Events

    An Evolutionary Journey through Domestication

    Location: 

    Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford St., Cambridge

    As the earliest farmers began to select wild plants and animals that had desirable traits, they initiated a series of genetic changes in these species that gradually made them more suitable for agriculture. Plants became easier to grow, had greater yields, and were of higher quality. Animal species exhibited favorable changes in behavior, coat color, and reproductive traits. Barbara Schaal will discuss how the artificial selection of these species—a pivotal technological achievement—has influenced their genetics, evolution, and capacity to flourish in the care of humans.

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    Wildhood: Coming of Age on Planet Earth

    Location: 

    Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford St., Cambridge

    Adolescence is dangerous, difficult, and destiny-shaping for humans and other animals. In Wildhood (Simon & Schuster, 2019), Barbara Natterson-Horowitz and Kathryn Bowers look across species and evolutionary time to find answers to a single, consequential question: Why do some adolescents safely, successfully, and independently enter the adult world, while so many others do not? The authors apply the results of their five-year study of wild animal adolescence to our species, presenting a new understanding of the dangers, stresses, and challenges we face on our journeys to...

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    All That Glitters Is Gold: Gravitational Waves, Light, and the Origin of the Heavy Elements

    Location: 

    Knafel Center, 10 Garden St., Cambridge

    Edo Berger, professor of astronomy at Harvard University, will discuss his efforts to explore the long-standing question of how gold and other heavy elements are created in the universe. In particular, his work aims to demonstrate the creation of these elements in neutron star collisions detected through their gravitational wave emission and the implications of the answer.

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    The Ancient Maya Response to Climate Change: A Cautionary Tale

    Location: 

    Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford St., Cambridge

    Ancient Maya civilization—known for its cities, monumental architecture, ceramics, hieroglyphic writing, and advanced understanding of mathematics and astronomy—suffered a major demise between the tenth and eleventh centuries. The causes continue to be investigated and debated. Paleoenvironmental research over the past twenty years has revealed that the demise coincided with a prolonged intensive drought that extended across the region, providing compelling evidence that climate change played a key role in the collapse of the Maya.

    In this lecture, Billie Turner will examine...

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    Lecture and Book Signing: Assembling the Dinosaur

    Location: 

    Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford St., Cambridge

    Join the Harvard Museum of Natural History and the Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments for a free lecture and book signing by Lukas Rieppell, David and Michelle Ebersman Assistant Professor of History at Brown University.

    Dinosaur fossils were first found in England, but a series of late-nineteenth-century discoveries in the American West turned the United States into a world center for vertebrate paleontology. Around the same time, the United States also emerged as an economic powerhouse of global proportions, and large, fierce, and spectacular creatures...

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    Lecture: Darkness in Distress

    Location: 

    Weld Hill Building, Arnold Arboretum, 125 Arborway, Boston

    Join the Arnold Arboretum for a lecture by science journalist Kelly Beatty. Light pollution, simply put, is any unnecessary or excessive outdoor illumination. Sadly, it’s become a pervasive and ugly consequence of modern 24/7 society. Light pollution robs us of the night sky’s beauty, negatively affects the ecosystem, and creates an in-your-face waste of energy. But a new mindset and new technology are poised to slow—and perhaps reverse—this bane of modern life.

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    Harvard Science Book Talk: Graham Farmelo

    Location: 

    Science Center Hall D, One Oxford St., Cambridge

    In The Universe Speaks in Numbers, Graham Farmelo, the award-winning author of The Strangest Man and Churchill's Bomb, takes his readers on a journey from the Scientific Revolution to string theory, highlighting the role of mathematics in guiding the search for the most fundamental laws of nature.

    In this talk, he will be joined by Harvard's own Jacob Barandes in conversation about this new book which explores how the harmonies between physics and mathematics enrich and deepen our understanding of the universe.

