The Hamilton Year 2005 at DIT

DIT Event Listing

“What evolution tells us about extra-terrestrials”

Simon Conway Morris, Professor of Evolutionary Palaeobiology at the University of Cambridge

October 18th 2005
DIT Aungier Street
(18.00h for 18.30h)

In the presentation of his paper in Dublin, Professor Conway Morris (author of The Crucible of Creation) will explore possible evolutionary processes and implications for extra-terrestial life:

“Given the emphasis on random processes, e.g. mutation, and contingent happenstance (big rocks falling out of the sky), it is hardly surprising that nearly all evolutionary biologists regard our wonderful biosphere as a glorious accident. One such incidental would, therefore, be human intelligence. But is this correct? If it is, then alien life, wherever it is lurking, will be – well – genuinely alien. But maybe the accidental and contingent have blinded us to deeper patterns and inevitabilities in the history of life on Earth? A key clue comes from what is known as evolutionary convergence. Think of the classic example of the startling similarity between the eye of ourselves and the octopus: two unrelated animals have converged on a brilliant solution from completely different starting points. This may seem like an anecdotal example, until we begin to think about rampant convergence in all sensory systems, in vocalization, culture, tool-making, intelligence – and even getting drunk. “Out there” the same solution will be arrived at, repeatedly and inevitably.

There is just one snag: “out there” it seems ominously quiet.”


Attendance is free
To register contact Dr Peter Kavanagh
Email: peter.kavanagh@dit.ie
Tel: 402 4583/402 4886

Click here to see Simon Conway Morris biography