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Genetics researcher and author Steve Jones speculates on how males got their start, and then presents us with a biological mystery: Why have males hung around so long? Males don't appear to be biologically necessary. In fact, some species, says Steve, have done away with them entirely. But surely males have some use? Steve makes one argument for why we need men ... or at least a freezer full of sperm. NPR's Nell Greenfieldboyce tells us how news of a new technology allowing the extraction of sperm from a man posthumously impacted a grieving New York widow named Leisha.



Comments [12]

Hmacski from Bristol, vt

Is it just me or is the imagery used at the beginning of this segment loaded with rape imagery? It was so disturbing I had to turn it off.

Jul. 02 2016 04:36 PM
Micheal C from Manhattan

When you have a "male" oriented POV about sex you miss the point of reality which is : Females are essentially Immortal .. Males are a conversation, a way females communicate and share knowledge about surviving on earth with other females over time ... Masculinity .. rather than being a polar state of sexuality, is rather a version of the eternal femininity that life in essence is.
The bondage of our language and culture prevents us from seeing this clearly and some cases blinds to accept this fact, even thou nature, which is universal in language and culture, points out this truth to us all the time. ,

Feb. 15 2014 12:54 PM

Great Program! Does anyone know the name of the wind piece that underscores the beginning of this portion of the program? It's on the tip of my tongue and I just can't remember what it is!

May. 13 2011 08:17 PM
A. Dios from Washington DC

The woman thats singing during the breaks is Juana Molina - Tres Cosas. I've been wondering for three weeks now. All it took was an iPhone & the Shazam app, thanks technology.

Apr. 07 2009 11:46 PM
Owen Miller from Providence, RI

As always, great show. My brother (who went to Oberlin) got me hooked. However, I noticed a misnomer in the first part of the show. The man who discovered the wonderful penis-scooper of the damselfly (similar to the dragonfly) was Jon, not Jeff, Waage. As a student of his, I was excited to hear about him, and I had to write something!

Mar. 31 2009 05:29 PM
Sara from Hawaii

During the discussion of the population of all female lizards that live in the dessert, Dr. Jones mentioned something about how chicken eggs have developed before without being fertilized. Did I hear this right? Does he actually mean chickens have produced eggs with no male around that develop into embryos (clones I suppose)?

Feb. 09 2009 01:58 AM
Daniel Freiheit from Washington, DC

Good show, as always. I think RL hits the right combination between (aural) entertainment and education. I always look forward to the next installment.

I agree with the commenter's suggestion here above the RL identify the music that's played in the background, etc. I'm dying to know what that choral piece was that was played during the first segment. It was very dramatic and clever, made me think of an updated version of Carl Orff's 'Carmina Burana'.

Jan. 05 2009 02:57 PM
Soledad Robledo from Santiago

I empathized with Leisha. Our children will be a living part of us when we have gone. It's difficult to explain but I feel my parent's presence in me at times although he's not here anymore...

Dec. 26 2008 07:08 PM
Jason Warner from Massachusetts

For a graphic novel take on men and their existence, try out Y: The Last Man, written by Brian K. Vaughn. It's now in ten collected softcovers. All the men die off save for one, and his monkey, and it's his job along with a coupe collected friends to figure out what happened and why. I just finished it, thanks to my local library, and in between the violence and humor and wee bit of sex was some good science fiction.

Dec. 19 2008 10:07 AM
mister jep from toronto, earth

Great to have the new shows! Could anyone tell me who the musicians are playing in between the first and second bits of this Sperm episode? It's jazz, female singer, French (I think). It might be cool to label any music right on the show's description page in general... but I'm not complaining. Great stuff.

Dec. 05 2008 07:16 AM

will not let me download the mp3, wants to give me a ram file instead., please fix.

Nov. 23 2008 11:05 PM
Mike from Falls Church, va

I knew there had to be at least one good reason for my existence. Previously, I only had the TeamAmerica:WorldPolice analogy to look to. This is, although not as hilarious, much more empirical.

Nov. 23 2008 08:57 PM

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