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    Footprints On Another World: Apollo Plus 50

    Location: 

    Phillips Auditorium, 60 Garden St., Cambridge

    Half a century later, Dr. Jonathan McDowell will look back at humanity's first voyages to another world. In December 1968, the crew of Apollo 8 became the first people to enter the gravitational sphere of the Moon, and seven months later, Armstrong and Aldrin headed for the surface in Apollo 11. Meanwhile, the Soviet Union's moon rocket exploded disastrously as its robot probes competed with NASA astronauts in the race to bring home the first moon rocks. Dr. McDowell will explain how the first landing stood at the tip of an immense effort as engineers from California to Cambridge, MA...

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    How Birds Work: Eggs

    Location: 

    Hunnewell Building, Arnold Arboretum, 125 Arborway, Boston

    How does an egg become an egg? Why do chickens continue to lay eggs day after day? What controls the shape of eggs? Why do eggs of different species of birds have different colors? And how strong are eggshells?

    In this talk which follows previous talks about bird flight, migration, and feathers, Lorna Gibson answers common questions about bird eggs.

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    The Human Swarm: How Societies Arise, Thrive, and Fall

    Location: 

    Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford St., Cambridge

    Join us for a free lecture and book signing by Mark W. Moffett. Based on his new book, The Human Swarm: How Societies Arise, Thrive, and Fall (Basic Books, April 2019), Moffett will discuss the social adaptations that bind societies and distinguish humans from other animal species. Drawing on findings in psychology, sociology, and anthropology, he explores how human society evolved from intimate chimp communities into sprawling civilizations of unrivaled complexity–and will address what is required to sustain them.

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    Why Brain Science Needs an Edit: Non-human Primate Studies in Neuroscience and Biomedicine

    Location: 

    Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Knafel Center, 10 Garden St., Cambridge

    This lecture will feature Dr. Mu-ming Poo, the founding director of the Institute of Neuroscience at the Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences. In his talk, Dr. Poo will discuss the use of gene-editing tools such as CRISPR in efforts to develop a macaque monkey behavioral model for studying self-consciousness. He will also address the relevant ethical issues associated with gene editing and the use of non-human primates in biomedical research.

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    Lecture: Frontiers in Evolution

    Location: 

    Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford St., Cambridge

    New approaches to studying evolutionary processes, from genomics to big data, have revolutionized the study of organisms across geological time and geographical space. Join us for a series of short “flash” lectures presented by Harvard graduate students and learn about the range of questions that scientists are asking today about evolution.

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    Lecture: Self-Domestication in Bonobos and Other Wild Animals

    Location: 

    Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford St., Cambridge

    Domesticated animals such as dogs, pigs, and horses often sport floppy ears, patches of white hair, and other features that are unknown in their wild ancestors. These traits—collectively referred to by scientists as a “domestication syndrome”—are the result of breeding less aggressive individuals.

    Drawing from his new book, The Goodness Paradox (2019, Pantheon Books), Richard Wrangham will show that our cousin apes, the bonobos, also exhibit a domestication syndrome, making them the first clear example of a “wild domesticate.” Self-domestication in the wild now seems...

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    Living with White Sharks

    Location: 

    Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford St., Cambridge

    The Cape Cod white shark population has increased in recent years in response to the dramatic increase in the seal population. Shark sightings—some close to popular swimming and surfing beaches—are becoming more frequent and negative interactions between sharks and humans have become a real concern.

    Gregory Skomal has studied and tracked white sharks in the Atlantic for more than 30 years. In this lecture, he will examine the behavior, ecology, natural history, and population dynamics of this species, and how scientific research can help sharks and humans coexist in the Cape...

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    Viruses: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

    Location: 

    Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street, Cambridge

    Viruses are the tiniest but most numerous inhabitants of Earth. Although notorious for causing deadly epidemics, not all viruses are bad. Many are beneficial to their hosts and several play key roles in maintaining the health of ecosystems.

    Paul Turner (Elihu Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Microbiology Program Faculty Member, Yale University) will discuss the “good, bad, and ugly” effects of viruses, from how they invade organisms and wreak havoc in biological systems to how they are used to control pests and develop cancer treatments, among other medical...

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