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Planet of the Humans: The Leap to the Top

Friday, May 29, 2015
8:00 pm - 9:30 pm

For all that Darwin contributed to our understanding of the biological world, he was haunted by one vexing question: How does the incremental process of evolution suddenly produce, say, humans—animals who walk upright, communicate through language, and possess the brainpower to travel to the moon? In this program, some of the world’s leading thinkers in anthropology, linguistics, biology, and philosophy tackle this conundrum.

4Robot©LaurentPhilippe7020This program opened with an excerpt from the hit show “Robot,” from choreographer/filmmaker Blanca Li.

This program is part of the Big Ideas Series, made possible with support from the John Templeton Foundation.

Lightbulb Photograph: Jon Smith


Brian LehrerPublic Radio Host

Brian Lehrer is host of the Peabody Award–winning program The Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC New York Public Radio, 93.9 FM, AM 820, and wnyc.org. From scientists to heads of state, Lehrer hosts major thinkers and major newsmakers and involves the audience through phone calls and social media.

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Lee BergerPaleoanthropologist

Professor Lee R. Berger is an award-winning researcher, author, paleoanthropologist, and speaker. His explorations into human origins on the African continent, Asia, and Micronesia for the past two and a half decades have resulted in many new discoveries.

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Paul BinghamMolecular Biologist

After receiving a Ph.D. in biochemistry and molecular biology from Harvard, Paul Bingham spent two years at the National Institutes of Health in Research Triangle Park. He later joined the faculty of the Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology at Stony Brook University.

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Blanca LiChoreographer, Filmmaker

Blanca Li, whose ROBOT received its American premiere at BAM’s Howard Gilman Opera House, has created music videos for Daft Punk, fashion videos for Beyonce, dances for films by Pedro Amodovar, runway shows for Jean Paul Gaultier, and commissions from the Paris Opera Ballet and Metropolitan Opera.

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Dean FalkAnthropologist

Dean Falk divides her time between Florida and New Mexico. She is the Hale G. Smith Professor of Anthropology and a Distinguished Research Professor at Florida State University in Tallahassee, and she serves as a senior scholar at the School for Advanced Research in Santa Fe. Falk is interested in the evolution of the brain and cognition.

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Steven PinkerExperimental Psychologist, Psycholinguist, Author

Steven Pinker is an experimental psychologist who conducts research in visual cognition, psycholinguistics, and social relations. Currently Johnstone Professor of Psychology at Harvard, he has won numerous prizes for his research, teaching, and books.

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