Evolution 2010…

… is this weekend in Portland. I will be attending an all-day evolution education workshop (w/ some folk from the NCSE and Kate from Charlie’s Playhouse) on Friday, and Sean Carroll’s lecture Friday evening.

Some time for dinner between the workshop and the lecture – I would like to know if any of my readers are attending!

[A Twitter hastag has been suggested: #evo2010]

Evolution 2010 in Portland this June

The Department of Biology at Portland State University will be hosting Evolution 2010, the joint annual meeting of the Society for the Study of Evolution (SSE), the Society of Systematic Biologists (SSB), and the American Society of Naturalists (ASN), on June 25-29, 2010, at the Oregon Convention Center.

Since we’ll be living in Portland by then, I looked up what’s going on and I will be:

1. Participating in the evolution education workshop for teachers and educators all day Friday, June 25th. Louise Mead of the NCSE is running the workshop, and Kate Miller of Charlie’s Playhouse will be there as well; and

2. Attending Sean Carroll‘s lecture on that Friday evening, 8 PM. Carroll, a molecular biologist, is the author of Remarkable Creatures: Epic Adventures in the Search for the Origins of Species and recipient of the SSE’s Stephen Jay Gould Prize, for “sustained and exemplary efforts [that] have advanced public understanding of evolutionary science and its importance in biology, education, and everyday life in the spirit of Stephen Jay Gould.” Carroll was recently named the HHMI’s vice president for science education.

Carroll Lecture

Carroll Lecture (click pic for Facebook event)

I’m hoping to meet up with folk (bloggers or otherwise) – who else is going to Evolution 2010?

Exhibit Hall at PLA 2010 (Portland, OR)

Patrick at Oregon Convention Center

Creationism conference a money-making event

Forget the truth, creationists are in it for the money. In “Beautiful in Bozeman, Montana,” cellular and molecular biologist and Answers in Genesis lecturer Georgia Purdom (“She seeks to understand the original, created, “very good” roles of bacteria in the pre-Fall world and genetic mechanisms that have led to their adaptations and pathogenicity in a post-Fall world”) recaps her experience in Bozeman participating in the “Fact Over Fiction: Countering Myths in Biology” conference earlier this month (I was unable to attend, so I set up this Facebook event). From her post:

One young man (probably eight or nine years old) impressed me with his question of how to deal with the teaching of evolution in the public school which he attended. Since I have a daughter in public school, this question was very relevant to me. I told him to learn as much as he possibly could about evolution and to be the creationist in the class that gets 100% on the test about evolution! One can only defend their own position well if he or she knows the counter position well. I also told him to learn the counter arguments from a biblical creation perspective concerning what he was being taught (our Evolution Exposed series is a great tool for this—even for elementary age children with a parent’s assistance).

People were hungry for resources, and we sold out on many items. Two ladies told me that they wished they could take me home so I could answer questions when they had them. I told them the better idea (because I like my own home!) was to get equipped through our resources like books and DVDs and our website. Probably one of my favorite resources is the New Answer Book series. I told them that’s where I look when I have questions about geology, paleontology, and astronomy which are not in my area of expertise.

Boom – two plugs for money into the pockets of Answers in Genesis! At $21.95 per head at the Creation Museum, surely AIG is pulling it in (but, to get in, you must leave your head at the door).

Non Sequitur, October 8, 2005

Non Sequitur, October 8, 2005

Should we be concerned about such places? Yes, says Michael Zimmerman, founder of The Clergy Letter Project, in “The Dangers of Ignoring Creationism”:

… as amazing as it might seem, Answers in Genesis and the Discovery Institute have the ability to shape public policy in frightening ways. Unless many of us keep pointing out what they’re all about, they may well succeed in reshaping America and redefining science in a manner that will do irreparable damage.

That said, there are some FREE resources for science & evolution education listed in my sidebar, under Evolution & Science Education.

Also, the student paper of Montana State University (The Exponent) addressed the conference in its latest issue, here.

CONFERENCE: Empires of Science in the Long Nineteenth Century

From UCSD Science Studies Program (blog):

Empires of Science in the Long Nineteenth Century
9-10 April @ Huntington Library
Register by 2 April 2010

Empires of Science in the Long Nineteenth Century

This international conference explores the relationship during the long nineteenth century between rapidly developing science and technology and the expansion of territorial empires, exploring issues such as: How was science actually practiced on national and imperial frontiers? What role did science and technology play in the development of political and intellectual empires? What influence did governments and scientific institutions have in creating, regulating, and disseminating scientific research and practice within empire?

