The Sea Within Us

June 17th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Atlantic Ocean at Chatham, MA

‘What do you love about the ocean?’     ‘There is some kind of music that lives there’ — late-stage Alzheimer’s patient

The ocean is Nature’s artwork. It provides us with a full sensory experience in 3D, total surround sound, and a varied array of olfactory and tactile delights.

When we compare the experience of reading literature and poetry, listening to great music, visiting a museum, going to the theatre, opera, or ballet with the effect that the ocean has upon us, the similarities are striking.

The ocean awakens and keeps alive in us the sublime order and elegance of Nature. The profound experience it brings resonates with us, because we too are Nature.

John Holland

View Text: The Sea Within Us

The Chicken and the Egg

February 12th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink


Consider the question: which came first, decease the chicken or the egg? This is the kind of dilemma that anyone can easily entertain. It is a people’s question. It has an aspect of humor. Yet when examined closely, nurse we see it has the possibility of revealing something inherent about biology, page about the nature of life.

John Holland

View text:  The Chicken and the Egg

The Masterpiece

August 10th, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink


Much has been written and discussed in the last few years about food. Mary Eberstadt claims, cost in her recent essay in Policy Review, shop that food is the new sex. Fifty years ago, relaxed sexual behavior was the moral ground on which a national debate was focused. Today it is food.

The Masterpiece is an artwork that looks at contemporary food issues and examines their evolutionary foundations. It also suggests that we may discover art not only in the museum or gallery, but in our most intimate surroundings.

John Holland

View text:  The Masterpiece

photo credit: ZGrmy

Origins of Self-consciousness

July 9th, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink


For a brain to be self-conscious it must be able to represent the world symbolically, clinic which implies the use of symbols such as marks, visual shapes and patterns, rhythmic and tonal patterns. Expanded long-term memory is a primary requirement for a self-conscious brain. By definition, a self-conscious brain must also include language, with an innate set of grammatical rules, or syntax. For a brain to be self-conscious, it must be able to think abstractly, question, predict, generalize, categorize, and reason.

My theory of the origins of self-consciousness proposes that the combination of increased brain capacity, intensified socialization, and introspection has resulted in THE SEARCH FOR PERSONAL AND SOCIAL IDENTITY, which ultimately led to our ability to think about ourselves both privately and socially.

John Holland

View text:  Origins of Self-consciousness

Did Darwin Meet Wagner? On Evolution, Education and Becoming

May 5th, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

Harvard Graduate School of Education – Visiting Scholar Lecture

Thursday May 7, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

208 Longfellow Hall, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Appian Way, Cambridge MA


Edvin Ostergaard — composer and science educator — will explore the 1859 parallel emergence of the idea of evolution in Darwin’s _The Origin of Species_ and in Richard Wagner’s opera “Tristan and Isolde.”  The talk will also address the potential of bringing together biology and music in teaching about evolution and becoming.

Edvin Ostergaard, a visiting scholar at HGSE, is Associate Professor in
Science Education, University of Life Sciences, Norway.  His musical
compositions reflect an interest in the relationship between art and
science, as in “The Einstein Resoundings” (2005), based on Einstein’s 1905 physics; and “The Two Moons” (2006), based on Leonardo’s astronomical texts.

MIC Norway: Edvin Østergaard – Biography.

An evolution article for this week

March 3rd, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

Basics: In a Helpless Baby, thumb the Roots of Our Social Glue
Babies display many of the characteristics that distinguish us from other animals.

Read Article

Future of Life Symposium

February 13th, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

ac_space31.jpg  Presented by the Harvard Alumni Association and Harvard’s Origins of Life Initiative 

Saturday, March 7, 2009 2:00 PM; 

New Location: Science Center, Cambridge 

The Harvard Alumni Association presents a discussion of cutting edge discovery straight from the labs of Harvard. By combined advances in biology, chemistry, genetics, geology, and astronomy, the Origins of Life Initiative works to find answers to questions pertaining to just that — the origins and future of life on earth and throughout the universe. This exciting half-day program will begin with keynote speaker J. Craig Venter, who is regarded as one of the leading scientists of the 21st century for his invaluable contributions to genomic research. Two panels will follow featuring prominent faculty who will discuss recent advances in understanding life – from other planets that might support life to how living cells emerge.  

For More Information, please visit: 

Origins of Life 

HarvardScience: Origins of Life 

George Church 

Dimitar Sasselov 

HHMI: Jack Szostak 

The Szostak Lab 

J. Craig Venter 

George Whitesides 

If you have any questions about Alumni Events programs, please email or call 617-495-1920 or check out our web site for more information on our events

Epochs of Consciousness

September 28th, 2008 § 0 comments § permalink


The origin of consciousness is one of many unsolved questions in neuroscience. There are ongoing controversies concerning how, visit where, medical when, and what kind of consciousness has arisen in organisms over 3.5 billion years of life on Earth.

Epochs of Consciousness outlines 7 different kinds of awareness that have evolved in a variety of creatures at different times, ranging from preconsciousness to superconciousness, including consciousness, primate consciousness, late hominid consciousness, self-consciousness and communal consciousness. The text also includes a detailed list of characteristics that define each category of consciousness, and an accompanying timeline.

The specific dates associated with each form of consciousness are broadly represented, and are clearly open to discussion.

Epochs of Consciousness was originally written as a performance text, and was first presented in Boston in 1997. The reading of the text to an audience was accompanied by an informal explanation, paraphrasing, and repetition of ideas emphasized within the text. A lively discussion followed the complete reading of the text.

We wish to acknowledge members of Nature and Inquiry for their tireless discussions with us on the subject of consciousness. We have incorporated many of their suggestions.

John Holland and Amy Robinson

To view the text: Epochs of Consciousness

photo credit: The Daily Galaxy

The Violin Player

September 17th, 2008 § 0 comments § permalink


The Violin Player was originally created as a performance text, cheapest to be spoken aloud.

The substance of the text is concerned with the nature of performance, the history and language of music, acoustics, musicianship, the evolution of music, and sound perception.

The Violin Player was first presented in 1991 at Vanderbilt Hall, Harvard University.

John Holland

View the text:  The Violin Player

photo credit: Christian Gaser

upcoming Exhibit at the Harvard Museum of Natural History

September 17th, 2008 § 0 comments § permalink

Harvard Museum of Natural History
NEW EXHIBITION: Language of Color
Opening Friday, September 26
Whether it’s the brilliant blue wings of a butterfly, the scarlet feathers of a tanager, or the stripes of a zebra, animals display color in vastly different ways and for different reasons. This exhibit combines dramatic specimens from across the animal kingdom with computer interactives, hands-on activities, and a stunning display of live dart frogs. Visitors will learn how color and its perception have co-evolved, resulting in a complex and diverse palette used to camouflage, startle predators, mimic other animals, attract a mate, or intimidate a rival. Through September 6, 2009.

Exhibition Opening lecture by Dr. Hopi Hoekstra
Nature’s Palette: the Biological Significance of Color
Thursday, Sept. 25, 6:00 pm.Free and open to the public.

The range of colors we see in nature is striking and beautiful, and it also drives how plants and animals communicate with one another.  With examples of her own research on the genetic architecture of rodents, Hopi Hoekstra, Associate Professor of Natural Sciences and Curator of Mammals in Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology, will discuss the many ways that color is made, used and perceived  — and why that’s where the true elegance and ingenuity of natural selection lies.

Harvard Museum of Natural History
26 Oxford Street Cambridge, MA  02138

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