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June 18, 2012
National Academy of Sciences; Washington, DC
Historians of science speak of two revolutions: the Copernican and the Darwinian. Copernicus, they say, removed Earth from the center of the known Universe to become one more planet. Darwin removed Homo sapiens from the center of life, to become one more animal species. What that narrative says is correct, but it misses what is most important about the two revolutions; namely, that jointly they represent the beginning of science in the modern sense, the Scientific Revolution with two stages, the Copernican and the Darwinian.
Francisco Ayala is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a recipient of the National Medal of Science. Dr. Ayala has made significant and wide-ranging experimental and theoretical contributions to evolution theory. His scientific research focuses on population and evolutionary genetics, including the origin of species, the genetic diversity of populations, the origin of malaria, the population structure of parasitic protozoa, and the molecular clock of evolution. He also writes about the interface between religion and science, and on philosophical issues concerning epistemology, ethics, education, and the philosophy of biology.
The Rosenblith Lecture is supported by the National Academy of Sciences Fund for Science, Technology and International Affairs established in honor of Dr. Walter A. Rosenblith (1913-2002). Dr. Rosenblith served as NAS foreign secretary and was one of a select group of scholars elected to the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine.