A New History of Life

Fridays, April 5 – May 10
10:00 AM to Noon
Leader: Dave Wasilew
Location: NEC Lyons Building, Room 104, 55 Depot Hill Road, Henniker, NH

Do you like a good story? This course is the most epic of all stories: how the Earth was transformed from a hot rock flying through space 4.55 billion years ago to a hospitable planet teaming with millions of different forms of life. This visually rich set of video lectures from The Great Courses is presented by Prof. Stuart Sutherland, a paleontologist, and begins by showing how scientists went about unraveling the mystery of Earth’s history. Then the course slowly unfolds the tale of the creation of life and how life (the biosphere) helped to transform the planet (lithosphere, atmosphere and hydrosphere). The lectures touch on geology, paleontology, biology and explain how the four “spheres” have interacted to transform each other, and how the myriad of lifeforms have evolved.

Prof. Sutherland is a Senior Instructor in the Department of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences at The University of British Columbia (UBC). For the past few years he‘s spent his summers lecturing about Earth science aboard ocean cruises, so if you have no background in science, that‘s no problem, you‘ll find the material quite approachable. Dr. Sutherland is a compelling storyteller, and always has an interesting rock in his pocket to illustrate his point.

Dave Wasilew started his career as an electrical engineer before switching to software. Over the past forty years he has been involved with everything from satellites to sonar to artificial intelligence and all varieties of fascinating state-of-the-art projects. Dave is a "science junkie" and will present lots of fascinating tidbids from recent research relevant to the lectures.

Schedule of Lecture Topics
April 4: The Interconnected Earth; The Vast Depths of Earth Time

April 12: Fossil Clocks; Paleontologists As Detectives

April 19: The Shifting Surface of Planet Earth; Earliest Origins--Formation of the Planet

April 26: Origins of Land, Ocean and Air; The Early Chemical Evolution of Life

May 3: Hints of the First Life Forms; How Life Transformed the Early Earth

May 10: Snowball Earth--Another Crisis; Metazoans--Life Grows Up