BOOK REVIEW: The Age of Scientific Naturalism: Tyndall and His Contemporaries

Bernard Lightman and Michael S. Reidy, eds. The Age of Scientific Naturalism: Tyndall and His Contemporaries (Brookfield, VT: Pickering & Chatto, 2014), 272 pp.

Ask someone relatively versed in the history of science to name some influential Victorian scientists, and you might get Charles Darwin, Michael Faraday, Lord Kelvin, or William Whewell. Perhaps Thomas Henry Huxley, Herbert Spencer, and maybe, if they’re familiar with natural history, Joseph Dalton Hooker or Alfred Russel Wallace. A name not familiar-sounding would be, until about six years ago maybe, John Tyndall. He was an Irish physicist in England, mountaineer among the Alps, expounder of science through popular books and lectures at home and abroad, and a vocal critic of established religion’s role in science and society. While well-known among historians of science that study the period, John Tyndall’s name has gained more wide recognition since 2008, when the Tyndall Correspondence Project began. Like for Charles Darwin, scholars have collected, transcribed, and will publish all the letters to and from Tyndall in an estimated sixteen volumes (the first two will be published in 2015). A new academic volume – The Age of Scientific Naturalism – brings together papers on Tyndall from students and historians working on the project, and adds significantly to the ways in which Tyndall’s life and work can be viewed within the history of science. Essentially, a close look at Tyndall and his contemporaries upsets several standard views in the history of Victorian science – that of boundary making (who gets to study science and how), the professionalization of science, the focus on clear-cut scientific naturalists, and where science is conducted (public versus private space, the laboratory versus the field). The editors have split the chapters into three sections: “John Tyndall,” “Scientific Naturalism,” and “Communicating Science.” They admit, however, that the sections are not absolute, for the themes behind each section run through all.

In their introduction, Bernard Lightman and Michael Reidy give Tyndall some modern day relevance. The current conflicts of evolution and creationism and climate change denial that seem to push society back a century or two, have in their history work by Tyndall, for one scientific and the other more cultural. Tyndall is well-known for being among Darwin’s defenders, often utilizing Darwin’s work on transmutation to push his own goals, namely claiming the authority of science and secular values over organized religion in British society. Critics regularly lambasted Tyndall in the periodical press for his strong views on religion. So, in Darwin Tyndall found support for his own agenda rather than any objective effort to reveal the secrets of biology. As for science, Tyndall is remembered for his work on testing the greenhouse effect experimentally. This line of research in Tyndall’s career has led to him being held up as a founding father of sorts in the discovery of global warming. Yet, as Joshua Howe shows in his paper in the first section of the book, this is misleading and presentist. Tyndall, and others studying climatic science in the nineteenth century were not interested in global warming as we know it (there was no concept of anthropogenic climate change nor concern with humanity’s impact on the global atmosphere). Rather, interest in energy and heat (a hot topic in the nineteenth century) led to interest in the greenhouse effect.

In another chapter in the first section, Elizabeth Neswald shows how Tyndall’s views on cosmology were related to his being uncomfortable with the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Intrigued by why Tyndall did not discuss the second law, or law of entropy, Neswald shows that Tyndall was uneasy about its consequences: that of a universe leading toward decay and disorder. Preferring a materialist cosmology of order and harmony, “Tyndall’s vision of nature was incompatible with the idea of a world running out of fuel,” especially considering that a “beginning of the thermodynamically defined world seemed to imply a necessary act of creation.” Newald notes, however, Tyndall’s use of religious language in his writings, common for Victorian scientists. The third chapter in the first section, from Jeremiah Rankin and Ruth Barton, looks at the nature of scientific authority in Victorian Britain through the work of Tyndall and George Henry Lewes. Tyndall was a scientific expert turned popularizer, while Lewes was a writer who tried to gain scientific credentials. For both, it was difficult to claim to be both a scientist and popularizer through their careers. Rankin and Barton show how Tyndall and Lewes claimed authority as scientists through their writings, whether similarly or in different ways.

Several chapters form the basis of the section entitled “Scientific Naturalism.” Here the authors challenge the narrow view that scientific naturalism can be summarized by the life and work of Tyndall, Darwin, and Thomas Huxley. Scientific naturalism was much more complex than professing a commitment to the study of science within a secular worldview. While not theological, various scientists developed worldviews that differed from the general materialism of scientific naturalism. These chapters look at work in the physical sciences, a departure from the mostly natural history-dominated studies of scientific naturalism. Michael Taylor shows that Herbert Spencer’s worldview included “elements of transcendentalism and rationalism, as well as an awareness of the limits of knowledge that verged on mysticism.” Josipa Petrunic shows that through attention to observation and science, the mathematician William Kingdon Clifford sought to “find the foundation for morality within scientific naturalism itself” and popularized the role of evolutional in mathematical thinking. Robert Smith shows how religious sensibilities affected the work of astronomer William Huggins early in his career, putting divine design in the origin of nebulae. And in the final chapter of this section, Jonathan Smith shows that the zoologist Alfred Newton, while utilizing Darwinian evolution in his own work on birds, was not a scientific naturalist and kept from promoting Darwin beyond his specific ornithological questions – he “did not regard this as seeking a secularizing revolution in ornithology, let alone in science and society.”

The third and last section of the book focuses on modes of communication, the ways in which scientific practitioners communicated their thoughts. The first chapter from Janet Browne looks broadly at correspondence and the varied ways in which it was used by scientific naturalists. Browne is all too familiar with correspondence networks – she worked on the Darwin Correspondence Project and penned a two-volume biography of Darwin based on his letters. (Bernard Lightman is writing a biography of Tyndall as well, essentially the impetus for the Tyndall Correspondence Project.) Next, Melinda Baldwin looks at the correspondence between Tyndall and mathematician George Gabriel Stokes, showing that while they differed in a variety of ways (notably their religious orientation) they had a respectful relationship, with Stokes influencing Tyndall on scientific matters. Finally, Bernard Lightman closes the volume with a paper that focuses on communication in the Metaphysical Society, and how conflicting sides in its membership defined what science was and who had the authority to decide.

As the editors describe, John Tyndall died both an actual death – from poison at the hand of his younger wife, an accidental overdose of medication – and a death of legacy – he never received a Life and Letters publication shortly after his death like other prominent Victorian scientists. Tyndall’s wife Louisa worked the rest of her life to collect and organize his letters and papers, but never published before her death. The Tyndall Correspondence Project, and the academic research stemming from it (such as The Age of Scientific Naturalism: Tyndall and His Contemporaries), return Tyndall to a prominent subject of study in the history of science in the nineteenth century.

NOTE: 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 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.

VIDEOS: Lectures from Darwin in the 21st Century: Nature, Humanity, and God (2009 conference)

Robert Richards: ‘All that is most beautiful’: Darwin’s Theory of Morality and Its Normative Validity

Peter Bowler: Imagining a World without Darwin

Darwin, God, & Design – Evolution & the Battle for America’s Soul

Darwin’s Revolution: From Natural Theology to Natural Selection

Videos of other lectures here, conference information here.

CONFERENCE: The Shared Cultural Milieu of Charles Darwin and Samuel Butler: Science and Literature in the Nineteenth Century


Registration is still possible for the Conference on:

‘The Shared Cultural Milieu of Charles Darwin and Samuel Butler: Science and Literature in the Nineteenth Century’

Monday 1st – Tuesday 2nd July, in the Divinity School, St John’s College Cambridge.

