NJIT Professor David Rothenberg, a prominent author and musician, will present in words, images and music his ideas about how evolution produces beauty, not only adaptation. His evidence is the hard-to-explain qualities of bird song, whale song, and other unusual habits of various creatures.
“Evolution may be better understood not as survival of the fittest, but survival of the interesting,” said Rothenberg.
The free talk, entitled “Whales, Birds and Why Nature Is Beautiful,” will be held Feb. 11, 4:30-6 p.m., in the faculty dining area on the third floor of the NJIT Campus Center. The public is invited and refreshments will be served. Sponsors include the NJIT chapter of Sigma Xi, the international research honor society.
Rothenberg, a professor in the humanities department, has long explored the world of interspecies music. Why Birds Sing (Basic Books, 2005) examined bird song from the combined perspectives of science, music, and poetry. The book has been published in the US, England, Australia, Italy, Germany, Spain, Korea, China, and Taiwan as both a book and compact disc.
Thousand Mile Song: Whale Music in a Sea of Sound (Basic Books, 2008), his most recent book and compact disc (CD), chronicled the rich underwater universe of whale sound. To produce the material, he traveled from Hawaii to Russia to play his bass clarinet while recording the sounds of whales in their native habitats. Thousand Mile Song was named one of the 10 best science and technology books for 2008 by Booklist on Line, a publication of the American Library Association..
In 2008, Rothenberg received NJIT's Excellence in Research Award from the College of Science and Liberal Arts. The award is presented annually in recognition of a sustained record of contributions that have enhanced the reputation of NJIT.
Rothenberg edited The Book of Music and Nature (Wesleyan University Press, 2001), and Parliament of Minds (SUNY Press, 1999) interviews with leading philosophers in conjunction with a public broadcasting television series of the same name, of which he was a co-producer. He also is the editor of the Terra Nova book series (MIT Press) presenting environmental issues as culture, not only policy. His own writing has been anthologized in The Best Spiritual Writing 1999 edited by Philip Zaleski (Harper San Francisco) and The Soul of Nature: Visions of a Living Earth by M. Tobias. His articles have appeared in Parabola, Orion, The Nation and Wired.
Rothenberg is also a composer and jazz clarinetist who has released seven CDs, one of which, On the Cliffs of the Heart, was named one of the top 10 releases of 1995 by Jazziz magazine. His first CD on ECM Records, with pianist Marilyn Crispell, will be released in 2010. For information about the Research Café series, contact Jay Kappraff at (973) 596-3490; firstname.lastname@example.org.