Genetic Mutation

Listen in pop-out player

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss mutation in genetics and evolution. When lying mortally ill with cancer, the British geneticist J.B.S. Haldane penned the following lines: Cancer's a Funny Thing:I wish I had the voice of HomerTo sing of rectal carcinoma,Which kills a lot more chaps, in fact,Than were bumped off when Troy was sacked...Haldane knew better than most that many cancers, and many other diseases, are caused by genetic mutation. A mutation is an error in reproduction between one generation and the next as the copying mechanism that allows you to inherit your parent’s genes goes awry. Mutations are almost always bad news for the organism that suffers them and yet mutation is also a giver of life. Without it there would be no natural selection, no evolution and, arguably, no life on this planet. It’s not unreasonable to see life itself as a mutation and to understand this may also hold the key to aging and disease. It is, in the Darwinian view of life, the raw material of evolution.With Steve Jones, Professor of Genetics in the Galton Laboratory, University College London; Adrian Woolfson, lectures in Medicine at Cambridge University; Linda Partridge, Weldon Professor of Biometry at University College LondonTags

Release date:

Available now

45 minutes

Last on

Thu 6 Dec 2007 21:30

Related topics

Featured in...

Topics: an extra way to explore our archive

Topics: an extra way to explore our archive

How you helped us find a fresh way to discover our programmes.

Quiz: In Our Time in 2016

James Chadwick’s neutron chamber

Can you remember what we’ve covered this year?

In Our Time podcasts

In Our Time podcasts

Every episode of In Our Time is available to download.

Quiz: Where's Melvyn?


How many of these northern landmarks do you know?

Arts and Ideas podcast

Free Thinking

Download the best of Radio 3's Free Thinking programme.