This conference will extend the discussion of Darwin’s reception in Europe, published in two volumes as *The Reception of Charles Darwin in Europe* (2008) in the well-established Series on the Reception of British and Irish Authors in Europe (Bloomsbury) as well as in the third volume, ‘The Literary and Cultural Reception of Charles Darwin in Europe’ (forthcoming 2014).

It will consider not only Darwin’s impact on culture, especially literary culture, but also the milieu in which writers like Darwin and Butler could emerge from very similar educational and cultural backgrounds and contribute to both literature and science. Through our work on the European reception, a new focus on the channels and modes of understanding of Darwin’s work emerges, in which Butler’s contributions to the subject not only in his controversies with Darwin but through his translations and his five books on evolution enrich our understanding of the Continental reception and of new sciences emerging from the Darwinian controversies.

St John’s College houses the Butler Collection, the largest collection of his works, letters, notebooks, paintings, and photographs in one place, and recently received a Heritage Lottery Grant to make Butler’s work better known to a wider public. In the past two years the Collection has been fully catalogued and a number of exhibitions, events and lectures, open to the public as well as to the University, have been held. A small Butler exhibition will be mounted in the Divinity School for the conference.

A number of younger scholars have come forward who are doing new research on Butler, especially in the context of his scientific ideas. A feature of the conference will be a seminar presenting this new work, at which James Paradis (MIT), editor of *Samuel Butler: Victorian Against the Grain* (Toronto 2007), will be present. Another feature will be the contributions of writers who themselves have explored the links between science and literature in their own work, and the talented young poet Emily Ballou will give a reading on the first evening.

Registration (incl. lunch) costs £60 per person per day; £40 for full-time students.

Rooms can be also booked for those wishing to stay overnight in the College.

You can download the programme at
and register by writing to us at

Dr Elinor Shaffer FBA and Professor Thomas F. Glick, co-editors, ‘The Literary and Cultural Reception of Charles Darwin in Europe’
Dr Mark Nicholls, Fellow and Librarian, St John’s College
Conference co-organizers

John Tyndall and 19th Century Science

On Tuesday I head from Portland to Big Sky, Montana for a conference, “John Tyndall and 19th Century Science”:

The conference will bring together some of the past and current participants of the John Tyndall Correspondence Project to discuss issues raised by the NSF-funded project. It will also include a workshop for the editors of the anticipated twelve volumes of Tyndall’s letters, currently under contract with Pickering & Chatto. The conference will be held from at the 320 Ranch in Big Sky, Montana.

I will be presenting the paper I wrote when I was a graduate student at Montana State University, about John Tyndall’s 1872-3 lecture tour in the United States. It’ll be nice to see some familiar faces and some new ones from the project. And I am looking forward to meeting Darwin biographer Janet Browne, who is giving the keynote lecture. And it does not hurt that the conference is being held here:

I’ll fly back on Thursday.

NFA Conference brings Richard Dawkins to the Pacific Northwest

Richard Dawkins will be the closing keynote speaker at the Northwest Free-thought Alliance conference, March 30-April 2 in Renton, WA (see the schedule and register here). I am not able to attend, but I did last year when it was in Portland. If you are not going to attend the conference, there will be another opportunity to see Dawkins speak, at Newport High School in Bellevue, WA on April 1, details here.

If you go, have fun, and learn something new!

Consilience Conference: Evolution in Biology, the Human Sciences, and the Humanities


Consilience Conference: Evolution in Biology, the Human Sciences, and the Humanities
April 26-28, 2012 | St. Louis, MO

For details, see conference website:

About the Conference:

Speakers at this conference are all top researchers in biology, the social sciences, or the humanities. All the speakers know the level of consensus in their fields and can recognize major changes taking place, identify the major unsolved problems, and point toward future directions of research. They can all also discuss relations among at least two of the three areas (biology, the social sciences, and the humanities).

The conference features morning and afternoon sessions for each of three days. Each session contains one speaker from biology, one from the human sciences, and one from the humanities. We’re aimed at maximizing the interaction among the three areas.

Graduate students and postdoctoral fellows are invited to submit poster proposals.

E. O. Wilson will deliver the Keynote address.

Darwin/evolution at HSS and BSHS 2011

The annual meeting of the British Society for the History of Science occurred in July (programme). Here are the presentations given concerning Darwin and evolution (or related):

Communication of Evolution and Public Mobilization in China, Yang Haiyan
The origin of man and the public: the sciences of man at the BAAS, 1866-1870, Juan Manuel Rodriguez Caso
After Tyndall: Science, Religion and the Bristol Meeting of the British Association, Ciaran Toal
The Changing Faces of Science in Punch 1859-90, Samuel Robinson
Reconsidering the Huxley v. Wilberforce Debate, Nanna Kaalund
Paracelsus to Darwin: the migration of transmutation, Brian Regal
Peirce contra Spencer: Extending the Objections to Lamarck and Darwin, David R. Crawford
Reconstructing Sinanthropus pekinensis: An Evolutionary Icon in an International Perspective, 1920-1950, Chris Manias

The annual meeting of the History of Science Society is in November (program). Here are the presentations given concerning Darwin and evolution (or related):

Collaborative Teaching in the Classroom and in the Field: Teaching Evolution and Its History from the Galapagos to the Rainforest, Piers J. Hale
Education, Evolution and Race Progress: Implications of Organic Selection, Jacy L. Young
Laws of Biology in Orthogenetic Theory, Mark A. Ulett
Gaps in the Record: Henry Fairfield Osborn, George Gaylord Simpson, Ernst Mayr and the History of Evolutionary Paleontology, Miranda Paton
Popularizing Evolution: Stephen Jay Gould, Professional Values and Neo-Darwinism, 1980-2002, Myrna Perez
The Origin of Life in the Cold War: Rehabilitating the Moral Complexity of the MillerUrey Experiment, Matthew Shindell
The Moral Benefits of a Science Education: Huxley, Maxwell, and the Working Men’s College, Matthew Stanley
Before the X-Club: The Queenswood-Marburg Network, Bernard Lightman
Visualizing the Interdisciplinary Community of 19th-Century Evolutionists: An Application of Social Network Analysis in the History of Science, Matthis Krischel (poster)
Lamarckism and the Constitution of Sociology, Snait B. Gissis
Evolutionary Naturalism and the Study of the Nebulae, Robert W. Smith
The Wealth of Notions: The Evolutionary Epistemology of William James, Henry M. Cowles
Dewey before James: Evolution and the Organic, 1875-1889, Trevor Pearce
Nebraska, 1924: America’s First Anti-Evolution Trial, Adam Shapiro
Darwin on the Cutting Room Floor: Evolution, Film Censorship, and the Hays Code, David A. Kirby
Cohn as Darwinian? Concepts of Speciation and Monomorphism in Nineteenth-Century German Bacteriology, Christina Matta
The Griffin’s Dilemma: Reconstructing Archaeopteryx, 1861-c.1990, Ilja Nieuwland
Refusing to Give Up the Ghost: Robert Chambers, Materialism, and Religious Sensibility in Victorian Britain, Angela Smith
Somewhere between Light and Shadow: Alfred Russel Wallace, Spirit Photography and the Trial of Henry Slade, Benjamin Mitchell
The End of an Evolutionary Biologist: The Spiritualism of George Henslow, Keith Francis

Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker – a centenary celebration

For anyone interested in Darwin’s confidant and botanist Joseph Dalton Hooker, Kew Gardens in London is the place to be in December:

Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker

Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker – a centenary celebration

Botanist – Explorer – Champion of Darwin

A one day conference at Kew on 9 December 2011

Join us at Kew for a day of talks by leading experts, behind-the-scenes tours, and a reception with private view of the centenary exhibition on Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker’s life and work (1817-1911).

