Skip to main content

tv   James Costa Darwins Backyard  CSPAN  October 21, 2017 5:53pm-7:01pm EDT

5:53 pm
a look now at upcoming book fairs and festivals happening around the country. next weekend is the 9th annual boston bookfelt and louisiana book festival in bathen riewng. in early november will be a two state capitols look for us at the wisconsin book festival in mads son. and live at the texas book festival in austin. and later next month we'll also be live if from miami-dade college for the miami book fair. featuring smart al franken, best selling biographer walter isakson and katy among many other authors. for or more information about book pair and festivals to watch previous are festival coverage the bock fair tab on our website
5:54 pm
>> good morning. good morning, and welcome to the new york botanical garden to parking lot library we're are are very glad that you are here many my co-host david scone so on his way director of the -- darvin manuscript project at the museum of natural history joining us soon. special welcome to the other staff members and researchers from the american museum of history very pleased you're here and thank you, thank you. and also to the students and research from fordham university. the pleasure to have you here. this morning, our focus, of course, is darwin. all of you have a special relationship with this man. and today we'll focus on his backyard experiments and dr. james costa will guide us through this story. he's inspiring scientist and
5:55 pm
claimed author of the new book. dada -- darwin backyard and you have or already seen that you are actually able to purchase a year after the presentation, and have doctor costa with jim so we'll call him -- spernl personal message for you. while people are standing in line to buy that book, we have a first edition and very rare sample of the darwin materials the library is so lucky to have. and for you also to know that you can come back to research our special collections in that field. very happy that publicist and senior publicist kyle and the editor of the book amy cherry are here to joins us.
5:56 pm
they have been as you may have noticed sol really excellent book reviews out about darwin -- about jim's book and "new york times" mentioned it specifically as most inventive and entertaining so there you go. but all agree that the key argument is many this book that advance technologies are not really necessary to develop sophisticated knowledge biology and ecology and it is good for us all to hear. all it takes it to probe nature secret is a bit of createssivety and resourcefulness is what jim writes in the bng and to prove this, he has added some of darwin's quirky do it yourself household experiments. and readers try those out in
5:57 pm
their own backyard or in our case our wind sills in new york city. the book is there for ib valuable to also students and young students and here to new york botanical garden we're looking forward to -- welcoming many of the new naturalist who is have read about this book and inspired to become botanists themselves. it is my create pleasure and privilege to introduce dr. james costa now. jim is an executive director are of the biological station and rousers of biology at western carolina university. where he teacheses evolution and darwin and he's at harvard museum and former fellow of the radcliffe institute or for advance study as well as the
5:58 pm
recent many berlin. in berlin. lectures in the u.s. and abroad and currently serving as a distinguished lecturer and trustee flts charles darwin trust. he's author it have wallace, darwin and origin of species under organic law of change, and the origin. jim lives in the blue ridge mpghts mountains of north carolina the test to come to visit us in the big city -- and tell us more about darwin. please help me in welcoming him. [applause] thank you very much. wow. it is great to be here i can't adequately express my gratitude always nice to come in from are the province great to be back in
5:59 pm
my home state wonderful to see family here. old friends and colleagues, and darwin enthusiasts, some thanks are in order. david -- i'm deemly grateful, of course, to vanessa and team here at the botanical garden for hosting me and friend and colleague of the american museum for cosponsoring this event it is really such a special privilege and pleasure and, of course, i want to thank too -- wonderful team at norton kyle was mentioned and amy cher rei my editor really they have been wonderful to work with and very, very grateful for them as well, and of course i would be remiss if i didn't acknowledge any wife leslie unfortunately is not here with me today who did many of the illustrations for this book so -- so many thanks for many thanks for all of you being here. is it okay. there we go. okay -- this is a special privilege what
6:00 pm
i hope to do is really share with you maybe a perspective on charles darwin that is new to you. you know when we think about -- about charles darwin, you know image that comes to mind might be characterized by portrait or other images and you consider these photographs and portraits of darwin and you can't help but think this is a melancholy guy. this is a guy bummed out much of the time he's maybe tormtd. he's sad. you know, he's usually late in lives but he's always very serious. and you know i came to realize over years of -- studying dour win and his time these give us inaccurate portrait of darwin more about victorian portrait convention maybe limitation of photographic technology than they do the person. so darwin that i'm familiar with is a rather infish darwin. you know the darwin that i'm familiar with is a dad is a
6:01 pm
husband, is a friend, is a correspondent. is darwin who is, you know, has a sense of humor he's a real jokester who can be self-derei are kateing there's a other whole aspect to darwin that i find endlessly fascinating, and i thought you know there's nothing that better tells the story of the reality charles darwin than his -- pension for experiment and way miss which that engaged his family, his friends, his correspondents from around the world. this is -- this is a quote from darwin that i love. i love fools experiments i'm always making them. he, you know, that's self-deprecating kind of way and referred to his sports as fool experiments. and he makes fun of himself and makes fun of the experiment's they are quirky and curious they are odd but they're all to an interesting point an interesting
6:02 pm
scientific point behind them and that's worth exploring. now many of you will know i think, that darwin as a young man in his 20s traveled around the world on h sen s beg beagle and became home bodies after returning home even aside from some limited travel up to scotland and certainly family holidays to the seaside. he never really left home again. you know he married in 1949 wedding portrait and his wife emma, and over the years they had ten children. only seven of whom survived to adulthood, and so certainly like many families of that period, there were tragedies. so yes certainly there were time when is darwin has a melancholy aspect. but i think that -- you know more times than not, i mean, the darwin that comes through in his correspondents, his interactions with the friends and family is more the
6:03 pm
radical darwin that's the darwin i would like to introduce you to. all right. so you know, and involving the kids says a lot about darwin and his work and all sorts of glimpses in way in which his kids were involved or o very much aware of his work i for example, u you know there was about an eight--year-old period when he study barnacles barnacles -- some of the young ones as they were growing up all they knew was barnacles dad did barnacle and one of the kids visiting friends' home looked arpgd puzzled where does your dad do his barnacles like you know for all he knew every kid's dad does barnacles. you know, just understandable. you know. [laughter] there was an interesting episode mystery of the buzzing bumblebees and we understand this today in terms of trap lining behavior and marking, you know, marking ceremonially
6:04 pm
different wait point but they didn't know that. that communication wasn't known so they're trying to figure it out and in characterize fashion charles darwin rallies troop ares they get kids out and they're running around garden trying to mark bees with throwr to make them more visible zooming around to track them and understand what they're doing. years later leonard darwin had remembered his dad as at that time and that study he was like a boy amongst other boys. you know he was just out there running arranged in the garden with -- little ones you know crawling arranged in the hedge rows and so on. this one other little episode that you know glimpse here to share with you that says something about charles darwin and his relationship with his kids. you know, this is -- this is a little mote many a publication you can imagine was maybe not the most widely read and weekly intelligencer -- [laughter] everybody subscribe -- [laughter] and you know here's a little note about some rare beetses
6:05 pm
found near the house and this is signed francis leonard and darwin ages 11, 9, and 8 you young collectors here clearly is the proud dad with this note to this little peer i had cool proud as can be he's a beetle collector himself and here his kids are out there collecting beetles too so i see this in some ways more telling -- publication from 1859 you be the same year that saw origin of species published which is pretty interesting. so you know, darwin -- darwin's experiments you know his weird, wild wonderful endless series of experiments all took place almost literally in his -- in his backyard, i mean, in his study and green house buts in the woodlands in the meadows in his lawn. i have long been -- struck by how fun these can be for a modern audience certainly.
6:06 pm
sometimes very quirky kind of odd not the fact that they're always interest and interesting point to them as he makes them provide a really interesting hook for engaging today's young students perhaps. right these are as vanessa mentioned eminently accessible and these are experiments that were conducted on parking lot fly literally in the yard. no sophisticated equipment no precision or special consideration for experimental design and analytical proceed all of that and one interested in the history of ecology and evolution, is how often seminal foundational principles in these fields have their origin opinion in these literally backyard experiments done almost, almost on the fly. so this makes the -- these make -- the makes experiments access public easily duplicated by that and of course adapt to believe any age group that can be scaled up or down you can run these with kirngders you can run twhem
6:07 pm
college age students. something for anyone right any grade or age. so what was that about? curiosity that really drives any kind of investigation. right of that natural pattern, process and that drove a lot of this. but after a while, i mean, darwin darwin came to -- a fascinating evolutionary understand uing of the world. perhaps at a time with when no one else did. and so part of his experimentizing became an perfect to gatser evidence a new way of understanding the nature and the origin of species often here using those local case studies and seeing universal principles in his yard i find that fascinating. so many of you who have maybe venture haded into on the origin of species will remember that in that book, darwin refers to the
6:08 pm
origin as one long argument. well what does he mean by that? this coverage, paleontology and domestication and so on and so forth yet it all hangs together as cohesive argument but what you may not have noticed how often many of those arguments are based upon or by these fascinating backyard experiments. so the book behind the book is really this book. to me, and in a sense right darwin's experiment book by one of those works which he recorded very kiengdz of experiments and their results fascinating book that now resides in cambridge university library. an you know so much can be said about how darwin did it for starters i'll giveout species how disuse species become distributed as we see them on earth? right.
6:09 pm
now i'm not going to go all of these speerts but it is just a sample her of the kind of often rather odd investigations you know, season salt water hitchhike per experience with ducks feet about which i'll say something. dunking ducks in duck weed crawling around collecting bird droppings to dissect out the seeds and so on an so forth and give you xeamples of the various experiments aimed to try to puns disperse think about remote islands islands never in contact with a -- a mainland a continental mainland how they're clothed with plants. many animals how do they get there? well it is easy enough to see how -- a flying animal might be blown off course by storm or something. but a lot of these critters they don't fly.
6:10 pm
right how do they get there? so he's kind of thinking about this and he irings we also floating -- you know sometimes carried but often just floating right, and so you know, the question becomes well could they float? could the seeds of species floats and somehow make it to a speck of land in the middle of the ocean somewhere. well his good friend joseph the botanist didn't think so he thought it was nonsense and couldn't survive exposure to salt water this won't work. darwin said where's the evidence you know can you demonstrate that? no hooker couldn't so, of course, darwin decides to do it himself. and he doesn't do things by halving but throws himself into this project. where you know he has jr. after jar of salt water and he just fills the cellar house is practically pulse of these jars of salt water, species after species after species floating seeds, taking samples you know periodically will they germinate after a week what about two weeks what about a month? what about three months?
6:11 pm
awe, you know success they do seem to survive exposure oftentimes not always and this time the kids were really kind of rooting for their dad. they knew that -- joseph hook per was, you know, he was dubious of the qhoals enterprise darwin confided to hooker in a letter that children were at first tremendously eying per and scdz me often whether i should prove him wrong and indeed he was triumphant that species after species -- proved to be, you know -- viable after exposure to salt water. except then hooker point something out that was inconvenient i said a lot of those seeds you've been testing they sink well this is a problem. because you know that's a point whether they can survive if they're never going to float out to an island so in another letter to hooker rather they'll sink and taking this trouble salting ungrateful rascals for nothing. you know those letters again they're a window they're a
6:12 pm
window into a personality they're a window into a person. i find that, that fascinating and you know, it's also emblematic of darwin undaunt sod what does he do? let's try drying seeds let's try seeds in dry fruit still adhering to foliage so page after page of the experiment book is dedicated to floating all for a matters of species sending specimen from the garden procuring from all over the place, and to his satisfaction he's able to show that a significant number of these can can float for extended periods they remine viable for extended periods, if you look at a -- an atlas of sogs kurnghts you can calculate how far they can be carried in principle thousands of miles -- and so hooker of course was duly chasened came to agree, well -- you know, as with mentioned ting that -- an experiment like this is em nangt accessible and fun for modern audience old and young so for example, in any chapter of
6:13 pm
this book i have a kind of do it yourself section where people can replicate experiments, and so for example, you know you can experimenttize about darwin getting arranged. you can look at seeds many a pickle rights and you can test for vary viability over periods of time. great fun -- or a related topic that was remote oceanic islands what about pons and lakes islands on the land? right how do aquatic oral nisms get to lake to lake so ducks something to do with this. ducks surely and envisioning that ducks when they're sleeping are dangling their feet this the water and hitchhikers will, you know, perhaps climb onis board and ducks wake up and off they go and they fly hundreds of miles to carry hitchhikers and he's fascinated by this. this is a do it yourself version
6:14 pm
of his experiment his version of this used actual ducks feet which he severed, of course. but he probably ate the duck, i mean, therm dinner. he would dangle to see if snails would climb onboard and pull them out when they did and they did. and he would see how long can they survive outside of water. you know, any hour, 24 hours, 28 hours well perfect how far could a duck fly? in 28 hours you know they could be carrying hundreds and hundreds of miles well i want to fin ties kids to test this but i don't them to necessarily be chopping legs off of ducks as you might understand. and so you know, i give introduction for building your own model duck foot very simple defuse a bobber ore ping-pong ball and woodsen owl and fabric duck foot and attach it to a line as you see my younger son opinion doing here eli, and you can go fishing for aquatic
6:15 pm
hitchhikers darwin great fun i've done this with educate or tores, students me own kids and remarkable how much thing use catch with with your dark feet so darwin once again vindicated there but he wasn't content with doing a backyard experiment and ing at this but this is one area where darwin becomes crowd sourcer. and so here for example, are four letters all publish in the gardeners chronicle in 1855 what are these about? these are about asking readers has anyone ever tried this does anyone know if seeds will float or -- in salt water will they survive salt water i would appreciate it if people would sending me results send in results, and on letter after letter, of course sufficiently famous by them that readers were very happy to do this and sending in results and to send them to him, to the
6:16 pm
magazine so many of these in the species and reported in origin on of species. so i considered darwin to be original crowd sourcer to good effect in other areas whenever he would need sort of a big or picture sense of will this work? he would publish an open letter and try to get people to send in send in resultses that really fun and there's one other really interesting aspect to this. this whole enterprise, and this is darwin's openness to seemingly oddest experimentses. so here again we're on the subject of dispersible so francis darwin was known as frankie when he was a kid when he was eight years old he came up with this experiment and darwin described it in a loart to joseph hook tear and he says i must tell you another of my profound experiments you can see he's sort of tongue and cheek propounds. you know. franky said to me job shouldn't a bird be killed by a hawk our lightning or something with seeds in its crop so a bird that
6:17 pm
is eating seats fly along over ocean and lightning strikes or hail strike it is or something and or poor bird down it goes and it is floating in the seas. and it gets washed up on some foreign shore and it has built in fertilize per right pomplet rotting carcass so -- so this is franky's idea what does his dad say? he says to hooker well here we go sooner said than done. no problem so he a poor pigeon is p fed seeds and sadly floating in salt water for a month he say in his notebook in the letters he reports also in his note bock and those seeds they have grown splendidly. you know another box checked you know another interesting form of disperse l right so it is multifacet tells us about dare wane other areas biodiversity studies in a sense, botanical studies really --
