Lee Dugatkin, Ph.D., professor of biology at the University of Louisville, will regale guests at the next Beer with a Scientist with the story of how a Revolutionary War-era dispute over natural history took on important political overtones in European-American relations.
The story involves three individuals: Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence; George-Louis Leclerc de Buffon, a French count and world-renowned naturalist who claimed that all life in America was “degenerate,” weak and feeble; and a very large, dead moose. Jefferson believed the moose could help quash early French arrogance toward the fledgling United States and demonstrate that America was every bit the equal of a well-established Europe.
Despite Jefferson’s passionate refutation, the theory of degeneracy far outlived both him and Buffon and continued to have scientific, economic and political implications for 100 years.
Dugatkin has written a book, Mr. Jefferson and the Giant Moose, on the impact of the dispute and has spoken on the topic at the Smithsonian Institution and Jefferson’s Monticello estate.
The program begins at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, May 11 at Against the Grain Brewery, 401 E. Main St. A 30-minute presentation will be followed by an informal Q&A session.
The Beer with a Scientist program began in 2014 and is the brainchild of UofL cancer researcher Levi Beverly, Ph.D. Once a month, the public is invited to enjoy exactly what the title promises: beer and science.
Admission is free. Purchase of beer, other beverages or menu items is not required but is encouraged.
Organizers add that they also encourage Beer with a Scientist patrons to drink responsibly.
For more information and to suggest future Beer with a Scientist topics, follow Louisville Underground Science on Facebook.