Geladas, genes and the clouds of Venus


16:00 - 17:15

This week in our virtual CRESIDA seminar series, Professor Stuart Semple from the University of Roehampton will be presenting a talk titled 'Genes, geladas and the clouds of Venus - compression as a fundamental principle of biological information systems'.  Zoom details:


A fundamental goal of the life sciences is to identify universal biological principles - the basic rules of organisation that underpin diverse natural phenomena. I will argue that one way to identify such principles is to explore the universality outside our own species of the common statistical patterns of human language known as linguistic laws. I will firstly describe two linguistic laws, Zipf’s law of abbreviation and Menzerath’s law, and explain the tests we have carried out to see if they hold in non-human primate vocal communication. I will then describe the common mathematical principle that we have demonstrated to lie behind these two laws, and explain why we feel this may be a universal principle underpinning not only primate vocal communication, including human language, but also biological information systems much more broadly…both on this planet and elsewhere in the universe.