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On a remote beach in Western Australia it is possible to see living examples of some of the oldest life on the planet. These mounds of micro-organisms also lived two billion years ago and changed the atmosphere of Earth making it hospitable for the organic life we are familiar with. This is just one of the amazing journeys that RICHARD FORTEY made looking for examples of “living fossils” Fortey is the author of many books and was the Senior Paleontologist at the Natural History Museum in London until his retirement in 2006. His latest book HORSESHOE CRABS AND VELVET WORMS: THE STORY OF ANIMALS AND PLANTS THAT TIME HAS LEFT BEHIND is a wonderful and fascinating tour of the globe looking at life forms that give us an idea of what life was like millions and billions of years ago. Tune in tonight and hear Fortey talk about watching the relatives of trilobites mate in Delaware Bay and where to look for some of the examples of the earliest life that ever existed among the geysers at Yellowstone National Park.
My very excellent mother just served us nine pizzas. This was just one of the many mnemonic phrases we learned as children to help us learn the names and order of the planets of our solar system. It came as a shock when we recently learned that we will have to do without the pizza because Pluto was no longer considered a planet. Who made this decision that changed our childhood vision of our solar system? What gets to be called a planet anyway? Tonight on Inquiry we talk with the person responsible for pulling the plug on Pluto’s planetary aspirations. We speak with MIKE BROWN, the Richard and Barbara Rosenberg Professor of Planetary Astronomy at the California Institute of Technology. His entertaining and revealing book is titled HOW I KILLED PLUTO AND WHY IT HAD IT COMING.