Celebrate Darwin and Evolution

NEWS FLASH! Mystery of mysteries to be revealed in Minneapolis on February 12th, 2009.
Yes, one hundred and fifty years after it was first revealed, we get a chance to hear about it from some of the smartest scientists in the region at a big Darwin Day party at the Bell Museum. What’s the mystery of mysteries? It’s how people in the 19th century referred to the puzzle of human origins, how species developed—what we now understand to be evolution. The party isn’t going to be a history lesson as much as a real celebration of the paradigm shift in thinking that is relevant in every aspect of our lives today.

We’re partying all over the world!
A year ago March, Richard Dawkins was in town as a guest of Minnesota Atheists. That was the first I heard about making the anniversary of Darwin’s birth (200 years ago) and publication of his book (150 years ago) into a time of celebration. Dawkins said Britain was already gearing up—taking this opportunity to educate as well as to have fun with science. I wondered what my hometown would be doing to celebrate evolution. Whatever it was, I wanted to be a part of it.

PZ Myers thought it was a cool idea.
March flowed into April and spring. Nobody I talked to knew of anybody who wanted to think about an evolution party. I knew one scientist who would, so I called PZ Myers. He said, “Great! Let’s talk.” I visited him in Morris in May for a delightful afternoon walking around the campus, talking science, art and evolution. We both love the Bell Museum’s science-for-the-people series, Café Scientifique, and thought it would be the perfect venue for Darwin Day. PZ holds the Café in Morris, too. So we decided we’d do a presentation of art and science and evolution in both locations. (The Morris event will be held February 24.)

Talking evolution with insight, humor—don’t forget outrageous sex!
Shanai Matteson and Don Luce at the Bell Museum expanded the evening to include other scientists, who will present rapid-fire, media-rich presentations about Darwin and evolution with good storytelling and controversy. If you haven’t heard some of them speak before, you are in for a treat:

  • Dr. Mark Borrello, history of science
  • Dr. Sehoya Cotner, professor of biology
  • Dr. Greg Laden, biological anthropologist
  • Dr. PZ Myers, evolutionary biologist
  • Dr. Keith Olive, particle physicist

Mitochondrial Eve by Lynn Fellman

Party Details
Where: The Bell Museum of Natural History (map and parking information)
When: Feb 12 from 7 to 9 p.m.
Cost: $10/free to museum members and U of M students
There will be a cash bar, and cake will be served.

Before and after the presentations, you’ll want to see Frans Lanting’s North American premier of “LIFE: A Journey Through Time.” On display in the Bell’s gallery, these large-format photographs interpret the evolution of life on Earth. Also displayed are my DNA Portraits.

Do us all a favor and bring along someone with 19th-century thinking. A little cake, a little vodka and hearing some great storytelling may just be the thing to kick them into the 21st.

Lynn is a Minneapolis artist and blogger, as well as an interviewer for Atheists Talk radio and one of science’s most enthusiastic cheerleaders. For Lynn’s interview with Don Luce, the curator of the exhibits, and Greg Laden, one of the guests, a podcast is available.

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