Evolution Next Topic for Vision Lecture Series

Posted: November 6, 2008 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Tara Laskowski

Robert Hazen
Robert Hazen
Photo by Evan Cantwell

Robert Hazen wants people who listen to his Vision Series Lecture to walk away with one message: Do not fear evolution.

In the talk, “Themes and Variations in Evolving Systems,” which he will present on Monday, Nov. 10, at 7 p.m. in the Center for the Arts on the Fairfax Campus, Hazen will explore the natural process of evolution.

“Evolution occurs all around us, all the time,” he says. “We see evolution in the behavior of planets and stars, rocks and minerals, chemicals, language and such everyday objects as cars and computers. So why should living things be different? The evolution of life is just another example of an everyday phenomenon.”

Hazen, Robinson Professor of Earth Sciences, says that while evolution has long been a lightning rod for anti-science rhetoric, he hopes his talk will show that evolution is an inevitable natural process that occurs in many facets of our universe. “Biological evolution is neither odd nor threatening,” he says.

Hazen is a scientist and science writer who specializes in the role of minerals in the origin of life. He has studied a wide variety of materials, including lunar minerals, ceramics, ferroelectrics, solidified gases and organometallics. A new mineral, a phosphate biomineral found in Mono Lake, Calif., was named “hazenite” in his honor.

Working with a team of scientists at the Carnegie Institution, he developed a successful proposal to join NASA’s Astrobiology Institute and study the physical and chemical environments of high-pressure hydrothermal systems and their possible role in the origin of life.

He has also been active in national efforts to reform science education and has presented lectures and workshops on undergraduate science curricula at more than 100 colleges and universities.

A reception with the speaker will follow the presentation. Admission to the lecture is free, but tickets are required. Reserve tickets online or visit the Center for the Arts ticket office, Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

For information, call 703-993-8888.

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