Miramare Hosts Final “Great Encounters” Conference Featuring Evolutionary Expert

Photo credits Fabrice Gallina
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by InTrieste

On May 23, Miramare Castle will host the final conference of the “Great Encounters” series, an event designed to complement the ongoing exhibition “Kosmos, the Ship of Knowledge,” which runs until June 16 at the castle’s Scuderie. The series, a hallmark of the 2024 cultural calendar, aims to bridge scientific inquiry and public engagement.

This concluding conference is a collaborative effort with TLQS (The Laboratory on Quantitative Sustainability), a joint initiative by OGS and FIT. TLQS is a network of scientific and humanistic institutions throughout Friuli Venezia Giulia, dedicated to developing methodologies that quantitatively represent the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The highlight of the event will be a presentation by Professor Eörs Szathmáry, an eminent evolutionary biologist often regarded as the intellectual heir to Charles Darwin. Szathmáry’s pioneering work has significantly advanced our understanding of evolutionary transitions—those pivotal moments in the history of life when complexity surged and new organizational levels emerged.

“Throughout evolution, we’ve seen transformative transitions,” said Szathmáry. “From the origin of simple cells to the emergence of multicellularity and human societies, each transition introduced new complexities and organizational hierarchies.”

Szathmáry will explore these transitions and the characteristics they share: the rise of higher-level evolutionary units from simpler origins, the division of labor, and the advent of new inheritance systems like epigenetic inheritance. He will also discuss a contemporary parallel—the advent of evolvable artificial intelligence, a development he warns could pose significant threats to humanity.

Joining Szathmáry in discussion will be Andreina Contessa, director of the Miramare Museum, and Stefano Fantoni, a preeminent theoretical nuclear physicist and president of the International Trieste Foundation for the Progress and Freedom of Sciences.

“Understanding our evolutionary past is crucial for navigating future challenges,” said Fantoni. “This dialogue with Professor Szathmáry promises to be illuminating, particularly as we face unprecedented technological advancements.”

Due to limited seating, attendees must reserve their spots by emailing eventi.miramare@cultura.gov.it. Reservations will be confirmed via response. The conference is included with the purchase of a ticket to the “Kosmos, the Ship of Knowledge” exhibition.

This series of “Great Encounters” has provided an invaluable platform for scholarly exchange, merging academic insights with public discourse—a fitting tribute to the spirit of inquiry that “Kosmos” celebrates.

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