Friday, April 9, 2010
8:30 Registration & Coffee

9:30 Welcome Robert C. Ritchie (The Huntington)
Remarks Nigel Rigby (National Maritime Museum)

Session 1 Networks of Empire
Moderator: Nigel Rigby

Crosbie Smith (University of Kent)
Energies of Empire: The Making of Long Distance Ocean Steamships in the
mid-Nineteenth Century

John McAleer (National Maritime Museum)
Stargazers at the Worlds End: Observatories, Telescopes, and Views of
Empire in the Nineteenth-Century British World

12:00 Lunch

Session 2 Mapping Space
Moderator: Kathryn Olesko (Georgetown University)

John Rennie Short (University of Maryland, Baltimore County)
Cartographic Encounters on the Nineteenth-Century United States Western

Michael Reidy (Montana State University)
From Oceans to Mountains: The Spatial Construction of Empire

Session 3 Natural History
Moderator: Robert C. Ritchie

Janet Browne (Harvard University)
Nature on Display: Collecting and Showing Natural History Specimens in the
Age of Empire

Daniel Headrick (Roosevelt University)
Botany in the Dutch and British Colonial Empires

Saturday, April 10, 2010
9:00 Registration & Coffee

Session 4 Imperial Spaces
Moderator: Adam R. Shapiro (University of Wisconsin, Madison)

Daniela Bleichmar (University of Southern California)
Rediscovering the New World: Spanish Imperial Science, ca. 1780-1810

Lewis Pyenson (Western Michigan University)
Two Incarnations of Athena: Scientists in the Service of lebensraum in the
Nineteenth Century in the United States, Argentina, and Russia

12:00 Lunch

Session 5 Science and Colonial Identities
Moderator: Warren Dym (Bucknell University)

Saul Dubow (University of Sussex)
British Imperialism, Settler Colonialism, and Scientific Thought in the
Nineteenth-Century Cape

Lina del Castillo (Iowa State University)
The Gran Colombian Cartography Project, 1821-1830

Session 6 Institutions and Imperial Science
Moderator: Daniel Headrick

Rebekah Higgitt (National Maritime Museum)
Exporting Greenwich: The Royal Observatory as a Model for Imperial

Max Jones (University of Manchester)
Heroes of Empire? Geographical Societies, the Media, and the Promotion of

Pakistani coverage of Darwin Now’s conference “Darwin’s Living Legacy” in Alexandria

Darwin Now

From the British Council/Darwin Now:

In partnership with the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, the British Council will host a three-day international conference on evolution and society in Alexandria, Egypt, in November 2009. It will cover wide-ranging topics, from the latest developments in evolutionary science to the relationship between faith, science and society.

I found two videos of Pakistani coverage of the “Darwin’s Living Legacy” conference:

NCSE‘s Josh Rosenau attended the conference. He has some photos and thoughts on his blog, Thoughts from Kansas.

VIDEOS: “Why Darwin Still Matters” at Pepperdine University

On November 20-21, 2009, Pepperdine University hosted the conference “Why Darwin Still Matters.” Below are the various talks:

Ronald Numbers

Michael Ruse

Edward J. Larson

First Roundtable Discussion

Nancey Murphy

David Mindell

Eugenie Scott

Patricia Gowaty

Second Roundtable Discussion

Science Online 2010 & the latest The Giant’s Shoulders

Science Online 2010 (program), a conference bringing together hordes of science bloggers and more to North Carolina each January, kicks off today. I will not be going, but you can follow the conference via its blog and Twitter hashtag, #scio10. Like last year, this year’s conference includes a session on the history of science:

An Open History of Science – John McKay and Eric Michael Johnson

Description: We will be talking about how the history of science and the history of the open-access movement have intersected. Steven Johnson touches on this theme in his latest book, The Invention of Air, in that 18th century British polymath Joseph Priestley was a strong advocate of publishing scientific data widely in order to create a greater dialogue between scientists. While Johnson only mentions this briefly in the case of Priestley, this theme runs strongly through the history of science and is what makes the debate over the patenting of genes or the availability of open-access journals such important topics today.

Hopefully I can attend next year, maybe team up with another Darwin/evolution-minded history of science blogger for a session.

On another note, the latest installment (#19) of the history of science blog carnival The Giant’s Shoulders is up at The Renaissance Mathematicus.

In the Light of Evolution

The proceedings of three National Academy of Sciences conferences on evolution are available as books (3-book set):

In the Light of Evolution I: Adaptation and Complex Design [view the TOC]

In December 2006, the National Academy of Sciences sponsored a colloquium (featured as part of the Arthur M. Sackler Colloquia series) on “Adaptation and Complex Design” to synthesize recent empirical findings and conceptual approaches towards understanding the evolutionary origins and maintenance of complex adaptations. Darwin’s elucidation of natural selection as a creative natural force was a monumental achievement in the history of science, but a century and a half later some religious believers still contend that biotic complexity registers conscious supernatural design. In this book, modern scientific perspectives are presented on the evolutionary origin and maintenance of complex phenotypes including various behaviors, anatomies, and physiologies. After an introduction by the editors and an opening historical and conceptual essay by Francisco Ayala, this book includes 14 papers presented by distinguished evolutionists at the colloquium. The papers are organized into sections covering epistemological approaches to the study of biocomplexity, a hierarchy of topics on biological complexity ranging from ontogeny to symbiosis, and case studies explaining how complex phenotypes are being dissected in terms of genetics and development.

In the Light of Evolution II: Biodiversity and Extinction [view the TOC]

The current extinction crisis is of human making, and any favorable resolution of that biodiversity crisis–among the most dire in the 4-billion-year history of the Earth–will have to be initiated by mankind. Little time remains for the public, corporations, and governments to awaken to the magnitude of what is at stake. This book aims to assist that critical educational mission, synthesizing recent scientific information and ideas about threats to biodiversity in the past, present, and projected future. This is the second volume from the In the Light of Evolution series, based on a series of Arthur M. Sackler colloquia, and designed to promote the evolutionary sciences. Each installment explores evolutionary perspectives on a particular biological topic that is scientifically intriguing but also has special relevance to contemporary societal issues or challenges. Individually and collectively, the ILE series aims to interpret phenomena in various areas of biology through the lens of evolution, address some of the most intellectually engaging as well as pragmatically important societal issues of our times, and foster a greater appreciation of evolutionary biology as a consolidating foundation for the life sciences.

In the Light of Evolution III: Two Centuries of Darwin [view the TOC]

Two Centuries of Darwin is the outgrowth of an Arthur M. Sackler Colloquium, sponsored by the National Academy of Sciences on January 16-17, 2009. In the chapters of this book, leading evolutionary biologists and science historians reflect upon and commemorate the Darwinian Revolution. They canvass modern research approaches and current scientific thought on each of the three main categories of selection (natural, artificial, and sexual) that Darwin addressed during his career. Although Darwin’s legacy is associated primarily with the illumination of natural selection in The Origin, he also contemplated and wrote extensively about what we now term artificial selection and sexual selection. In a concluding section of this book, several science historians comment on Darwin’s seminal contributions. Two Centuries of Darwin is the third book of the In the Light of Evolution series. Each installment in the series explores evolutionary perspectives on a particular biological topic that is scientifically intriguing but also has special relevance to contemporary societal issues or challenges. The ILE series aims to interpret phenomena in various areas of biology through the lens of evolution and address some of the most intellectually engaging, as well as pragmatically important societal issues of our times.

CONFERENCE: Prehistoric Minds: Darwinism, Culture and Human Origins during the 19th Century

From the HIST-NAT-HIST listserve:

Prehistoric Minds: Darwinism, Culture and Human Origins during the 19th Century
Kohn Centre, The Royal Society of London
11 December 2009


9.00am Registration and coffee
9.15am Welcome and introduction – Prof. Chris Stringer FRS, Natural History Museum, London

Primitive Minds: Hugh Blair and Early 19th Century Natural Histories of Language
Dr Matthew D Eddy, Durham University
The Victorian Human-Origins Debate and ‘Darwin’s Sacred Cause’
Dr Gregory Radick, Leeds University

