The Conduct Science Podcast: Evolution – Timestamps
00:00 – Intro and welcome
01:25 – Factoids
06:24 – What is evolution?
09:58 – What is a species?
19:40 – How animals first evolved
29:39 – Tardigrades
39:50 – Monotremes
44:20– Types of evolution
57:16 – Human and technological evolution
01:08:20 – What adaptation do you wish we had?
01:10:58 – Ending and outro
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In this week’s episode Tom and Mitch swing through the evolutionary tree of life! Have you ever considered what evolution really is, is that the only theory, how we define a species, how animals evolved in the first place or about the super animal that is the tardigrade? Well this is the episode for you! Join us on this wild ride through evolutionary science! Music by: Joakim Karud – https://soundcloud.com/joakimkarud.
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The Conduct Science Podcast: Evolution – Transcript
Tom: Hello Ladies and gentlemen and welcome to the conduct science podcast where today we are swinging through the branches of the tree of life, unraveling the mysteries of evolution. If you want to check out all the latest goings on, you can go to conductscience.com you can find us on Facebook and Twitter by searching @conductscience. And if you have any questions, you can use the #AskConductScience and we’d be more than happy to help answer them on this show. I am your host Tom Jenks and joining me as usual is the peak of human evolution himself. Mitchell getting
Mitch: Ah, wasn’t expecting that, thank you very much. Appreciate it. [Laughter].
Tom: [Laughter]. And today’s topic, if you hadn’t guessed, is evolution. Um, I realize that’s quite a strong opening saying we’re gonna unravel the mysteries of evolution. So I hope we actually unraveled something
Mitch: It was bold is a bold declaration to make at the start of a podcast.
Tom: It was maybe a bit too strong or too strong, is eye opening.
Mitch: It would be like today we’re going to solve cancer and then be like, oh well we didn’t you kind of like built some people up there
Tom: Maybe we’ll have some user retention in that area. We’ll keep it mysterious for now.
Mitch: Yeah, full clickbait title as well, throw that in there.
Tom: As usual. I’ve come up with some factoids which may unravel something for you or the listeners. So I’l hop in with the first one. So genetic variation when mating I think is something people know is very high and important, especially in terms of evolution. If a pair like a mating pair wanted to, I don’t know why they would want to, but they wanted to have two babies with the exact same DNA. They would have to have over a quadrillion babies before the likelihood of that happening actually happened. It just shows you how much having a child or the variability with that is there is is incredible.
Mitch: Yeah, that sounds like a good fact. But it’s like saying if you have a baby and then you want another baby that looks exactly like the first baby, how many times would you have to have, you know, make a new baby to look like the same first baby. Have I got that right.
Tom: Yeah, pretty much. But it’s more down to rather than just looks and actual genetic DNA level.
Mitch: Oh yeah. About that. Yeah. I’m oversimplifying it, but that’s what. That’s what it all boils down to though doesn’t, it Tom? Your looks.
Tom: Oh yeah. That’s how we know the world moves around. My next factoid, I’ve got is, so we all know birds and reptiles as we know today. I have to send it from dinosaurs, but the living closest relative of birds and the reptile family is crocodile. So I’m hoping to see a mutation one day of just a crocodile with wings flying around.
Mitch: Or a diddy one like a chick version of a, I guess you already get them, don’t they? Diddy alligators, but like it’s full grown.
Tom: Like the Caiman?
Mitch: Yeah, like a full aggressive, like we’ll say like a seven foot crocodile, but just shrunk down to like a foot.
Tom: That would be actually kind of terrifying. Imagine a flock of that coming towards you.
Mitch: I’m not sure if you’d call it a flock Tom, cause they’re not flying.
Tom: Oh, how’d you, how’d you know they’re not flying? That was my image that they’d be flying.
Mitch: Just a floating alligators coming at you?
Tom: Well no, they’ve got wings. Like
Mitch: I don’t, I’m not sure if that’s how evolution works, Tom. We’re not unraveling anything at the moment.
Tom: [Laughter]. There’s still hope. There’s still hope. My last factoid is in the womb, humans develop gill arches like fish have and tails, which is evidence of our evolutionary history leftover in our embryonic stages.
Mitch: I also heard through the grapevine, uh, also possibly, uh, playground facts that we, uh, we developed first from the rectum.
Tom: That is indeed true and something we will come onto later, but is a good point. You make a, at some point, all humans are nothing but an anus. [Laughter].
Mitch: [Laughter]. Well, you know, Tom, everybody starts off as @$#-holes So, uh, [Laughter].
Tom: Exactly, exactly. Some people never change. [Laughter].
Mitch: [Laughter]. Wayyyyy.
Tom: Oh, I do have an extra, that extra factor. It actually, which I found quite surprising. Um, so the acceptance of evolution as a theory or as the way things actually happened is in decline. And in the US only 60, no 60% of people don’t think it happened. So only 40% of the population think evolution is a thing.
Mitch: I’m trying to think of if anything would have caused that. I guess
Tom: My main thought is obviously religion.
Mitch: Well the, but that’s on the decline though. So you’re implying that with the decline of religion also evolution is going down.
Tom: We’re also living in a post truth era where it’s mostly people would rather a story that makes them feel good than stuff that’s maybe a bit more abstract. Uh, and things that kind of hard to comprehend. Especially if you haven’t come across them before. At least that’s what they said in the Ted Talk I watched. But you know, the, the interesting thing they said, especially with the religion thing is the people who, you know, discovered evolution were obviously Christians themselves the majority, so there’s no reason why religion and science shouldn’t be able to get on in some aspects. But I think that is a other episode by itself. I’m also leaving out, I think we decided to leave out human evolution for its own episode as well because that is an absolute treasure trove.
Mitch: Ah, ah damn, I created a, yeah, well that’s a shame. I forgot. We agreed that. I did a whole section about human evolution, but I can save that. I can lock that up. Save it for a rainy day.
Tom: Hey we may find a way to segue onto it, in which case it will not be wasted. Um, so I think kind of the, the first thing to go into is what is evolution? And there are many, many, many different theories, but the one that everyone thinks of when you say evolution is a Darwinism. If I can speak, uh, by way of natural selection. And this was actually coauthored by Alfred Russell Wallace. Have you, have you heard of him before?
Mitch: I have just for the sake of, um, a video I watched that was, oh, it’s Charles but you always forget about the other guy, that kind of dramatoc thing.
Tom: That’s exactly what I was about to say. You’ll always forget about Wallace. Um, it was drilled into me at Swansea University, cause we had a building named after him and all the lecturers were always like, but don’t forget about Wallace. He was as important too. But yeah. So evolution by natural selection is where animals change over time due to different selective pressures. It, whether this is a competition of resources, food, mates or just environmental pressures like a change in temperature or by other things like this. And the individuals that survive most successfully will have the most chance to reproduce and pass on their successful genes. And those that have unuseful traits, they’ll stay out and don’t pass them on. Hence why I guess we don’t have tails anymore. Growing, growing them was a waste of energy after our ancestors were kicked out of the jungle.
