News Viewer

How Physics Can Measure Tempo and Mode of Human Evolution

By Stephan Addo posted 03-16-2021 14:42


How Physics Can Measure Tempo and Mode of Human Evolution
March 29, 2021 
8 am EDT (3 pm EET – SESAME, Jordan time)


The lecture will be delivered by Claudio Tuniz (Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics in Trieste, Italy). The whole duration will be about 60 mn.

The reconstruction of human history in the deep past is based on data obtained through the characterisation of hominid fossils, of their cultural products, and of the environment in which they lived. Such data include age and microstructure of the materials of interest. Dating methods based on radioactivity, such as radiocarbon, luminescence, and uranium-thorium, provide reliable chronologies for the periods relevant to human evolution. New X-ray and neutron microscopes allow us to reconstruct the internal microstructure of bones and teeth and to perform ‘virtual’ histological analyses. Ions, lasers, and synchrotron radiation microprobes can provide elemental and isotopic maps of tooth enamel to study diet and biologic development. A brief review of the most recent dating and micro-analytical methods, with some examples of their application in human origin studies, will be presented.

Tuniz_2.pngClaudio Tuniz is a scientist at the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics in Trieste, Italy. He is also visiting professor at the Centre for Archaeological Science of the University of Wollongong in Australia. He has published the following books: From Apes to Cyborgs: New Perspectives on Human Evolution (with P. Tiberi Vipraio, Springer/Nature, Berlin, and Praxis, London, 2020); La Scimmia Vestita (with P. Tiberi Vipraio, Carocci, Italy, 2018); Humans: An Unauthorised Biography (with P. Tiberi Vipraio, Carocci, Italy, 2015, Springer, Berlin, 2016); Radioactivity. A very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, UK, 2013); L’Atomo Inquieto (Carocci, Italy, 2014); The Science of our Origins (with G. Manzi and D. Caramelli; Laterza, Italy, 2013, Taylor and Francis, USA 2016); The Bone Readers (withR. Gillespie and C. Jones; Allen and Unwin, Australia, 2009, Springer, Berlin, 2010, Taylor and Francis, USA, 2014).

To address your questions after the colloquium, send an email to