Episode 41: Liquor, language and bees

By Aimee Whitcroft 24/08/2012


In Episode 41 this week we pick apart the costs of boozing, find that Anatolia is the ‘Tower of Babel’ for Indo-European languages and get the latest buzz on how genetics research can help bees in New Zealand.

First up, we examine the costs of alcohol with help of the Sciblogs’ newest Sciblogger , economist Dr Eric Crampton (The Dismal Science), who is a co-author of the article ‘What’s in a cost? Comparing economic and public health measures of alcohol’s social costs’, published in this week’s issue of the New Zealand Medical Journal.

Then we explore the origins of language, with Auckland University’s Dr Quentin Atkinson discussing his latest research – published in Science today. Using techniques designed to track the evolution of viruses like HIV, Dr Atkinson and his colleagues have traced the origins of the Indo-European languages back to Anatolia – which is in modern-day Turkey – 8000-9500 years ago. The findings oppose an alternative hypothesis which places the origin north of the Caspian Sea in the Russian steppes about 6,000 years ago.

Finally, we hear from SciBlogger Assoc Prof Peter Dearden (Director of Genetics Otago), in excerpts from his public lecture ‘Buzzing about bees: How genetics can keep New Zealand’s agriculture humming‘. Peter was in Wellington this week to give the lecture as part of the University of Otago Winter Lecture Series, in association with Genetics Otago.

Click below to listen to the podcast, or download here.

[audio: http://archive.org/download/SciblogsPodcastEpisode41LiquorLanguageAndBees/SciblogsEpisode41.mp3]

Show Notes:

The Dismal Science

Eric Crampton’s university homepage

Dismal Science, Eric’s new blog on SciBlogs

NZMJ article (subscription only)

Anatolian language origins

Quentin Atkinson’s university homepage

Article in Science

University of Auckland media release

Buzzing about bees

National Bee Week site

About the lecture

Peter’s Southern Genes blog