Mitch: Yup. Uh, also while you don’t see fish with feathers…… [Laughter].
Tom: Also, why you don’t see fish with feathers? It’s not, it’s not, it wouldn’t be a …. what about flying fish? Do they cross the boundary here?
Mitch: Uh, they don’t have feathers though do, they? They
Tom: No they have like adapted, uh, fins. Yeah. Very cool. If you got, if you ever seen a flying fish?
Mitch: I have, yes. Ah, amazing.
Tom: I thought they were very cool when I saw them. A weird thing where they come up alongside the boat and flew along and you’re like, oh, that’s a weird bug. And then it goes into the sea. It comes back up again. You’re like, oh, that, that is not a bug. That is a fish
Mitch: I have I just imagined you like watching a fisherman, like throw out his line, but then you’re not actually hitting the water, just dangling in the air and be like, what does that, what does that guy doing? He’s not even got the fish in his bait in the, in the water and it’s the flying fish comes along and takes the bait.
Tom: That would be a spectacle to behold. But I mean, I guess they’re really, they’re more apt name would be gliding fish.
Mitch: Yeah. Because just like a good friend of mine, uh, what’s it? “It’s not flying… It’s falling in style.” Oh Wow. What is that? Is that the right quote that?
Tom: That is that, is it a toy story? Yeah.
Mitch: Yeah, yeah.
Tom: You’re good friends with Buzz Lightyear are you?
Mitch: I am. I am, yeah.
Tom: Best friends. Actually a very interesting fact about like kind of, we have to do this in our, because I did marine biology, we had to do a module on adaptation and we did flying fish. Like why do they fly? Because obviously in the water, if you can come out at the top, where your Predator is stuck underneath and just randomly come back into the same environment a few hundred yards away, uh, it’s very advantageous. It’s very difficult to find you again.
Mitch: Yeah, that makes sense.
Tom: This theory of evolution is almost universally accepted as kind of a law at this point rather than a, a theory. I mean over the last 150 years, no one has been able to prove it wrong. And it kind of stands up to the test of time. Of course it’s been changed slightly, but it’s still pretty much in its original form. But it does beg the question of what a species is. And this drove me insane when I was trying to research this.
Mitch: Don’t really want to talk about it Tom. It’s a bit of a sensitive subject to be honest.
Tom: Repressed memories. All right. Well I’ll mention a couple for all the listeners because there are 26 different concepts according to the National Center of Science Education and the one that everyone kind of thinks of is the biological species concept, which is where species are sets of organisms incapable of reproducing to produce a fertile offspring. Uh, which is the one that kind of everyone thinks of. But the problems with this is how do you class asexual organisms? And then you’ve got hybrids, like the Liger is a cross between a tiger and a lion and they are fertile and ah what’s the? Is it a Prizzly bear? The mix between the Polo and the grizzly bear.
Mitch: Yeah. Um, what’s the mix of, uh, is it, I said Mule. That was a donkey. Yeah.
Tom: Yeah. Donkey. I think it’s a male donkey and a female horse. The mule. Yeah. And one quite interesting like way to see why this doesn’t quite add up is uh, so seagulls started off here in western Europe and they made their way east. Right.
Mitch: [Laughter]. Just be like, ah, they started here in western Europe. We are, we’re sorry. Uh, we are so sorry that we did this to the world. [Laughter].
Tom: Yeah. I do feel bad for them, but they don’t seem as bad in any other as they do here. You know, they’ve, uh, they really take to our fish and chips.
Mitch: They’ve evolved.
Tom: They have, they have the, um, um, so anyway, as they spread around the globe, so imagine that, you know, they went across, uh, Europe, then across Asia and Russia and then ended up in North America. Basically the ones in western Europe can mate successfully produce fertile offspring with all the seagulls kind of within a certain distance east of it, but by the time if you tried to get a North American seagull with a western European Seagull, they wouldn’t be able to mate and produce fertile offspring, but they can with every single other stop along the way.
Mitch: That’s interesting.
Tom: So it’s kind of like, where’s that line where these have become different species because they can meet with 90% of them but not a different population. So that’s kind of a another area where that concept falls down. There is another one that kind of made no sense to me, which is the ecological species concept and that’s just where a are sets of organisms occupying the same niche.
Mitch: The ecological niche.
Tom: Yeah. That made no sense to me because it’s saying all ants are the same species.
Mitch: Yeah. Along with ecological niche, there’s also the behavior niche, which I thought it was even stranger, which is like the ecological niche apart from it’s all animals that act the same down to a specific obviously level. Quite a drilled down level. Uh, they act as a species.
Tom: Okay. So something like all bacteria at the same species?
Mitch: Yeah. Or all fish. Fish the species would include anything that swims in the ocean. That’s a very broad stroke of that brush. But that’s what kind’ve it’d menad.
Tom: Yeah. My lecturer gave a similar example. Uh, he said exactly that. Imagine if you were to call every single animal in the sea a fish, that’d be like calling every single four legged animal a horse. And obviously you look at the dog and you can tell it’s not a horse.
Mitch: Barkbark oh, look it is a horse. [Laughter].
Tom: [Laughter]. It’s a horse in disguise, wait, what? No, no, I’m not.
Mitch: What? What? No, I’m not. The one I liked is, uh, while I saw it from, I’m maybe analyzing this wrong. It’s morphology.
Tom: Yeah. Okay. Yeah. Yeah.
Mitch: And that’s when it branches. If there’s a significant branch going, uh, most recent than back up when it branches off, that’s a different species. That make sense?
Tom: Okay. You’re talking phylogenetic trees now?
Mitch: Yes. Those things.
Tom: Okay. So morphology species concept is looking at how animals look. Right?
Tom: Uh, but I think the one you’re talking about is the phylogenetic species concept, which is actually the one that I align with as well. So that’s you see you, you draw that these trees of lives out where as you said rightly, it goes when the tree splits, that’s where you’ve got two new species or a species, right?
Tom: Yeah. And that uses both the ecological and the biological species concept that kind of, and together and uses genetics to figure out where animals belong on this tree of life. And the actual definition, which I definitely did not have to look up.
Tom: Was species are monophyletic groups of organisms in relations to other sets, which means monophyletic means coming from a single node on that tree. So they have a single ancestor, if that makes sense. All humans share the same single previous ancestor. Um, so yeah, I think that’s the one I kind of aligned with the most because I’ve done some work with phylogenetic trees and ancestral trait prediction and estimates and stuff like that. And it’s very interesting work. They’re very wordy. Very wordy indeed. So I think that is like the heart, there’s a lot of definition kind of things in evolution I think. Okay. We managed to get that out of the way in the first 20 minutes. [Laughter]. So now, now we can actually start having like a, a conversation based on these definitions I guess. And there’s various different methods. I looked into how animals evolved and I thought they were incredibly interesting. So you’ve got like basically it boils down to isolation. Like if a population gets split in half or split off a little bit, reproductive isolation, that’s when these different populations will start to diverge because they’ll be under different selective pressures.
