NCSE Evolution Education Update for 2009/11/13
(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)
Dear Friends of NCSE, A host of interesting reading and watching, as the sesquicentennial of the Origin approaches, the third episode of Becoming Human is aired, EvoS Journal makes its debut, five videos expounding "Evolution in Two Minutes or Less" are posted at Discover magazine's website, and a symposium on "Evolution in Extreme Environments" is webcast.
THE ORIGIN SESQUICENTENNIAL APPROACHES As November 24, 2009, the sesquicentennial anniversary of the publication of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species, approaches, celebrations are continuing around the country and around the world, as well as in the literature and on the internet. As NCSE previously reported, Science is allocating a special section of its website to "a variety of news features, scientific reviews and other special content." Similarly, Nature is providing "continuously updated news, research and analysis on Darwin's life, his science and his legacy." Herewith a sampling of further celebrations in the literature -- and let NCSE know of any worthwhile contributions to add! To celebrate the anniversary, the journal BioScience is making James T. Costa's article "The Darwinian Revelation: Tracing the Origin and Evolution of an Idea," from its November 2009 issue (59 ), available on-line free of charge. "The idea of evolution by natural selection formulated by Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace is a cornerstone of modern biology, yet few biology students or professionals are familiar with the processes of discovery behind the idea," Costa writes. "I suggest that in teaching evolution today, educators could profitably draw on both Darwin's personal intellectual journey in coming to his ideas, and the compelling argument structure he devised in presenting his theory." "Darwinian Revolutions" -- written, directed, and narrated by Allen MacNeill of Cornell University -- is a new series of six on-line videos that together provide a brief introduction to Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection and its implications. On his blog, MacNeill observes, "the theory of evolution is more dynamic, more exciting, more widely accepted, and more widely applied than at any time in the past century and a half. With the accelerating pace of discoveries in evolutionary biology and their applications in biology, medicine, psychology, economics, and even literature and art, the 21st century shows all indications of being what the founders of the 'modern synthesis' called it back in 1959: the 'century of Darwin' and his theory of evolution by natural selection." A special issue of the journal Naturwissenschaften (2009; 96 ) commemorates the anniversary with papers by Ulrich Kutschera on "Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species, directional selection, and the evolutionary sciences today"; Hartmut Follmann and Carol Brownson on "Darwin's warm little pond revisited: From molecules to the origin of life"; Rolf G. Beutel, Frank Friedrich and Richard A. B. Leschen on "Charles Darwin, beetles and phylogenetics"; Simon Conway Morris on "The predictability of evolution: Glimpses into a post-Darwinian world"; and Ulrich Kutschera and Karl J. Niklas on "Evolutionary plant physiology: Charles Darwin’s forgotten synthesis." All articles in the special issue will be freely available on-line until December 30, 2009. For the special on-line features from Science and Nature, visit: http://www.sciencemag.org/darwin/ http://www.nature.com/news/specials/darwin/index.html For Costa's article in BioScience, visit: http://caliber.ucpress.net/doi/full/10.1525/bio.2009.59.10.10 For "Darwinian Revolutions" and MacNeill's blog post about it, visit: http://cybertower.cornell.edu/lodetails.cfm?id=421 http://evolutionlist.blogspot.com/2009/11/darwinian-revolutions-video-series.html For the special issue of Naturwissenschaften, visit: http://www.springerlink.com/content/ph5w541k7876/?p=00811e89e36d4b6aa8d52fd0aa783d79&pi=1 BECOMING HUMAN, PART 3 The third episode of Becoming Human -- a three-part NOVA documentary on what the latest scientific research reveals about our hominid relatives -- will air on November 17, 2009, on public broadcasting stations around the country. According to NOVA: *** How did modern humans take over the world? New evidence suggests that they left Africa and colonized the rest of the globe far earlier, and for different reasons, than previously thought. As for Homo sapiens, we have planet Earth to ourselves today, but that's a very recent and unusual situation. For millions of years, many kinds of hominids co-existed. At one time Homo sapiens shared the planet with Neanderthals, Homo erectus, and the mysterious "Hobbits" -- three-foot-high humans who thrived on the Indonesian island of Flores until as recently as 12,000 years ago. "Last Human Standing" examines why "we" survived while those other ancestral cousins died out. And it explores the provocative question: In what ways are we still evolving today? *** Further information about the film, including a preview, interviews, and interactive features, is available at NOVA's website. Information on finding