Evolution in November—Superhuman, genes and The Origin’s birthday

Evolution Festival

In this bulletin for the Evolution Festival there are some spectacular activities to mark the 150th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of Species, the book that brought Darwin’s theory of evolution to the public.

We’d also welcome your thoughts on how to mark the anniversary in the media.

The anniversary is on 24 November. We’re planning on getting comments from leading scientists on what we’re likely to be celebrating on the 200th anniversary in 2059 or the 250th in 2109.

  • What does the theory of natural selection mean for the human race?
  • Where are we headed?
  • What will our pets, livestock and crops look like?

Please send me your thoughts.

And please let us know of any remaining events for this year of Darwin. We’re interested in anything happening through to Charles Darwin’s 201st birthday on 12 Feb 2010. We’re planning a special event to wrap up the year in early February.

Below we list events in November and December, including the follow up to those cheek swabs taken in Melbourne last month.

Darwin activities are being held at libraries, art galleries, universities and museums. Darwin also features on TV, with a program based on Iain McCalman’s 2009 book, Darwin’s Armada, and online with behind the scenes material at the Australian National Maritime Museum and a report on the Symposium held by the Royal Society of Western Australia.

Superhuman – the exhibition and conference both open in Melbourne. Super Human: Revolution of the Species turns the spotlight on collaborations between artists and scientists and the impact these investigations have on what it means to be human

More info on the website www.evolutionaustralia.org.au. Please feel free to pass on this information to friends and colleagues.

And please let us know if there are events that we haven’t mentioned. The best way to do that is to register them at www.evolutionaustralia.org.au then drop an email to us so we can include you in future bulletins and promotions.

And finally please also include us in your media lists. We will be telling journalists about newsworthy Darwinian activities.

Kind regards,


Niall Byrne for Phil Batterham and the Evolution Festival

(Please let me know by email if you do not wish to receive these bulletins)

In this bulletin:

The Journey of Humanity—from African origins to life in a warming world

World Congress of Science and Factual Producers coming to Melbourne

Evolution events in November and December

Darwin’s Brave New World – on ABC

Richard Dawkins to visit Australia

Charles Darwin the Australian Connection

Symposium on Evolutionary Biology – report online

Ongoing exhibitions

The Journey of Humanity—from African origins to life in a warming world, 6 December

UPDATE 1 Dec 2009: Please note ammended event details.

Discover Melburnians’ deep ancestry and the journey of humanity from African origins to life in a warming world.

In October a thousand Melburnians queued up to participate in the Genographic Project. The first hundred received a free analysis of their deep ancestry. Spencer Wells, the global leader of the Genographic Project, will report back on the results. This is a  free forum at the University of Melbourne.

Booking is essential.

Location: The Spot Theatre, 198 Berkley St, Melbourne

Time: 10am-12pm Lecture (free)

More information and tickets available at: http://humanjourneys.com.au/index.php?page=registration

World Congress of Science and Factual Producers coming to Melbourne

The World Congress of Science and Factual Producers (WCSFP) is THE must-attend gathering for producers, broadcasters and distributors working in factual television and this year it’s here in Melbourne 1–4 December 2009.

Usually those outside the industry miss out but not this time. This year the WCSFP will open its doors to the public on Friday, December 4 at the Grand Hyatt Melbourne for:

  • Understanding the Human Brain 9.30 -10:30am
    ABC Science broadcaster Robyn Williams and special Congress guest – renowned brain researcher, author and Fellow of the Royal Institute, Baroness Susan Greenfield look at the brain
  • Was Wallace cheated, and other Ripping Yarns 11am –noon
    Dr Scott Hocknull is one of five presenters pitching their ideas to a panel of international TV producers. He’ll ask, “Alfred Russel Wallace proposed a theory of evolution at the same time as Darwin. So why are we remembering Darwin this year and not Wallace?”
  • We Are Family! 1.30-3.30pm
    Dr Spencer Wells will discuss The Genographic Project and the making of the National Geographic TV documentary The Family Tree with ABC TV & Radio presenters Adam Spencer and Dr. Karl, also known as the “Sleek Geeks.”

