Before he became famous for his theory of evolution, Charles Darwin spent years observing barnacle species from around the world, playing music to earthworms, and feeding bits of raw meat to insectivorous plants in an attempt to stimulate them. In his new book, Darwin’s Backyard, biologist James Costa talks about how these and other lesser-known experiments brought Darwin closer to his big theory of evolution. [Recreate Darwin’s experiments in your backyard.] Costa joins Ira to talk about what these experiments reveal about how Darwin interpreted the world. Plus, biologist Dean Pentcheff of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County discusses how Darwin’s work on barnacles influences what we know about them today. Plus, neuropsychologist Peter Snyder joins Ira to talk about how he dug into Darwin’s handwritten archives and discovered a psychology experiment that challenged the idea of how people express and recognize emotions in the faces of other people. James Costa James Costa is the author of “Darwin’s Backyard: How Small Experiments Led to a Big Theory” (W. W. Norton & Company, 2017). He’s also the director of the Highlands Biological Station and a professor of biology at Western Carolina University. He’s based in Cullowhee, North Carolina. More From Guest Dean Pentcheff Dean Pentcheff is Project Lead at the Diversity Initiative for the Southern California Ocean and a research scientist at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles in Los Angeles, California. More From Guest Peter Snyder Peter Snyder is Chief Research Officer for the Lifespan Hospital System and a professor of Neurology and Surgery at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. More From Guest Alexa Lim is a producer for Science Friday. Her favorite stories involve space, sound, and strange animal discoveries. Sushmita Pathak is Science Friday’s fall 2017 radio intern. She recently graduated from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism and majored in electronics and communication engineering in college. She sometimes misses poring over circuit diagrams.
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