Pickering & Chatto has published as part of their Science and Culture in the Nineteenth Century series a collection of papers about the nineteenth-century Irish physicist John Tyndall, who wrote and lectured for the public, was a member of the X Club and Darwin supporter, and vocal critic of religion. Most of the papers are from a conference, held in Big Sky, Montana in June 2012, that brought together historians and students working on the John Tyndall Correspondence Project to present their research. I attended, and presented my MA paper. Unfortunately, for the publication, I did not have the resources necessary to do continued research for my paper. But I am happy to see the publication out, and delighted to see my paper in the book’s very first footnote. If anyone wishes to see my paper – “The ‘efficient defender of a fellow-scientific man': John Tyndall, Darwin, and Preaching Pure Science in Nineteenth-Century America” – let me know, and I can send you a copy.
Here’s the publisher’s information about the book:
Bernard Lightman and Michael S. Reidy, eds. The Age of Scientific Naturalism: Tyndall and His Contemporaries (Brookfield, VT: Pickering & Chatto, 2014), 272 pp.
Publisher’s description Physicist John Tyndall and his contemporaries were at the forefront of developing the cosmology of scientific naturalism during the Victorian period. They rejected all but physical laws as having any impact on the operations of human life and the universe. Contributors focus on the way Tyndall and his correspondents developed their ideas through letters, periodicals and scientific journals and challenge previously held assumptions about who gained authority, and how they attained and defended their position within the scientific community.
You can view the contents of the volume here, read the introduction here, and read James Ungureanu’s blog post about the volume here. Also, the first two volumes (of at least sixteen) of the The Correspondence of John Tyndall will be published by Pickering & Chatto in 2015.
Bill Nye speaks at Lewis & Clark College, Portland, OR, October 25, 2014 (Photo: Lewis & Clark College)
Last month, my wife and son were fortunate to see Bill Nye the Science Guy give a talk at Lewis & Clark College here in Portland, OR. This was exciting for my wife, having watched many episodes of his show growing up, and great for my son to hear from one of our leading advocates for science. His talk was wide ranging, from his own life story to climate change and his experience debating creationist Ken Ham last February.
That debate led Bill Nye to write a book all about evolution:
Bill Nye, Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2014), 320 pp.
Publisher’s description Sparked by a controversial debate in February 2014, Bill Nye has set off on an energetic campaign to spread awareness of evolution and the powerful way it shapes our lives. In Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation, he explains why race does not really exist; evaluates the true promise and peril of genetically modified food; reveals how new species are born, in a dog kennel and in a London subway; takes a stroll through 4.5 billion years of time; and explores the new search for alien life, including aliens right here on Earth. With infectious enthusiasm, Bill Nye shows that evolution is much more than a rebuttal to creationism; it is an essential way to understand how nature works—and to change the world. It might also help you get a date on a Saturday night.
I look forward to the copy of Undeniable that is on its way to me now! You can find the book through various vendors from the publisher’s page, here.
In the meantime, check out this post on Brain Pickings: Bill Nye Reads a Brilliant, Creationism-Busting Passage from His New Book on Evolution
This is a new, second edition of Eldrege’s 1991 book, Fossils: The Evolution and Extinction of Species.
Niles Eldredge, Extinction and Evolution: What Fossils Reveal About the History of Life (Buffalo, NY: Firefly Books, 2014), 256 pp
Publisher’s Description Extinction and Evolution recounts the work and discoveries of Niles Eldredge, one of the world’s most renowned paleontologists, whose research overturned Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution as a slow and inevitable process, as published in On the Origin of Species in 1859. Darwin had concluded that evolutionary changes happened very slowly over millions of years. Eldredge’s work, however, convinced him that Darwin was wrong and that major evolution of life forms does not happen to any significant degree until after a mass extinction event, thus disproving the traditional view of evolution. Eldredge’s groundbreaking work is now accepted as the definitive statement of how life as we know it evolved on Earth. This book chronicles how Eldredge made his discoveries and traces the history of life through the lenses of paleontology, geology, ecology, anthropology, biology, genetics, zoology, mammalogy, herpetology, entomology and botany. While rigorously accurate, the text is accessible, engaging and free of jargon. Extinction and Evolution features 160 beautiful color plates that bridge the gap between science and art, and show more than 200 different fossil specimens, including photographs of some of the most significant fossil discoveries of recent years. This is a book with appeal to a broad general audience, including natural history readers and students.
An excerpt provided by the NCSE: http://ncse.com/files/pub/evolution/excerpt–eldredge.pdf
In the news recently, there are two new Charles Darwin statues, and they both depict the young naturalist (yay!).
The Chicago Maroon: Dr. Watson welcomes Darwin statue
Statue at the Biological Sciences Learning Center, Univ. of Chicago (Photo: Frank Wang)
Galapagos Conservation: The Making of Darwin
Statue at the Charles Darwin Research Station, Santa Cruz island, Galapagos
Peter Dear, “Darwin’s Sleepwalkers: Naturalists, Nature, and the Practices of Classification” Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences 44:4 (Sept. 2014): 297-318.
Abstract Darwin used taxonomic arguments widely in his work on transformism and natural selection, especially in attempts to persuade other (typically non-transformist) naturalists of the correctness of his ideas in Origin of Species. But, as has long been noticed, classificatory practices in natural history were by no means turned on their head in the wake of his work. Darwin succeeded in coopting, or else leaving untouched, the taxonomic conclusions of his colleagues, because he needed to use their conclusions as evidence for his transformist views: time and again, he made points by referring to what a typical naturalists would make of things. By telling them that the kind of knowledge that their taxonomy produced was really about genealogical relationships, Darwin tried to tell naturalist that their judgments were correct even though they had not previously known why this was so: they were sleepwalkers, finding their way in the dark, and Darwin would illuminate them. His argumentative style continually attempted to draw existing practices of classification to his assistance, and made the judgments of his colleagues into surrogate phenomena that would provide evidence for his views. Those colleagues thus constituted a society that established nature by its own practices.
Aydin Örstan, “Two early nineteenth-century uses of the term “evolution” to denote biological speciation” Archives of Natural History 41:2 (Oct. 2014): 360-362.
Vassiliki Betty Smocovitis, “Charles Darwin” In Oxford Bibliographies Online: Ecology, 2014.
This is a monumental undertaking – a 24,000 word bibliography looking at Darwin and how he is studied from many angles.