11.00am Tea/coffee

“Primitivity” and the Origin of Art
Prof. Claudine Cohen, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris
Histories of the ‘Missing’ Link
Dr Peter C. Kjaergaard, Aarhus University

1.00pm Lunch

Changing Interpretations of Tools and Visual Representations of Human Phylogeny
Prof. Robert N. Proctor, Stanford University
The Time Revolution of 1859: Mapping the Landscape for the Primeval Mind
Prof. Clive Gamble, Royal Holloway, University of London

3.30pm Tea/coffee

Eoliths and the Mind of Primitive Man
PD Dr. Marianne Sommer, Science Studies, ETH Zurich
Cave Men: Stone tools, Victorian Antiquarians and the Primitive Mind of Deep Time
Dr Mark White, Durham University
Dr Paul Pettitt, Sheffield University

5.30pm Close

For information on registration, please see the conference website:

Conference Organiser: Dr Matthew D Eddy, Department of Philosophy, Durham University, 50/51 Old Elvet, Durham, DH1 3HN, United Kingdom. http://www.dur.ac.uk/m.d.eddy/.

History of Science Society 2009: “Your Daily History of Science”

HSS 2009 Phoenix, AZ

I gave a talk on Friday at the 2009 annual meeting of the History of Science Society in Phoenix. As part of the Committee on Education’s session, Teaching the History of Science Using the Web (Kerry Magruder presented on digital collections and Audra Wolfe on using blogs in the classroom), “Your Daily History of Science: Blogging a Discipline” was a way to convey to people the motivations behind those who blog about the history of science, and advantages to their education or career resulting from that blogging. I discussed my own experience as well as information from other bloggers. Here is my PowerPoint (which does not seem to want to embed correctly, just open the link in a new window):

The very informal online survey I did for this talk was minimized in my presentation because of time constraints. Here, then, are the ten questions I asked, receiving 21 responses from 32 inquiries:

1. What is your name, blog name, url, and how long have you been blogging?

Most history of science bloggers have been blogging for three years or less.

2. What is your profession, or if a student, what discipline and what degree?

History of science bloggers include an assistant professor of STS, an assistant professor of history, a professor of physics, another professor of history (and science studies), an associate professor of philosophy, a biology instructor, a research fellow, a postdoc historian, a Ph.D. in history of psychology, a Ph.D. in history of science and medicine, a history undergraduate, and a biology undergraduate. Also, an archivist, curator, two antiquarian booksellers, an accountant, an entomologist, and several freelance writers.

3. Is your blog specifically a history of science blog, or another blog which has history of science content?

Hos specifically: 8; HoS content: 12

4. Initally, why did you start your blog?

Sharing content (8), research (7), science communication (2), political commentary (2), networking (1), online reference (1), “It just happened!” (1)

5. Which category would your blog best fit?

Pedagogical [prof. POV] (4), pedagogical [student POV] (1), departmental community (1), organizational community (1), outreach (2), business (1), hobby/self-interest/research (10)

6. Please describe the types of posts on your blog.

Too varied to describe here.

7. Who is your intended audience?

Historians of science (1), professional academics (2), history of science students (2), anyone – historians, other academics, students, and the public (15)

8. Who reads/participates in discussion on your blog?

Historians (8), other professional academics [museum workers, scientists, etc.] (4), history of science students (6), amateurs/public (9)

9. What does blogging offer that cannot be expressed in other forms of writing?

Rapid development of ideas (5), writing exercise (8), ability to write less formally (4), publishing in a non-university domain (3), easy/quick public access and storage (8), close relationship with readers (2), immediate feedback (7)

10. Do you have any unique experience relating to your education/career path that resulted from writing your blog?

Publications (8), book reviews (1), conf. panel/talk invitation (4), grant panel invitation (1), radio appearances (2), networking (11), faculty award (1), event opportunities (1), job searching (2), changing research plans (1), negative results (1), none (7)


The list of history of science blogs I provided to the audience can be viewed here. John Lynch has a list, too, and the History News Network lists history of science and technology blogs as well.

Blog posts/articles I referenced in the talk:

Benjamin Cohen, “Why Blog the History of Science?” Newsletter of the History of Science Society October 2008.

Benjamin Cohen, “Why Blog the History of Science?” The World’s Fair. October 14, 2008.

Will Thomas, “Blogging as Scholarship,” Ether Wave Propaganda. October 24, 2008.

