Darwin Days: Evolution Beyond The Origin Of Species

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February 2009 marks Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday and heralds the 150th anniversary of the first publication of The Origin of Species. The ideas Darwin and his contemporary Alfred Wallace brought to light have fundamentally shaped not only how we perceive the biological world, but how we observe and describe change itself.

From February 7-14, 2009 the Exploratorium’s Darwin Days presents a series of presentations, debates, and discussions, to explore the ways scientists continue to learn from and apply the their knowledge of evolution to a broad range of pursuits. The program includes Explore Amour: Tracing the Origins of Love with Dr. Thomas Lewis on February 14, in honor of Valentine’s Day. All events are included in the price of admission to the Exploratorium.

Since the publication of The Origin of Species, the principles of evolutionary biology have become integral to fields as diverse as medicine, agriculture, genetic engineering, and epidemiology. Outside the life sciences, evolutionary concepts have informed economics, cultural studies, urban planning, and even forms of popular culture like video game design. While debates about how to discuss evolution continue, the idea of evolution itself is now ingrained in the public imagination. The program includes:

Saturday, February 7, 2009
Cancer: Survival of the Fittest Cells -- A Conversation with Dr. Thea Tlsty
McBean Theater, 2pm

In many ways, cancer cells manage to wreak havoc because they are so well adapted to the mechanisms of cell division in the human body. They outcompete normal cells for resources, multiply their numbers more quickly, and often find new locations in the body to colonize. How do theories of evolution and natural selection help us to better understand and treat cancer?

The Director of the Center for Translational Research in the Molecular Genetics of Cancer at the University of California at San Francisco, Dr. Thea Tlsty has been studying the molecular processes of cancer for over 20 years. Please join this dynamic speaker in an informative conversation about enlightening ways researchers look at cancer.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Darwin Days Book Club: Darwin’s Ghost 2pm

Charles Darwin was a visionary thinker and The Origin of Species is an amazingly sound document, especially considering that the scientific community had virtually no knowledge of genetics at the time it was published. Steve Jones, an eminent geneticist from University College London, has written a postscript to Darwin’s epistle. Darwin’s Ghost: The Origin of Species Updated follows the same structure as its forebear while illustrating how the modern science of genetics has eloquently confirmed and built on Darwin’s ideas about the origins of biological diversity.

Join in a lively exchange on this modern-day vision of Darwin’s most notable book. The Exploratorium’s Director of Life Sciences, Charlie Carlson, will provide scientific insight into both works. Darwin’s Ghost is available for purchase through the Exploratorium Store and online and will also be available at local bookstores for several weeks prior to the event.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009
SF Debate: Genetics and Medical Ethics -- in collaboration with the Commonwealth Club
McBean Theater, 7-9:30pm

Watson and Crick probably never dreamed that scientists could sequence human genomes less than 60 years after they discovered the structure of DNA. Yet in the last decade, technological breakthroughs have allowed us to sequence an individual’s genome or look for specific genes in little time and at a relatively affordable cost. How do these developments affect our lives? In an evening of debate, we explore the ethical questions surrounding the information revealed by genome sequencing and discuss how that information is currently being used or protected.

SF Debate is a bi-weekly event sponsored by the Commonwealth Club’s INFORUM and is structured somewhat like a formal debate, with participants posing arguments to support their views on the issue at hand. Experts in genetics and medical ethics will introduce our collaborative Darwin Days anniversary celebration and provide background information to help lend scientific and legal accuracy to the debate.

Saturday, February 14, 2009
Explore Amour: Tracing the Origins of Love with Dr. Thomas Lewis
McBean Theater, 2pm

How does evolution influence amorous relationships? Are human brains hardwired for love? How have relationships benefited our species over time? In honor of Valentine’s Day, we examine the role evolution has played in human love and attraction. Discover the science behind sweet nothings with Dr. Thomas Lewis as he offers a Darwinian twist to modern romance. In a Q&A following his presentation, Dr. Lewis will respond to your passionate questions on love.

Dr. Thomas Lewis is a professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco. He is the author of A General Theory of Love, which explores the psychobiology behind our human interactions. He speaks frequently to a variety of audiences about the science of emotion.

Saturday, February 21, 2009
Physics of Toys: Survival of the Funnest
Skylight Area, 11am–3pm

Do toys and games evolve? Are there games based on theories of evolution? Find out with Physics of Toys as the team celebrates Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday -- and the 150th anniversary of his famous work, The Origin of Species. Take what you make home! -- www.exploratorium.edu


Submitted by cabesas...! (not verified) on
February 2009 marks Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday and heralds the 150th anniversary of the first publication of The Origin of Species. It is amazing how Darwinism has become the only accepted Science...! If Darwin could know this, he most certainly would be amused...! As it amuses me more, what Evolution is, and what Atheism is...! cabesas...!

Submitted by Dr Milton Wainwright (not verified) on
The simple fact is that neither Darwin, nor Wallace originated the idea of natural selection. How can we be sure of this? Simple- both Darwin and Wallace,admitted that they were beaten to the theory by Patrick Matthew and/or Charles Wells. Darwin described Matthew's contribution, of 1831, as "precisely"the same as offered by Wallace and himself in 1857(Search "wainwrightscience" on Google). Why do we continue then to spread thr falsehood that Darwin and Wallace originated natural selection when they admitted that they did not? If creationists spread falsehoods like this,they wold be rightly admonished-why then does the scientific community,and the media, get away with doing so? Dr Milton Wainwright, Dept.Molecular Biology and Biotechnology,University of Sheffield,UK.

Submitted by Cabesas...! (not verified) on
If Evolutionists want it to be "natural selection", and "survival of the fittest"...! So it has been, and will be most likely in the near future for them, and all who believe in World Wars, or other...! And I am not of any Religious belief persee ! It is the "unjust" principle of Evolution, that modern humans are maturing to defend "human rights" less than "animal rights", which is wrong...! I do have sometimes multiple interpretation writ...! cabesas...!

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