Presentations For General Audiences

The presentations listed below are ones I’ve actually given to general audiences, are offered here as examples of what I do. If you’re interested in having me come speak to your group, I can adapt one of the talks below, or develop a new one -- on any of the subjects listed at right -- to match your program requirements or your audience’s specific interests.

Food Pills and Flying Cars: Why the Future We Imagine Is Seldom the One We Get

flying car
Mile-high skyscrapers . . . robot maids . . . computers in the kitchen . . . vacations on the Moon . . . a helicopter in every garage. Twentieth-century American culture is filled with glittering predictions of what the future (our present) will be like, and nearly all of them are wildly wrong. Discover how -- and why -- we so often miss when we try to imagine our technological tomorrows.

Darwin: Behind the Myths
He didn't struggle in school, didn't "discover" evolution in the Galapagos Islands, didn't say that humans were descended from apes, didn't believe in "social Darwinism," and didn't lose his religious faith to science. A lot of what what "everybody" knows about Charles Darwin isn't true. Take a look behind the myths, and discover the real Darwin, who's even more fascinating.

Perfect Genes and Killer Machines: The Image of Science in Popular Culture

Good guys can outrun laser beams, gravity only affects you if you think about it, and "playing god" is a recipe for disaster (or maybe the only way to save the world). Popular culture -- especially movies and TV -- teach a lot of strange "lessons" about science and scientists. Come explore some of them, and the ways they shape public attitudes toward science.

Seeing the Earth from Space

Images taken by orbiting satellites have enabled us to see the Earth in ways that previous generations could never have imagined. They allow us to track hurricanes, study complex environmental processes, and see first-hand the effects that human activity has on the Earth. This talk explores how satellites have transformed our understanding of our planet.

Men Among the Mammoths: The Curious Story of a Scientific Revolution

Over the course of five years (1858-1863) an unlikely group of scientists -- a provincial schoolteacher, an ex-army surgeon, and a wine merchant -- overthrew centuries of scientific and religious orthodoxy, showing that the earliest humans had appeared long ago, and coexisted with now-extinct animals in a world very different from our own. This is their story.

Also . . .

The First Americans: New Discoveries, New Controversies
The Hollywood History of Space Travel
Human Evolution: A Story in Six Fossils
Eureka! Five Scientific Experiments that Changed the World
Titanic: The Anatomy of a Technological Disaster