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Conversations about Science Communication and Communicating Science


S11:E03, “Heredity” edition, with Carl Zimmer (audio)

Posted by jnshaumeyer on 11 June 2018

Streamed live on 29 May 2018.

‘Heredity’, to this episode’s guest, is a big idea. Today, we think of heredity almost exclusively in terms of the genes we get from our biological parents–but what about before genetics became an idea? With its root meaning in ‘inheritance’, what the word encompasses has shifted, expanded, and contracted, in varied and fascinating ways.

In this episode we talked with Carl Zimmer about his magnificent new book, She Has Her Mother’s Laugh: The Powers, Perversions, And Potential Of Heredity. With an encyclopedic approach and a fine ear for clarity of expression, Zimmer takes a comprehensive look at the state of the science in understanding the intricate operating of genetic inheritance, and adds historical depth to the exploration with compelling and illuminating stories from the past few centuries. The book is jam-packed with history, stories, personal reflections, and lots of science. Perhaps needless to say, we talked about as many of its ideas as we could pack into our hour-long conversation, and still only scratched the surface.

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