This event has been organised by Kew, The Kew GuildThe Linnean Society of London and the University of Sussex.

You might also be interested in a two-day meeting on the life and work of Nathaniel Wallich in India, to be held at the Natural History Museum and Kew on 6th and 7th December – please click here for more information.

Historical medical conference examines mystery illness of Charles Darwin

From The Republic:

Historical medical conference examines mystery illness of Charles Darwin, father of evolution


May 03, 2011

BALTIMORE — Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution revolutionized biology, but the health problems that plagued the British naturalist for decades are not as well known.

Doctors will examine Darwin’s painful illness and death at a conference in Baltimore on Friday.

The annual conference hosted by the University of Maryland School of Medicine and VA Maryland Health Care System offers modern medical diagnoses for the mysterious illnesses and deaths of historical figures. In past years, the conference has looked at Alexander the Great, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Booker T. Washington.

Darwin, who lived from 1809 to 1882, traveled the world in his 20s cataloging and observing wildlife and later published “On the Origin of Species.” Guest speakers include Darwin’s great-great-granddaughter, poet Ruth Padel, who penned the book, “Darwin: A Life in Poems.”

Details from the university here.

Hello there!

Sorry blogging has been so light as of late. Just a few things:

My wife started a new job a month ago, as a librarian in the city of Canby about 25 minutes south of Portland. So I am daddy during the week and have some part-time work on the weekends.

Excited for the OMSI Science Pub at the Bagdad Theater tonight. It’s with Rebecca Skloot and she’ll be discussing her book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Hopefully Patrick behaves…

Speaking of my son, he turned 5 on March 27th. He’s getting big! We had a fabulous nature-themed party for him at Tryon Creek State Park:

Patrick's 5th Birthday & Party

Patrick's 5th Birthday & Party

He’ll be starting kindergarten in the fall. The proud parents:

Patrick's 5th Birthday & Party

The freethought conference (pictures) here in Portland at the end of March was great, and it was nice to meet PZ Myers:

2011 Northwest Freethought Conference, Portland State University

I seem to be blogging more at my other blog, Exploring Portland’s Natural Areas, and Patrick and I spent spring break week outside every day

Molalla River State Park, Canby, OR

Next month I will be giving a talk about Darwin and creationist quote-mining for the Secular Humanists of East Portland/CFI (an extended version of what I did for Science Online 2011).

And there are not too may days until the next installment of the history of science blog carnival, The Giant’s Shoulders.

Follow me on Twitter (@darwinsbulldog) and Facebook for constant linkage of Darwin items of interest…

2011 Northwest Freethought Conference in Portland, OR

The Northwest Freethought Conference starts with a reception tonight in Portland, at Portland State University. Then there are sessions tomorrow with a banquet and a keynote with PZ Myers of Pharyngula; and sessions Sunday morning. I’ll be attending the whole conference and providing any coverage I come across here.

Twitter hashtag: #nwfreethought

Joshua Fost: Freethought 2011
Friendly Atheist: Visiting Portland for the Northwest Freethought Conference
Pharyngula: Conferencing this weekend

2011 Northwest Freethought Regional Conference in Portland

I’ll be attending the 2011 Northwest Freethought Regional Conference (schedule) this March 25-27, and it’s being held right here in Portland (on the campus of PSU). I look forward to talks by PZ Myers and Steven Green (debunking the US as a “Christian Nation” idea), and various workshops.

You can register here.

Thoughts on Science Online 2011

This past weekend I attended the 5th annual Science Online conference in North Carolina (I have wanted to go for several years now but was unable, however this time I received some travel money, thanks to Bora & Anton!).

Somewhere over Texas

Somewhere over Texas on my way to North Carolina

[From the website: Read the posts and tweets, see the photos and watch the videos uploaded by our participants, hashtag #scio11]


Opening reception on Thursday night (Photo credit: Louis Shackleton)

Bora, the BlogFather

I certainly felt welcomed, Bora!

For this “unconference” about communicating science on the internet, I participating in a session on the history of science with Greg Gbur, Eric Michael Johnson, Holly Tucker, and Randi Hutter Epstein. Greg, a physicist who blogs at Skulls in the Stars (@drskyskull), discussed ways in which the history of science can help scientists in their own research, while Eric Michael Johnson, a history of science PhD (Primate Diaries in Exile, @ericmjohnson) gave a quick plea for bridging the sciences and humanities. Holly (Scientia Curiosa, Wonders and Marvels, @history_geek) and Randi (website, @rhutterepstein) both discussed, essentially, the idea of presentism in history of medicine as it related to each of their books, Blood Work: A Tale of Medicine and Murder in the Scientific Revolution (which all attendees received in their swagbag!) and Get Me Out: A History of Childbirth from the Garden of Eden to the Sperm Bank. John McKay wanted to be part of this session, but was unable – he was there in spirit.

Listening to Darwin's Bulldog!!!

Me in the history of science session (Photo credit: Stacy Baker)

For my part, I discussed the creationist tactic of quote-mining Darwin, gave some examples, and called for science writers to be weary of using quotes – know thy source and know thy context in which the quotee was writing. Here are my slides:

I will put up another post with the tweets about the history of science session (future link) [EDIT: click here to see a messy Word document with those tweets]. Unfortunately, my laptop got sick and since I do not own a smartphone, I was unable to be online (kind of ironic given the nature of the conference).

The best part of this conference, first and foremost for me, was the opportunity to meet in person many people whose blogs I have read for several years, chatted with, shared information online, friends on Facebook, followers on Facebook, etc. Putting IRL personalities and faces to online personas and avatars is interesting, and it felt weird being recognized and approached by people whom I have never shared physical space with before. It was a pleasure to meet, in no particular order: Brian Switek, Carl Zimmer, David Dobbs, Ed Yong, Tom Levenson (again),  Hannah Waters, Krystal D’Costa, Stacy Baker and her biology students, Kevin Zelnio, Glendon Mellow, Louis Shackleton, Karen James (again), Miriam Goldstein, Jason Goldman, Minjae Ormes, Alice Bell, Carin Bondar, Carl Boettiger, Lucas Brouwers, John Hawks, Anne Jefferson, Blake Stacey, Sheril Kirshenbaum, David Orr, Joshua Rosenau, Janet Stemwedel, scicurious, Christie Wilcox, Jeremy Yoder, and Danielle Lee; and to meet some new faces: Lisa Gardiner, Kate Clancy, Holly Menninger, Brian Krueger, Brian Malow, Emily Willingham, Alexandra Levitt, and Stephanie Zvan.

Michael and SkySkull

With Skyskull (Photo credit: Greg Gbur/Skyskull)

Other sessions I attended were: Technology and the Wilderness (technology, i.e. smartphone apps, should be an accessory to nature experiences and education, not a replacement; #techwild, wiki); Still Waiting for a Superhero – Science Education Needs YOU! (an opportunity to hear from Stacy Baker’s biology students); Parenting with Science Online (Carin Bondar will have resources up on the wiki soon); Science-Art: The Burgeoning Fields of Niche Artwork Aimed at Scientific Disciplines (wiki); “But It’s Just a Blog!” (science blogging newbies get advice); Blogging on the Career Path (be upfront about your blogging activities when seeking employment); Keepers of the Bullshit Filter (tell people when they are wrong, publicly; use MediaBug to report errors in the media); Communicating Science: Have You Ever Wondered, “What the Hell’s the Point?” (Science Cheerleader Darlene Cavalier spreading some sciencey cheer); and Defending Science Online: Tactics and Conflicts in Science Communication (are online methods of correcting disinformation effective?).

