2003, 54 Minutes
Reputations and careers are on the line as Australian scientist Ted Steele takes on the establishment in a battle that could revolutionise the theory of evolution.
Charles Darwin started a revolution when he published his evolutionary theory in the late 1800s, challenging the belief that God created the world in seven days. Since then Darwinian theory has become the accepted scientific doctrine. But now Australian molecular immunologist Ted Steele is stirring things up again.
For years, Ted and his collaborators around the world have been researching ideas that challenge a fundamental principle of biology - the Weismann Barrier (the principle that hereditary information moves only from genes to body cells, and never in reverse) - and give new meaning to one of the most discredited theories in the history of science (Lamarckian inheritance). Their proposition is based on the work of Jean Baptiste de Lamarck, published some 50 years before Darwin's The Origin of Species. Lamarck's concept is that characteristics acquired during a lifetime could be passed on to the next generation. Ted’s view is that the some of the processes involved in immunology are Lamarckian rather than Darwinian. Ted is convinced that we can pass on genetic improvements, such as stronger immunity, to our children.
Encouraged by the great science philosopher Karl Popper, Ted launched his first book in 1979. It shook the foundations of evolutionary thinking. Since then, he and his collaborators have battled with the scientific establishment, their own universities and the media to have their research accepted.
Has Ted devoted a lifetime to pursuing a false dream, or is he about to change what we know about life on earth? Ted's Evolution documents the process of a potential paradigm shift. The stakes are high - reputations, careers and our understanding of evolution are all on the line.
A Film Australia National Interest Program in association with Stoney Creek Productions. © 2011 National Film and Sound Archive of Australia.
Director: Lou Petho
Running Time: 54 Minutes
Classification: Exempt from classification
Curriculum Links: Biological Sciences; Science; Immunology; Philosophy of Science; History of Science; Medicine; Genetics.