Thursday, 12 February 2009

Happy Darwin Day, homo sapiens!

Today is the 200th anniversary of the birthday of Charles Darwin, the British scientist who laid the foundations of the theory of evolution, and sat on them for twenty years waiting for man to become less stupid so he could share. Thank the stars he abandoned that plan. He was somewhat forced to announce his findings when that pesky butterfly catcher Alfred Wallace claimed similar findings, and the two made a joint announcement of their discovery in 1858. The following year, Darwin published his famous 'On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection'.

Today, hundreds of events around the world mark the celebration of Darwin Day. The Guardian lists a few, and you can also visit the dedicated site for everything Darwin Day. The Darwin Correspondence Project is also a very cool one to click around and search his letters, including the one from Wallace that led to their nerd-off in 1858. (Interestingly, neither man was present when his theories were read.) You can also find The Complete Works of Charles Darwin online, including his Zoology of the Beagle, which when I first encountered the title made me think "Oh Charles Darwin liked dogs!" You have permission to chuckle. I was young; what can I say? No, in fact it refers to the H.M.S Beagle, named after the dog, but it was a ship on whose second, five-year voyage Darwin did much of his investigation of geology and marine life.

So at some point today, I'm going to find a way to celebrate Darwin and evolution. I think I'll visit one of the exhibits, or, if I can't get to any, there's a man who most evenings walks his beagle past my house. Maybe I'll run out and pet him. Not the man, the beagle.

Happy Darwin Day.

Darwin is pictured above, along with an image of some of his writings from an 1837 notebook. Click on it!

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