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Science & Technology => History of Science => Topic started by: Bianca on February 07, 2009, 10:21:23 am

Post by: Bianca on February 07, 2009, 10:21:23 am


                                                  The man who changed the world

By Emmett Duffy

200 years ago on this day, the 12th of February 1809, a child was born in the town of Shropshire in the West English midlands, and grew up to change the world.

Charles Darwin spent a unique life studying nature, with the 19th century gentleman’s enviable leisure to pursue his subject with a concentration and material wherewithal never before possible, and which will certainly never be seen again.  He lived and worked, as it were, at the ephemeral gateway between an old world on which large swaths of territory remained in an essentially primeval state — some of which he was the first European to see during his seminal voyage aboard H.M.S. Beagle — and a new one beginning to yield to the industrial revolution spreading rapidly over its surface.

Darwin is of course most famous for the revolutionary idea that grew out of his uniquely comprehensive experience with the earth’s inhabitants: evolution by natural selection. The idea was revolutionary because, for the first time in history, it provided a mechanistic explanation for how living organisms develop the characteristics that suit them so astoundingly to their environment, an explanation based on simple and well understood physical and biological processes (indeed, so simple that his colleague and defender Thomas Henry Huxley observed after reading the Origin, “how extremely stupid not to have thought of that!”).  And because the explanation fit such a motley range of previously inexplicable observations.  One of the types of observations that were unified by his theory was the strange similarities in structure among wildly different kinds of animals, such as whales, mice, and bats — all of which share a basic anatomical structure.  The reason of course is that they are descendents of a common ancestor, whose parts have become modified, as Darwin would say, to different ends. 

We are all, in a very literal sense, family.

Post by: Bianca on February 07, 2009, 10:25:58 am


Post by: Bianca on February 07, 2009, 10:27:40 am

For the first time, the natural world made sense.

In hiw own words, “As many more individuals of each species are born than can possibly survive; and as, consequently, there is a frequently recurring struggle for existence, it follows that any being, if it vary however slightly in any manner profitable to itself, under the complex and sometimes varying conditions of life, will have a better chance of surviving, and thus be naturally selected. From the strong principle of inheritance, any selected variety will tend to propagate its new and modified form.”

Of course, Darwin’s materialistic explanation of life’s diversity crashed headlong into the Biblical story of creation that had reigned since the beginning of time, with implications so fundamental and far-reaching that the anthropologist Ashley Montague aptly observed:”Next to the Bible, no work has been quite as influential, in virtually every aspect of human thought, as The Origin of Species.”  The reverberations continue to this day, as is clear from reading the newspaper in almost any given week. Darwin is arguably the superlative example in human history of the power of a scientific idea to change the world.

One of the wonderful things about Darwin is that his works are completely accessible to the moderately educated layperson.  Even with the slightly stilted prose of the mid-19th century, his writing has an engaging quality, and his account of the Beagle voyage in particular has real drama and some ripping yarns (told, of course, with Darwin’s characteristic modesty) — danger, despair, the thrill of discovery, you name it.

You can begin with The Complete Works of Charles Darwin Online

(He even has this stuff in podcasts — who knew?)

Post by: Bianca on February 07, 2009, 10:29:07 am

Post by: Bianca on February 07, 2009, 10:31:50 am


But what is perhaps less widely appreciated about Darwin, and what I admire most about him, is that he was a consummate naturalist. 

After literally overturning the philosophical foundations of human thought with the Origin, Darwin did not go off to play golf or spend his life on a celebrity tour. 

He spent decades in the tedious and methodical tasks of minute dissection and description of the world’s barnacles (yes, barnacles), eventually producing a masterwork that still stands as the seminal, classic foundation of knowledge on this group of animals.

Clearly, it was a labor of love.

So let’s raise a glass, virtually speaking, to the gentle naturalist who figured it all out.

Posted in Education, Natural Patriots, Biophilia

Post by: Bianca on February 07, 2009, 10:42:31 am

                                              BIOGRAPHY OF CHARLES DARWIN


Post by: Bianca on February 07, 2009, 10:44:18 am

                                           Darwin bicentennial events crowd Cornell calendar

Feb. 4, 2009
Cornell University


Rare and Manuscript

By George Lowery

Cornell marks the 200th anniversary of naturalist Charles Darwin's birth in Shrewsbury, England, Feb. 12, 1809, with a number of lectures, panel discussions, exhibitions and other events. This year also marks the 150th anniversary of the publication of Darwin's "On the Origin of Species," which established evolutionary descent with modification as the dominant scientific explanation of diversification in nature.