6:18 pm
one who uses areas in understanding diversity and small areas here in his -- nearby meadows, he worked with the children's governess katherine quite a talented botanist, happy to help darwin, with these experiments. and you get these glimpse of their triumph and their trials and tribulations here's darwin saying hurrah i made out my first grass anyone who trieded to key out a grass will know his pain this is not easy to identify, identify grasses. but he's triumph pangts and never expected to make out a grass in his life so he's thrilled about this. what i find fascinating about these experiments, studies with katherine is they are foundational to key studies in the history of ecology. because they led to what are known as the lone plot and weed garden speerts these again are
6:19 pm
literal any in the backyard the plot these are like small there's by four plots and you seat house in the background this is in backyard right and te case of the plot he's mowing the lawn that leaving the plot unmow ed and idea is to document the various species that are occurring overtime and cooccurring in these really interested in the genetic or the genetic diversity the tax diversity of different groups that are growing many these very small areas. he's interested in comp ties he's interested in -- in what per sis and what doesn't natural selection in action to him. so you know, the ecologist in the audience were recognized terms like -- like niche partition and competitive exclusion bio101 textbooks have these principles of ecology but i find fascinating that those principles they literally originate in this experiment. right they come, they come back to darwin backyard i find that really, really interesting. the weed guarden is the study in natural selection as we also
6:20 pm
where he cleared a plot and les seedlings come up they basically look at their demographics that looking at mortality rate over the first detailed demographic studies of a set of species in a small geographical areas ever conducted against absolutely foundational to the history of ecology. very interesting. done, you know, just in the yard right and of course you know anyone can do qeed garden or lawn plot so i give instructions on do it yourself versions to make little plots you can track them. track the dynamic of the species the way darwin did and even perhaps compare your results with dare win's results because they're all available. pretty interesting. so if origin is one long argument we have to remember that darwin may be best known for the origin species, but he published, you know, a multitude
6:21 pm
of books post origin opinion many of experimental in nature but a series of interesting volumes i call this one longer argument because darwin it may seem that he's exploring diversity of subjects orchids climb plants carnivorous plants and earth sworms on all of a piece all design all depended to extend and reenforce his overarching theory the the unity of life to understand that idea of the big picture relationships of all organisms with common decent understanding better the way natural selection works adaptation and so on. right that's the longer argument. now you know so much could be said i really of course don't have time to give you -- you know a real, real sample her but i'll give you a taste of some of these post origin investigations. because i find them so, so informative to this is just a
6:22 pm
little smat peering of topic that he got into pigeon, orchid climbing plants it went on and upon you can imagine any one time a dozen different speerts would be juggled you know there at the house. so darwin planted in his bed and grew climbing plants and orchid and carnivorous plants all to conduct his various experiments. and many people find it a little bit odd that the first book to come out after the origin is book on orchids just a few year ares later in 1862 what in the world. you know is he becoming something of a daughterring naturalist that off he goes in some, you know, direction . no, no orchids are of a piece he's fascinate by intricate adaptation of orchid the ways in which they have relationships with insects often one to one relationship with their pollen nay tores the ways in which different lineage of orchids
6:23 pm
they sort of have variation on a theme they're adaptive highly modified reproductive structures and seep les all modified in different ways in different lineages but all to the same end he found that have been were very interest and thought it bore on philosophical issue of design in nature right he salted argues against design. and then he discovered interesting pollination mechanism so one of the group that package their pollen into dissecrete units that they call pollen packets often when they have this lock and key relationship with insects the little poll opinion pacts are glued to insect as insects kind of get into the orchid to get at the neck or tar so fascinated by these relationships but also ways in which some of them they don't rely on a kind of passive glueing they actually forcibly fire the little planeia so here's his neighbor and friend
6:24 pm
and protege at one time he comments in an 1874 essay mr. darwin has been so good to irritate one of these flowers in my presence that it was thrown nearly three feet when it struck adhered to paint of a window no darwin would, you know, he thought this was hilarious he would unsuspecting friends and family in the green house you know he would sort of trigger one and -- you know they would have a fire at them and stick to their shirts you know. he thought that was a hoot. you know he was really into that. this is the bank or down bank which is a favorite pick nick spot for the family they would go here -- you can imagine the kids kind of gambling around here and playing and -- the governess in hot pursuit and darwin is interested in the orchids among other things of this beautiful, beautiful site and it is here that he documented some of those interesting poll nay tore relationships like this brunette moth you see the coil has these yellow packets throes the poll
6:25 pm
packets so drawing is from the orchid book with all of these paired pollen packets adhering to the moth so we document quite a few of these cases. of -- insects and their plinia at the bank and you know this kind of fed into a broader interest the interest in cross fertilization and cross pollination and over arching interest darwin is convinced that all organisms must cross fertilize very poarnts and i won't get into why he thought that. this is interesting but i koangt get into that. what i will mention is his dedication to documenting it and different cases especially with plants right. so for example, here's a little phage taken from one of the notebooks, where he's mapped out the structure of a flower and showing what he call thes the gangway. way many which the bee enters the flower. up curved -- you know you can see that through good effort in a very