Mitch: Um, wait reproductive isolation?
Tom: Or physical. So allopatric speciation, I guess the speciation being the process by which once PC splits into two.
Mitch: Yeah, well thought. The thing that I draw in, in drew from reproductive isolation is like, um, if you have like one… a fish, I’m going to keep using fish as an example, like one fish Um, and then one of the offspring of the fish, it mutates and evolves. There’s that, um, and that mutation can no longer reproduce with the type of fish that it was came from before. Am I reading that right? So if needs to…
Tom: Yeah, so that’s definitely one way speciation occurs is through random mutation. And if it’s beneficial it will benefit the individual and they can, become reproductively isolated
Mitch: yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah. So, so yeah, so they can’t go back, there’s like a, um, like there’s a innate inbuilt system into that new species, which means they can’t go back ever again because they can’t reproduce with the speices as it was before.
Tom: Yeah. Yeah.
Mitch: Well that’s interesting.
Tom: And this would only…. Yeah it’s very, and the chance of that happening, you’ve got a thing that’s got to happen in more than one individual. For it to be successful.
Mitch: Yeah. Like if you had the whole school of fish, like a large percentage of them or a niche percentage of them would then have to have the same mutation so they could reproduce. Otherwise you’d have one that mutates by itself and then just be like, oh I’m dead, and it can’t reproduce.
Tom: Or I guess with fish, because a lot of them, uh, like cloud spawn, so they just eject everything into the water column, it may think it is. So you would never die with that illusion that it was different.
Mitch: Okay. Then we’re now we’re getting into the psychology of fish, which I think we need to reel that end ba dum boom. Nailed it. [Laughter].
Tom: [Laughter]. Uh, yeah, so there’s quite a few different methods of speciation. One where they’re like isolated physically by mountains or like rivers and lakes and things like that. And this can be a large or a small population, so that’s allopatric and peripatric. Then you’ve got parapatric speciation, which is where say a, the population spread over such a large distance. They would only mate with the ones closest to them. And then over time those different smaller populations would evolve separately. And then there’s also artificial speciation where we create new life forms in labs. Mm. Which is a thing kind of scary. I’m not sure where that’s at at the moment. I didn’t dare deep into that. Dive into that any further. So then I wanted to speak about how animals, first evolved. Did, did you look into this at all?
Mitch: Yeah. I dabbled, I dabbled.
Tom: You dabbled? What did you dabble with?
Mitch: Um, like the, the tree. oh see you’ve got an advantage with this podcast, Tom. This is your speciality. It’s like going on mastermind and then being like, I know we’ll get Mitchell to sit in a chair and speak about biology. Um, yeah,
Tom: Next week we’ll do cyber security shall we?
Mitch: I was going to say please next week. Oh yeah. I say that I’m good at that, but you know, it’ll probably be like, oh, it’s computer.
Tom: [Laughter]. Have you turned it on and off again?
Mitch: [Laughter]. Please no. Please don’t do that to me. Um, yeah. So yeah, I don’t whatspecific thing want me to pull out, but
Tom: No, no. Just generally like I don’t know what you may have found on the, on the subject
Mitch: Only the specific topic that we talked about before the podcast.
Tom: Okay. All right. Yeah. Okay. Uh, I can lead up to that then.
Mitch: The gastrulation, gastrulation am I saying that right Tom?
Tom: You are, you have, you’ve nailed it. Gastrulation
Mitch: Yeah, we go. Yeah. I had a bit of a look about that and how that evolved and how we went from like, um, to colonial protists. Am I saying that right as well?
Tom: Yeah you’re nailing it!
Mitch: Geez, ah just, there is a lot going on here that I’m struggling with.
Tom: GCSE biology is coming back to you well.
Mitch: I don’t think we did this. This is beyond GCSE biology mate.
Tom: Yeah, that is true.
Mitch: Yeah. Like, um, somatic cells, I think may have been at GCSE biology, but nothing going from like the evolution from the colonial to the gastru-like to an animal.
Tom: No that’s true. I hooked you up with some of my university material hoping you’d understand it.
Mitch: Yeah. There’s understanding there’s retention of knowledge, which is different. [Laughter]. There’s a lot of Latin sounding words that, uh, I wasn’t gonna yeah, I couldn’t, I couldn’t.
Tom: I think, I think I should give you a Latin word a week. You should try and pronounce.
Mitch: Like a, what’s it ctenophora?
Tom: Yeah, Xenophora. [for some reason I was thinking of a type of large sea snail lol]
Mitch: Yeah see… ST [think he meant CT lol] pronounces it. Yeah. That’s just on not be able to.
Tom: Oh S T? Sorry, ctenophores.
Mitch: Yeah. That’s what I said ctenophora.
Tom: Oh yeah, sorry. You got it right. I mis-heard you Sorry, I was thinking of a different word. Yeah. See there you should have done my course.
Mitch: Ah, no I’m alright thanks. I liked my technology. The evolution of technology is quicker sometimes then actual biology.
Tom: Very true. That may even be something to come onto you. I mean evolution doesn’t just apply to I guess animals or nature now that we’ve kind of got this technology thing on the go. It does evolve. Maybe not under the exact same process, but not if you pull it back a lot. Similar processes for sure.
Mitch: You’re eroding into my, uh, my thesis that I was gonna dive into, which was the human evolution.
Tom: Oh, okay. All right. Well we’ll, we’ll, we’ll, we’ll swing back round to that.
Mitch: Cause a lot to do with technology and like, yeah, I think.
Tom: Okay, cool. So we’ll, we’ll quickly go over how animals kind of, firstly evolved or how we think. So all lives can be traced to one single common ancestor. And some people struggle to kind of identify with this and it doesn’t mean that life one cell happened and everything went from there. There was probably thousands if not millions of cells that never made it. If we can presume that life occurred once, it probably happened quite a few times. But the origin of life is another episode by itself again. So DNA is conserved very, very well. We can see it in every single living thing that the DNA is kind of the same. I think we are 60% the same DNA as a yeast cell.
Mitch: Banana. [Laughter].
Tom: And the banana. Yeah, we’re very close. [Laughter]. More closely related to bananas and we would like be, I think so the first kind of cells that, well animals I guess we would say that came about were called choanoflagellates and they’re just like little peas with a tail. Imagine a pea with a tail, like a garden pea with a tail. And they were kind of colonial, right on a stalk. Maybe something like you’d imagine a very primitive seaweed to be or sponge. And they were all individualistic. They kind of performed for themselves. And eventually these colonies got bigger and spherical and some of the cells started to specialize into reproduction because if they could devote all of their energy into reproduction, surely their offspring would be fitter. And that’s where we come into gastrulation as Mitch very correctly mentioned. And do you want, do you want to mention what gastrulation actually is?
Mitch: Um, I would love to just give me one second [Laughter].
Tom: [Laughter]. See I love posing these questions to you just to see, what your your answer is.
Mitch: Um, uh, yes. Gast…yes. It’s after the folding stage is, is as much as I know,
Tom: I’d say it is folding stage.
