University of Calgary

Science Café

Jan. 12, 2009

Natural Selection and the Tree of Life

Carles Darwin: still controversial after 200 years.

Charles Darwin: still creating controversy 150 years after the publication of his seminal work, On the Origin of the Species.

The 200th anniversary of the birth of evolutionary biologist Charles Darwin is Feb.12. To celebrate, events are being planned around the globe and the University of Calgary’s Science Café series is jumping on the bandwagon.


Guest experts Mark Ereshefsky (professor, Department of Philosophy) and Jessica Theodore (associate professor, Department of Biological Sciences) will tackle the topics of Natural Selection and the Tree of Life, from both historical and present day perspectives. For example, does the evidence we now have from genetics and fossils still support natural selection and evolution? Does the Tree of Life that we know today still make sense given Darwin’s original vision? These questions will not only be explored by the experts, but will also be turned over to the audience for further discussion and debate.

After all, debate is what Science Café is all about, and what the audience craves. The Science Café concept has been running in Calgary since 2007 thanks to a unique partnership between the University of Calgary and the Telus World of Science, and hundreds have come out to enjoy the debate that ensues. In fact, the series has taken off so well that crowds for the monthly series have outgrown the original venue.

As of November 2008, Science Café has moved from the Unicorn Pub to the Crazy Horse Saloon. This program was so enthusiastically embraced by the venue owners (the same for both locations), that they have agreed to open the Crazy Horse exclusively for Science Café patrons once a month, and even bring in staff to serve a special edition Science Café menu. The loyal following of Calgarians craving intellectual stimulation and a very a-typical bar experience are passionate about learning through the open atmosphere of debate and the casual, relaxed atmosphere that Science Café creates.

Unlike usual venues that discuss science, Science Café is not a lecture series. It is an opportunity for an informal group discussion, where involvement from the audience is the most important ingredient of the session —along with a pint or a cup of coffee. Why not add your perspective to the mix? Café’s take place on the last Tuesday of every month, and start at 6:30 p.m.

Details for upcoming cafés can be found at www.ucalgary.ca/community/upcoming_events.