6:26 pm
commonly, you know, planted favorite. they have that classic up turn pattern to the gangway that bees go into. he's intrelsed too interests into like trigger sensitive pollination like you see request bar per berry and mountain laurel where they are reflexed back and a bee will displace them and they go bing and they shower the insect with flower. he just loved that. he thought that was just fascinating and documented case after case after case of interesting cases of this pollination. right, broad bean common beans and very curious way that they are wrapped into this tube. he calls it like a french horn, and when the bees tug on those lower pedal it is pokes out and dabs pollen on basket bee right so these relationships he thought were fascinating. and they also led to an interesting episode right a discovery or maybe a codiscovery that darwin made when he stumbled upon a principle that
6:27 pm
botanist call heterostyly where you have different flower morph in the same species now this is interesting he first found this many -- in prim roses, and he thought he made a great discovery thorns out this was known already. but to this gave him the interest the flower up on the left the female morph has a long pistol the female part of the flower and very, short you can't see the stamen they're down. but the so-called male morph on the right has very long stamen so he thinks maybe thinking big picture right, he's thinking all animal all organisms plans and animals are uni sexual but you
6:28 pm
have separate sexes including in plants you have, you know, kind of male flower upon some individual female flowers on other individuals maybe this is an example of evolution in action in the process of verging he thinks he's excited he writes to his friends is this known has anybody studied this. what's going on with this so working hypothesis this is evolution in action well then you know, logically perhaps the female morph qowb would be producing more seeds you get many more seeds than male morph so -- he wants to test this hypothesis so you marshal troops and out the kids go -- lenny franky bessy out they go from the experiment book. may i-13th my children combattered a bunch 79 stocks were male flowers 52 were female flowers, and then he's doing the meticulous crossing studying see
6:29 pm
the production you know by these morphs it goes on, and on -- and on. he does, i mean, he's just like what the soaking in salt water throws himself all in trying to gather some evidence. and he really think he's on to something big here. and then you know he crashes headlong into thoams henry huxley's great tragedy of science. any scientist may have that beautiful hypothesis by ugly fact on this case the manifestation of the great tranl dives that darwin found just the opposite of what he had expected right the so-called male morph was actually producing in his study many more seeds than the female mother or father shoot. you know, so that turns out to be a nice example where darwin got it young right he was barking up wrong tree but that is informative it says something about his stick to throw himself into it. test hypothesis try to figure it out he comes up shorted.
6:30 pm
darn back to drawing board now what's going on here. he publishes whole book on this subject. and he does get it right in the sense that he realizes this is all about outcrossing it's all about enforcing cross fertilization between individuals. right, minimizing the self-fertilization by individuals. so in that respect he got it right. so of course in that spirit i have a do it yourself darwin encounter of the floral kind in any book where you can explore you know dissecting flowers and looking after pollination mechanisms so many every day even house plants let ace loan this common garlden variety type plants are -- endlessly interesting, in these ways -- and can be did i second this can be observed they're quirky like the common and lever action.
6:31 pm
so it's a way to get people to engage not just with darwin but natural world and see things with new eyes. because these are plants that are often planted on a mentally in people's impar den they're in their house and house plants but really look closely right there's often much more than meets the eye. with these plants and that's -- very interesting to me. carnivorous plants darwin is fascinated by insect plants because again thinking big picture, darwin is interested in the unity of all of life. and so even groups of organisms he thinks must have a common ancestor therefore we should be able to find evidence you know he's interested in plant-like animals and an mall like plants trying to find those lines of evidence that underscoir that very ancient relationship well -- of course what group of plants
6:32 pm
is more animal-like than carnivorous plants these things that digest insects they catch and they dissect insects. some of them they can move very quickly like snap action, you know em nangtly animal-like so he's really fascinated by these -- emma in her dry style comengts on a letter that he hopes to end to proving it an animal and she's only half joke he really does. he really does want to show that it's fundamentally no different physiologically from animals even though quite different. so what does he do? you know, he sort of starts and stops these experimentses with these because he's interacted by million of experiments but he's done art enforced break on holiday, and you know, if he's bored he said it is like
6:33 pm
pathgonia and nothing to look at until he finds these. here's something i can look at. what do you do you might begin to explore their dietary preferences so he tries to feed it a little bit of his hair he tries it to feed it his toenail that led to not profound collection they don't like toenail but you have to start somewhere. you have to start is somewhere. but, you know, there's a range of fascinating experiments i think are em nangtly access public to a modern audience right feeding -- feeding sun dues of various kinds and substance darwin eventually discovered he had a sense these plants grow and hydrogen poor environments and interested in substances with a, you know, component so he does a series of experiments and he
6:34 pm
tries substance they don't like pure sugar but they like milk for example and sugar and so you can do your own experiments with picky eaters they're all of fun you can also do experiments with -- with fly trays and darwin was fascinated by -- way to trick the mechanism with just right frequency and way and snap they go. and again you can, you know, you can torment them by giving things they don't like to eat and then they spit it out slow motion spitting out for a fly trap but it's really great fun. great fun. well, there's another group of plants that is emmnantly animal-like the climb plant and vines -- the way they probe and seem to grab things they sense things there's something vaguely sinister and eerie about them.