Defending Science Online: Tactics and Conflicts in Science Communication

Looking on as Josh Rosenau discusses attacks on evolution education

Robert Krulwich, NPR science correspondent and co-host of Radio Lab was the keynote speaker, and he shared his experiences turning scientific topics into stories for the public (the key: use words/language not for scientists but for everyday people).

Robert Krulwich

Robert Krulwich (of NPR and Radio Lab) was the keynote speaker

All I can say is, he had the room’s attention. He also shared this video, which is astonishing:

Kevin Zelnio sings “Wayfaring Mollusk” during the open mic session:

And Christie Wilcox does her rendition off Meridith Brooks’ “Bitch,” “Extinction’s a Bitch” (lyrics/audio):

Christie singing about evolution

itʼs not easy to survive / but at least youʼre still alive / and thatʼs way more than a trilobite can say!

Some other pictures:

Restaurant at Marriott, fitting for Science Online

Restaurant at Marriott, fitting for Science Online

Science Online 2011 logo

Science Online 2011 logo

Brian Switek reads from Written in Stone

Brian Switek reads from his Written in Stone

Technology in the Wilderness session: Karen James

Technology in the Wilderness session: Karen James of The HMS Beagle Project

Miss Baker's biology class at Science Online 2011

Miss Baker's biology class

Parenting Science session: Eric Michael Johnson

Parenting Science session: Eric Michael Johnson

Science & Art session: David Orr, Glendon Mellow, and John Hawks

Science & Art session: David Orr, Glendon Mellow, and John Hawks

Lisa Gardiner enjoys a science cookie

Lisa Gardiner ( enjoys a science cookie

Science books

Science books

Science Cheerleader

Science Cheerleader

Science education

Science education

Defending Science Online session: Josh Rosenau of NCSE

Defending Science Online session: Josh Rosenau of NCSE

Science Online attendees on way to airport

Science Online attendees on way to airport

Miss Baker at the airport

Miss Baker at the airport (a highlight of Science Online was Stacy coming up to me in the hotel and saying she uses my blog in her biology class!)

Sunset from plane in Raleigh/Durham, North Carolina

Sunset from plane in Raleigh/Durham, North Carolina

And what about the tour of the Duke Lemur Center? I’ll share those photos in another post… [EDIT: Photos here]

Science Online 2011

One week from now I’ll be in North Carolina for Science Online 2011. For the last couple of years I haven’t been able to go, so I am excited that now I can. I’ll be participating in a session about the history of science:

Making the history of science work for you

Michael Barton, Greg Gbur, Eric Michael Johnson, Randi Hutter Epstein & Holly Tucker (Presenter bios)

Most scientists know just enough history of science to share a story or two about the quirky characters and events that shaped their scientific field. However, history can do so much more for scientists to help them as bloggers, as researchers and even as citizens. In this session we will have a discussion of the ways in which using the history of science can help you connect to your readers, combat misinformation (such as quote-mining) on the web, and find common-ground between the sciences and humanities. (We’ll also share some of our favorite historical anecdotes along the way.)

I look forward to seeing some familiar faces, but first time to meet in real life…

Dinosaurs and Other Extinct Saurians: A Historical Perspective

Cover Figure

The Geological Society, London has published a volume of papers on the history of dinosaur (or phylogenetically-related) paleontology, Dinosaurs and Other Extinct Saurians: A Historical Perspective, edited by R.T.J. Moody, E. Buffetaut, D. Naish (blog), and D.M. Martill:

The discovery of dinosaurs and other large extinct ‘saurians’—a term under which the Victorians commonly lumped ichthyosaurs, plesiosaurs, pterosaurs and their kin—makes exciting reading and has caught the attention of palaeontologists, historians of science and the general public alike. The papers in this collection go beyond the familiar tales about famous ‘fossil hunters’ and focus on relatively little-known episodes in the discovery and interpretation (from both a scientific and an artistic point of view) of dinosaurs and other inhabitants of the Mesozoic world. They cover a long time span, from the beginnings of ‘modern’ scientific palaeontology in the 1700s to the present, and deal with many parts of the world, from the Yorkshire coast to Central India, from Bavaria to the Sahara. The characters in these stories include professional palaeontologists and geologists (some of them well-known, others quite obscure), explorers, amateur fossil collectors, and artists, linked together by their interest in Mesozoic creatures.

And the papers:

About this title – Dinosaurs and Other Extinct Saurians: A Historical Perspective [Abstract] [PDF] FREE

Richard T. J. Moody, Eric Buffetaut, Darren Naish and David M. Martill, Dinosaurs and other extinct saurians: a historical perspective – introduction [Extract] [Full Text] [PDF] FREE

Mark Evans, The roles played by museums, collections and collectors in the early history of reptile palaeontology [Abstract]

H. S. Torrens, William Perceval Hunter (1812–1878), forgotten English student of dinosaurs-to-be and of Wealden rocks [Abstract]

Leslie F. Noè, Jeff J. Liston and Sandra D. Chapman, ‘Old bones, dry subject’: the dinosaurs and pterosaur collected by Alfred Nicholson Leeds of Peterborough, England [Abstract]

Federico Fanti, Life and ideas of Giovanni Capellini (1833–1922): a palaeontological revolution in Italy [Abstract]

Richard T. J. Moody and Darren Naish, Alan Jack Charig (1927–1997): an overview of his academic accomplishments and role in the world of fossil reptile research [Abstract]

Susan Turner, Cynthia V. Burek and Richard T. J. Moody, Forgotten women in an extinct saurian (man’s) world [Abstract]

Xabier Pereda Suberbiola, José-Ignacio Ruiz-Omeñaca, Nathalie Bardet, Laura Piñuela and José-Carlos García-Ramos, Wilhelm (Guillermo) Schulz and the earliest discoveries of dinosaurs and marine reptiles in Spain [Abstract]

Matthew T. Carrano, Jeffrey A. Wilson and Paul M. Barrett, The history of dinosaur collecting in central India, 1828–1947 [Abstract]

Eric Buffetaut, Spinosaurs before Stromer: early finds of spinosaurid dinosaurs and their interpretations [Abstract]

Martin A. Whyte, Mike Romano and Will Watts, Yorkshire dinosaurs: a history in two parts [Abstract]

A. J. Bowden, G. R. Tresise and W. Simkiss, Chirotherium, the Liverpool footprint hunters and their interpretation of the Middle Trias environment [Abstract]

Darren Naish, Pneumaticity, the early years: Wealden Supergroup dinosaurs and the hypothesis of saurischian pneumaticity [Abstract]

Peter Wellnhofer, A short history of research on Archaeopteryx and its relationship with dinosaurs [Abstract]

Brian Switek (congrats to Laelaps!), Thomas Henry Huxley and the reptile to bird transition [Abstract]

Kasper Lykke Hansen, A history of digit identification in the manus of theropods (including Aves) [Abstract]

Attila Osi, Edina Prondvai and Barnabás Géczy, The history of Late Jurassic pterosaurs housed in Hungarian collections and the revision of the holotype of Pterodactylus micronyx Meyer 1856 (a ‘Pester Exemplar’) [Abstract]

David M. Martill, The early history of pterosaur discovery in Great Britain [Abstract]

Mark P. Witton, Pteranodon and beyond: the history of giant pterosaurs from 1870 onwards [Abstract]

Jean Le Loeuff, Art and palaeontology in German-occupied France: Les Diplodocus by Mathurin Méheut (1943) [Abstract]

J. J. Liston, 2000 A.D. and the new ‘Flesh’: first to report the dinosaur renaissance in ‘moving’ pictures [Abstract]

Michael P. Taylor, Sauropod dinosaur research: a historical review [Abstract]

Darwin’s London

This is from 2009:

From London’s influence on the young Charles Darwin to the effect of Darwinian theory on the reshaping of the city, this day of talks will offer an entertaining and enlightening insight into the relationship between man and metropolis. Organised jointly by the Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons and the Grant Museum of Zoology.