More on the Congress, including registration details, can be found on their site: http://wcsfp.com/

UPDATE 1 Dec 2009: These sessions are now fully booked.

Evolution events in November and December

Darwin and Darwinisms: Origins and Evolution

Melbourne, Thursday 5 November 6–7pm

Experimedia, State Library of Victoria (Free)

What can we learn from evolution? Join in a fascinating conversation about Charles Darwin’s work, and examine items from the Library’s collections that reflect the influence of his revolutionary findings.

More info: http://www.slv.vic.gov.au/programs/ltf/collect-reflect/index.html

Darwin’s Great Idea: how evolution rewrote our world

Sydney, Sunday seminars in October and November

Art Gallery of New South Wales, 10.30am—1pm

The Art Gallery of NSW presents a series of lectures exploring Charles Darwin—the man, his theories, his influence and his legacy. Each session will include readings from the works of Darwin and others by distinguished Australian actor John Derum.

Upcoming lectures:

  • Charles Darwin: Told By His Great Great Grandson by Chris Darwin and The Idea of Environmental Adaptation in Architecture by Michael Hill, Sunday 15 November [Sold out]
  • Brancusi, Metaphor and Metamorphosis by Terence Maloon and Intelligent Design: How Intelligent? by Jamie Leonarder, Sunday 29 November

More info and to book online: http://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/events/cal/darwin or (02) 9225 1878

Lecture Series: The Darwin Anniversary

Melbourne, Wednesday lectures in October and November

National Gallery of Victoria International, 2pm

NGV International celebrates the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin and the 150th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of Species with a series of lectures on his life and the way animals are expressed in art.

Upcoming lectures:

  • Animals on Continental Porcelain by Dr Matthew Martin, Assistant Curator, Decorative Arts, NGV, Wednesday 11 November
  • Charles Darwin and the Australian Connection by Humphrey Clegg, Assistant Curator, Australian Art, NGV, Wednesday 25 November

More info: http://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/whatson/pub/events?catId=0

The Origin Cycle

Sydney, Thursday 19 November, 7pm

Australian Museum — Cnr William & College Street, Sydney, NSW

Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species is not only one of the most important scientific works of all time, but one of the most beautifully written. In The Origin Cycle, for soprano and chamber ensemble, fragments of Darwin’s great book are set to music by Australian composers Elliott Gyger, Elena Kats-Chernin, Kate Neal, Rosalind Page, Paul Stanhope, Nicholas Vines, and Dan Walker. This performance by Ensemble Offspring and soprano Jane Sheldon will take place among the exhibits of the Australian Museum.

More info: http://www.newmusicnetwork.com.au/series09.html#oc or (02) 8256 2222

Ideas and impact of Charles Darwin: public event

Bathurst, Tuesday 24 November, 6.30-10pm

Join senior Charles Sturt University (CSU) academics for a meal and talks on Charles Darwin and the impact of his theory of evolution.

Key speakers are:

  • Professor David Goldney: ‘Darwin and Religion – a history of irreconcilable worldviews?’
  • Professor Nick Klomp: ‘The processes that have shaped Planet Earth: the Big Bang theory to the power of natural selection and evolution’
  • Professor Warren Somerville: ‘Darwin’s ideas with relation to the biological and fossil records as planned’

More info here.

Super Human—Revolution of the Species Exhibition and Symposium

Inspired by the 150th publication anniversary of The Origin of Species, Darwin’s evolutionary treatise, Super Human: Revolution of the Species turns the spotlight on collaborations between artists and scientists and the impact these investigations have on what it means to be human, now and into the future.

Exhibition: Melbourne, 5 November – 5 December

An exhibition exposing our aspirations and fears about our bodies – now and into the future, at the RMIT Gallery.

Symposium: Melbourne, 23–24 November

The Super Human symposium will present a mix of keynote speakers and collaborative research projects engaging with one or more of the symposium themes: Augmentation, Cognition and Nanoscale Interventions.

Questions that the symposium will address include, but are not limited to:

  • How do scientific and artistic bodies of knowledge intersect with human, social bodies?
  • Does art serve simply as a representational tool for the sciences or is there more to the picture than that?
  • Does research into bodies and their systems offer an insight into aesthetics, or is it confined to the purely functional?

