Yesterday my girlfriend and I went to see Lucy's Legacy, the current main exhibit at PacSci. It was really, really cool. The first half covered the history of Ethiopia which was pretty cool in its own right, 3.8 million year old bones found there not withstanding.
The second half was about fossils, and how they're dated, and how they could tell that Lucy was a biped based on the position of the skull in relation to the base of the spine. There was a cool CGI animation of the skeletons of a chimp, a human, and Lucy (Australopithecus afarensis), and how they (probably) walk. There were cool skulls from various species of bipedal primates, some of whom went on to evolve into us, some of whom did not.
The actual Lucy was, well... a box of dimly lit bones. But the exhibit did a fantastic job of making you feel the import of this discovery. I got teary. There was also a really cool life size sculpture of Lucy. There was an exhibit past the gift shop (where I manfully did not buy the "I Love Lucy" t-shirt, no matter how awesome I thought it was) all about the sculptor and the work he's done around the world for various history museums and things and that was pretty cool too.
Anyway. After the exhibit we went to the ballet (Jewels, for people who know stuff about ballet). The GF is a ballerina and she was excited that this one had no plot, just choreography. She said when she listens to music she imagines the choreography in her head, so this would be simple since she wouldn't have to make it up herself.
I had never been to a ballet before. Well, ok, I went to the ballet version of Edward Scissorhands at the 5th last year, but I'm not sure that counts. I shall be honest. This was not the best ballet ever. I enjoyed it, there were some cool parts, but the music was too quiet. You have a stage full of people floating around basically doing insane things and making it look ridiculously easy, but when you can hear each "thud!" when they land it ruins the illusion somewhat.
In the first movement though, they were wearing the style of costume that all of Degas' ballerinas had, and watching them I itched for my sketch pad. No wonder he spent so much time studying them. And of course being a genius and a bastard he was able to capture all the perfect floaty movements they made. I am now doubly resolved to get permission to sit in and draw at the GF's dance class.
But the really nice part of the evening was the walk back to parking. We discussed the ballet, and I decided that though the ballet was not as awesome as the exhibit (and perhaps a bit of a let down to the GF) that there was a beautiful symmetry to all of it. We started with the very roots of humanity. Walking upright freed our arms and fingers from bearing loads, allowed them to become more delicate and dextrous, and to use tools. It freed up our diaphrams so that we could develope speech, and song. And then to close the evening we rejoiced in a pure expression of all those qualities and abilities that are unique to our species.
Lucy's legacy indeed.