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Planet of the Humans: The Leap to the Top

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.

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Planet of the Humans: The Leap to the Top

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.

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Moderator

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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Participants

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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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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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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Steven PinkerPsychologist, Linguist, Author

Steven Pinker is an experimental psychologist and one of the world’s foremost writers on language, mind, and human nature. Currently Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology at Harvard University, Pinker has also taught at Stanford and MIT.

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