Neil and Rosie talk about an unusual honour for a well-known scientist – having a fish named after him.
What was the Beatles first UK number 1 hit?
a) Love Me Do
b) Please Please Me
c) Yellow Submarine
Neil: Hello and welcome to 6 Minute English, the programme in which we discuss something from the news and teach you a few useful words and phrases on the way! I’m Neil and joining me today is Rosie. Hi Rosie.
Rosie: Hi Neil.
Neil: We’ve got a story about naming things this week.
Rosie: Yes, you know how streets or buildings are often named after a famous or successful person from the past.
Neil: Here at the BBC in London there is a part of the building called the ‘Peel Wing’, named after a famous radio presenter called John Peel. He also used to have a show on the World Service. Can you give us another example, Rosie?
Rosie: I like Liverpool John Lennon Airport because normally streets and buildings are named after rather boring old figures from history who no-one really cares about any more. John Lennon who had a big cultural impact on the world we live in today.
Neil: Well, our story today is about a rather unusual thing to be named after a well-known person.
Rosie: Not a street, building or an airport but a fish!
Neil: That’s right, but before we get onto that we have our quiz questions. Are you ready?
Rosie: Yes I am.
Neil: Well, I’ve already mentioned John Lennon and I am a massive Beatles fan, so it’s a perfect excuse for a Beatles-related question. It’s a really easy one. What was the Beatles first UK number 1 hit?
a) Love Me Do.
b) Please Please Me.
c) Yellow Submarine.
Rosie: I think it was a) Love Me Do.
Neil: We’ll find out at the end of the programme. So, we are talking about naming things after famous people. This week, the British biologist, Richard Dawkins has had a fish named after him.
Rosie: Richard Dawkins is a well-known atheist.
Neil: Atheists think that God or gods don’t exist.
Rosie: Dawkins is an expert in evolutionary science – very simply, that’s the science based on Charles Darwin’s theory that animals and plants developed slowly over time rather than were created by a God or higher power.
Neil: And to recognise this work he’s done, he’s had a species or type of fish named after him. But he’s not the first famous person to have an unusual thing named after him. Listen to the first clip from the BBC’s Beth McLeod to find out who else has had strange things named in their honour.
Nelson Mandela has a species of spider named after him and there’s a group of crustaceans named after the singer Bob Marley. Now the British biologist and atheist Richard Dawkins is the latest public figure to lend his name to a living organism. A Sri Lankan scientist Rohan Pethiyagoda has identified a new genus of fish and called it Dawkinsia in recognition, he says, of the contribution to evolutionary science that Dawkins has made.
Rosie: The reggae singer Bob Marley had a group of crustaceans named after him. Crustaceans are animals which live in water and have a shell, such as crabs and lobsters.
Neil: And Nelson Mandela has had a spider named after him. So Rosie, what is this fish called that Richard Dawkins has given his name to?
Rosie: It’s called ‘Dawkinsia’. It’s a strange sort of an honour isn’t it? I’m not sure how I’d react!
Neil: Me neither, but let’s hear how Richard Dawkins himself took the news of his honour. He uses a word which means that living or lasting forever. What is it?
“Well I’m delighted, it’s a great honour. It’s a kind of immortality and it’s a delightful little fish and so I’m really very pleased. My whole life is devoted to extolling the beauty and wonder of the living world. And Dr. Pethiyagoda in his paper very kindly paid tribute to that.”
Rosie: He said it’s a kind of immortality.
Neil: Living or lasting forever – in the form of a fish! He also said that his whole life has been devoted to extolling the beauty and wonder of the living world.
Rosie: Extolling. He means praising the beauty of the living world.
Neil: But fish are just fish, aren’t they Rosie? I mean they can’t really be described as beautiful.
Rosie: What do you mean?! Fish can be really beautiful. And these ones that Richard Dawkins has had named after him sound like they are particularly attractive to the opposite sex.
Neil: But what is it that makes them attractive? Listen to the final part of this BBC report and see if you can hear.
Four species of fish are currently recognised as belonging to the Dawkinsia group. They live in freshwater and are notable for the long filaments trailing from their fins – which makes them more attractive to the opposite sex. The researchers were studying a group of fish known as Puntius, and decided to re-classify them after discovering that they were far more diverse than previously thought. Dr Pethiyagoda wants the name to remind people of Dawkins’ writings about evolution which he says seek to explain the unimaginable diversity of life on earth.
Rosie: They are notable for the long filaments from their fins.
Neil: Filaments are thin wires or threads. Well OK then, I suppose if a fish is going to be named after you, this one sounds like it is quite attractive – to other fish at least. OK Rosie, let’s finish off with our quiz question about the Beatles…
Rosie: Yes, you asked me what the Beatles first number 1 hit single was in the UK.
Neil: The options were:
a) Love Me Do.
b) Please Please Me.
c) Yellow Submarine.
Rosie: And I said a) Love Me Do.
Neil: And you were wrong.
Rosie: That’s all we have time for.
Neil: Join us again for more 6 Minute English from bbclearningenglish.com
atheists: people who think that God or gods don’t exist
evolutionary science: the science based on Charles Darwin’s theory that animals and plants developed slowly over time rather than having been created by a God or higher power
species: a type of plant or animal
crustaceans: animals which live in water and have a shell
extolling: praising something highly
filaments: thin threads or wires
Source: BBC Learning EnglishMore Series for You: