The Autotrophs began to drool!
The Big Bang Theory is an American sitcom that follows the misadventures of 4 nerdy scientists (3 PhD prepared scientists and one lonely masters prepared scientist. That reference will make more sense if you watch the show) and their aspiring actress neighbour. The point of this blog post is to speak to the intro song, preformed by Canada’s own Bare Naked Ladies, which much to my surprise is the topic of much debate on the internets.
Here is the intro as it appears on the show
And for those interested here is the full version of the song
The line in question that seems to receive so much attention is “the autotrophs began to drool”
So what is with all of the “controversy”?
To understand what all of the “controversy” is about, we must 1st familiarize ourselves with the underlying core concepts.
Autotrophs, create their own food through the process of photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is the process in which carbon dioxide and water are converted into useful organic compounds (such as sugars) using sunlight. Autotrophs where some of the 1st species on the planet and helped to shape the early earth ecosystem (alliteration anyone! Wait I did it again!). The 1st autotrophs are also responsible for setting in motion many of the ecological processes that are in place to this very day. Heterotrophs, on the other hand, are organisms that are unable to create their own food (by the process of photosynthesis). Instead, heterotrophs must consume an external food source in order to fuel internal processes and provide energy to the organism (for those of you wondering, humans are heterotrophs!). Drooling is an automatic response in many, but not all, heterotrophs that facilitates the breakdown of organic materials (read as: food) into a form that can be utilized by animals. More specifically, saliva (drool) contains digestive enzymes that assist in the initial digestion of food.
So with the above information in mind, you would think that the statement “the autotrophs began to drool” would be incorrect. I mean if autotrophs make their own food, how, and more importantly why, would an autotroph drool!?
That, dear reader, is an excellent question!
We need to focus on the word “began”. The song is referring to the period of time, hundreds of millions of years ago, when specific autotrophs began to evolve. It is during this time period that we see the 1st autotrophs evolving into what would eventually become the 1st heterotrophs. Despite what some creationists might tell you, modern plants and modern animals share a common ancestor. “The Big Bang Theory” intro is paying tribute to the specific line of autotrophs that branched off and evolved into the 1st heterotrophs. Now it should be noted that the 1st heterotrophs would not have drooled, as they would not have even had what we would describe as a mouth to drool from, but seeing as we have a modern/popular/hit show promoting evolution and science, I think that we can let that slide!
This has been the skeptical samurai
Working to serve…
Through the process of inquiry…
*update: Jan 23/2012- check out Part 2 of this post here: http://theskepticalsamurai.wordpress.com/2012/01/23/the-autotrophs-began-to-drool-part-2/)