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Farewell Darren

It is with great sadness that I let you know that my friend and co-Beer Drinking Scientist, Darren, passed away in January after a brave battle with brain cancer.

This episode is made up of old audio that we haven't put out on this podcast before - trial Beer Drinking Scientist episodes in which we probably did more drinking than we should have, and little bits from Diffusion Science Radio and Mr Science Show. It's not that polished, and a little, er, blue, but it was fun to make.

It doesn't seem fitting to distill such thoughts and feelings into blog post, so I've struggled with the right words. I first met Darren in 2001 when I did work experience with him when he was editor of Helix Magazine in Canberra. This was my first introduction to science communication, and he taught me a lot about writing and publishing, and in the process published my first freelance article. Darren was very generous with his time, and didn't seem to mind that I "borrowed" a couple of extra copies of that month's magazine. We stayed in contact, and in 2006 he moved to Sydney with a dirty great-big moustache and blond-tipped hair - independent of these facts, we became good friends! We did Diffusion Science Radio together on community radio, on which he was a natural, and then we started up this podcast. For me, he was inspirational, following his passions to eventually land one of the dream science communication jobs in Australia, editor of ABC Science Online. He was in demand on TV and radio across Australia, and I have no doubt he would have achieved a high profile nationally as a science communicator. Anyone that can ask a Nobel Prize winner in a TV interview if they "made it all up" has some gumption!

Apart from talking about science, we had numerous long lunches mulling politics, moustaches, hamburgers, families and eventually kids. Our podcasts slowed down a little once Darren's first son was born, then came mine, and whilst nights out with a microphone became rarer, the lunches continued. His first passion was always his wife and family. I can clearly remember the day Darren told me he had had surgery to remove a brain tumour; the hope he had while he was recovering, the last time we caught up at a Socceroos game, and the various messages and conversations after the tumour returned. This was a friendship I will cherish always - and I wish I had said that more often when I could have. My last message to him told him we were thinking about him over New Years. His last message was simply "love you". You can see from the various tributes on social media that he was a universally loved man.

If you would like to donate to Cure Brain Cancer, a fund has been set up in his honour.

Two songs were used in this episode:

"In Peace (Somewhere Else Mix)" by cdk
2015 - Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution (3.0)

"Like Music (cdk Mix)" by cdk
2015 - Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (3.0)

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Let’s talk about sex

What better topic to talk about over a beer than sex?

Darren and Marc continue tackling the big topics by tackling one of the biggest of them all, the science of sex. We review the history of research into sexuality, including the seminal Kinsey Reports, the Masters and Johnson research into the diagnosis and treatment of sexual disorders and dysfunctions, and the more recent, and intriguing, study that Partner wealth predicts self-reported orgasm frequency in a sample of Chinese women.

We also take a look at how sex might have evolved. Why is it that it takes two people to have sex? Wouldn't evolution be quicker if we could simply reproduce on our own? This is known as the twofold cost of sex - what are the benefits of having two people mix their genes to reproduce? Sexual Selection is another topic up for discussion. Charles Darwin described sexual selection as "struggle between the individuals of one sex, generally the males, for the possession of the other sex" and nature abounds with strange examples of where animal features have evolved way past their survival needs - for example, reindeer antlers, peacock plumes and quite possible human vocabulary - humans and other primates survived quite nicely without a wide vocabulary, why do we now possess one?

Darren and Marc could not possibly tackle this topic without discussing the Sexy Son Hypothesis, or without having a chat to the punters in the pub. Tune in to hear the public's thoughts on sex, the science involved, length, width, money, style, cuteness, attraction and also hear Darren provide solace to a broken hearted drinker.

Of course, over a beer, much is talking about and you'll have to tune in to catch the rest!

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The Beer Drinking Scientists are back! It's been two and a half years since our last episode, but Darren Osborne and Marc West have got back together over a beer in Sydney to chat about the pressing scientific issues of the day - in this case, alien life.

We chat about the latest scientific research and discoveries in areas such as astrobiology, SETI and exoplanets. We also chat to others in pub, including one person who swears she has seen not just one UFO, but a UFO release a baby-craft, and another who thinks that Jesus might be an alien...

To bring some sanity to the proceedings, Marc chatted to Dr Carol Oliver from the Australian Centre for Astrobiology before the show and clips from this interview are played throughout. For the full podcast interview with Carol, see Astrobiology and the search for extraterrestrial life.

We'd love to hear ideas for future BDS episodes, so feel free to leave comments, or let us know on twitter - @bdscientists. We'll release new shows about every 2 months.

Merry Christmas from The Beer Drinking Scientists - may your festive season be full of science and beer, both in moderation of course!

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After 2 years hiatus, the Beer Drinking Scientists are coming back.

Stay tuned in November 2009 for a show on Extraterrestrial Life. In the meantime, have a listen back to our old episodes on climate change and cloning, and follow us on twitter (@bdscientists).

See you soon...


This week, Darren and Marc tackle the issue of cloning. They cover the issues involved with adult and embryonic stem cells, therapeutic cloning, where you draw the line with creating a life-form for harvesting its stem cells, Dolly the sheep, South Korean cloning fraud, Alien-secular religions, business models for scientific investment and environmental triage - and then go and talk to the punters in the pub.

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Climate change

In the first full epsiode of The Beer Drinking Scientists, Marc and Darren talk about climate change. What it is, who's responsible and why we should care.

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