Featured image: An aerial view of the Jebel Irhoud excavation in Morocco, worksite of anthropologists hunting for hominid fossils. Scientists have used these digs as excuses to travel the world for well over a century. (Courtesy Pulse Headlines and Shannon McPherron)
Dr. Emily Kern is a recent graduate of Princeton’s Department of History, and she visits us this week to show us the twists and turns of paleoanthropology over time. That is, how have scientists understood humanity’s evolution as we learned more and more about the world? Hear how, until very recently, most everyone thought humans evolved out of Asia–an idea borne by tracing Indoeuropean languages to their roots and assuming humans came from the same place as language does. The international endeavor to trace our evolution back to Africa has taken both explorers (the avid and the methodical) and better methods for dating fossils to 100,000 – 1 million years. Like many fields of science, paleoanthropology has become increasingly complicated the more we discover.
Earlier in the show, news and an explanation of a process you thought you understood:
- Scientists in China have cloned two primates, moving us closer to cloning humans (though we’re still quite far from doing that).
- We’ve lost a hero of computer science, Mary Lee Berners-Lee, who worked on the first comercially-sold computer and fought for gender equality amid programmers.
- When does water boil? At or around 100 C, but it’s more complicated then you think. This makes obtaining a good reference temperature expensive!
As for the music, our playlist can be found on WPRB.com or below.