The Museum of the Earth's Darwin Days, Feb. 7-15, including Darwin Family Day, Feb. 14, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. See

University of Maryland physicist S. James Gates Jr. delivers the Second Annual Beggs Lecture on Science, Spirituality and Society, Sunday, Feb. 8, at 7 p.m. in Sage Chapel. In his talk, "Maxwell's Equations and Darwin's Finches: Science, Faith and Evolution," Gates will consider how Darwin and physicists Isaac Newton, James Maxwell and Albert Einstein reconciled science and spirituality in their work and lives. Gates also participates Feb. 10 at 7 p.m. in Lewis Auditorium, Goldwin Smith Hall, on a panel discussing "Race and Evolution," and he will also visit Cornell classes.

A panel discussion, "Evolution and the Life Sciences," Feb. 9 at 5 p.m. in G-10 Biotech Building.
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology displays specimens of the Galapagos finches that inspired Darwin's thoughts on natural selection and adaptive radiation, Feb. 9-15. Its Darwin Day Celebration, Saturday, Feb. 14, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., includes activities about birds and natural selection: guided walks on nature trails, a scavenger hunt and the opportunity to isolate your own DNA. Information:

"What's Science Got to Do With It? When Scientists Talk Nonsense About Religion," a lecture by Massimo Pigliucci, SUNY Stony Brook, Feb. 10, A-106 Corson Mudd Hall at 4:45 p.m.

David Campbell '77, a high school biology teacher from Jacksonville, Fla., delivers "Teaching(?) Evolution in the Public Schools," introduced by Cornell President Emeritus Hunter Rawlings, Feb. 11 at 4:45 p.m. in Lewis Auditorium. Followed by a panel discussion on teaching evolution in today's classroom at 6 p.m.

Ross Brann, Cornell's Milton R. Konvitz Professor of Judeo-Islamic Studies and professor of Near Eastern studies, on "Darwin and Religion," Feb. 12 at 3 p.m. in Anabel Taylor Hall Auditorium.

Cornell President Emeritus and Darwin scholar Frank H.T. Rhodes lectures on "Charles Darwin: Origins," Feb. 12 at 4:45 p.m. in Hollis E. Cornell Auditorium, Goldwin Smith Hall. The talk explores the scientist's life and work during the 22 years following the 1859 publication of "On the Origin of Species." Following will be the opening reception for the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collection's "Charles Darwin: After the Origin," a collaborative exhibition with the Museum of the Earth, in Kroch Library's Hirshland Gallery at 5:15 p.m.

"Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters," a lecture by Don Prothero, Occidental College, Feb. 14 at 4:30 p.m. in G-10 Biotech Building.

The Cornell radio show "Sunday Forum" discusses "Three Views of Darwin," Feb. 15 on WVBR 93.5 FM at 6 p.m. Guests: Rawlings; the Rev. Kenneth Clarke, director of Cornell United Religious Work; and Museum of the Earth Director Warren Allmon.

Post by: Bianca on February 07, 2009, 10:54:25 am


                                   The 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin

In July 2008, the world  celebrated the 150th anniversary of one of the greatest scientific milestones
in history. 

At a meeting of the Linnean Society of London on 1st July 1858 the paper from Charles Darwin and Alfred Russell Wallace outlining, for the first time, the theory of evolution by natural selection was read.   


                    February 2009 sees the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin. 

At this time of special anniversaries, the Linnean Society of London is taking the opportunity to join people around the world in celebrating the life and legacy of this great man. 

The highlight of 2008 was the Conversazione and Commemorative Meeting on 1st July, the 150th anniversary of the reading of the Darwin-Wallace paper, followed by a two day scientific meeting: "The Driving Forces of Evolution: From Darwin to the modern age" (see below for more information).   


Follow the links below for more information:

Darwin 200

A collaboration of organisations across the UK who are celebrating Darwin’s 200th birthday
Darwin, Wallace and the Linnean Society

More information on the joint paper by Darwin and Wallace: “On the Variation of Organic Beings in a state of Nature; on the Natural Means of Selection; on the Comparison of Domestic Races and true Species"

Darwin and Wallace in The Linnean

A selection of articles from the Linnean Society newsletter

Linnean Society Events

The programme of events for 2008, including Darwin celebrations

The Darwin-Wallace Medal

A commemorative medal, awarded on the 50th, 100th and now the 150th anniversary of the reading
of the Darwin-Wallace paper

The Wallace Collection at the Natural History Museum

A remarkable selection of digitised letters, notes, articles and even some of the insect specimens that Alfred Russel Wallace collected on his travels


Post by: Bianca on February 07, 2009, 11:02:17 am

                                    Welcome to Our Year of Darwin Celebration of 2009

Evolution: Evidence & Impact

Celebrating the 150th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species.”

