“Rules of Life,” an audio documentary produced by the National Science Foundation (NSF), follows scientists as they try to better understand the reasons why the genes of living organisms and the interactions with their environments lead to the varieties of phenotypes—the observable characteristics and traits of an organism expressed by their genetic code—found in nature.

As stated in the program: “If you know the rules, you may be able to figure out life’s next move.”

An increased knowledge of the relationship between genes and their expression may open up doors for scientists to respond and improve outcomes within fields such as medicine and agriculture. “By identifying the basic rules of life across scales of time, space, and complexity, we may come to predict how cells, brains, bodies, and biomes will respond to changes around them; how a disease might act in the future; how a disease will respond to a drug, or precisely how much food the nation’s farms would turn out next year.”

The program is part of “Understanding the Rules of Life: Predicting Phenotype,” one of NSF’s “Big Ideas for Future Investments” research agendas aimed at ensuring that future generations reap the benefits of science and engineering.

A link to the audio and the full transcript are available through the National Science Foundation website.