BBC show: Matthew and others on Drosophila

March 3, 2021 • 12:30 pm

The BBC is doing five ca.-15-minute shows on insects, and today’s is on my favorite insect (or genus of insects): Drosophila. It was broadcast this morning, but is now on the BBC site for your delectation. It won’t be there forever, so listen soon. The subtitle, “Drosophila Melanogastronaut” is clever, a play on the famous species Drosophila melanogaster, but they shouldn’t have capitalized the second word.

Erica McAlister, curator of Diptera at London’s Natural History Museum, introduces a number of talking heads, one of which is our own Matthew Cobb. It’s a short listen, and since your host spent his life working on Drosophila, you might want to learn a little about the fly. Click on the screenshot to listen how this humble fly (properly called the “vinegar fly” rather than “fruit fly”), kick-started genetics in the early 20th century.


10 thoughts on “BBC show: Matthew and others on Drosophila

  1. The recent appearance by Mathew Cobb and Erica McAlister on Infinite Monkey Cage, In Praise of Flies was fantastic. The world definitely needs more podcasts about fly genitalia! 🪰

    1. Oh still on Sounds but we do not all do ‘Sounds’ BBC!!!

      Have you tried “get_iplayer”? It’s still working, and grabbing programmes even since the introduction of “Sounds” (which I haven’t been bothered to try yet, either). It’ll grab the .TS file, then automatically re-code it to MP3 for use on almost any audio playing program.
      I’m running Windows today (GIS stuff I’m trying out), but I think there is a get_iplayer version for Windows too, so get_iplayer --pid_recursive --get m000sr4d should work (it’s in my notes for when I reboot to Linux ; you’ll need some window dressing to manage where in your file system the data is saved). Going on past experience, there will probably be an omnibus edition some time at the weekend.
      Bad news about the Flail buying NS. That’s going to hurt them, I’m sure. Good for the competition, or it would be if there was much in “general science”.

  2. I’ve been enjoying this series and meant to mention it here at WEIT, especially as they said yesterday that today’s programme was going to be on Drosophilia. Haven’t caught this episode yet, but will do soon.

  3. I have been reading “Lords of the Fly”, Robert E. Kohler’s history of The Fly Room and Thomas Hunt Morgan’s “boys”. Interesting and thought-provoking, although a little overboard in its psychologizing about the individuals. I was particularly interested in its detailed attention to Theodosius Dobzhansky, our host’s scientific grandfather, and the
    author of a classic book which greatly impressed me long ago.

  4. Hey, you can listen to this, and hundreds of other programmes and podcasts, (almost) everywhere in the world with the BBC Sounds app.
    Get it now, completely free.
    And Matthew would certainly endorse this message.
    Best. App. Ever!

  5. Fascinating! And I don’t usually listen to podcasts (too long). Never having heard the word pronounced, I didn’t know drosophila was stressed on the 2nd syllable. What I still can’t imagine is how you can work with anything as tiny as drosophila or nematodes.

    1. What I still can’t imagine is how you can work with anything as tiny as drosophila or nematodes.

      With a very steady hand and a microscope.
      Also, a lot of practice. I used to say to my trainees that they’ll have done a thousand or so hours at the microscope during their degree … and they’ll do another thousand hours in their first month at work, and another thousand hours in their second month and …

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