Charles Robert Darwin was born on February 12, 1809 — the same day as Abraham Lincoln was, an ocean away. Fifty years later, on November 24, 1859, Darwin published his seminal work, “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.”

Throughout our year-long celebration of the bicentennial of Darwin’s birth and the sesquicentennial of the "On the Origin of Species," we hope to communicate the many contemporary applications of

Darwin’s theory of evolution by common descent,

the breadth of Darwin’s research and its ramifications,
the truth of Darwin’s work as a cornerstone of modern science and

the multiple applications of evolutionary theory throughout UC research.

Post by: Bianca on February 07, 2009, 11:18:39 am


                                                         Darwin Bicentennial

All lectures at 4 p.m. at Konover Auditorium

The idea for Year of Science 2009 emerged, in part, from a desire to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birth and the 150th anniversary of his publication of On the Origin of Species. The goal of this bicentennial colloquium is to explore the influence of Darwin's work on many different disciplines including history, philosophy, medicine, anthropology, and psychology.

John Haught, Distinguished Research Professor, Department of Theology, Georgetown University - February 25, 2009

Marc Hauser, Professor of Psychology, Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, and Anthropology, Harvard University - March 19, 2009

John Beatty, Professor of Biology, University of British Columbia - March 25, 2009

Paul Ewald, Professor of Biology, University of Louisville - April 15, 2009



Post by: Bianca on February 07, 2009, 11:25:24 am

                                                     Darwin Bicentennial Series Continues

updated January 9, 2009

BOONE – Appalachian State University continues its event-packed celebration of the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of his book, "On the Origin of Species," during the spring semester of the 2008-09 academic year with a series of lectures, films, music, art and theatre events focusing on Darwin’s ideas and their impact on society, and his theory of evolution.

The presentations are sponsored by the Office of Academic Affairs, University College, College of Arts and Sciences, University Forum Committee, and the Darwin Bicentennial Celebration Committee. Additional support for the series has been provided by the Joan Askew Vail Distinguished Lectureship Endowment and the Morgan Lecture Series in the Sciences.


Edward Larson will present a lecture titled “The Scopes Trial in History and the Theatre” at 8 p.m. Jan. 22 in Farthing Auditorium. Larson holds the Hugh and Hazel Darling Chair in Law and is University Professor of History at Pepperdine University and recipient of the 1998 Pulitzer Prize in History. He served as Associate Counsel for the U.S. Congressional Committee on Education and Labor (1983-87) and as an attorney with a major Seattle law firm (1979-83) and retains an appointment at the University of Georgia, where he has taught since 1987.

Michael Ruse will present “Darwin at Two Hundred Years Old: Does He Still Speak to Us?” at 8 p.m. Feb. 2 in Farthing Auditorium. Ruse is the Lucyle T. Werkmeister Professor of History and Philosophy of Science at Florida State University and the foremost philosophical scholar on the relationship between evolution and science. He is the author of Can a Darwinian Be a Christian?

On Feb. 10, Jim Costa, director of the Highlands Biological Station at Western Carolina University, will discuss “Charles Darwin and the Origin of the Origin.” The talk is scheduled for 8 p.m. in the Broyhill Inn’s Powers Grand Hall. Costa is a noted Darwin scholar and evolutionary ecologist, as well as author of a soon-to-be-released "Darwin Line by Line: The Living Origin," an annotated version of On the Origin of Species. He will discuss how Darwin came to write the Origin.

Sean Carroll presents “Into the Jungle: The Epic Search for the Origins of Species and the Discoveries that Forged a Revolution” at 8 p.m. Feb. 24 in Farthing Auditorium. Carroll is a professor of molecular biology, genetics, and medical genetics at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and also a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Researcher. He is the author of several popular books on evolution, including the upcoming Remarkable Creatures: Epic Adventures in the Search for the Origins of Specie. Carroll will be host of a PBS “NOVA” special about Darwin and evolution, which will be shown nationally this spring. Carroll is the speaker for this year’s Morgan Distinguished Lecture Series in the Sciences.

Paul Ewald from the University of Louisville’s Department of Biology will present a lecture at 8 p.m. March 17 in the Broyhill Inn’s Powers Grand Hall. His presentation is entitled “Darwinian Insights into the Causes and Prevention of Cancer.” Ewald is noted for his theories regarding the co-evolution of humans and disease organisms. He argues in his book Plague Time that many diseases attributed to environmental stresses may actually be caused by bacteria or viruses instead.