Mitch: Well, I would say the enfolding starts first.
Tom: Uh, yeah, okay you’re right. I did skip. Sorry, I skipped the little where like a little bump forms on the bottom of this say sphere of cells.
Mitch: Yes, yes, yes, yes. Um, yeah. So the isn’t it pretty much, uh, the infolding, uh, then creates like a digestion zone?
Tom: Yeah, exactly. It’s just this ball of cells. Imagine you’ve got like a massive, like football and you just push one end in, it’s deflated obviously. And inside you’ve got like a cavity for digestion yeah. That’s excatly it
Mitch: Jeez. It’s like I’ve been called out in class and like year 7 I having like an anxiety attack over here and I’m sweating.
Tom: A+ for you though. It is very hot. If not a bit cloudy.
Mitch: Going back to our climate change episode.
Tom: Well, I would’ve liked to have mentioned an episode, I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned it before, but this June just past, I know I’ve spoke to you about it. Is, was the hottest June on record in human history
Mitch: Records since records began.
Tom: Yeah. It was a, a rare time where headlines could actually use that phrase and it wasn’t just in a movie. What I found very interesting is if you look at the evoluti… Hello. If you look at the evolutionary kind of history of animals, there are eight distinct events or innovations that really led to the mass diversity of life that we see. I go through all of them because there are eight on each of them. Could take about 10 minutes and that’s going to be boring to listen to. Um, a couple of the ones I want mention obviously. Kind of multicellularity going from a single cell to specialized like cells or more than one cell. This is, your sea sponge kind of sit there and do nothing and just filter water through. Then you’ve got the development of tissues, obviously having specialized cells and you kind of have two layers with if you have an outer layer and an inner layer, and this is what gave rise to say jellyfish. So you can look at animals. All across the animal kingdom today and see them in these different stages like alive today, the sponges that are multicellular, jellyfish have tissues, very rudimentary tissues, but they do. Then I think probably the most important innovation was bilateral symmetry. So you see a lot of animals that are symmetrical like humans. You’ve put a mirror down the middle of us. We would, most of us would be like, look the same. You know what I mean? And this was very important because not only did we have the inner and outer layers, but we also have this connective layer in between the allows us to form. For us, it’s our… Of what’s it called? The cavity inside our chest to hold all our organs.
Mitch: A diaphragm?
Tom: Yeah. Yeah, a diaphragm. And obviously without that we wouldn’t have the complex organ system that we have. Then we have protestomes and deuterostomes that we were talking about earlier. Mouth first or anus first. [Laughter]. Yeah, we are anus first. That’s us. And that allowed us to have an endoskeleton. So that’s the main difference. So protostomes normally have the skeleton on the outside, like ants and deuterostomes have the skeleton on the inside. Then obviously with ants and other insects, their ability to metamorphosize or grow. So it’s called Ecdysis and it’s where they kind of grow that outer shell. They outgrow that outer shell. Sorry. Then have to climb out of it and wait for it to re-harden again, but it was absolutely instrumental in allowing them to be evolutionary competitive because it just, meant they were so viable and they could grow so efficiently and they were protected. But as I say, there was more, but it is boring listening to me rattling on about the different kinds of evolution. So before we kind of go into the different types of evolution, it’s something that we can come back onto. I want to know if you looked at kind of maybe, uh, any animals or if there’s kind of your, your favorite animals. It’s like a good example of evolution and or anything like that.
Mitch: You want to, you want to do this now? You want to dive into this now?
Tom: Yeah. We’re diveing into this now.
Mitch: Um, probably the tardigrade.
Tom: Ah the water bear.
Mitch: The little water bath and she thank you very much. Oh, sorry. I do apologize. German zoologist Johann August Ephraim Goeze would be disgusted with you.
Tom: I’m sure that you nailed that name. [Laughter].
Mitch: I, uh, I definitely did. Um, yeah.
Tom: Why don’t you tell us about, about the tardigrade for some of our listeners who may not know, what the tardigrade is.
Mitch: So, the tardigrade, uh, is a micro animal. Um, what that means is just a very, very, very, very small animal but not small enough to be a microbe, just small enough to like, I’ve actually, I think I had like sizing down here, but I can’t currently find it, which is highly annoying, but just very, very small. Um, if you imagine like a sack of potatoes with four pairs of stubby legs on them, that is pretty much for a tardigrade looks like. Is not fancy in any way ,it doesn’t look amazing.
Tom: It looks like a gummy bear on steroids.
Mitch: Yeah. If you imagine like a really aggressive gummy bear, it’s pretty much what they look like. A bit about the insides… So tardigrades lack several hox genes. And what hox genes are a subset of homeobox genes that we have, which states, um, as well it’s not state, they are the group of genes that specify what regions the body, like the embryo, like the plan of the embryo goes in. If that make sense? Have I explained that terribly?
Tom: Yeah. They’re the, they’re the genes that regulate the formation of the body. So making sure the head is in the right place, your arms are in the right place.
Mitch: So when like the kidney goes here, the thing goes here, make sure everything’s right place. Well, they don’t have that, but the, they don’t have that at all that they’re missing that.
Tom: That’s why they have eight legs.
Mitch: Yeah. So they have hox proteins they can carry, can specify their characteristics. So it’s not like specific, um, uh, gene group is the protein that does it. Um, yeah. If he didn’t know they’ve uh, survived all five of the mass extinction events, even the great dying as we called it before, they survived that because they’re
Tom: Our favorite mass extinction event. The Great Dying.
Mitch: One of our favorites, the great dying, uh, yet they survived that one because they have evolved over time into the greatest surviving superheroes in the world.
Tom: They are actually insane.
Mitch: Yeah. So they can survive for a few minutes, uh, um, 151 degrees. So that’s like, okay, well beyond boiling like
Tom: Celsius, we’ll make, we’ll make apparent for our US listeners.
Mitch: 304 Fahrenheit’s.
Tom: [Laughter]. 304 of your Farenheit’s.
Mitch: Your foreign Farenheit’s, they can survive 30 years at negative 20. Um, they can survive a few days. Uh, 200 degrees. Wait, oh no. A few days at negative 200 degrees and a few minutes and negative 272, which means that they can go into space and survive for a few days.
Tom: Yeah. And not only is it just to do with temperature, they can actually survive in the vaccum can’t they?
Mitch: Yeah. It’s the pressure. Um, yeah, they uh, they got taken, they are little water bears. They’ve got taken into space on a space mission and they got exposed to the out like to open space, which included not just the vacuum over from space, but solar radiation for 10 days.
Tom: Yeah. They’re incredible.
Mitch: Which if you didn’t know the pressure is like 6,000 atmospheres, I think. Uh, no.
Tom: What’s really cool that came from that little experiment, I think they’ve done it a few times, is they’re looking at tardigrades to see how to make space travel, cryogenic freezing, all of that kind of futuristic stuff m ore viable. They’re seeing how they do it, how could they… Could we implement that?
