctor studying the DNA of the patients affected would be at a disadvantage to continue doing further research as only by using modern genetic tools and comparing the DNA of apes and humans (tools and concepts coming from evolutionary science) got to discover very important genes that controlled the development of the human brain.

Not only is the doctor on a path of finding possible cures thanks to evolution science, he also helped in the progress of the science at the same time.