Recorded on 16 May 2009

  • Introduction: Why Darwin Matters – Professor Steve Jones (University College London)
    Listen to recording
  • What was Darwin doing in London? – Dr John van Wyhe (University of Cambridge)
    Listen to recording
  • Darwin in London – Homes and Haunts – Dr Joe Cain (University College London)
    Listen to recording
  • Darwin’s London – Friends and Foes – Dr Jim Endersby (University of Sussex)
    Listen to recording
  • Mapping social evolution: social Darwinism and London – Professor Greta Jones (University of Ulster)
    Listen to recording

WORKSHOP: Revisiting Evolutionary Naturalism: New Perspectives on Victorian Science and Culture

From Situating Science | Science in Human Contexts:

Revisiting Evolutionary Naturalism: New Perspectives on Victorian Science and Culture

Node Workshop
May 6 – 7th, 2011
York University, Toronto, Canada

Ever since the 1970’s, when Robert Young and Frank Turner treated T. H. Huxley, John Tyndall, and their allies as posing an effective challenge to the authority of the Anglican clergy, scholars have found the term “scientific naturalism,” or “evolutionary naturalism,” to be a useful shorthand for referring to an influential group of like-minded elite intellectuals. But over the years, questions have been raised about the cohesiveness and the cultural status of scientific naturalism. Is the term elastic enough to include both the idealist and romantic Karl Pearson as well as the hard-nosed materialist Charles Bastian? Just how powerful were the scientific naturalists if they disagreed amongst themselves on key issues, and if, as many recent studies have suggested, they were confronted by a host of effective opponents in addition to Anglican clergymen, including North British physicists, Oxbridge trained gentlemen of science, self-trained popularizers of science, philosophical idealists, spiritualists, feminists, anti-vivisectionists, and socialists? Indeed, how far were the practices and writings of scientific naturalists actually shaped by their interchanges with such myriad opponents?

In this workshop we hope to explore new perspectives on the British scientific naturalists, re-examining their interactions with each other and with other groups within the larger culture. Speakers include Ruth Barton, Peter J. Bowler, Gowan Dawson, James Elwick, Jim Endersby, George Levine, Bernard Lightman, Ted Porter, Evelleen Richards, Joan Richards, Michael Reidy, Jonathan Smith, Robert Smith, Matthew Stanley, Michael Taylor, Frank Turner, and Paul White. The workshop will take place at 320 Bethune College, York University, Toronto, Canada on May 6th and 7th, 2011. It is sponsored by York University, SSHRC, and by Situating Science.

Barton, Dawson, Elwick, Lightman, Reidy, and Stanley are all part of the John Tyndall Correspondence Project. I’m hoping to attend.

Chicago Darwin conference videos…

… have been made available here. The following are history and philosophy-specific, video links at the aforementioned link.

Ronald Numbers (University of Wisconsin): Anti-Evolutionism in America: Scientific Creationism to Intelligent Design

Pietro Corsi (Oxford): Is History Useful to Darwin Studies? Reflections at the End of a Year of Celebrations

Janet Browne (Harvard): Looking at Darwin: Making a Celebrity through Portaits and Images

Robert J. Richards (University of Chicago): Darwin’s Biology of Intelligent Design

John Hedley Brooke (Oxford): ‘God knows what the public will think’: Darwin and the Religious Response to the Origin of Species

Daniel Dennett (Tufts University): Darwin’s ‘Strange Inversion of Reasoning’: Confronting the Counterintuitive

Philip Kitcher (Columbia University): The Importance of Darwin for Philosophy

Elliott Sober (University of Wisconsin): Did Darwin Write the Origin Backwards?

Lynn Nyhart (University of Wisconsin): Geographic Isolation from Wagner to Mayr

Richard Burkhardt (University of Illinois): Animal Behavior in Evolutionary Perspective: Two Centuries of Inquiry

Jane Maienschein (Arizona State University): Embryos and Evolution: A History of Courting and Separation

Michael Ruse (Florida State University): Is Darwinism Past Its ‘Sell-by’ Date? The Challenge of Evo-Devo

Tweeting from British Society for the History of Science

I always think it is fun and informative to follow through Twitter the dessimination of knowledge from conferences I am unable to attend. I’ve tweeted from a conference once and another time shared thoughts through Twitter later). Recently, Rebekah Higgitt, an historian of science working at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich and National Maritime Museum tweeted from the annual meeting of the British Society for the History of Science in Aberdeen. As readers of this blog might find some of this interesting, below are her tweets:

Some pictures of the BSHS Chorus at – recordings may follow (eek!) #BritSocHistSci

Anyone want to know what a #BritSocHistSci conf is like? See youtube The comment says it all, but I can answer queries

#britsochistsci All over now & back on train. Maybe some reflection & links to come, but otherwise looking to next year at Exeter #BSHS11

#britsochistsci Wess on relations of maths, measures & power. Carroll on meteorology as case study for proposed #histsci gallery at Sci Mus

#britsochistsci Was chairing final session so hard to tweet! However, Vicky Caroll & Jane Wess of Science Mus presented stories with objects

#britsochistsci 1851 discussion: Importance of virtual as well as direct experience of Exhib, thru images, periodicals, catalogues, sermons

#britsochistsci 1851: Geoff Belknap on what photography did for the Exhibition & what Exhib did for early photographic community

#britsochistsci 1851: Fisher: Exhib a failure in working class education, but Efram Sera-Shriar shows use in training ethnographic observers

#britsochistsci Fisher: Exhibition expected to have lasting effect on education, sci, industry but, tho a wonder & success, failed in this

#britsochistsci 1851: Nick Fisher on commentators’ struggles to describe exhibition. Times called opening a 2nd coronation or a 2nd coming..

#britsochistsci Cantor: we tend to think of progress in science as secular notion, but eg taken by Evangelicals as herald of new millennium

#britsochistsci Great Exhibition: Geoffrey Cantor looks at religious framework of Exhibition & interpretations of it by various sects

#britsochistsci Slightly bleary-eyed after last night’s ceildh & a 4am fire alarm, but we’re off with a session on the 1851 Great Exhibition

#britsochistsci Time to sleep! Turns out historians of science are mean ceildh dancers as well as singers. Strip those willows!

#britsochistsci Meanwhile, I missed #Darwin & #Evolution sesh, but John Van Wyhe told us that Darwin really was the naturalist on HMS Beagle

@alicebell @thrustvector Oops! No, we’ve not met. Think I’ll continue with #britsochistsci for this & the society but #BSHS11 for next year

#britsochistsci For the words of some of these scientific songs, see

#britsochistsci Jeff Hughes on the Cavendish Laboratory Physical Society’s annual dinner: Rutherford & Thomson standing on chairs & singing

#britsochistsci After rousing chorus of The British Ass, Graeme Gooday distinguishes himself with ‘Three-foot Rule’ to Lincolnshire Poacher

#britsochistsci Melanie Keene with intro to Sci Songs – Ben Marsden on WJM Rankine’s mathematical & engineering songs. With performances..

#britsochistsci Jamie Stark on Tyndall this am now having a hit with song ‘The Mathematician’s Monody’ Oh why was Euclid ever born?

@darwinsbulldog Absolutely: seems to have lectured drunk a lot towards the end, bringing out the Irish brogue (or just slur & repetition)

#britsochistsci I’m off to warm up for Songs of Science session. BSHS Chorus singing ‘Ions Mine’, ‘The Darwinian Theory’ & other classics

#britsochistsci Dawson: huge range of serialisation in Victorian science. Richard Owen, palaeontologist, learns some tricks from Dickens

#britsochistsci Dawson: How to get round tyranny of alphabet: put basic zoology under aardvark, or slot Ear under Organ of Hearing

#britsochistsci Dawson: Penny Cyclopaedia had top talent writing & well received, but publishing failure & failed to reach working class

#britsochistsci Gowan Dawson on strategies of scientific contributors to serially published but alphabetical Penny Cyclopaedia (1833-43).

Apologies for britscihistsci and britsochistsci – darned predictive text

#britscihistsci Chang: histories of scientific progress miss how often questions that can’t be answered with new model are ignored & dropped

#britscihistsci Chemistry: Sumner shows advert that quotes Leibig saying Allsopp’s Pale Ale is very nice – he was paid £100 for this view

#britsochistsci Chemistry: Chang on how asking ‘Is Water H2O?’ can get philosophy of science & #histsci to improve each other

#britsochistsci Hasok Chang on 19thc atomic theory: how was consensus on weights & formulae reached? Theory was underdetermined by evidence

#britsochistsci Chemistry: Sumner: claim by brewing chemist that their science had (via Pasteur) saved lives. Applied-pure-applied science

#britsochistsci Chemistry session: James Sumner on brewing chemists, Pasteur & dealing with the Temperance Movement.

#britsochistsci Tyndall discussion: from drunk lecturing to his flirtation with Quakerism

#britsochistsci Tyndall: Mike Finn on Thomas Carlyle’s influence on & friendship with Tyndall & James Crichton-Browne

#britsochistsci Tyndall discussion: Tyndall & the ladies recurring theme. Representations of materialism & morality, also lecturing persona

#britsochistsci Tyndall: Ursula DeYoung on military language used in 1870s debates on science/religion, or what form science should take.

#britsochistsci Tyndall: discussion raises T the opium addict – and Huxley his supplier when he was in the Alps!

#britsochistsci Tyndall: Iwan Morus on the self-conscious, controlled performance of physical science lecture: opposing disembodiment of sci

#britsochistsci Tyndall: G Gooday & J Stark on what T Corresp Project can tell about T’s lecturing, its relation to his writing & authority

#britscihistsci Very hard session choices this am. Tyndall & his Audiences, Nuclear Science & Cold War, Music & Sound or Biomedical Sci?

#britsochistsci Hughes on Ewan MacColl, Theatre Workshop and ‘Uranium 235’: hist of atomic theory & bomb for socialist masses at Butlins..

#britsochistsci next session: Science on Stage & Screen, graced by Jeff Hughes, Frank James and Tim Boon

Arabella Buckley’s Fairyland of Science starts by telling children they are wrong to ‘look upon science as a bundle of dry facts’

#britsochistsci Beauty & Wonder: Melanie Keene on fairies & fairyland in 19thc children’s books on science: true wonders, changing scales

#britsochistsci Beauty & Wonder: Jim Secord on remarkable illustrations by David Scott for 1850 ed of Nichol’s Architecture of the Heavens

#BritSocHistSci Beauty & Wonder: looking at knowledge, aesthetics and public education in Enlightenment & 19thc.

#BritSocHistSci parallel session dilemmas: missing Early Modern Astronomy in Context to hear about Beauty & Wonder

#BritSocHistSci Astronomy: me on Greenwich & colonial observatories, Karin Tybjerg on Danish astrometry, Astrid Elbers on Dutch radio astron

#BritSocHistSci session on Astronomy, 19th-20thc, highlighting what makes it fundable, what is utility in science, role of nationalism

#BritSciHistSoc – Biagioli: overlooked letter from Scarpi suggests Galileo saw a Dutch telescope before creating his own by ‘reason’ alone

#BritSciHistSoc Plenary Lecture by Mario Biagioli: How Galileo Copied the Telescope (fudged the process & invented the concept of invention)

Beginning the trek north to #BritSocHistSci annual conference in Aberdeen – only 8 hours to go

#BritSocHistSci Slade Prize goes to Simon Schaffer’s ‘How disciplines look’ (images of knowledge in Age of Reform)

@HistoryPhysics: Thanks – I’ll float #BritSocHistSci to other members (or #BSHistSic?) – maybe we’ll manage some live tweeting

Must focus on writing paper for British Society for the History of Science (BSHS # seems to be taken) conf next week:

Darwin talks at British Society for the History of Science meeting

The 2010 annual meeting of the British Society for the History of Science is going on right now in Aberdeen. I just posted to my Tyndall blog about a Tyndall session put together by folks from the Tyndall Correspondence Project – here. While you can view the whole programme (PDF), these are the various talks concerning Darwin and one on Wallace:

“Darwin and the Tree of Life: The Roots of the Evolutionary Tree,” Nils Petter Hellstrom:

To speak of evolutionary trees and the Tree of Life is presently routine in evolution studies. Until the nineteenth century however, the same tree grew in Paradise and was rather a common image in religious discourse. It is only since Darwin that the Tree of Life has also been understood as a genealogical tree of all life, rooted in common origins. Although many see Darwin‘s tree as a secondary illustration to his theory—an analogy with which to communicate his findings—it is clear from Darwin‘s private notes that he visualised his genealogical Tree of Life before he developed his theory of descent by natural selection, and before he drew any diagrams to illustrate it. In fact, the tree was not secondary to evolutionary theory; it was the theory. Recent studies of prokaryote evolution have called into question the suitability of the tree model and have fuelled anti-arboreal sentiments within parts of the research community. Despite this, the tree prevails as the privileged evolutionary model. Because it is not immediately obvious why a tree is best suited to represent evolution—for a start woodland trees don‘t have their buds in the present and their trunk in the past—the reasons why trees make sense to us are rather historically and culturally predicated. This paper will thus explore the particular context in which Darwin came to represent the classification and history of life with a tree, and to call his tree the Tree of Life.

“Charles Darwin really was the naturalist on HMS Beagle,” John van Wyhe:

For decades the orthodox view amongst historians of science has been that Charles Darwin was not the “naturalist” or “official naturalist” during the 1831-6 voyage of HMS Beagle but instead Captain Robert FitzRoy’s “companion”, “gentleman companion” or “dining companion”; that is, foremost a companion and only secondarily a naturalist. Although this view has been upheld by many able historians and repeated in countless accounts of Darwin, this presentation will argue that it is incorrect. Almost everyone educated in the history of science will be highly suspicious of such an argument. The “companion” interpretation is one of a number of distinguishing views that card-carrying historians of science believe to correct earlier views. The “companion” hypothesis has, after all, opened up the history of Darwin and the Beagle voyage to far richer social and contextual approaches. Nevertheless the “Darwin was the captain’s companion” view can be demonstrated to be incorrect. The original journal articles which established this view cannot stand up to critical scrutiny. The ship’s surgeon was not, as is almost universally claimed, the “official naturalist”. Whether we consider the appointment of the Admiralty, the title for Darwin all contemporaries used before, during and after the voyage, “official” or private, or what Darwin actually did during the voyage, “naturalist” is, I will argue, the overwhelming conclusion.

