Gerhard Herzberg Lecture

The Herzberg Lectures are held annually in honour of Gerhard Herzberg, a former Chancellor of Carleton University and recipient of the 1971 Nobel Prize for Chemistry. The lectures emphasize the relationship between science and society and seek to address an aspect of science which has a pronounced impact on our daily lives. 

The Herzberg Lectures are free and open to the public.

2018 Herzberg Lecture

Biological and Cultural Evolution: Six Characters in Search of an Author

Hosted by the Faculty of Science and the School of Mathematics and Statistics

Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2018 at 7 p.m.

Richcraft Hall, Carleton University

Parking is available in lot P16

Join the Conversation: #HerzbergLecture18

Herzberg poster graphic.jpg

What plays a bigger role in evolution: biology or culture? And when did the direction of evolution shift from diversification to unification?

In this highly-anticipated lecture, Dyson will demonstrate how the concept of evolution has itself evolved over the last 200 years. He’ll do this by examining the ideas of some of the biggest names in the field: Charles Darwin, Motoo Kimura, Ursula Goodenough, H. G. Wells, Richard Dawkins, and Svante Pääbo. Using the Pirandello play, Six Characters in Search of an Author as a metaphor, Dyson will explain the overarching story that these scientists’ theories have told, and how a better understanding of this can help you to become a wiser and more responsible inhabitant of our planet.

Register for this event


Freeman DysonAbout the Speaker

Freeman Dyson is a British-born American mathematician and theoretical physicist most famous for his work in quantum electrodynamics, solid-state physics, astronomy, and nuclear engineering. Revered by many as one of the greatest scientists of the 20th century, Dyson’s breadth of knowledge and experience has earned him a certain celebrity status in scientific circles. Over the course of his career he has had a front-row seat for many scientific breakthroughs, and his friends and colleagues have included some of the world’s most renowned mathematicians, physicists and intellectuals of our time – like Pauli, Oppenheimer, Feynman, and Bethe. Dyson has received several honours for his pioneering contributions to science, including the Wolf Prize for Physics. Now professor emeritus of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, he continues to share his knowledge with others through public speaking engagements. He is also an active reviewer for The New York Review of Books.


Previous lectures, 2000-present

  • Wetlands: The Kidneys of Our Planet (2016)
    Dr. William J. Mitsch
    Juliet C. Sproul Chair for Southwest Florida Habitat Restoration and Management and Professor of Marine and Ecological ScienceJuliet C. Sproul Chair for Southwest Florida Habitat Restoration and Management Professor of Marine and Ecological Science, Florida Gulf Coast University
  • The Brain on Stress: Novel Epigenetic Mechanisms of Brain Plasticity (2015)
    Dr. Bruce McEwen
    Alfred E Mirsky Professor and Head of the Harold and Margaret Milliken Hatch Laboratory on Neuroendocrinology at the Rockefeller University
  • More Food, Smaller Footprint: Earth System Science and Biological Agriculture (2014)
    Dr. Gerald M. Ross
    Organic Farmer and Consultant in Farm Design, Maui, Hawaii
  • Must We Irradiate Food?
    Dr. Rick Holley, University of Manitoba
  • Shaken and Stirred: The Cost of Earthquakes and How Science Can Help (2011)
    Dr. John Cassidy
    Research Scienties, Geological Survey of Canada, Natural Resources Canada and Head of the Earthquake Seismology Section
  • The Dynamic Brain: Adaptation, Changing Environments and Life Circumstances (2010)
    Dr. Anthony Phillips
    Scientific Director, CIHR's Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addition
  • Doing More Good than Harm: Building an Evidence Base for Environmental Policy and Practice (2009)
    Dr. Andrew Pullin
    Centre for Evidence-based Conservation
    University of Wales, Bangor, Wales
  • The Large Hadron Collider: Shedding Light On a Dark Universe (2008)
    Dr. Rolf-Dieter Heuer
    Director in Charge of High Energy Physics and Astroparticale Physics, Deutsche Elektronen-Synchrotron
  • Seeing and Feeling Nanotechnology: Plastics That Change Colour With Electricity and Pressure (2007)
    Dr. Geoffrey A. Ozin
    Tier 1 Canada Research Chair and Distinguished University Professor
  • Origami, Linkages, and Polyhedral: Folding with Algorithms (2006)
    Dr. Erik D. Demaine
    Associate Professor of Computer Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • The Art of Research (2005)
    Dr. Ram Murty
    Professor and Queen Research Chair in Mathematics>
  • Dinosaurs: The Cultural Icons of Science (2004)
    Dr. Philip Currie
    Head of the Dinosaur Research, Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology
  • Fisheries Impact on Marine Ecosystems and Their Implication of Global Securities (2003)
    Dr. Daniel Pauly
    Professor of Fisheries, University of British Columbia
  • How Does the Sun Shine? (2001)
    Dr. John N Bahcall
    Institute for Advanced Study School of Natural Sciences, Princeton University
  • Words and Rules: The Ingredients of Language (2000)
    Dr. Steven Pinker
    Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology