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Charles Darwin, the naturalist, geologist, and leading contributor to the fundamental principles of Evolution, comes alive through synthetic interview technology. Duquesne University biology professor John Pollock collaborated with Carnegie Mellon University’s Entertainment Technology Center (creator of the Synthetic Interview technology) to develop an interactive experience in which users select from a list of questions to ask the virtual Darwin, portrayed by Pittsburgh actor and Carnegie Mellon drama alumnus Randy Kovitz. Questions cover Darwin’s adventures, the principles of evolution, the public response to his discovery, his childhood, personal quirks and a number of other topics. More than a dozen modern-day biologists, religious authorities, an ACLU lawyer and other experts provide modern commentary and answer questions beyond Darwin’s 19th century knowledge.
Questions to be answered by Darwin have been drawn from more than 1,000 interviews with K-12 students and adults that were distilled into the 199 most frequently asked questions. Answers to these questions, compiled by Dr. David Lampe, are in Darwin’s own words; drawn from a considerable body of Darwin’s writings, including his notes, books, autobiography, and the thousands of Darwin’s personal letters available through the Darwin Correspondence Project. Principal Funding from the National Institutes of Health/Science Education Partnership Awards (SEPA) and the John Templeton Foundation.
For more information about how Darwin was made, check out our publication on the development process.