I have a short presentation early tomorrow morning which I’m now getting very nervous about.
The topic is on genetic bottlenecks, particularly in relation to human evolution, how they differ from other mechanisms of evolution, what buzz terms like “genetic diversity” really mean, and accompanied by a small demonstration using colored marbles poured from a glass bottle.
The demonstration is a modified of this one on Evolution 101, a product of the University of California Museum of Paleontology.
As an aside, this is one of the simplest and best websites you’ll find explaining evolution in clear language. It’s easy for (almost) anyone to visit this site, follow the simple design, take some of the quizzes, and to come out with a great foundational understanding of evolution and the mechanisms of it.
Evolution is simply the most well tested theory in science. It’s tested so well, that most consider it fact. Though the semantics of fact vs. theory can be debated, it doesn’t change the fact that there is no evidence to disprove it – after thousands of years.
You heard that right – THOUSANDS OF YEARS.
Anyway, back to tomorrow.
I’m nervous because I really wonder how much I’ll be “preaching to the choir”, to make a bad pun on science vs. religion.
The group I’ll be presenting to are other employees of the natural history museum I volunteer at. Although not trained in interpreting the exhibits or engaging on the science of the museum, they are the people who really keep everything running smoothly.
They take the tickets at the door. They set-up and manage the lines for different exhibits. They direct the guests to the cafe, the bathroom, the planetarium, and more. And they are even the last to engage the guests – with a smile and a hand stamp for re-entry – as they leave.
But, even though they may not have had the classes I’ve been to as a volunteer docent, they certainly have come to the museum for more than just pay. This is evident in the way they do their jobs. They are consistently friendly, passionate, and sincere. Who am I to assume what they know and don’t know?
So I’m nervous.
I’m worried that my demonstration will be to simple.
I’m nervous that I don’t actually know enough about the topic.
I’m scared of getting caught in traffic and being late, cutting off the available time to engage them.
In short, I don’t want to disappoint and I want them to leave educated and inspired – even if just a little bit.
Well, there isn’t much I can do at this point except my best. At the very least, it is going to be a learning experience for me – if not for them.
- Climate change may have spurred human evolution (scientificamerican.com)
- How we lost our diversity (news.sciencemag.org)
- Cave women unearth skull of unknown human ancestor (nbcnews.com)
- Skull of Homo erectus throws story of human evolution into disarray (theguardian.com)