Cambridge Trip #6: Darwin the Geologist at the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences

Monday, 13 July 2009

After a very nice sleep (not being nervous about presenting a paper) at Granta House, I looked forward to an entire day of relaxation and touring Cambridge. Here’s the street where my bed and breakfast was:

Street with Granta House, Cambridge, England

Street with Granta House, Cambridge, England

Our first stop was the Cambridge University Library to see the exhibit A Voyage Round the World, showcasing the library’s collection of documents, maps, drawings, books, etc. dealing with the voyage of HMS Beagle. An awesome exhibit, but unfortunately no pictures were allowed. I couldn’t even take a picture of a banner for the exhibit in the main lobby of the library. So Richard and I decided to pick up the exhibit’s companion book (Richard spotted me the tenner for it, thanks!). The library and the book:

Cambridge University Library

Cambridge University Library

A Voyage Round the World by Alison M. Pearn

A Voyage Round the World by Alison M. Pearn

Next we headed to the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences, to see the new permanent exhibit Darwin the Geologist and the rest of the museum, which, if you like lots of old stuff (fossils, rocks, etc.) crammed in large wooden cabinets, is definitely a place to check out when in Cambridge. On the way there, though, we passed an interesting spot for history of science buffs, the Mathematical Bridge at Queen’s College, built in 1749:

Mathematical Bridge, The River Cam, University of Cambridge

Mathematical Bridge, The River Cam, University of Cambridge

The Queen’s College website debunks the myth that Isaac Newton designed and built the bridge without using nuts or bolts:

For those who have fallen prey to the baseless stories told by unscrupulous guides to gullible tourists, it is necessary to point out that Isaac Newton died in 1727, and therefore cannot possibly have had anything to do with this bridge. Anyone who believes that students or Fellows could have disassembled the bridge (and then failed to re-assemble it, as the myth runs) cannot have a serious grasp on reality, given the size and weight of the wooden members of the bridge. The joints of the present bridge are fastened by nuts and bolts. Earlier versions of the bridge used iron pins or screws at the joints, driven in from the outer elevation. Only a pedant could claim that the bridge was originally built without nails. Other baseless stories are that Etheridge had been a student, and/or had visited China.

Now some pictures from Darwin the Geologist:

Richard Carter observing Darwin the Geologist

Richard Carter observing Darwin the Geologist

Bust of Darwin by Anthony Smith, Darwin the Geologist

Bust of Young Darwin by Anthony Smith, Darwin the Geologist

Computer interactive shows posts from exhibits blog

Computer interactive shows posts from exhibit's blog

Another interactive showing rocks collected on Beagle voyage

Another interactive showing rocks collected on Beagle voyage

HMS Beagle Puzzle

HMS Beagle Puzzle

Darwin, the Young Collector

Darwin, the young collector

Influential books

Influential books

A Letter

A Letter

Fossil finds on the Beagle voyage

Fossil finds on the Beagle voyage

Signature in a geological notebook

Signature in a geological notebook

Recreation of Darwins cabin on HMS Beagle

Recreation of Darwin's cabin on HMS Beagle

The Andes

The Andes

Geologising at the Galapagos Islands

'Geologising' at the Galapagos Islands

Coral Reefs in the Pacific

Coral Reefs in the Pacific

Raw materials & precious metals

Raw materials & precious metals

Touch a rock

Touch a rock

Series of displays showing current research influenced by Darwin

Series of displays showing current research influenced by Darwin

Visitors observing Darwin the Geologist

Visitors observing Darwin the Geologist

Now a look at the rest of the museum:

The Irish Elk, Sedgwick Museum

The Irish Elk, Sedgwick Museum

Deinotherium, Sedgwick Museum

Deinotherium, Sedgwick Museum

Label on Deinotherium

Label on Deinotherium

Allosaurus skull

Allosaurus skull

Statue of Adam Sedgwick

Statue of Adam Sedgwick

The Burgess Shale, Sedgwick Museum

The Burgess Shale, Sedgwick Museum

Sedgwick Museum

Sedgwick Museum

Nice seating area with a kids Darwin library

Nice seating area with a kid's Darwin library

Richard said he saw Darwin in these brachipods. Do you?

Richard said he saw Darwin in these brachipods. Do you?

Iguanodon, Sedgwick Museum

Iguanodon, Sedgwick Museum

Tour group observing Darwin the Geologist

Tour group observing Darwin the Geologist

Typical display in the Sedgwick Museum

Typical display in the Sedgwick Museum

A familiar sight for a guy from Bozeman (Yellowstone)

A familiar sight for a guy from Bozeman (Yellowstone)

In my next post I will share some images from the University Museum of Zoology, including the Darwin exhibit Beetles, Finches and Barnacles.

You can view all the photos from my trip here, if you feel so inclined. Some of Richard’s Cambridge photos are here.

PREVIOUS: Cambridge Trip #5: Darwin Groupies Explore CambridgeCambridge Trip #4: Darwin in the Field Conference, Pt. 2Cambridge Trip #3: Darwin in the Field ConferenceCambridge Trip #2: Finding My WayCambridge Trip #1: Traveling

5 thoughts on “Cambridge Trip #6: Darwin the Geologist at the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences

  1. Thanks for sharing this, I wish I had another week to tour all the museums! I only got to the Museum of Zoology and the Fitzwilliam (and that was only for a walk-though during lunch). The Geology Museum looked great!

  2. Greg – Geology Museum was great, but at least you got to the Fitzwilliam whereas I did not.

    Todd – No intentions to make anyone jealous!

  3. Pingback: Cambridge Trip #7: Beetles, Finches and Barnacles at the University Museum of Zoology « The Dispersal of Darwin

  4. Pingback: Cambridge Trip #9: Darwin’s Room at Christ’s College « The Dispersal of Darwin

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