Mitch: Yep. So when uh, yeah, there’s, they do they survive different things in different ways. Um, so they can also, like, I think they dehydrate themselves as one of the things that they can do so they can, they can survive dehydration. Uh, this is ridiculous. 10 years is crazy travel up and 10 years time they’ll be fine.
Tom: Did you see how they do that?
Mitch: I think I’ve got my head round it. Uh, don’t they, something to do with the way their sugars stored or they store themselves as sugar?
Tom: Yeah, they, it’s not fully known yet, but it’s called anhydrobiosis. I’ve not said that correctly. But as you said, they create like a kind of protein in their cells, almost like a jelly matrix. And when they’re becoming dehydrated, their cells completely fill up with this jelly matrix. And it keeps everything in place. So stuff that’s very, that can’t handle having no water, like DNA and proteins, uh, they are kept very still, they are kept in this matrix and then as soon as water becomes available, they reverse this process and they’re fine again, as you say, decades later. Is actually incredible.
Mitch: Um, what else? Moving on to what else… Oh radiation, so the radiation from the solar radiation, they can withstand a thousand times more radiation than any other animal.
Tom: Oh really?
Mitch: Yeah. That was one of these, I was like, oh, okay. Well brilliant. They’re amazing. There was subsequent research about um, offspring, um, and they found that it had no effect on their offspring or their ability to reproduce They, I think there’s male or female, but they’re more asexual I think. Um, so yeah, one of the things about radiation, which is ridiculous is uh, they have the ability, they have the efficient and effective ability to repair damage done to their DNA resulting from high exposure.
Mitch: Yeah. So any damage done to their DNA? They were like, I’m just gonna fix this. Don’t worry about it. I’m on it. Things that normally would kill a human being, but any other animal I’m pretty good at it. Don’t worry. There was a, there was some effect on they did it on eggs. So they did the different stages that eggs were at. Like I think like days when they were hatched, the initial ones, I think you had a massive effect on, and I don’t think any actually broke out the egg or developed any further. But as it slowly becomes more into a position where a youth, where it’s gunna hatch they get, but they get better at surviving and being able to repair.
Tom: I wonder if one day they’ll kind of be able to take that element of tardigrades and genetically modify, I guess even humans to survive that or have that ability where they brew repairing our own DNA.
Tom: We have solved aging. See you said we weren’t going to solve unraveling mysteries in this episode. We’ve just sold aging.
Mitch: Yeah. So the thing you talked about before was err… what’s it called? Cryobiosis was that right? The gels around the cell?
Mitch: Yeah. Which is just ridiculous.
Tom: It is incredible, isn’t it? I was researching, I was just like, wow, is this really a thing?
Mitch: Yeah. So they’re also not impervious but can react better to environmental toxins because they can go through, um, chemobiosis, which I think protects them from the toxins so they can like push it out is there’s just so much going on with these bad boys. Yeah.
Tom: Like the pinnacle of evolution almost.
Mitch: Survival yeah. Survival evolution. Definitely. Definitely. Um, and if you watch, Star Trek, uh, you know, space and time travel that if you, if you don’t watch Star Trek, you don’t know what that reference is to.
Tom: I’ve seen like the newer films, but not the older ones,
Mitch: Its the newest series. Is it discovery? Star Trek Discovery?
Tom: Oh yeah. I’ve been meaning to get that on.
Mitch: They’ve got a cow size tardigrade that eats this a spore that lets you spoilerr alert teleport.
Tom: Oh, fair enough. All we need is a cow sized tardigrade and all I like troubles will be solved. Have you heard of the tardigrade conspiracy theory?
Mitch: I haven’t. No. What’s the, what’s going on with this?
Tom: So I thought this was hilarious. So there is some thought that because tardigrades can survive space, they can survive radiation, they can survive everything, that they are actually extra-terrestrials and that they have come from another planet.
Mitch: Okay. Yeah.
Tom: That was quickly denied by people who are mapping the tardigrade genome as they were like, well, we, we can see what it’s related to. And it does place it firmly kind of on earth, but there are people who believe tardigrades and the little water bears, I think it was the, the correct other name. They think they are extra-terrestrials maybe they’re here to spy on us.
Mitch: I can under, I can understand why you’d think that because they’re just, just so awesome.
Tom: They are, They are very cool. One other animal that I looked at are the Monotremes. Have you heard of this?
Mitch: I have not.
Tom: Uh, well I, I got, I presume you’ve heard over the Echidna and the duck-billed platypus?
Mitch: Oh yeah. Yeah.
Tom: So they’re what we call monotremes. And I remember growing up, and this was always like the things like we classify animals as mammals, reptiles, birds, amphibians. But there were some, some animals that don’t fit the description like the platypus because it produces milk, which is a, which is like a defining feature of mammals, but it also lays eggs. And I remember growing up and being in school when they were always like, oh, we don’t know what it is. So you know, but now they seem to have settled on them being mammals. They are 100% mammals and they think they, they split off the Mammalian lineage before, uh, the rest of the mammals developed placentas. So that’s why they still have the eggs. But obviously they produce milk, but they kind of have very patch on their stomach where they sweat it out. They don’t have nipples like other mammals, they just have a patch on their stomach, that the females sweat out milk. Which is interesting. And also like the tardigrade, they have some stuff evolutionary wise that they just shouldn’t have. They’re taking it from they’re taking eggs from all the baskets. So they lay eggs so they’re the reptiles. They have fur, and they produce milk, so they’re mammals. They have a ducks bill, so their birds. They ha they are, the males are venomous and they have like a, a dagger in their heel that they can stab things with and envenom and like sharks, they have really keen electroreception.
Mitch: Okay. Oh yeah. Cause we talked about it didn’t we?
Tom: Yeah. Pulling it back to your fear of sharks now. Imagine a duck-billed platypus coming at you with its electroreception.
Mitch: Just imagine like the [Jaws theme intensifies] and then being heeled and poisoned by a platypus
Tom: Oh, there used to be giant ones, which I didn’t know. Uh, but so that might be a bit more scary. Giant duck-billed platypus just stabbing you in the leg.
Mitch: Probably just swallow your whole.
Tom: And one more kind of weird thing about platypus is. So we have two sex chromosomes, X and Y. Platypus have five pairs of sex chromosomes. So they have like five X’s and five Y’s. And it means when they’re producing like zygotes or egg and sperm gametes, sorry, they have to sort out effectively not having too many X’s and too many Y’s in one egg or sperm and they don’t know how they do it, but they know they can do it very well and they never make mistakes. And it’s just as effective as it was as it is with humans have only having the one pair, but evolutionary wise is actually crazy and they still can’t understand it.
Mitch: Probably why they have so many different things. Maybe like when they were like developing they were like just like, oh, we’ll just put this here. We’ll put this there. I’ll put, we’ll put that pair there and we’ll see it if it survives. Ah no, that didn’t survive. Right. Give it, give it, give it milk. Let’s give him milk. Do that pair, that pair is good. Okay. No. Um, that works. That was good. We’ll keep that right. Next thing.