local public broadcasting stations is available via PBS's website. For further information, visit: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/beta/evolution/becoming-human-part-3.html For information on local stations, visit: http://www.pbs.org/stationfinder/index.html EVOS JOURNAL DEBUTS The first issue of EvoS Journal: The Journal of the Evolutionary Studies Consortium -- a new open-access on-line peer-reviewed journal designed to promote the education of evolutionary theory in colleges and universities -- is now available. The journal is published by the Evolutionary Studies Consortium, of which NCSE is a member institution. The consortium seeks to "facilitate the development and implementation of Evolutionary Studies Programs at colleges and universities across the United States"; the original model for such programs is David Sloan Wilson's Evolutionary Studies Program at Binghamton University. Correspondingly, EvoS Journal seeks to "publish peer-reviewed articles related to evolutionary theory in higher education" as well as to "publish undergraduate peer-reviewed publications that have arisen from courses offered through Evolutionary Studies Programs." In their editorial introduction to the first issue, Rosemarie Sokol Chang, Glenn Geher, Jennifer Waldo, and David Sloan Wilson write, "The contents of EvoS Journal will be doubly exhilarating. First, there is the exhilaration of expanding evolutionary theory throughout and beyond the biological sciences, including all aspects of humanity. Second, there is the exhilaration of incorporating this expansion into higher education and public life. We look forward to your participation, as readers and contributors." For EvoS Journal, visit: http://evostudies.org/journal.html For information about the Evolutionary Studies Consortium, visit: http://evostudies.org/ For information about the Evolutionary Studies Program at Binghamton University, visit: http://evolution.binghamton.edu/evos/ For the editorial introduction to the first issue (PDF), visit: http://evostudies.org/pdf/EvoS1-1Editorial.pdf EVOLUTION IN TWO MINUTES OR LESS NCSE congratulates Scott Hatfield on winning Discover magazine's "Evolution in Two Minutes or Less" video contest, for "Evolution: The Song." The contest's judge, biologist and blogger P. Z. Myers, explained, "He turned evolution into a rock anthem. And it's a very catchy one, too. ... Scott jumps out in your face and grabs your attention with a musical version of the big concepts. It's great stuff." Also winning honors were Stephen Anderson's "Evolution in 120 Seconds" (the viewer's choice winner); Maggie Tse, Tony Cheng, and Stella Chung's "Where Do We Come From? Where Are We Going?" (the runner-up); Benjamin's "It's ... EVOLUTION"; and Whitney Gray's "Why Elephants Do Not Have Wings." A member of NCSE, Hatfield is a high school biology teacher in Fresno, California. For all five of the videos and further information, visit: http://discovermagazine.com/contests/evolution-in-two-minutes-or-less/ WEBCAST: EVOLUTION IN EXTREME ENVIRONMENTS A live webcast of "Evolution in Extreme Environments" -- a symposium cosponsored by the American Institute of Biological Sciences and the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center and held at the National Association of Biology Teachers conference -- will be available on-line from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (Mountain Time) on November 13, 2009. (That's today!) Cynthia M. Beall will speak on "Human Evolution and Adaptation to High-altitude"; Steven Haddock will speak on "Life in the Deep Sea: Only the Fragile Survive"; William R. Jeffrey will speak on "Cavefish: Evolution in the Dark"; Jody W. Deming will speak on "Arctic Winter Sea Ice: A Biological Museum or Evolutionary Playground?"; and Kirsten Fisher, Kristen Jenkins, and Anna Thanukos will lead a teacher workshop on "Plant Desiccation Tolerance." Classrooms all over the world will even be able to submit their questions on-line and have the speakers respond in real time! For those who aren't able to view the webcast live, all of the talks will be recorded and placed on NESCent's website for free access after the conference. The website also will contain supplemental resources, videos, and links so students and teachers can learn more about evolution in extreme environments. For information about the webcast, visit: http://www.aibs.org/events/special-symposia/evolution_in_extreme_environments.html http://www.nescent.org/NABT09Webcast.php Thanks for reading! And don't forget to visit NCSE's website -- http://ncseweb.org -- where you can always find the latest news on evolution education and threats to it. -- Sincerely, Glenn Branch Deputy Director National Center for Science Education, Inc. 420 40th Street, Suite 2 Oakland, CA 94609-2509 510-601-7203 x310 fax: 510-601-7204 800-290-6006 firstname.lastname@example.org http://ncseweb.org Subscribe to NCSE's free weekly e-newsletter: http://groups.google.com/group/ncse-news NCSE is on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter: http://www.facebook.com/evolution.ncse http://www.youtube.com/NatCen4ScienceEd http://twitter.com/ncse NCSE's work is supported by its members. Join today! http://ncseweb.org/membership