Lewis Dartnell can see the bigger picture. And my, it sure is big! Invited by Science Oxford to lecture on his new book Origins - How the Earth Made Us, Professor Lewis Dartnell took us on a whirlwind journey of geological and human history. His wide-ranging lecture began with our very birth as the human race, and culminated in an explanation of the geological impact on voting behaviour in the
It is easy to assume that we have always been the main characters, shaping our environment to suit us for the past seven million years we’ve been kicking around the planet. Dartnell turns this theory on its head in this fascinating lecture, explaining that rather than us shaping our environment, our environment shapes us.
Dartnell possesses a rare ability in making comprehensible improbably huge facts and ideas - from geological movements to time spanning over millions of years. In fact, he has had a lot of well-deserved recognition for this, winning several awards for his science writing and contributing to a number of programmes and publications even you or I might come across. He is hugely personable, and eloquently simplistic in his explanations. I envy his students.
For me he brought the earth to life, bringing to mind homo-sapiens as puppets to the whims of the world. From our beginnings in East Africa (he calls it ‘the cradle of humanity’), she shifts us across continents on briefly emerging land bridges, she settles the first civilisations at the bottoms of mountain ranges, where the sediment shed from the peaks makes for fertile land, and rivers run deep and fast (apologies for my whimsy, I am after all, an Art Historian, not a scientist!)This talk was made possible thanks to the brilliant organisation Science Oxford. Working as the public-facing part of the independent charitable organisation The Oxford Trust, Science Oxford encourages and facilitates the study, application and communication of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. They hold all kinds of fascinating events, all of which can be found at https://scienceoxford.com/.