Tom: What else could we need that we don’t have? Electroreception.
Mitch: Yeah the sharks, they’ve got that. I saw them the other week. They were doing pretty well. Yeah. Put that pair together. Ship that off. Okay.
Tom: You mentioned earlier that the great dying. And since we are now in the great dying two, as we’ve, we’ve termed it, I want to talk about my favorite type.
Mitch: Us. We’ve termed it. When it happens, when the future, when you’re lo- Future, yeah, I know you’re listening. Uh, and the great dying’s happened and we’re all dead. I just wanna say that we coined it first. Everybody great dying.
Tom: We, we have a copyright tabs on that.
Mitch: Yep. Tom Jenks, Mitching Gatting. Us. We were here first. Great dying.
Tom: The Great Dying 2 in cinema Friday. So I just wanted to mention quickly my favorite type of evolution. Now maybe I’m a nerd having a favorite type. [Laughter].
Mitch: [Laughter]. I was about to scream. NERD! No, no, no, no.
Tom: Maybe I’m a nerd for having a favorite type of evolution. However, I wanted to mention quickly maybe before we get onto your human technological evolution, is adaptive radiation. Have you heard of this?
Mitch: I haven’t. No.
Tom: So this is incredibly fascinating and I studied it a bit at university. This is where, like for example, when the dinosaurs died out, 90% of life was taken out or something like that, right? So suddenly there is a lot of access to resources now. After that, the dinosaurs died out. I think it was the great dying. Or was that not the dinosaur one?
Mitch: Ah, I cannot remember of the top of my head.
Tom: All right, so the meteorite that killed the dinosaurs after that, before this, mammals were literally like squirrels. That was the extent of mammals and how big they got. As soon as the dinosaurs died out and the squirrels could go into this ecological niche, there was rapid diversification, the timeline of speciation was very quick and it’s like an explosion and every so often through the fossil record after the extinction events or when animals can exploit a new niche like a new lake they’ve never been into before or something like this. This rapid diversification and speciation happens by a, it’s just really cool to see, so it’s like Darwin’s finches and then the Great Lakes of Africa. You have many types of Cichlids, like thousands of types in the same lake and they’re all, you know, native and endemic to only that lake and Marsupial’s like the, they’re all, you know, across Australia and Papa New Guinea is? Or was it just Australia for Marsupials? Just Marsupials isn’t it like Kangaroos? Uh, Koalas?
Mitch: Um, yeah, I think that’s just Australian. Drop bears, don’t forget about the Drop Bears.
Tom: Uh, of course I wouldn’t forget about those. Yep. He says not googling that. [Laughter].
Tom: Um, so yeah, adaptive radiation, if you’ve never heard of it. And it is so interesting. It’s just really cool to kind of like look into, get your teeth stuck into and the modeling that they do with it is amazing. I’m actually interviewing my old lecturer this week. He’ll come out in a few weeks and he specializes in studying the adaptive, or the evolutionary history of poisonous and venomous animals. And he actually, I think discovered, it’s Dr Kevin Arbuckle for anyone who wants to know. He, I think he, him and his team discovered like a relationship between king cobras hooding like snakes, the have hoods, and then spitting their venom out. Whereas before it was kind of an unknown relationship. That was pretty cool. So I’m quite interested to hear about your human technological evolution thing.
Mitch: Before we do that…
Tom: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Mitch: We actually haven’t talked about the different types of evolution, Tom. We said what it is, but we actually hadn’t the three different types.
Tom: All right. I was going to gloss over it. I didn’t want to be too heavy, but okay, let’s, let’s go into that. Let’s do, let’s do a proper job.
Mitch: I’m not going to say that we’re doing an episode specifically on evolution, Tom, but I think we are! [Laughter].
Tom: Okay this is true. [Laughter]. You’ve got me there. All right, so there are main types of evolution and adoptive radiations, kind of like an extra one. It falls into one of these categories. So firstly you have by divergent evolution, this is where organisms slowly diverge over time through one of the mechanisms mentioned earlier in speciation. And this can be whether one animal, one species splits into two or you know, one into many different types. And you know, it can be like the one species splits into two populations and they both change from their original state or one population stays the exact same and the isolated one changes to that.
Mitch: Yeah. So that’s where the, the tree that the fancy name that you were talking about
Mitch: Yeah. That’s when you see, you see that tree a lot is when like it splits. Where the diversions happens is at those branches that ping off.
Tom: Yeah. And that’s like the, the signal, like most people accept to be a new species genetically isolated, I suppose. Uh, the second type then is convergent evolution. And this is where over time organisms will arrive at similar adaptions or solutions or outcomes. For example. The best case of this is the octopus and human eye. You heard of this one before?
Mitch: I haven’t, but I felt like you’re going to make me feel a bit Icky. So continue.
Tom: So basically the octopus and human, eye are in structure completely identical. Apart from two things. So the structure of the eye that absolutely identical. So you know, the blind spot we were talking about in the couple of episodes ago, the senses episode, that’s because we have our receptors on our, sorry, our neuron like link retina that thing on the inside of the eye. Whereas octupus are a bit more efficient and they have it on the outside, so they don’t have this blind spot that we have. Also with us, our light comes into our eye and is reflected onto the retina. Whereas with octopus, it just goes straight onto the retina. There’s no reflection going on there. So they are a bit more effective in this sense, but otherwise it’s structurally exactly the same.
Mitch: Is that cause they don’t need it in water? It makes it easier as to see?
Tom: Um, no, I don’t think so. I think it kind of would be the same with us, but I don’t know. Obviously it’s gotta be slightly different because in water, the way you see is like the light is transported in water to air. That’s why we can’t see so great underwater without like masks and goggles and things that create that air barrier. But no, I’m, I’m completely unsure as to the reason why, to be honest.
Mitch: Speaking of air barriers, you’ve just reminded me of a evolutionary feat of a type of Gecko that, I can’t remember what the name of it is, but it dives on the water to hide itself from predators and it coats its body’s coated in a material, not a material, a substance that holds air to it. So it can, it creates this like a bubble around its head that it can breathe. So it stays under the water. It’s like, it’s like the reverse of the flying fish, it like goes and it goes down and sits there and just chills out for a bit. And as a bit of a breathe with it’s air bubble on his forehead. Um, and then once he thinks the, uh, predator is gone then it comes back to the service.
Tom: Ah, so that was like in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire when they’re in this and we were in there in the lake and some of them have got that bubble around the mouth. but it’s not magic?
Mitch: Right. Wrap it up lads. We’ve got six episodes in and, and he’s uh, he’s managed to get aHarry Potter reference. Right. Wrap it up. We’re done. We’re done. [Laughter]. Yes, exactly like that!
Tom: [Laughter]. It’s just the first thing it made me think of and then there is one last type of evolution I guess, which is parallel evolution, which is where animals maintain a level of similarity over time, if not being exactly the same.
Mitch: Yeah. So it’s uh, two separate species. Um, I’m doing air quotes species because we know that’s a dubious word.
