[The Infinite Monkey Cage] Microbes: Secret Rulers of the World?

Microbes: Secret Rulers of the World?

07/01/2019 by BBC Radio 4

Web player: http://podplayer.net/?id=61468574
Episode: http://open.live.bbc.co.uk/mediaselector/5/redir/version/2.0/mediaset/audio-nondrm-download/proto/http/vpid/p06xdsxq.mp3

Microbes: Secret Rulers of the World?

Brian Cox and Robin Ince return for a new series of the hugely popular, award-winning science/comedy show. This week they are joined by comedian Ed Byrne, oceanographer Dr Jon Copley and planetary scientist Prof Monica Grady to ask whether the real master-race on planet Earth is not human but microbe. They’ll be looking at how microbes are found in every extreme environment on the planet, how and when they first arrived on the Earth and why the hunt is on to find evidence of microbes in space.

Listen Date: 2019-03-08


  • Oh, I hadn’t realised that the Infinite Monkey Cage is more comedic than In Our Time. Not that there’s anything wrong with that…
  • Ed Byrne asking if the leap from nothing to life or the leap from prokaryotic life to eukaryotic life was bigger, was one of those sudden changes of perspective that I had never thought of but suddenly realised was an amazing question.
  • I giggled when Prof Grady cited Pratchett.
  • Byrne also pointed out something I do, that we are merely vessels for microbes. That was validation, but the scientists’ answer was fascinating – that we are microbe-mammal complexes, and that we can evolve to changes in environment by swapping out existing microbes with ones more suited to the new environment.
  • The point about water being a universal solvent because of its being liquid over a much larger temperature range than any other solvent was something I’d forgotten.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s