“Wallace, spiritualism, and anthropology at the BAAS: A new interpretation,” Juan Manuel Rodriguez Caso:

From the time of its foundation in 1831, the British Association for the Advancement of Science (BAAS) allowed its annual meetings to serve as a forum for the scientific study of man, including anatomy, physiology and ethnology. But there was no section dedicated to anthropological issues until 1866 — a year when, as is well known, two societies dedicated to anthropological issues, the Ethnological Society of London (ESL) and the Anthropological Society of London (ASL), were in the middle of a struggle for the domination of the emergent discipline. At such a delicate juncture, the man of science elected president of the new section was Alfred Russel Wallace. A naturalist whose interest in man had led him to embrace transmutation, Wallace had acquired a great deal of experience as an ethnographer thanks to his travels to the Amazon (1848-1852) and the Malay Archipelago (1854-1862). In 1864, he presented a famous paper on the origins of man by means of natural selection. He was not aligned with the ESL or the ASL — a point which may have weighed in his favour in the considerations about who should serve as section president. At the same time, however, Wallace by 1866 had already begun to express public sympathy for spiritualism, notably in a pamphlet entitled The Scientific Aspect of the Supernatural — an attitude which seemed to clash with longstanding BAAS principles. Certainly it is striking that the anthropology section was absent from the programme at the following year’s BAAS meeting. Using previously little-explored documents, this paper will offer a new answer to the question of why Wallace was chosen as section president for the anthropologists in 1866, instead of other people much more involved and better recognized in anthropology, and also perhaps more obviously acceptable in their scientific attitudes and beliefs. The paper will also consider the question of why the section disappeared so rapidly after Wallace’s term of service.

“Gavin de Beer and the notion of mosaic evolution,” Silvia Caianiello:

The paper will deal with the notion of ―mosaic evolution‖ developed by de Beer in his 1954 paper “Archaeopteryx and Evolution.” His authorship of this fortunate expression in later biological theory, however, was and still is mostly unrecognized. I will argue that, notwithstanding its fleeting appearance in de Beer’s scientific production, the roots of “mosaic evolution” lay deep in his thinking and synthetic endeavour. I will also tackle the significance of the “conceptual transfer” of the notion of “mosaic” from development to evolution, as well as its implication for his approach to macroevolution. I will finally investigate some possible reasons for the uneasiness that de Beer‘s formulation of his principle might have unleashed at a time of “hardening” of the Modern Synthesis, and its relevance in foreshadowing major Evo-Devo themes.

“The evolutionary archive,” Katrina Dean:

Accounts addressing the recent history of British evolutionary science have not yet fully benefited from research using archives held at British Library including the papers of W.D. Hamilton, George R. Price and John Maynard Smith. This paper offers a preview of the John Maynard Smith archive, which primarily contains correspondence, original research records and offprint collections. I’ll explain how the archive is structured and what work is being undertaken to make it accessible to researchers, and mention some of the challenges. Using the papers as a guide, a survey of the work of Maynard Smith might suggest some potential lines of inquiry in the recent history of evolution and raise issues of more general interest to the history of twentieth century science in Britain. I will also invite feedback about what researchers would find helpful in the way of making these archives more accessible and seek guidance on priorities. This paper may be of interest to specialists in the history of evolution, of recent British science and anyone who is curious (or has some good advice to offer) about curating contemporary research collection.

“‘Everything gives way to experiment’: empiricism and beauty through the history of the Wedgwood family,” Chiara Ceci and Stefano Moriggi:

Seeking beauty does not mean you get lost in the taste for decoration, but that you imagine the style of an era and the meaning of society. The aesthetic empiricism of Josiah Wedgwood I evolved into a pedagogical approach within the family. For generations after him, boys and girls in his family and their circle, were brought up following these ideals: cultural and political awareness are conveyed by an education leading to freedom and tolerance through his technical and scientific approach to the experience of beauty. In particular, political, cultural and social ideals can be traced in the education of women and in their sensibility to the importance of knowledge as public good for the development of citizenship. From the Grand Tour and many abroad experiences to Sunday schools, Wedgwood women embody an educational attitude almost as a civil duty. They had not just the passion for art, literature, music and openness to sciences typical of the Victorian middle and high classes, but they carried concrete efforts, also due to their common Unitarian background, in the opening and management of schooling centres for poor, filling the lack of state and public institutions. Emma Darwin, née Wedgwood, is one of these women: analyzing some steps of her Bildungsroman and then following her life, we can see how the aesthetic education of her youth evolved into her cultural and civil commitments towards society. Even towards her husband‘s ―dangerous idea‖ she never failed to recognized the social importance of the advancement of scientific knowledge, even when that conflicted somehow with her religious believes: this attitude blooms from that cultural seed whereby “everything gives way to experiment.”

Evolution 2010 in Portland

On Friday I attended events for the Evolution 2010 conference, which was held at the Oregon Convention Center. Most of my day was the evolution education workshop put on by Louise Mead of NCSE and Kristen Jenkins of NESCent. Then I went out to dinner with some other educators from OMSI. In the evening was Sean Carroll’s lecture on Darwin, Wallace, and Bates based on his recent book, Remarkable Creatures: Epic Adventures in the Search for the Origin of SpeciesCarroll is an engaging storyteller, and congrats to him on the Stephen Jay Gould Award! I briefly met Carroll, Jerry Coyne, and Robert Pennock, all of whom I had books with me and got signatures (too bad Carl Zimmer wasn’t there, because I got a free copy of The Tangled Bank: An Introduction to Evolution).

My tweets with some photos interspersed:

RT @breakingPDXnews Biologists work hard & play hard @ #evol2010 conf.: #Portland hosts largest #Evolution conf. ever

Religious accommodationism @ #evol2010? See: & & #evolution #religion #atheism

RT @aewright Rumble in Portland? Wife’s at academic Evolution conference #evol2010 sharing venue with Christian homeschoolers.

Pictures from Friday’s #evolution education workshop & Sean Carroll’s evening talk: #evol2010 #Portland #pdx #Darwin

@carlzimmer The education workshop w/ @NCSE had several copies of The Tangled Bank to give out, I’m happy to have one!

“Putting the BIBLE FIRST in All Subjects,” Christian homeschooling conf. session concurrent w/ #evol2010

Evolution 2010: Christian homsechooling conference at center also!

Giant #Evolution timeline activity w/ @NCSE at #evol2010 earlier today – get yours @CPlayhouse:

Evolution 2010: Education workshop - Giant Evolution Timeline from Charlie's Playhouse

Evolution 2010: Education workshop - Giant Evolution Timeline from Charlie's Playhouse

Sean Carroll talk earlier this evening at #evol2010 abt #Darwin, Wallace & H.W. Bates – nice to see scientist engage w/ history

Evolution 2010: Sean Carroll

Evolution 2010: Sean Carroll

Evolution 2010

While #evol2010 goes on, there is a Christian education conf. at the center & an AIG (Ken Ham) “conference” nearby:

I’ll post some pictures from #evol2010 tomorrow along w/ some more thoughts. Everyone enjoy rest of the conference (I just did today only)

Sean Carroll said that collective group of some 1200 or so evolutionary biologists in attendance at his talk are going to hell! #evol2010

@rvosa #evol2010 is the tag of choice, #evo2010 is not unique to this conference!