Tom: Yeah. We don’t know what it is anymore. Every time someone mentions species. Now I’m going to be sorry, which one do you mean?
Mitch: Yeah, which 20? 23rd? The 23rd or the 22nd. Um, so they evolve independently of each other and maintaining the same similarity and not necessarily in the same environment. Can, could be completely different.
Tom: Okay. That was going to be my kind of questions because the, some types of evolution like coevolution which is like another sub. Kind of category is where animals are in the same environment evolving together because of antagonistic selection pressures or something like this. The first three we mentioned it is to do locations not a factor.
Mitch: Yup. So parallell evolution a usually occures between unrelated species that do not occupy the same or similar niches in a given habitat.
Tom: Okay. Uh, makes sense.
Mitch: I also think that may have got that slightly wrong. Um, but it also coincides with two separate species evolving with to have the same similar trait.
Tom: Okay. So, well it’s almost convergent evolution but it’s not?
Mitch: Yeah. But no, that’s, that’s the second thing that I’m reading from it. But the first thing I’m reading from it, is completely different. Um, like, uh, for example in the plant kingdom
Tom: Which we have seriously neglected in this episode but maybe we’ll come back to haunt Mitchell again.
Mitch: We have, yes. Apologies to you leaf lovers out there. Um, the evolution of the way, the a of form of leaves that are very similar patterns that appear all over the world in separate genera and families. So there’s that one that I picked out was that there certain aboreal frog species, which are called flying frogs in both the old world families and the new world families, which are in separate niche environments that have a, it develops the ability of gliding flight. They have enlarge hands and feet and full webbing between the toes and the, yeah. The thing is with natural skin flaps on the arms and legs so they can glide and they, they both have been made that evolutionary step forward but in different habitats.
Tom: Okay, so that would be parallel rather than convergent or would you class that as convergent?
Mitch: That would be parallel because they, how about have having come together to be the argument of we’re using species here. They haven’t both come together to be the same species. No I’m getting that wrong, convergent is shared environment isn’t it?
Tom: No. Convergent. It doesn’t have is you can be geographically like us and octupus we’re not in the same environment. Yet our eyes have converged on the undergone convergent evolution. If that makes sense.
Mitch: Are you sure?
Tom: Yes. So divergent, convergent and parallel evolution. Are not to do with like geography, co-evolution is where animals are in the same environment and effecting each other.
Mitch: So species of different ancestry share the same, start to share the same traits due to shared environments or pressure. Selective pressure, which is convergent?
Tom: Yeah. But if it were to happen over like a long period of time, an extended period, that’s where it becomes parallel I think.
Tom: No? Oh, okay. I’ve got it wrong. [Laughter]. Unraveling the mysteries of evolution.
Mitch: [Laughter]. So parallel is just, um, they get the same traits, but it isn’t due to a shared environment or sector pressures. They just evolve the same.
Tom: Yeah. Sorry. That’s what I meant.
Mitch: So yeah. So that’s slightly similar because they end up having the same similar traits, but convergent is, it’s due to a shared environment or selected pressure. Whereas even though they just happen independent of environments or pressures.
Tom: Okay. Yeah, that makes sense. That’s cool.
Tom: So I want to ask you a question that maybe allows you to delve into your, your little topic yeah. Is in 50,000 years or some larger time scale that would allow evolution to show. What do you reckon humans or I guess their society in your case would look like?
Mitch: Um, how many years?
Tom: I’ve said 50,000. I’ve got that written down, but maybe more needed to kind of show some evolutionary change.
Mitch: Um, I want to say like
Tom: Pick any arbitrary number and go for it in the future. What’d you reckon humans will turn out like?
Mitch: I want to say there’ll be a step that will involve uploading our conscious and psyche onto a machine. Okay. And that’ll be a big step. And then from there we’ll be like data streams. I think like, uh, it, cause we were driving to work as I do every morning. I was thinking about the podcast and the evolution of man and what happened and where we stopped evolving. Um, and what sort of the precursor to that and why that was. And I thought that when we, when a species starts using tools, they’re then taking their evolution into their own hands. If you see where I’m coming.
Tom: So then they are helping themselves, maybe the individuals are giving themselves an advantage, but I think it’s only when you get to today’s kind of tools that you could say because chimpanzees using sticks to get termites out of a bush is not taking evolution into their own hands?
Mitch: That’s true. Yeah. Like you see that this is more, I think specific for us and what happened. Because we are like being put in a niche thing using tools out. When we stopped evolving, well there’s the argument of like the term we stopped evolving. I think our evolving changed through less physical because there wasn’t demand for it anymore because our brain got to a stage where we were able to use tools. So our evolution is more to do with technology because that’s what we, we’ve shifted to.
Tom: I wouldn’t say, you know, we always had this image of we are the end of the line. You know, as humans we are the end of the evolutionary line. We are the highest kind of being an that’s. that’s something that took me kind of a while to step back from when I was going on to the human evolutionary research that, and it was like, okay, we’re not at the end of the line. We are, most of the animals in the world around us today are evolutionary the same age. And we, the question to ask is quite rightly, as you said, have we stopped evolving? And in some senses yes, because for example, we’re saving everyone with illnesses and they pass it on. I’m not saying we shouldn’t obviously.
Mitch: Ah, wow. Tom.
Tom: Oh, it like it. For example, I think I had an asthma attack when I was very young and I wouldn’t have survived if I hadn’t been taken to hospital and being saved and all of that. But I will now pass on…. Maybe the, the, the possibility of that to my offspring if that makes sense. [Laughter].
Mitch: [Laughter]. You’ll pass on those bad genes, Tom. Is that what you’re saying? Those weak weak genes.
Tom: Yeah, Oh my, my weak genes like will be passed on. But yeah, but sorry, carry on with what you were saying. Again that is…
Mitch: Well it’s just the case of, so one of our key evolutionary things I think is, was key to us was communication and language. Like last week a big evolutionary step for us was being able to chat.
Tom: Yeah. Perhaps, arguably the biggest.
Mitch: Yeah, that’s what set us aside from, you know, the chaff and then because communication is key in all aspects Tom. We’ve then transcended again from speaking word of mouth and then taking it to another level of communication online and interconnectivity of the world. So that’s why I think our evolution is very linked, very closely linked with technology. Um, and we’ll continue in that vein until we’re can communicate people with our mind not via, are evolving, like physically evolving. It will be something that we do to ourselves that give us that ability.
Tom: Yeah. Have you seen, um, who’s that famous American physicist? Not Neil degrasse Tyson and not Bill Nye. Ah, Michio Kaku. Um, so Michio Kaku, he did a speech recently where he was saying how telepathic or mental communication is actually not that far away. And I guess as you say with, you know, we’ve kind of, I guess transcended an evolutionary step where we’re kind of stagnant now. The next point to in quote marks transcend us again, I’m not sure that’s the most apt word, but I’ll use it would be the technological advancement that allows us to become data streams or enhance ourselves technologically cyborg and stuff like that.