Michael Robinson, “A Blog of One’s Own,” Time to Eat the Dogs, October 27, 2008.

Loïc Charles, “Blogging for what? Blogging for whom?” History of Economics Playground, November 14, 2008.

I plugged The Giant’s Shoulders, the monthly history of science blog carnival. Other online discussion about history of science blogging or relevant topics:

Benjamin Cohen, “What difference does the history of science make?” The World’s Fair, August 4, 2008.

John Lynch, “Blogging and history of science,” Stranger Fruit, August 4, 2008. [John now blogs at A Simple Prop]

Adam Goldstein, “Blogging Evolution,” Evolution: Education and Outreach September 2009.

Rohit Bhargava, “Manifesto For The Content Curator: The Next Big Social Media Job Of The Future?” Influential Marketing Blog, September 30, 2009.

Science Online 2009 had a session on history of science blogging, “Web and the History of Science.” Go here for commentary from the three participants. Participant Greg Gbur posted about the session in “Science Online ’09: Web and the History of Science” on his blog Skulls in the Stars, and the blog Ideonexus offered thoughts in “The Web and the History of Science.”

This January, there will be a session again on the history of science at Science Online 2010. John McKay (archy) and Eric Michael Johnson (The Primate Diaries) will present the following in “An Open History of Science”:

We will be talking about how the history of science and the history of the open-access movement have intersected. Steven Johnson touches on this theme in his latest book, The Invention of Air, in that 18th century British polymath Joseph Priestley was a strong advocate of publishing scientific data widely in order to create a greater dialogue between scientists. While Johnson only mentions this briefly in the case of Priestley, this theme runs strongly through the history of science and is what makes the debate over the patenting of genes or the availability of open-access journals such important topics today.

Will, Sage, Michael, Tom, and maybe others attended my talk, and I appreciate their support for my first presentation at an HSS conference!

A few pictures from the conference are here.

History of Science Society conference later this week

I just gave a practice run of my talk about history of science blogging, for the History of Science Society’s annual meeting in Phoenix later this week, to my fellow graduate students. Went well, just need to cut some stuff to bring the talk to the appropriate length. My talk will be part of a session about education and the web, discussing history of science blogging from a student’s perspective. I will meet a few other science bloggers (John Lynch, Michael Robinson, maybe others) at the conference, participants from the John Tyndall Correspondence Project of which I am a part, and have the opportunity to meet a lot of people. Should be fun.

Let me know if you’ll be there!

Darwin Round-Up

Monday, November 16th is the deadline for submissions to Charlie’s Playhouse’s “Ask the Kids” [about evolution] project.  More information here.

I somehow neglected to share Ben Fry’s very cool digital rendition of the six editions of On the Origin of Species and the changes therein: “The Preservation of Favoured Traces.”

The Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences blog that accompanies their new Darwin as a geologist exhibit (my pics) has a short write up on the “Darwin in the Field” conference I attended last July, here. Also, the newsletter of the Palaeontological Association (they provided funding for the conference, including travel money for myself and a post-doc at the Smithsonian) has a report of the conference written by, well, me! You can see it at the bottom of page 56 in this PDF.

Two freely available articles from Bioscience: “The Darwinian Revelation: Tracing the Origin and Evolution of an Idea” [PDF] by James Costa and “Ten Myths about Charles Darwin” [PDF] by Kevin Padian [previous posts with Padian].

Nature has started a series on Darwin and culture called “Global Darwin”: “Darwin and culture,” “Global Darwin: Eastern enchantment,” and “Global Darwin: Contempt for competition.” These pieces explore a variety of reactions to Darwin’s theory of evolution.

Also titled “Global Darwin” is a 2009 lecture by Jim Secord. Access it here. At the same site are lectures by Janet Browne and Rebecca Stott.

Here is a page for the National Library of Medicine’s exhibit Rewriting the Book of Nature: Charles Darwin and the Rise of Evolutionary Theory, and two sets of pictures on Flickr showing a Darwin exhibition (Darwin’s Legacy) at the National Museum of Natural History, sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution Libraries.

Darwin Online has put up the annotated copy of On the Origin of Species owned by Darwin’s third son, and experimental assistant, Francis.

Videos of many lectures from the University of Cambridge’s Darwin Festival in July are up on YouTube.