Presented by the Australian Network for Art and Technology. More info: http://www.superhuman.org.au/

Darwin’s Brave New World – on ABC

Featuring a superb cast and commentators including David Suzuki, Richard Dawkins, Jared Diamond and Iain McCalman, this is the story of how four young voyagers changed our world – forever. The epic adventures of Charles Darwin, Joseph Hooker, Thomas Huxley and Alfred Russel Wallace would revolutionise science, turn society on its head and give birth to an extraordinary theory.

This three-episode drama-documentary series based on Iain McCalman’s book, Darwin’s Armada, began on Sunday 8 November at 7.30pm on ABC1.

See an extended trailer here.

Charles Darwin the Australian Connection

Screen Australia and the Australian National Maritime Museum take us behind the scenes of the recent exhibition Charles Darwin – voyages and ideas that shook the world, on their interactive website: http://www.screenaustralia.gov.au/learning/charlesdarwin/index.html.

Discover Darwin’s historic voyage and interactively explore:

  • how Darwin confirmed his theory about coral reefs formation
  • how Darwin developed his ideas about the evolution of life
  • how longitude measurement helped safe navigation
  • how Captain FitzRoy learnt about air pressure and weather

Also, meet the curators, watch behind-the-scenes video clips and download education resources.

Symposium on Evolutionary Biology – report online

You can read a report on this one-day symposium held in Perth by the Royal Society of Western Australia online, at http://www.rswa.org.au/. Click on Current Proceedings.

Topics included the illumination of evolution by natural selection of palaeontology, the role of Alfred Russel Wallace in the theory of natural selection, and the intellectual climate in which the theory was proposed, Lamarkism in immunity and the role of transposable elements in evolution.

Richard Dawkins to visit Australia

Richard Dawkins will be one of many notable atheists, skeptics, humanists, rationalists and academics at the 2010 Global Atheist Convention, to be held at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre from 12-14 March. Other speakers include Peter Singer, Robyn Williams, Phillip Adams, Catherine Deveny, Lyn Allison and Jane Caro.

More info and booking here. Tickets are selling fast.

For Richard Dawkins fans, copies of his 2-DVD set “Richard Dawkins Presents: The Genius of Charles Darwin”, which was broadcast in the UK last year, are available through ABC shops and other outlets.

Ongoing exhibitions

  • Charles Darwin and the Trees of Life is a spectacular garden display and sculptural installation reflecting Charles Darwin’s contribution to our current understanding of the diversity and evolution of life, Myrtales Bed, Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney, until 24 November.
  • Darwin’s Descendants: 200 years of scientific adventures is at the Red Box Gallery, National Herbarium of NSW, Sydney, 3 August—24 November 2009. An exhibition showcasing the ongoing achievements of some of Darwin’s intellectual descendants—the Botanic Gardens Trust scientists. For more information: http://www.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/darwin
  • Darwin to DNA at the Melbourne Museum explores the discovery of evolution by Darwin and his contemporary Alfred Russel Wallace including specimens they collected. It then takes you further into the genetic mechanisms of DNA, and how we can use DNA to examine questions about evolution. Until 23 May 2010.
  • Darwin himself was wary of the impact he knew his theory of evolution would have. The events and influences shaping Darwin are explored in Charles Darwin: the reluctant revolutionary at the Queensland Museum, Brisbane, until 31 December.
  • Crocodiles and their kind are an evolutionary success story—they have been around for the past 200 million years. See one of the largest crocodilians that ever existed in Supercrocodilians—Darwin’s ultimate survival story at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin, extended until 2011.

Find more exhibitions in your area in November at our website.

Read more on these and other events at http://evolutionaustralia.org.au

The Festival team acknowledge the support of our major sponsors, the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, the State Government of Victoria and the University of Melbourne. We are also supported by Museum Victoria, New Scientist, the City of Melbourne and Cosmos.


Niall Byrne

Science in Public

Ph. +61 (3) 9398 1416 or 0417 131 977


Full contact details at www.scienceinpublic.com/blog