Mitch: Yeah. And that’s where I think like if you conscious thought. If you achieve that as a species, then you are, you’ve kneecapped yourself physically evolutionary wise, if you see what I mean. If you make that, if a species makes that jump into being able to make their own decisions and free will and not free will by them, they can do anything but they’re not relying on instinct anymore and they can have going back to consciousness and they have that you then are no longer relying on the strongest to survive because then you can do other things to mitigate it. Plus if you see, I mean. So the, the ability to evolve via surviving via, your reproduction and your offspring, you take that away because you can then teach them. So it’s not just the mutation, it’s what we can teach down that helps them survice.
Tom: Yeah exactly and it comes on to the actual essential thing of a language we were talking about last week was being able to have like, uh, cumulative societal learning. And being able to pass it down through generations and stuff.
Mitch: So yeah, at that point there’s the technological turning point. Our evolution then turns to technology and then its what we do as a species moving forwards and the sort of things that we create. Um, yeah.
Tom: Okay. So I agree with that. I think there’s something we can revisit on a human evolution episode.
Mitch: Yeah like, I’m not sure if you’ve see, if you watch a black mirror, if you’re a big fan of black mirror, um,
Tom: Yeah big fan.
Mitch: Uh, San Junipero if you have seen the episode.
Tom: Yeah great episode, one of one of my favorite episodes.
Mitch: That is one of my favorites too. But it’s that idea of being able to put one’s consciousness into a machine that I think at some stage we’re going to get to that. And when that happens, it’s going to be a bit messy for awhile to be honest, because there’s going to be a lot of ethical problems with that. But that’s I think where we’re destined to go.
Tom: Yeah. I guess the ethical question that immediately come to mind, which will be interesting to see happen is, so the essence of San Junipero was uploading the consciousness so that you are forever in your own heaven, I guess. You don’t have your physical body anymore. It was normally when people’s like dying that they do this and they go to this place: San Junipero. So at that point, would they be considered life that you wouldn’t be able is, would it be a human right to have that so that. Orrr that is the difficult question.
Mitch: Its a lot of the episodes, I think it was season two or three, that that I kind of, it was a bit of a by the end of the whole season, kind of like beating a dead horse with it. Are AI [artificial intelligence], are AI living beings? Can you torture them, blah blah, blah, blah blah. Yeah, there’s a line somewhere, but it’s the dating app one. If you see on, uh, I had a very intense debate with some friends about that cause they were like, well that’s highly unethical because you’re putting these people through. And I was like, they are nothing more than ones and zeroes brought down to its essence they are nothing more than one’s and zero’s because they don’t exist outside that environment and they’re simulated. But I can fully see the other side of it, the star ship episode, where those people were the early stages of San Junipero and they’re consciousness was copied, bit dubious with that episode because they managed to copy memories from DNA. Don’t know how they did that, but they just glazed over that. But you know, moving on. No gripes. Um, but yeah, so that’s where I think its going.
Tom: That’d be a hot topic I doubt we see in our lifetime but may maybe be will? You never know it. That’s the thing with technology and especially evolutionary technology is its changing so rapidly. We cannot predict what it’s going to be like in 10 years.
Mitch: Yeah. And especially with cloud computing currently that is kind of building up theories, AI and these neural nets when that, when quantum computing becomes, um, like day to day manufactures use it, that spend, we’re going to see the exponential sort of ramp up in what can be done because the CPU power will just be off the charts and the amount of resources people can just use to simulate things. Will be.. Will be, yeah. Be exponential and then furthering onto that for all you destiny fans out there, you then have the thing called, well in the, in that system it was called the Ishtar collective and their sole purpose was to simulate to the point where they could, they simulate so well that they realized themselves that they were in a simulation.
Tom: Okay. Well that is a potential thing people think already, isn’t it?
Mitch: So, yeah. So it was a group of scientists who were trying to conduct this, these experiments and they were successful in simulating perfectly to the point where their simulations started creating simulations on the lower level and they realized that they were actually mid chain of a simulation. So there were being yeah.
Mitch: Yeah. It was good.
Tom: Imagine being the one to find that out. Insane, I have a final question for you then, since somewhat over the hour. What adaptation do you wish humans had that we don’t? Or what adaptation would you like to have specifically?
Mitch: Me specifically? Yeah. Um, oof.
Tom: I’m half kind of thinking, uh, like a kangaroo pouch. It’d be so useful just to have a, a pocket.
Mitch: Yeah. But you want that for the other reason thought don’t you?
Tom: What do you mean?
Mitch: Because, because they’ve evolved so they can have, they don’t get like infectious I think from the open we talked about before.
Tom: Oh we did yeah. The first episode that was.
Mitch: Yeah, being able to put on it like metal on our skin, but we can’t do it cause would reject it. But if you had that pouch you could essentially do it to anywhere in your skin. So that’s like a, doubleif you will. That’s a double.
Tom: That would lead to innovation.
Mitch: Yeah. Probably something to do like senses.
Tom: Okay. Fix your eyes? Like you said last time.
Mitch: It’s always, always mys. No, I’ll have a gripe with that. Maybe like hearing or being able to sense vibrations or something like that. Like skin touching, like go pick that up or you know, just being able to telepathically communicate would be fun.
Tom: That would be fun. Would it be like an open network? Where everyone could hear or is that you can do it to specific people.
Mitch: Specific people. You have a specific frequency that you would be and you made it also, it’s like a imagine, uh, I don’t know how much you know about networks, but if you’ve got like a, a broadcast broadcast address on an IP range or you go to the specific IP, you want to talk to everybody, you paying towards the broadcast address or you want to just go straight to the person you put that specific IP address in. Or I just can evolve into a tardigrade.
Tom: A giant cow size tardigrade.
Mitch: Yeah. And be like, you know what, I’m going in space piece and then just, you know, hop off the Earth.
Tom: Or being like, I’m tired of this. And then sleeping for 10 years, and waking up and being like yeah this is better.
Mitch: Oh no, the great dying two’s happening. Let me just a hunker down here for a little nap.
Tom: Curl up into a ball in the corner of the room.
Mitch: Yeah. And I wake up in a, not a room with no corners add underwater probably. That’s fine because they don’t really know. They can just deal with. They’re like, you know what? [strange underwater fish breathing noise] Let’s walk out of here.
Tom: Love the sound effects. We are vastly over this one hour limit. We keep setting for ourselves and failing. Is there anything else you would like to cover?
Mitch: Ah, I’m all out of things to cover.
Tom: All right then, so I think that is it from us this week. If you guys want to check out all the latest goings on, you can head to conductscience.com you can find us on Facebook and Twitter by searching @conductscience and remember to use the #AskConductScience. We’d love to answer your questions on this show. Yesterday we released the interview with Dr. John Boyd. I would highly recommend checking that out is incredibly interesting conversation. And tomorrow on the method section, I’m speaking about the Stanford prison experiment and why maybe we shouldn’t hold it in the same light as we used to. Next week we shall be talking about the solar system. That is it from us here. So we’ll see you guys…. A-next time!