6:35 pm
and popular culture lower they have a kind of sort of a negative -- a negative aspect. people are a little bit weary of them. it was exactly those attribute this ability seemingly to have o touch perception to react to that if and his neighbor gardener has a climbing plant in his study that readily latch on to a -- to a stick, and he then you notice he's marveling his neighbor's gardener says it is almost like they have eyes like they can see. like something vaguely disturbing about that. well darwin is fascinating fasct does he do and family like any victorian family has a plant case everybody has got this beautiful indoor plant case. this is a early daughter eddy and emma loved putting nice plants in. but they were very tolerant of
6:36 pm
his common deering it removing ornamental plant and with climbing want play was use glass upper surface to put tracing paper and then you see it in this diagram from mia alan book where he had a kind of visual marker a reference point you can look or through the glass at the tip of the growing tip of the shoot and notice this -- note its position and then using tracings paper document overtime how it is moving. and he documents and sort of discovers independently this principle of constant circular searching motion by grow chutes, he coined term -- now this was or already known right -- but his term has prevailed known as mutation. and he went through and his characteristic way hundreds of species right documenting how they -- how they most move and trying to
6:37 pm
figure out you know what is the basis here? and do they have some kind of a nervous system like animals? no, the answer is no. you know, they don't have a nervous system like an malts they didn't fully understand physiology behind what was happening but he understands this sz a fascinating adaptive lab ration of a movement that hep finds all plants actually exhibit all growing chutes exhibit circular motion but in climbing adaptive reasons. right, so of course in the spirit of darwin investigation i provide instructions for observing theme different ways of climb and also kind of a home -- i call it. which is to take a nice, you know, growing vine or chute like brewer hop easily available, and fitting dial with maybe with numbers, of a clock arranged the flower pot and showing how fast
6:38 pm
oftentimes growing shoots can move. and one final example and that is worms. darwin now this is poignant i think because darwin this represents an area of interest very early in his career. an this interest in this subject developed shall i say evolved over years that started out as earthworm as a geological force and this was classic darwin as a geologist trying to understand the slow steady accumulation of little tiny baby steps alteration in the landscape that add up to great changes. in the landscape over time and convinced that earthworms are such a geological force that you know you imagine them in their teaming billions in the soil
6:39 pm
literally eat their way through the soil bringing soil up through their castings, and in that way very slowly in sensibly burying octobers reshaping the landscape . so he and his now grown sons we're talking 1870s, went on many excursion to acialg yo logical site like stone hedge for example a fallen block taken from his book, stone hedge measuring how deeply has this sunk in and it we know about how old it is we can get a sense of you know on average how quickly is this thing subsiding. right, earthworms as a geological force. and then also this idea he came to a little later it says something also about -- what he calls scale of nature these humble organism people assume that, you know, they just are, they don't do anything and
6:40 pm
no behavior to speak of and they have personalities. they're intelligence they are problem solvers they are fascinating intelligent beings so this is really a fascinating aspect but starts to experiment on the intenls and their predilection. he confided in one letter to one of his nieces i'm becoming deeply attached to worms. you know, he worked with this is a letter to sophie and worked with lucy quite a talented experimentalist herself, and can quite a few experiments as al mentioned with darwin, and, of course, much of her data are reported in this book. so worms as a geological force one of the kids came to the ford little dare win grew up to become one of the found percent of the cambridge san francisco instrument company which actually, you know, was a very long-lived company very
6:41 pm
inventive and inventor and earliest was world stone this is diagram that he published publi1 worm stone is a mill stone rather not a mill but that would be set on the ground and then he designed this precision -- to very slowly measure that or very slow subside of the no stone this was replicated one at lucy house one at down house and in this way gathered collect data on the extra down movement the big mill stone through the action of worms so quantify for first time their ability to bury objects. at the same time, he and u lucy also pioneered this idea to quantitity the casting so soil, you know, the concern it earthworms will eat their way through the soil and coming up and they'll -- essentially soil in their gut deposited on surface in a unit
6:42 pm
called worm cast, and so you can actually collect the cast and you dry them and then weigh them and you can get some sense of just how much soil is being moved what they found is that up to 16 tons of soil per acre are moved by these worms annually which is truly -- truly remarkable. while that's not it. remember his interest in personalities of these worms predilections they're intelligence so if you have an opportunity to visit down house and you visit parlor here you'll notice sort of a -- staging of one of their more memorable experiments. you notice that there's a piano there in the back of the room. and you notice there's a flower pot on the piano. and you know, one might assume well the flower pot probably supposed to have flowers in it but no, this is one of his worm rei e-so he would maintain his world and flower pots he call them a wormry and rear thesm
