Nature of Things 2013: The Science of Being Human

In Nature of Things 2013: The Science of Being Human we explored a topic that probes profound questions and elicits endless fascinationwhat makes us human?  Many joined us for the Museum's signature lecture series to investigate the latest scientific research on what is unique to humanity, how we became human, and what we share with other living creatures.

Over the course of four lectures, we heard from a renowned neuroscientist studying how our brains construct reality, a member of a paleoanthropology dynasty piecing together the puzzle of human origins, a microbiologist developing a startling new picture of our intimate relationship with microbes, and an evolutionary anthropologist who looks to animals to find out how we became human.


"Redefining Human: How Microbes Influence Who We Are"

Lecture by June Round

Humans are home to vast consortium of bacteria that outnumber our own cells by a factor of ten. Listen to Dr. June Round's lecture for a discussion of who these organisms are and where they live on your body, what developmental and disease processes they influence, and how scientists are trying to utilize these organisms to treat various ailments.

Click Here for YouTube Video of Dr. June Round (introduction, lecture and discussion)


"A Journey of the Mind: Asking Animals How We Became Human"

Lecture by Brian Hare

The only way to understand what it is to be human is to know what it is like to be not human. Evolutionary anthropologist Dr. Brian Hare shared research comparing the human mind to that of the bonobo and chimpanzee, as well as the minds of our more distant relatives, like the dog. 

Listen to Dr. Brian Hare's lecture on a journey exploring the evolution of the human mind that will take you from the dense tropical forests of the Congo Basin to the steppes of Siberia.



"Secrets in the Sands: Revelations into How We Became Human"

Lecture by Louise Leakey

The question of human origins touches the deepest roots of our curiosity.  Over six decades and three generations, the Leakey family has been piecing together the puzzle of our earliest history in Africa.

In Louise Leakey's lecture, she explored the human journey over the past four million years.


"Knowing Thyself: What it Means to be a Human with a Brain"

Keynote Lecture by David Eagleman, Ph.D

If the conscious mind—the part you consider you—accounts for only a fraction of the brain's function, what is all the rest doing? Our behavior, thoughts, and experiences are inseparably linked to a vast, wet, chemical-electrical network called the nervous system. The machinery is utterly alien to us, and yet, somehow, it is us. 
In the Nature of Things 2013 Keynote lecture, neuroscientist and bestselling author David Eagleman took us into the depths of the subconscious to investigate some of the deepest mysteries about what it means to be human.



Nature of Things Founding Underwriter:  R. Harold Burton Foundation
Presenting Partner:  JPMorgan Chase

Gold Sponsor: Rio Tinto | Kennecott Utah Copper

Silver Sponsor: Clark Foundation

Bronze Sponsor: Myriad Genetics

Media Partner: KCPW -- All lectures broadcasted live at KCPW 88.3FM

In-Kind Sponsors: Liberty Heights Fresh, Pinon Market & Cafe

Additional support from Kingsbury Hall, The City Library and the Salt Lake County Zoo, Arts and Parks Fund