Virtual Location: 

Virtual Science Cafe: Cell Phones, Whales, and Redefining ‘Wild’ from the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History

Need a dose of wonder? Smithsonian experts from the National Museum of Natural History take you into their world by sharing stories about the subjects they have dedicated their lives to exploring. 

Join us virtually for this science cafe , and set the stage at home with a drink and meal of choice. 

Learn, unwind, and engage with Smithsonian scientists whose curiosity and insight perspective are bound to help you think differently about the natural and cultural world. 

“Unseen Connections: A Natural History of the Cell Phone” by Joshua Bell, cultural anthropologist and curator of globalization

I bet you’re reading this on your cell. In only 47 years, cell phones have become the fastest spreading technology in human history, and this quick uptick has come with cultural impacts big and small. As an anthropologist interested in the relationship between the environment, people, and things - I’m looking at how mobile devices allow for new (and old) ways of reflecting on what it means to be human. In this talk, I’ll share stories of  8 years of research on cell phone repair and use in the Washington, DC region and how it has led to a new Smithsonian exhibit opening in 2022.

“What Does It Mean To Be Wild?” by Andrea Eller, biological anthropologist and postdoc fellow 

I look at anthropology through the lens of nature. By asking what it means to be wild, I’m learning how animals survive in a world increasingly dominated by us - and what the future of our global biodiversity might be like. In my talk I’ll share the work of my EMPHASIS project and reveal how  my studies of Smithsonian collections of primates from cities, zoos, and other human-impacted ecologies all over the world help us understand our future.

“When Whales Had Four Legs: Where On Earth Did They Come From & How Do We Know?" by Nick Pyenson, research geologist and curator of fossil marine mammals

We think of whales as icons of the sea, but the first whales were certainly not like the ones that you see today: they lived on land, had four legs, and were the size of a dog. How do we know this, and what does it tell us about how evolution works? Dive in for the surprising back story, and a glimpse of our shared future with these enigmatic giants.

This program will be presented as a Zoom video webinar. A link will be emailed to all registrants. 

Free. Registration is requested.


Online; Internet connection required

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Natural History Museum

August 6, 2020 - 6:30pm - 8:00pm

We are now partially open. Click here for info.