Tuesday, Feburary 9, 7:00pm
“From Quarks to You and Me: We are All in This Together” – Ernie Stokely
I came to Texas in 1959 with a BS degree in electrical engineering and went to work at Texas Instruments. In 1972 I completed the Ph.D. degree in biomedical engineering from a joint SMU-UT Southwestern program and joined UT Southwestern in the Department of Radiology. During my career in the university I had appointments in computer science at UT Arlington and in biomedical engineering at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where I retired in 2002. My wife and I returned to Dallas to be near our kids and grandkids.
I have always had an abiding interesting in the outdoors and birding. Retirement has given me the chance to return to some of my earlier interests in nature. Going through the training in the master naturalist program has been one of the most fun and satisfying things I have ever done. I can’t wait until we can lead kids on field trips and do group projects again in the field.
Short blurb – The talk will trace the story of the evolution of the universe through the present time, and will tell the story of how we all came to be. The emphasis will be on the need for our own species to be responsible stewards of our planet, and recognize how recent our species is on Planet Earth.
Long Summary – 13.8 billion years ago our universe sprang into existence from a gram of matter into the unimaginably vast universe we have today. While the early expansion of the universe was almost instantaneous, the expansion and the creation of stars and galaxies have continued since that early time. At some point about 5 billion years ago a giant star, our mother star, exploded in our neighborhood of the Milky Way, spewing the debris of the periodic chart out into space. That debris collected and began to form our Sun and our solar system.
Eventually Earth was born, and it wasn’t very long in geological time before we find traces of early life. How did it happen? We’ll talk about that. Life appeared first in the oceans, evolving from primitive single-celled organisms then to invertebrates like coral and jelly fish, and finally to vertebrate sea creatures, the relatives of today’s sharks. Plants arose, first as algae, then eventually plants escaped onto land. The game was on as the march of evolution quickly led to land animals. Over 200 million years ago to the dinosaurs appeared. When dinosaurs died off due to the asteroid strike in the Gulf of Mexico 66 million years ago, the evolution of mammals accelerated. Quickly (in geological time) our genus, Homo, evolved as the most intelligent of the line of primates. In the blink of an eye in time, only 200,000 years ago, our species, Homo sapiens, arose in Africa. As they say, the rest is history.
We now find ourselves overpopulating the planet. We have not always been good stewards of our Planet Earth, with climate modifications due to the burning of fossil fuels, a history of wars between human tribes, global extinction of many of Earth’s species in a very short time, and the creation of large social systems, e.g., economics, that we sometimes do not seem to be able to control. Will we be able to survive as a species without modifying our behavior? Only time will tell the story.