april, 2020

tue21apr1:30 PM3:30 PMDr. Penney Presents: Why Are We So Smart?1:30 PM - 3:30 PM Main Branch

Event Details

Why are humans so smart? It is a major mystery. Why are we the only species that uses conceptual language and can verbalize complex, organized sounds we call speech? All of these remarkable capabilities appear to have developed quite recently. Did this happen because of a number of fortuitous accidents? It seems unlikely our past experiences as hunter-gatherers on the savanna, in forests, and caves would have forced our brains to evolve such that we can conceive of complex and abstract concepts of our present world, such as sub-atomic particles, computer code, rockets, and opera. While many animal species make sounds to communicate (whales, chimpanzees, birds), they cannot be said to be using true language. The ability to name objects, describe how they will be handled, etc., and to be able to consider subtleties in such concepts appears to belong only to the species Homo sapiens. This presentation will review various theories as to how this came about.

Dr. Penney is a retired medical school professor of physiology and biochemistry. During the past 7-8 years, he has given dozens of presentations to school groups, libraries, and astronomy societies on science, history, astronomy, biology, paleontology, and other subjects.


(Tuesday) 1:30 PM - 3:30 PM


Main Branch