6:43 pm
kind of like pets and in this reenactment he's trying to test musical appreciation of his worms. [laughter] and so he's got his wife maim is an published pianist his son francis -- is can play the bassoon you see there and bernard plays penny whistle so play concert to game their appreciation. emma is in her classic way she's always got a very dry are comment on such things. fathers taken to draining earthworms but does not make progress as they can neither hear nor see. able to show ultimately vibration they do detect vibration and, of course, not appreciating genera of music but vibration they're paying attention to and dissecting and unctioning what had they're doing in their little burrow he's fascinated by that. well --
6:44 pm
there well you know -- there we have a music appreciation in earth worlds darwin would certainly smile at if nothing else using wormy reconstruct experiments like dare win is taking bernard coloring paper cutting out little shapes on triangle disks, squares different types of angle of triking a pl sprinkle them on wormry they have no limbs they have no eyes but how do they feel arranged and make choices? because they like to line their burrows with leaves or paper. and on what basis do they cheese so they would set up their wormry this this one and he and francis and bernard sneak down at nights and spy on worms as they were out on the surface in the dark trying to feel around. and making selections of what -- what shape pairm paper what size, and you know you can dissect these out, and observe the way that selections that they've made. but it was one he was doing that
6:45 pm
that darp win noticed they're often kind of snuggled in little burrows together. flearn they're all nestled in a mass that made him l think you know they have -- they actually have social appetites they love to be together. you know togetherness in worms. you know, begun far, far from you know aspect of worms that any of us had ever thought, thought possible. all culminating in this wonderful book he published if i borrow your copy of this book. happy to give it back to you i'm going to share with you one passage the very last passage of this book that -- s that kind of speaks to darwin's -- love of worms. but also i think you know -- speaks to the way darwin the way he learned to see things with new eyes. and the lessons that he still
6:46 pm
offers us for pus to try to understand the natural world and see, see this wonderful world with new eyes. so i think that his earth quorum work is truly -- emblematic of a whole way of understanding the natural world and i thought it would just share that with you. that's very is last passage as i said darwin fields and meadows are microcosm of the qiedzer world as with all of the naturalists investigations over the 40 years he lived in down what he learned locally in his study and green house field and garden woodland and lawn have global implications. it is res nangt that his research is on worms spanned his entire life at the house he worked a away aboveground as they worked soil beneath that 40-year earthworm odyssey with classic darwin seeing common things with new eyes and new significance, asking with child like wonder why, or how always experimentizing to find an answer. he was as revolutionary as his
6:47 pm
worms with his knack for asking questions and dental to follow out and reenforce his evolutionary ideas through subject after subject book after book -- those books were like worm castings. slowly burying received wisdom and old prejudiceses. making the world anew. and with that i thank you all very, very much. [applause] thank you and very happy to answer any questions. for the questions we have ten or more minutes for about five questions i believe. >> okay if you have a question -- raise your hands and i bring you microphone because your question will be recorded by the television crew. >> oh, be careful what you ask. [laughter]
6:48 pm
[inaudible conversations] i was saying hello richard, sorry. hello wonderful talk. wonderful talk. well to the microphone i want to point out that when darwin went to stone hedge to see how deep the stones were buried it was -- terrible trip for them and his son, it was very disappointed he said worms of this area -- not very industrious at all. [laughter] and i think it was also some disappointment about how deep the worm stone had sunk in the yard. but couldn't quite didn't quite work out but anyway lovely talk. >> yeah he had certain hoped that things woulding progress, you know, at a greater rate absolutely. >> now you have had an opportunity to question from david would you like to stand for a second because you're our co-host unfortunately we missed you this is from the natural history --
6:49 pm
director -- [inaudible conversations] great to see you. [laughter] okay. and i blame it all on your metro north -- [laughter] everything. and the men experiments to life to put emphasis on the day and they really do diverse, so let me ask a tricky question -- >> no. we think about darwin as a theorist, and obviously he is one of the great biological theorists in all time so what is the relationship which comes first theory of your experiment. how to simply rely on each other and receive a whole. thanks david that is a great question. you know, and maybe chicken and eggish which comes first but i think it all begins with curiosity.
