In Search of Bugs

Premieres on PBS, April 17.

Karen Heyman(kheyman@the-scientist.com)
Mar 27, 2005

This spring's US television season will feature dueling zoologists, as Ruud "Bugman" Kleinpaste (Buggin' With Ruud, premieres on Animal Planet, June 15) takes on Martin "Spiderman" Nicholas (Nature: Deep Jungle, premieres on PBS, April 17). Both come from the "kids, don't try this at home" school of science television. New Zealander Kleinpaste allows himself to be covered in killer bees to demonstrate the power of pheromones. The UK's Nicholas says, "Don't touch this venomous spider," and then, of course, he does.

Both represent a Victorian gentleman's view of science as exotic adventure, which seems anachronistic these days when the only thing one is likely to be chasing is an errant Drosophila in the lab. It's hard to imagine that many real, professional scientists are slogging through jungles collecting insects and arachnids.

Still, the approach taken by Kleinpaste and Nicholas may remind the public, and funding agencies, that good zoology research...