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Science on Tap goes back to the Stone Age

John shea

Science on Tap goes back to the Stone Age

SBU’s Center for Communicating Science aims to demystify science in an informal setting

STONY BROOK, NY, November 6, 2013Science on Tap, an award-winning live event and web show created by Stony Brook University’s Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science, returns this month in a new location, the Stony Brook Yacht Club, on the November 12 at 6:30pm, with featured topic, “Back to the Stone Age.” This episode of Science on Tap will be hosted by Journalism School professor and 60 Minutes alumnus Steven Reiner with guest scientist, John Shea, a professor of anthropology and world expert in Stone Age hi-tech weaponry.  John Shea was recently featured with Alan Alda in the PBS mini-series The Human Spark


John Shea, Professor of Anthropology at Stony Brook University and world expert in Stone Age hi-tech weaponry (Photo courtesy of the Chedd-Angier Production Company and PBS)

John Shea is a skilled flintknapper, able to turn a lump of stone into a lethal weapon in minutes. He is especially fascinated by spears and arrows, whose creation requires the combining of different materials – wood, twine, glue as well as finely fabricated stone points – and reveals a sophistication of thinking that is the hallmark of modern humans. Yet he and other archeologists have found evidence of these Stone Age guided missiles going back over 100,000 years in Africa, millennia before the arrival of Homo sapiens, our direct ancestors, in Europe. Indeed, Shea argues that the invention of projectile weapons was such a great evolutionary leap forward in hunting technology that it permitted modern humans’ expansion out of our ancestral African home – and gave them a critical edge over the humans then living in Europe, the Neanderthals. 

Shea will bring along some of his hand-made weaponry to the Yacht Club bar, where he will discuss with Reiner not only their value in hunting – and war – but also their role in the evolution of such key social attributes as cooperation and even language. The evening will also include video of Alan Alda hurling one of John’s spears to lethally wound a plastic Bambi.

Science on Tap aims to bring a range of topics to the public in a casual forum, complete with food, beer, and engaging conversation.  In the spirit of Science on Tap the Stony Brook Yacht Club bar will be open for business, and pub food will be available for purchase. Science on Tap is recorded before a live audience the show will be posted on the website of the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science. 

Reservations are strongly recommended; please email or call 631-632-2130. 

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