Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Crazy Kinda Poetry*

Yesterday my girlfriend and I went to see Lucy's Legacy, the current main exhibit at PacSci. It was really, really fantastic. 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 CGI animation of the skeletons of a chimp, a human, and Lucy (Australopithecus afarensis), and how they (probably) walk. There were 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 life size sculpture of Lucy done by a guy who has probably the coolest job in the world. 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 fascinating. The way he has to combine artistic skill with forensic anthropology and biology and anatomy to create life-size sculpture of animals that only exists as bone fragments.

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 the music she imagines the choreography in her head. This would be fun since she wouldn't have to make the dances 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, the dancers were amazing, 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.

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, 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 dexterous, and to use tools. It freed up our diaphragms so that we could develop 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.

*This is a cleaned up and more succinct version of an older post.

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