Second World Conference on the Future of Science - Evolution (The Future of Scienc)

Venue: Fondazione Giorgio Cini

Location: Venice, Italy

Event Date/Time: Sep 20, 2006 End Date/Time: Sep 23, 2006
Registration Date: Sep 10, 2006
Early Registration Date: Jul 31, 2006
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Evolution of Matter
The Universe from the Big Bang to the future.
Theories of the birth of the Universe, the formation of the first galaxies, stars and black holes, and their evolution to the present will be presented and discussed in the light of the latest observations. Most of the Universe seems to consist of mysterious dark matter and even more mysterious dark energy. A major challenge of present cosmological research is to understand the origin and roles of these invisible players in cosmic evolution, and how they determine the structure of the visible Universe.

As in living organisms, the evolution of the Universe is determined by a continuous feedback from cosmological to star-size structures.

Gamma-ray bursts, detected throughout the Universe at rates of about one a day and lasting form a few milliseconds to several minutes, are incredibly violent signals of other mysterious events - perhaps the merger of neutron stars, the collapse of a massive star or neutron star-black hole binary. Metals, essential constituents of life on Earth, are ejected by exploding stars at the end of their lifetimes and provide raw material for the next generation of stars. New telescopes in space and on Earth are revealing ever more about the most distant and oldest parts of Universe and are scanning near stars for other solar systems.

Evolution of Life.
Darwinism in the light of modern genetics

Terrestrial life originated through the long process of evolution. Many tantalising details of this process are unknown, but much is very well known indeed. The general principles, expressed in the neodarwinian synthesis, are the best scientific explanation currently available.

Evolution remains a very active field of research. Long stretches of the genomes of numerous species are available, and the number of genomes that have been completely sequenced is growing rapidly, enabling detailed comparison of nucleotide sequences of species as distantly related as fungi and chimpanzees, and providing new insights into evolutionary relationships and the process of evolution itself.

These insights will be discussed by researchers from various disciplines, with particular emphasis on what is known about the appearance of humans on Earth and the stages of human evolution.

Evolution of Mind
A natural history of culture

During the Upper Palaeolithic revolution (about 50,000 to 10,000 years ago) humans developed a new set of skills and activities: cave art, body ornamentation, human burials and other rituals - unmistakable signs of a symbolic intelligence fundamentally like our own.

There is evidence, however, that many of the elements of modern human behaviour can be traced even further back in time. The birth and evolution of the modern mind is a mainly archaeological discipline receiving contributions from other sciences including comparative genetics, neurobiology and ethology. It is generally thought that spoken language is a key to understanding this explosive evolution of human culture. The session will cover human intelligence in comparison with that of species closely related to us, the biological bases of human language, the minimum common structure of any language, the origin of magical thought in humans, and the birth and development of moral and religious sensitivity.

These topics naturally encompass many classic questions about human nature, free will, sociality, the development of technology, and our future evolution.


Isle of San Giorgio Maggiore