@pmidford #evol2010 is the tag of choice, #evo2010 is not unique to this conference!

@JoshRosenau Thanks for the retweets Josh, it was nice to meet Steve at the @NCSE booth!

an invite went out to Christian homeschooling conference at same venue as #evol2010 to attend Carroll’s #evolution lecture, they said no!

Evolution 2010: Christian homsechooling conference at center also

got signatures in books from Pennock, Carroll, and Coyne today at #evol2010, and a free copy of @carlzimmer’s #evolution textbook – score!

sorry for lack of #evol2010 tweets, but I decided to close laptop 4 Sean Carroll’s talk on #Darwin, Wallace, and Henry Bates. Very engaging!

@JBYoder Hilarious! There was an invitation by Evolution 2010 for them to attend Carroll’s lecture but they said NO

#Evolution education workshop just abt over, then some dinner, Sean Carroll’s lecture @ 8:00. I think the exhibits are open @ 5:00 #evol2010

Evolution 2010: Education workshop - The Great Clade Race

RT @Sheril_ Are you at #evol2010? We may be doing a quick social media survey Monday abt role of Twitter at academic conferences. Interested?

@labroides #evol2010 is what’s being used so far

new framework for exploring invasion: Holistic & #Evolution -based #evol2010 #biology #ecology

non-indigenous, exotic, alien, biotic exchange, immigrant – what exactly is an invasive species? (definition too narrow) #evol2010

@VeeQt True, true – a dislike of math, by the way, is what pushed me from a science degree to a history (of science) degree

Tiffany Garcia: evolution & frogs #evol2010

@Sheril_ Yes – I am, thought, only attending Friday stuff

thinks, like @colinpurrington, that #zoos need more #evolution, an idea for when I do my degree in #science #education later #evol2010

plugs for Understanding #Evolution ( & Understanding #Science ( #evol2010

another #evolution #education activity – Clipbirds: #science #evol2010 (Patrick has done this:

got some WWDD? buttons at #evol2010 #Darwin #evolution

@vhsvhs #evol2010 is better, b/c #evo2010 has other things going for it on Twitter

#science teaching needs all subjects in school 2 ask students to analyze & critically think, otherwise sci teachers = the bad guys #evol2010

better evidence that long necks in giraffes evolved as a defense mechanism rather than for leaves in taller trees #evol2010

the suggestion was to include shorter historical books or #science biographies/autobiographies into course materials #evol2010

yay! a question about how the #history of science can be integrated more into #science teaching… #evol2010 #histsci

someone sharing that they are teaching a course about #science and #literature, in high school! #evol2010 using fiction to explore science

girl sitting in front of me wearing a shirt that says “Here’s to another 200 years of evolutionary thinking” #evol2010

@ucpress What time do the exhibits open? #evol2010

Panel discussion on teaching #evolution: don’t say “Scientists say” students will never know process of #science, only know facts #evol2010

@BobOHara I now want to see a picture of my doctor!

science is a social process full of errors, we can learn more from errors than from good examples of scientific thinking #science #evol2010

Rowe now discussing Andrew Wakefield, vaccinations, and autism – no credible evidence, no more credible doctor! #evol2010 #science

astrology bogus b/c your physician at birth holds more gravitational force on you than Alpha Centauri #evol2010 #science

using witch hunts & other extraordinary claims to teach students abt evidence & hypotheses to look at validity of a claim #evol2010 #science

Rowe is part of teaching a course at Sam Houston: “Foundations of #Science” to improve critical thinking skills of students #evol2010

Too much focus on rote memorization #evol2010

“Redefining #Science #Education” by Bruce Alberts: – The problem is educators, not students #evol2010

It’s our failure to teach #science properly in courses ALL students take #evol2010

Matthew Rowe: Most Americans are scientifically illiterate, according to a Carnegie report #evol2010

what do they all have in common? All are college graduates! So who taught them their science… #evol2010

Matthew Rowe starts his talk off w/ quotes from Reagan, Palin, Huckabee, Limbaugh, Joe Barton, etc., on their ignorance of science #evol2010

was looking forward to meeting you in Portland, sorry you weren’t able to make it… @CPlayhouse

Louise Mead of @NCSE asks, What did T. rex taste like? #evol2010 #evolution

@rdmpage #evo2010 was not unique, and #evolution2010 too long

@nimblebrain maybe I should have said “I am *doing” some tree-thinking…”

did some tree-thinking, a cladogram activity called The Great Clade Race #evol2010

Evolution 2010: Education workshop - The Great Clade Race

Evolution 2010: Education workshop - The Great Clade Race

@JBYoder But you’ll catch Carroll’s lecture tonight, yes?

next up: Kate Miller of @CPlayhouse shows us how to use the Giant #Evolution Timeline ( for K-7 #education #evo2010

lizards in White Sands – #evolution you can see and touch #evol2010
Fri Jun 25 2010 09:38:23 (Pacific Daylight Time) via web

Slide of White Sands, New Mexico w/ lizards – “has anyone been here before?” I have, born at a base there, I need to make a trip #evol2010

now on to using rates of evolutionary change as a teaching tool #evol2010 #evolution

Harmon: How do species, like the coelacanth, stay the “same” for hundreds of millions of years? #evol2010

Look in closer, and you see faster #evolution but it’s rapid short term change #evol2010

one should envy the life of an island lizard, Anoles, days on beach extending yer dewlap, but.. life is actually harsh #evol2010 #evolution

Luke Harmon: through bacteria into the freezer to make fossils out of ’em #evol2010 #evolution

“Darwins” & “Haldanes” are units for rates of evolutionary change – I did not know that! #Darwin #evolution #evol2010

Harmon on to rates of evolutionary change #evol2010

Luke Harmon thinks Stephen Colbert is now a champion of #evolution b/c of: #evol2010 #evolution

But, it’s not necessary to go to Pandora to see biol. diversity – it’s right here on Earth! #evol2010 #evolution (see:

Luke Harmon ( of U. of Idaho discussing #Avatar using binomial nomenclature for its fauna #evol2010 #evolution

breakout activites geared toward K-7 & 7-12, not comm. college nor informal #education (i.e., museums, science centers) #evol2010 #evolution

Kristen Jenkins of @NESCent now introducing the workshop, this is biggest #Evolution conference ever… #evol2010

Robert T. Pennock discussing why 2009 was important for #evolution (um, #Darwin) #evol2010

some free #evolution shirts at workshop, all too small for me, so I got 1 for Patrick – hope he likes it! Has a starfish on it… #evol2010

is sitting in the Oregon Convention Ctr, waiting for the education workshop at #Evolution 2010 to start, w/ @NCSE #evol2010 #Portland #pdx

If attending Evolution 2010, use #evol2010, not #evo2010 (not unique) nor #evolution2010 (too long) #evolution #Portland #pdx

@PsiWavefunction I can go for #evol2010, shorter than #evolution2010, will keep out other users of #evo2010

@PsiWavefunction I’ll be using the shorter one!

@dgaston83 #evo2010 is being used also…

@NerdyChristie I’ll be there, but just on Friday for the evolution education workshop & then Carroll’s lecture…

@Sheril_ #evo2010

#evo2010 – hastag for Evolution 2010 conference in Portland this weekend?

#Evolution 2010 conference kicks off tomorrow in #Portland, OR, I’m going to evo education workshop & Sean Carroll lecture – who else? #pdx