The Sound of Science

David George Haskell on the sense biology neglects most

Sylvia Sassen/Flickr
Sylvia Sassen/Flickr

Bacteria made the first sounds on Earth, dinosaurs likely belched and bugled instead of roared, and for millennia, the Earth was largely silent. Why it took so long for communicative sound to emerge—and how it flourished into the coos, croaks, cries, and cacophony of today—is the subject of David George Haskell’s new book, Sounds Wild and Broken. While documenting the sonic marvels of the world, Haskell arrived at the alarming conclusion that we’re in an acoustic crisis. Manmade sounds and behavior are causing insects and songbirds to die out, disrupting whale song and silencing shrimp, creating stress in our own minority communities, and generating countless other aural ills. David George Haskell, a professor of biology and environmental studies at Sewanee: The University of the South and a Guggenheim Fellow, joins us on the podcast to talk about why sound matters.

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Stephanie Bastek is the senior editor of the Scholar and the producer/host of the Smarty Pants podcast.


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