Internet Naturalist – November 25, 2013

  • Sandhill Cranes calling and feeding – YouTube
  • Darwin Got It Wrong – Studio 360 110113
    Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, and Lord Kelvin are remembered as unimpeachable geniuses. But over the course of their careers, they each made tremendous errors — not just faulty equations but fundamental misunderstandings. In Brilliant Blunders, Mario Livio showcases those failures and the surprising discoveries they lead to. “Science is presented as this direct march to the truth,” Livio, a NASA astrophysicist, tells Kurt Andersen. “Being a scientist myself, I know that’s very far from the truth. So I really wanted to give this picture of the zig-zag path with lots of false starts.”
  • Andrea Barrett’s Literary Science – Studio 360 110113
    Andrea Barrett dropped out of a graduate program in zoology, but has never left science behind. Nearly all of her books, including the National Book Award-winning story collection Ship Fever, are set in moments when the grand sweep of science intrudes upon the inner lives of individuals. Although the five stories in Barrett’s new book Archangel are short, their sweep is indeed grand; “I like to think of them as little tiny novels,” Barrett notes. A young teacher encounters Darwin in a classroom in 1873; a soldier confronts the changing mechanics of war in 1919; and, in 1920, a widowed astronomer faces an existential crisis triggered by Einstein’s theories. Each wrestles with that thrilling, difficult moment when one’s certainty about the world smashes up against new discoveries.
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