Trinity University, San Antonio | News Release


CONTACT:  Mary Anthony

Sept. 17, 2010


Geoscientist to Speak During Distinguished Scientists Lecture Series at Trinity University


SAN ANTONIO – Robert M. Hazen, senior staff scientist at the Carnegie Institution’s Geophysical Laboratory and Clarence Robinson Professor of Earth Science at George Mason University, will discuss “From the Big Bang to Broadway: How Things Evolve” at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 11, in Laurie Auditorium, as part of the Trinity University Distinguished Scientists Lecture Series. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Robert M. Hazen

Evolution, the natural process by which systems under selective pressure become more complex, has long been a lightning rod for anti-science rhetoric. Such attacks are usually reserved for discussions of biological (Darwinian) evolution by natural selection, but evolving systems also operate in many other natural and human contexts, including the formation of chemical elements in stars following the Big Bang, diversification of minerals on Earth-like planets, prebiotic synthesis and the origin of life, development of languages, and progress in material culture and the arts. Each of these complex systems evolves through selective mechanisms, and each system displays such similar characteristics as diversification into niches (radiation), episodic periods of innovation (punctuation), and the loss and replacement of previous species (extinction). However, these systems differ from each other in fundamental respects, notably in the degree to which their species demonstrate mutability, heritability, and lateral transfer of traits. Comparisons among these disparate evolving systems point to general principles of emergent complexity, and underscore the power and plausibility of biological evolution.

Hazen received a B.S. and S.M. in geology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1971), and a doctorate at Harvard University in earth science (1975). He is author of 350 scientific articles and 20 books, including Genesis: The Scientific Quest for Life’s Origin. The past president of the Mineralogical Society of America, Hazen’s recent research focuses on the role of minerals in the origin of life, the co-evolution of the geo- and biospheres, and the development of complex systems. He is also principal investigator of the Deep Carbon Observatory, a 10-year project to study the chemical and biological roles of carbon in Earth’s interior. Hazen is active in presenting science to nonscientists through writing, radio, TV, public lectures, and video courses. In addition, he is a professional trumpeter and is a member of the National Gallery Orchestra and the National Philharmonic.

The Trinity University Distinguished Scientists Lecture Series is made possible through an endowment gift from Mr. and Mrs. Walter F. Brown of San Antonio. For more information, contact Trinity University’s Office of University Communications at 210-999-8406.


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