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Life Underwater

Tom Sutcliffe discusses life under the waves with biologists Luke Rendell and Helen Scales, poet Andrew Motion and biochemist Nick Lane.

On Start the Week Tom Sutcliffe explores life in the oceans. The biologist Luke Rendell studies the evolution of social learning in whales and dolphins, and seeks to define their culture beneath the waves. The seahorse is a creature with a rich mythical history and is the subject of Andrew Motion's latest poem, while the biologist Helen Scales weaves science, natural history and culture in her story of the seashell. The biochemist Nick Lane looks back over 4 billion years to explain why life is the way it is and believes energy flux is the vital factor that has driven the origin and evolution of life.
Producer: Katy Hickman.

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43 minutes

Last on

Mon 20 Apr 2015 21:30

Luke Rendell

Luke Rendell is a lecturer in biology at the Sea Mammal Research Unit and the Centre for Social Learning and Cognitive Evolution of the University of St Andrews.

The Cultural Lives of Whales and Dolphins, co-authored with Hal Whitehead, is published by The University of Chicago Press.

Luke will be speaking at the Cheltenham Science Festival on Saturday 6 June.

Andrew Motion

Andrew Motion, former Poet Laureate, is Professor of Creative Writing at Royal Holloway, University of London.

Andrew will read a new poem, Consider the Seahorse, at ZSL London Zoo Aquarium on 29 April at 6.30pm, as part of the Authors for Animals series.

Helen Scales

Helen Scales is a marine biologist based in Cambridge.

Spirals in Time: The Secret Life and Curious Afterlife of Seashells is published by Bloomsbury Sigma.

Nick Lane

Nick Lane is a biochemist in the Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment at University College London and leads the UCL Origins of Life Programme.

The Vital Question: Why is life the way it is? is published by Profile Books.


Role Contributor
Presenter Tom Sutcliffe
Interviewed Guest Luke Rendell
Interviewed Guest Helen Scales
Interviewed Guest Andrew Motion
Interviewed Guest Nick Lane
Producer Katy Hickman


  • Mon 20 Apr 2015 09:00
  • Mon 20 Apr 2015 21:30