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Walk-through exhibit will depict Earth's evolution

Submitted by Doreen Fitzgerald
Phone: 5042

07/12/05

A presentation of the current scientific understanding of Earth's history will be displayed on the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus July 17-31.

The exhibit, "A Walk Through Time...from Stardust to Us," will begin at the Wood Center bus stop and proceed west along Yukon Drive past the UAF Museum to the West Ridge. Each foot along the walk represents one million years. Along the way, evolutionary processes and events are depicted on 90 panels of text and illustrations. The event sponsor is the UAF School of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences.

"Those who take the walk gain an appreciation for our planet's history and the processes that have made life possible," said Susan Todd, associate professor of natural resource planning and event organizer. "It is our hope that the Walk will enhance the viewer's understanding of scientific knowledge, encourage a sense of wonder, inspire respect for our natural world, and stimulate discussion about our personal and societal roles in creating the future."

Consistent with the fossil record, the first animal life appears after 4,000 feet (representing 4 billion years). The first hominids appear in the last five feet of the walk, and the last ice age concludes only one-tenth of an inch from the end. The exhibit will be open daily from 10 a.m.�-8 p.m. As a complement to it, geology professor Sarah Fowell will give a public lecture on the evolution of Paleozoic plants. The talk is July 19 at 7 p.m. in UAF Schaible Auditorium.

A grant from the Alaska Humanities Forum provided material for the frames that hold the panels, and volunteers assembled them. The panels were lent by Anchorage Montessori School Principal Ed Miner. The exhibit was developed by Hewlett-Packard Laboratories in Palo Alto, California. The company released it for worldwide display by donating it to the nonprofit Foundation for Global Community, a California-based group. For more information on the exhibit, go to www.globalcommunity.org/wtt/ .

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The following quotes represent responses to the exhibit:

"A Walk Through Time is a valuable new way to conceive of the immensity of geological time and of organic evolution that has occurred within it. It has broad appeal to the public and will be a useful guide for science educators as well." �"Professor Edward Osborne Wilson, Pellegrino University Research Professor and Honorary Curator in Entomology, Harvard University Museum of Comparative Zoology

"My Walk Through Time was an unforgettable experience, awe inspiring and humbling. The beautifully designed panels lead from the fiery birth of our planet through many millions of years to the miracle of first life, and through the millions more during which those first simple living specks gradually evolved into increasingly complex and diverse forms of life as we know it today. The commentary that guides us is rich in scientific fact and, unexpectedly, exquisite humor...My overall impression? The experience of the Walk and the book gives us an appreciation of the extraordinary human brains that have unlocked so many secrets of the past; of the magnificence of the natural word; of our urgent need, as we enter the new Millennium, to use the human intellect to try to heal some of the scars we have inflicted on our planet during the few moments since our species first appeared in the web of life." � "Dr. Jane Goodall, The Jane Goodall Institute for Wildlife Research, Education and Conservation

"The human adventure has something to do with our recovering �"together�" a sense of both amazement and gratitude at the gift of life. When readers take this Walk Through Time, they will find themselves as actors in a larger reality beyond their imagination. Insofar as we can all join together on this journey of discovery there will be peace on earth." � "The Reverend Alan Jones, Dean of Grace Cathedral, San Francisco

For more information, contact: Project Manager Susan Todd at 474-6930 or Doreen Fitzgerald, School of Natural Resources information: 474-5042

Contact: Fitzgerald for a high-resolution photo of a sample panel.