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Town Hall Seattle: Science Series

The Science series presents cutting-edge research about biology, physics, chemistry, ecology, geology, astronomy, and more. These events appeal to many different levels of expertise, from grade school students to career scientists. With a range of relevant applications, including medicine, the environment, and technology, this series expands our thinking and our possibilities.

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Highlighting big ideas from both recent and soon-to-come events. A rolling Town Hall timeline, with you at the center. Every two weeks, hosts Steve Scher and Jini Palmer rewind through the recent past and fast-forward to the near future, catching you up on events you may have missed and offering a glimpse into the weeks ahead.

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Town Hall is a gathering place where ideas are planted and movements grow. It’s where we come together as a community to listen and be heard—to ask and answer the big questions facing our city and our world. Annually, we present hundreds of artists and scholars, and collaborate with more than 150 grassroots groups in our self-produced programs. Rooted in the belief that we all deserve a voice, our programming reflects—and inspires—our region's best impulses: creativity, empathy, and innovation. With our podcast series, we take one more step towards making our programming accessible to all. 

Mar 5, 2018

What do we truly have in common with the Neanderthals? What can fossilized teeth tell us about the life expectancy of our ancient ancestors? How can simple geometric comparisons of fossils suggest a possible origin to our social nature? Korea’s first paleoanthropologist Sang-Hee Lee explored some of our greatest evolutionary questions from new and unexpected angles. She joined us with excerpts from her book Close Encounters with Humankind, and shareed fresh perspectives and surprising conclusions about our first hominin ancestors by combining anthropological insight with exciting, cutting-edge research. Lee shared how our big brains may have set our species apart and spurred our societal development—though perhaps not in the ways we have often assumed—and suggests that our infamous Neanderthal ancestors may not have been the primitive beings portrayed by twentieth-century science. She revealed our species’ history of continuous change, from our first steps on two feet to our first forays into tool making and our formations of community. Join Lee for an illuminating discussion on the evolutionary path to the present, and tackle one of our most pressing scientific questions—does humanity continue to evolve?

Sang-Hee Lee is a professor of anthropology and associate dean of the college of humanities, arts, and social sciences at UC Riverside. Her research is multidisciplinary in nature, bridging biology and anthropology and centering on five research topics: variation and taxonomy, longevity, sexual dimorphism, brain size, and sampling bias. Her approach is focused on “excavating” new knowledge by rephrasing a question, redefining a concept, and developing innovative methods—all in ways that make it possible to get empirical information from fossil data that have not been possible before.

Recorded live at Greenwood Senior Center by Town Hall Seattle on Wednesday, February 21, 2018.