6:50 pm
and even at a level as a kid that is not sophisticated but there's a certain sense of wonder that i think that many a good naturalist have i think certain darwin certainly had ting that noticing things and that sense of wonder leading to observation leading to eventually the -- sophistication sufficient to ask why or how i can't help but think that it's the oarvetion you know curiosity and observation that then stoax those creative fires and yes he was a theorist. he's thought big he had some big and fascinating theories not all of which panned out, of course. but then i thinks that's a motivator for some of those at some level was -- was oarvetion observation that question about why and how that made hill delve into understanding what others thought of series and think of the geologist trying to unction
6:51 pm
his grand theory of the iter and process and certainly then realizing that to try to better understand this. i must make more observation. i can contribute observational evidence, and so -- it's a chicken and egg thing but ultimately that curiosity has to start somewhere and has to start kind of with becoming aware of and noticing things in nature . and -- that sense of wonder kicking in i like to think. >> who has another question? one here. [inaudible conversations] >> yeah steve thanks from fordham that was a great talk. thank you very much, and -- >> thank you. >> i had a question since darwin did a lot of these experimentses including experimental crosses, do you have any insight into why he never really came up with doing greg's experiments which had been done but wrnght known at the time how did he not
6:52 pm
coming come up with more information on rules inheritance he thought which was a problem with theory because he thought inheritance was always blending but doesn't observe that in his own experimental process? >> it's a gooded question it is something of an irony you know even while darwin was working away he was working away in his monetary garden in the 1860s. and leading to pin sightses that wrpght appreciated for another 40 some odd years and i don't have necessarily a very good answer to that except that -- you know sometimes and it may be relates to this question about theorizing and then observation and what you're pursuing, when you have a theory that working hypothesis a model you're looking for -- it becomes difficult to think a different way and blending seems logical absolutely just makes complete sense that inheritance must be blending, and darwin had some of you i think will know in
6:53 pm
the 1860s he put forth his own theory of blending inheritance this kind of -- idea which is one of the examples where darwin really got it wrong right, and so maybe this idea of in retrospect respect that who may be himself doesn't fully maybe appreciate the big picture significance what have he had found inheritance that is dissecrete way out of the box like off anyone's radar let's add to that the fact that although darwin did collect data, no one would accuse him of being overly quantitative he famously he made fun of himself about his lack of capacity for mathematics so that analysis probably too was not to his -- his taste i suspect. so yeah. that would be my take on that. thank you. >> time for one quick last question. here we are.
6:54 pm
>> question over here. >> thank you for the wonderful talk. i was just going to ask that same question. i also heard a rumor that darwin even had a manuscript of the paper lined on his shelf unread after he moved out i guess. i wound per you heard of that and i wanted to ask with your own writing habit because you're a prolific author wonder when you write or mix your research with your writing and if you talk about that. >> yeah, sure thanks. well i think it is a bit that darwin had paper at hand and pages were uncut. you know he -- he wasn't very quantitated and he wasn't very strong with foreign languages. either -- he could kind of slog it out when he had to when it was something he was really interested this with the system. but yeah i think that the short answer to the question about did darwin had papers i thinks that
6:55 pm
a story. as for my own writing, well, you know that, that's practical difficult to answer. i -- i take a uniformtarian approach, you know so when that tarr win spirit by which i mean that -- that i actually tried to do something every day to you know every day and once i had kids, i -- my shifted my whole living schedule, and my being a night owl i would get up in wee hours to have pun broken block of time that's the living commodity is time to work so that was a habit i started when my kids are born and now late teens still doing that and i say only half kidding about this uniformtarian approach because i do -- i do think that if i can just do something however little a paragraph i don't care if it is
6:56 pm
a paragraph every day then this adds u up. step by step it adds up. and over time before long you know you've got something . you've got something you can work with. yeah, thanks. with that i think we can't get a better lesson. [laughter] and i would like to thank you again for wonderful -- your wonderful insight in darwin we all feel enriched know more about this -- phenomenal man, and we now have an opportunity to see some of his first editions and you will see whenever published there's some information and -- also also highlight in message of the work art and come back to botanical garden thank you for coming to this special friday morning science humanity seminar, and if you would like to purchase the book it is for sale around the corner and join me in another round of applause
6:57 pm
for our phenomenal speaker. >> thank you. [cheering and applause] >> here's a look at some authors recently featured on booktv afterwards, our weekly author interview program with, craig shirley discussed life in political career of newt gingrich. former radio host and msnbc contradict tore charles provided thoughts on conserve teff movement in america, and investigative journal art lavigne reported on mental health industry. in the comes weeks former "face the nation" anchor will examine roaflt media today. retired astronaut scott kelly onboard international space station federal judge john
6:58 pm
newman will reflect on his career first as a prosecutor and now the federal appellate judge. and this weekend on afterwards, former fox news anchor gretchen carlson talks about challenges of women who have been sexually harassed in the work place. over 90% of sexual harass hadment cases end up in slentses, and what does that mean? that means that the woman pretty much never works in her chosen career ever again. and can never talk about it she's gagged how else we put in arbitration clauses that make it a secret proceeding so again nobody ever finds out it be if you fill a complaint. you can never talk about it. ever -- nobody ever mows what happened to use in the most cases you're also terminated frommed company and predator in in cases is left to still work. in the same position in which he was harassing you. so this is the way our society has decided to resolve sexual
6:59 pm
harassment cases. to gag women so that we can feel everyone else out there that we have come so far in 2017 and reason we think we have come so far is because we're not hearing about these cases but the reason we're not hearing about the cases -- is because the women are silenced. either through settlements, or through forced arbitration, afterwards airs on booktv every saturday at 10 p.m. eastern and sundays at 9 p.m. eastern and pacific.
7:00 pm


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on