During March 14-15, 2010, we will be hosting Prof. Francisco Ayala, From University of California, Irvine.
If you are interested in meeting Prof. Francisco Ayala, Please contact me, and I will coordinate the meeting for you:
On Sunday March 14th, 09:00-12:00, meetings will be held in Berman Building
On Monday, March 15th, 09:00-12:00, meetings will be held in Silberman Building
During his visit, Prof. Ayala will deliver two lectures:
I. Sunday, March 14th At 17:00, Wise Auditorium
"Shomu Shamayim" Lecture Series
Title: "Two Revolutions: "Copernicus and Darwin"
Darwin occupies an exalted place in the history of Western thought, deservedly receiving credit for the theory of evolution. However, Darwin accomplished something much more important than demonstrating evolution. Darwin’s Origin of Species is, first and foremost, a sustained argument to solve the problem of how to account scientifically for the design of organisms. Accumulating evidence for common descent with diversification may very well have been a subsidiary objective of Darwin’s masterpiece. Darwin seeks to explain the design of organisms, their complexity, diversity, and marvelous contrivances as the result of natural processes. Darwin brings about the evidence for evolution because evolution is a necessary consequence of his theory of design.
The advances of physical science brought about by the Copernican Revolution had driven mankind's conception of the universe to a split-personality state of affairs. Scientific explanations, derived from natural laws, dominated the world of nonliving matter, on the Earth as well as in the heavens. Supernatural explanations, which depended on the unfathomable deeds of the Creator, were accepted as explanations of the origin and configuration of living creatures. Authors, such as William Paley in his Natural Theology of 1802, had developed the “argument from design,” the notion that the complex design of organisms could not have come about by chance, or by the mechanical laws of physics, chemistry, and astronomy, but was rather accomplished by an Omnipotent Deity.
It was Darwin's genius to resolve this conceptual schizophrenia. Darwin completed the Copernican Revolution by drawing out for biology the notion of nature as a lawful system of matter in motion that human reason can explain without recourse to supernatural agencies. The complex organization and functionality of living beings can be explained as the result of a natural process—natural selection—without any need to resort to a Creator or other external agent. The origin and adaptations of organisms in their profusion and wondrous variations were thus brought into the realm of science.
II. Monday, March 15th at 14:00, Rashall Auditorium, Silberman Building
ASILS Institute Lecture
Title: "The Evolution of Malaria"
Humans are exposed to thousands of pathogens. Among the parasitic protozoa, the most significant is Plasmodium, the agent of malaria, which accounts for 500,000 clinical cases per year and one-and-a-half million deaths, mostly children and mostly in sub-Saharan Africa. (1) There are four human malaria parasites, P. falciparum, P. malariae, P. ovale, and P. vivax, which are very remotely related to each other, so that their evolutionary divergence predates the origin of the hominids; several of these parasites became human parasites by lateral transfer from other hosts. (2) The most malignant is P. falciparum, which is most closely related to P. reichenowi, a chimpanzee parasite. (3) P. malariae is genetically indistinguishable from P. brasilianum, a parasite of New World monkeys; similarly, (4) P. vivax is genetically indistinguishable from the New World monkey parasite P. simium. The very recent (in evolutionary terms) human colonization of the Americas implies, in (3) and (4), a very recent host transfer between humans and monkeys. Recent results show that P. falciparum evolved in our hominid ancestors from a lineage of P. reichenowi recently transferred from chimpanzees. The world expansion of malignant malaria has occurred only within the last ten thousand years, after the introduction of agriculture in Africa. Newly available noninvasive methods of sampling have allowed us to investigate Plasmodium in apes. We have discovered (1) several Plasmodium species previously unknown, and (2) the presence of P. falciparum in chimps and gorillas, which might become a reservoir for human reinfection if malaria is eradicated from human populations.
Again, If you are interested in meeting Prof. Francisco Ayala, Please contact me.
Thank you in advance,
Assistant to Institute Chairman
The Alexander Silberman
Institute of Life Sciences
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Edmond J. Safra Campus, Givat Ram
Jerusalem 91904, Israel