The DNA Files
Hosted by John Hockenberry
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
The DNA Files, the award-winning NPR series that explores the mysterious world of the genome and its impact on life in the 21st century, returns to public radio with five new one-hour documentaries. Produced by Berkeley, California-based SoundVision Productions®, the shows are anchored by Peabody- and Emmy-winning correspondent John Hockenberry.
Minding the Brain
This program may just change the way you think about memory and learning. And it won't just affect your mind; it'll change your brain -- literally. Researchers today are grappling with the interplay between the inner mind and the outer world and looking at how the brain a person is born with changes in response to the cultural, social, personal, and physical environments the person lives in.
Designing the Garden: Food in the Age of Biotechnology
This program looks at the debates surrounding genetically modified food. Some say manipulating genes in plants and animals is the solution to world hunger; others say it's not safe to eat or grow. The Enviropig, for example, developed by researchers in Guelph, Ontario. The pig is genetically modified to produce less phosphorus, and might one day make pig farming less harmful to the environment. The program also travels to India to explore rice genetically fortified with beta-carotene to ward off diseases that come from Vitamin A deficiency.
Rewriting Heredity: Environment and the Genome
At first, geneticists thought studies of genes and inheritance held the answers to both the cause and treatment of disease. Now, they realize that genes do not act alone and that environment -- from our cells to our neighborhoods -- works in concert with our genetics. Researchers are connecting just how the minute genetic variations among people influence why some are more sensitive to pollution or how the variations in our living conditions can change health on a molecular level.
People may think humans are pretty special creatures within the animal kingdom, but as scientists try to understand what makes us different from other animals, they keep running into what makes us the same. Humans and chimps share most of their DNA, nearly as much with mice, and a good proportion with non-mammals such as bees and birds. Researchers examine these similarities and differences to learn more about the human race.
The Heat Is On: Evolution in Action
Evolution is an ongoing process and as the Earth becomes warmer, changes are being seen in migration patterns of birds, insects, and even in the life in the oceans. This program looks at how scientists track these changes, how plants and animals adapt to them or not, and what this means for the health of the planet. From a tiny bog mosquito to the corals of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, the program discovers how living things are affected by warming trends.
For more information, visit www.dnafiles.org