From July 1 to 3, 2021, the Conservatoire national des arts et métiers will host the 2nd edition of the TimeWorld conference devoted to the theme of chance. This scientific meeting intends to bring together high-level experts and the general public to talk, debate and dissect chance in all its forms.

What is random? Does the random regular? Is randomness right? Why do coincidences surprise us? Can Humans Tolerate a Random World? How to prove that this number was really chosen at random? Are dreams randomnly created ? What if life were anarchic? Is chance the limit of explanation? How do you deal with chance when exploring the planets? Is chance hidden in the phylogenetic tree? Was the universe a random creation? What’s the part of random in music? What is the role of chance in the origins of life? Does random lodge itself in the heart of the stars? Guess what this conference is about? Are extinctions avoidable? Is random the novelist’s enemy? Can epidemics be predicted?...

TimeWorld will display aspects of time from different perspectives, from theory to fact and from the past to the future. Challenging questions will be discussed by industrial actors, researchers and the general public. Everyone’s expertise will help solve a complex situation and solutions will merge in order to find new ideas and create new projects. More than inviting people to think together, TimeWorld is also the opportunity to participate in contests, workshops, playful scientific and artistic activities and exceptional shows.


Jean-Sébastien Steyer

Are extinctions avoidable?

  • Jeudi 1er juillet 2021, 12h15 - 13h — Amphi Jean-Fourastié

The 6th extinction is in progress but it is in fact the Nr. 7 regarding the geological time scale. In many discourses, we generalize by speaking about “unavoidable” extinctions. But what is a massive extinction? A critical look on the curves of biodiversity evolution through time shows, yet without minimizing the importance of the extinction in progress, that life crises are stochastic and multifactorial events: they occurred several times during evolution and impacted various clades in a differential manner, sometimes totally. Asteroid impacts, volcanism, eustatism (sea level variations), geomagnetic inversions, global climate changes, the causes are often various and their studies look like a good Agatha Christie’s novel with several murders at the same time. Pollution, deforestation, overfishing, greenhouse gases, the 7th extinction is clearly due to humans, but it is not the first time in evolution one species impacts so much the biodiversity. And even if “life finds a way” it is not the reason to stay inactive.

Signing | jeudi 1er juillet 2021, 13h - 13h45

  • Anatomie comparée des espèces imaginaires
  • La Terre avant les dinosaures
Pascal Tassy

Is chance hidden in the phylogenetic tree?

  • Vendredi 2 juillet 2021, 13h45 - 14h30 — Amphi Jean-Prouvé

The phylogenetic tree is a picture as old as the pioneering book Philosophie Zoologique by Lamarck (1809). Fifty years later, Darwin’s Origin of Species includes the first modern tree demonstrating descent with modification .Yet, the criteria on which the reconstruction of the history of evolution is based, have always been discussed, transformed, questioned, and are still today. On the side of mechanisms responsible of biological evolution, and consequently of the relationships depicted by the phylogenetic tree, chance is a subtle and embarrassing concept. The role of chance in phylogenetics is discussed from a structural viewpoint, that is, in trying to separate the pattern of relationships from the evolutionary processes. As counter-intuitive as it can be, the power of attraction of stories (and the phylogeny is one) does not help in the discussion.

Signing | vendredi 2 juillet 2021, 14h30 - 15h15

  • Cavanna, paléontologue
  • L’évolution au Muséum, Albert Gaudry
  • Une histoire d'évolution
Video URL
41 min 18 s
Brigitte Senut

What role does chance play in human evolution?

  • Samedi 3 juillet 2021, 10h45 - 11h30 — Amphi Jean-Prouvé

The evolution of man is not isolated from that of other animals and our history remains strongly linked to that of biodiversity, whose key words are variation and variability. This history, shaped by our genetic heritage and its variations, natural selection, conditioned by the environments we have frequented (to which we have adapted), is inscribed in a strict framework: that of the fourth dimension, time (more or less long) in relation to the modifications of environments and the geography of continents. Our close relationship with the great apes will be evoked and our common origins will be put into a global context, the migrations from our origins according to geological (paleogeography, tectonics, etc...), biological (man-animal relationships, for example) and then cultural events that will highlight the opportunism of our ancestors over the last 10 million years. We will thus see that chance is one of the important components of our evolution.

Video URL
39 min 27 s
Published on: 01/03/2023 14:34 - Updated on: 01/03/2023 14:46