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jonathan Weiner will speak on “The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in Our Time” at 8 p.m. March 26 in the Blue Ridge Ballroom of Plemmons Student Union. Weiner is a professor in Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. His Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Beak of the Finch, profiled the research of the husband/wife team Peter and Rosemary Grant as they carried out extensive studies of evolution on Darwin’s finches in the Galapagos Islands.

Elisabeth Lloyd from Indiana University’s Department of History and Philosophy of Science will present the lecture “Darwinian Evolution and the Female Orgasm: Explanations and Puzzles” at 8 p.m. April 2 in the Blue Ridge Ballroom of Plemmons Student Union. Lloyd is a leading historian and philosopher of science and author of several books on these subjects.

Niles Eldredge, curator at the American Museum of Natural History, will speak on “Darwin, the Beagle and the Origin of Modern Evolutionary Biology” at 8 p.m. April 6 in Farthing Auditorium. Eldredge, along with his colleague, the late Stephen J. Gould, co-authored the seminal paper on punctuated equilibrium which emphasized that evolutionary change was not constant through time. He is also author of more than a dozen scientific books for the public, including Darwin: Discovering the Tree of Life, a new analysis of how Darwin came to write On the Origin, based largely on Darwin’s original notes and writings.

All lectures are free and open to the public.

Post by: Bianca on February 07, 2009, 11:26:52 am


The Performing Arts Series Presents “The Great Tennessee Monkey Trial” at 8 p.m. Feb. 11 at Farthing Auditorium. For tickets, call 262-4046 or 800-841-2787. This radio play from LA Theatre Works, starring Emmy Award-winning actor Ed Asner and the cast of the LA Theatre Works Radio Theater, features characters who stand at the center of one of the great debates of American society, come to life in this magnificent, semi-staged production.

Based on the original transcripts of the 1925 Scopes Trial, which championed the right to teach evolution in the public schools, the play features such unlikely heroes as Clarence Darrow, William Jennings Bryan, H.L. Mencken and John Scopes, who set the stage for an ongoing national debate over the separation of Church and State in a democratic society.

Department of Theatre & Dance presents The Trial Scene from “Inherit the Wind” and More at 7 p.m. Feb. 12-14 and 19-21 at I.G. Greer Studio Theater . For tickets, call 262-3063. Darwin’s theory of evolution created a firestorm of controversy, and its dramatic and comic possibilities were quickly adapted to the stage. The production will include three sections. Part I includes examples of early 1920s vaudeville’s response to Darwin in satiric and comic songs and sketches. Part II is the famous courtroom scene from Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee’s 1950s play, Inherit the Wind. Part III looks at Darwin in contemporary theatrical terms.

Juried Art Competition sponsored by the Department of Art: Month of February, Looking Glass Gallery, Plemmons Student Union. The Art Department will sponsor a juried student competition of art work devoted to any aspect of evolution. Works will be judged by a committee comprised of art faculty members, and will be displayed at the Looking Glass Gallery during the month of February. The exhibition is free and open to the public. For details, call 262-2220.

Juried Music Competition sponsored by the Hayes School of Music:

Recital at 8 p.m. Feb. 25 at Rosen Concert Hall, Broyhill Music Center. Composition/Theory majors in the Hayes School of Music will participate in a Darwin Composition Competition. Students will write original compositions that are inspired by Darwin and his theory of evolution There will be one winner and two runners-up and all of the compositions will be performed in a chamber music recital, which is free and open to the public. For details, call 262-3020.

Post by: Bianca on February 07, 2009, 11:28:17 am


All films take place in the Greenbriar Theatre of Plemmons Student Union at 7 p.m. and are free and open to the public.

Flock of Dodos: The Evolution-Intelligent Design Circus will be shown on Jan. 25. Introduced by Robert Creed, Department of Biology. A wacky, satirical look at both sides of the Evolution/Intelligent Design conflict; filmmaker Randy Olson takes no prisoners in this Michael Mooresque documentary.

Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed on Feb. 15. Hosted by James Wilkes, Department of Computer Science. Ben Stein blows the whistle on “Big Science” and its suppression of ideas that challenge Darwinian theories of evolution. Is it a crime to believe in Intelligent Design?

2001: A Space Odyssey on April 19. Hosted by Roger Stilling, Department of English

Forget natural selection of Intelligent Design; it’s a giant, enigmatic black monolith that jump-starts evolution in animals and humans. What if that monolith returned in our science-fiction future…?

Additional details on any of the events described above may be obtained at

or by calling 262-7660.

Post by: Bianca on February 14, 2009, 09:48:19 am