Darwinfest: Bold Ideas Change Worlds, at ASU, has its own website. Darwin biographer Janet Browne will give a lecture on November 13th. Previous lectures from throughout 2009 are available for download.

Historian of science Jim Endersby will talk on “Darwin, Hooker, and Empire” on November 18th  in conjunction with the American Philosophical Society’s exhibition Dialogues with Darwin: An Exhibition of Historical Documents and Contemporary Art. Website here, and a fun Flickr photo set of post-it notes that visitors filled out and placed on a tree of life diagram. Another recent lecture of Endersby’s, “Smashing Species: Joseph Hooker and Victorian Science” for the Royal Society, can be downloaded as an mp3.

Christ’s College, Cambridge has a website for Darwin, with lots of resources.

“Who can head the words of Charlie Darwin…”

Cambridge Library Collection’s Life Science series offers reprints of many historically important books (71 titles), many of which are on Amazon.

Via Genomicron, “This View of Life: Evolutionary Art for the Year of Darwin”:

Evolutionary art is the topic of many books this year: Charles Darwin and Victorian Visual Culture by Jonathan Smith; Endless Forms: Charles Darwin, Natural Science, and the Visual Arts by Jane Munro; Darwin: Art and the Search for Origins; The Art of Evolution: Darwin, Darwinisms, and Visual Culture by Barbara Larson and Fae Bauer; Darwin’s Camera: Art and Photography in the Theory of Evolution by Phillip Prodger; Reframing Darwin: Evolution and Art in Australia by Jeanette Hoorn; and Darwin’s Pictures: Views of Evolutionary Theory, 1837-1874 by Julia Voss.

In Evolution: Education and Outreach is an article by U. Kutschera called “Darwin’s Philosophical Imperative and the Furor Theologicus: “In 1859 Charles Darwin submitted a manuscript entitled “An Abstract of an Essay on the Origin of Species and Varieties through Natural Selection” to John Murray III, who published the text under the title On the Origin of Species. On many pages of this book, Darwin contrasts his naturalistic theory that explains the transmutation and diversification of animals and plants with the Bible-based belief that all species were independently created. On the last page of the first edition, published in November 1859, where Darwin speculated on the origin of the earliest forms of life from which all other species have descended, no reference to “the Creator” is made. In order to conciliate angry clerics and hence to tame the erupted furor theologicus, Darwin included the phrase “by the Creator” in the second edition of 1860 and in all subsequent versions of his book (sixth ed. 1872). However, in a letter of 1863, Darwin distanced himself from this Bible-based statement and wrote that by creation he means “appeared by some wholly unknown process.” In 1871, Darwin proposed a naturalistic origin-of-life-concept but did not dare to mention his “warm little pond hypothesis” in the sixth definitive edition of the Origin (1872). I conclude that the British naturalist strictly separated scientific facts and theories from religious dogmas (Darwin’s “philosophical imperative”) and would not endorse current claims by the Catholic Church and other Christian associations that evolutionary theory and Bible-based myths are compatible.”

EEO also has a piece about the traveling Darwin exhibition by Chiara Ceci, “Darwin: Origin and Evolution of an Exhibition”: “Two hundred years after his birth, Darwin, originated by the American Museum of Natural History in New York, is the most important exhibition about the English scientist ever organized for the general public. This traveling exhibition has appeared in many versions worldwide, and a study of the relationships between local developers of the various editions of the exhibition underlines how a scientific exhibition and, more generally, science communication can succeed in striking a good equilibrium between universal content and cultural determinants.”

“Discover the principles of evolution through animations, movies and simulations” at Evolution of Life.

Several articles have appeared this year in the Journal of the History of Biology touching on Darwin and evolution in general: “Capitalist Contexts for Darwinian Theory: Land, Finance, Industry and Empire” (M.J.S. Hodge); “The Origins of Species: The Debate between August Weismann and Moritz Wagner” (Charlotte Weissman); “Edward Hitchcock’s Pre-Darwinian (1840) ‘Tree of Life'” (J. David Archibald); “Tantalizing Tortoises and the Darwin-Galápagos Legend” (Frank J. Sulloway); “‘A Great Complication of Circumstances’ – Darwin and the Economy of Nature” (Trevor Pearce); “Charles Darwin’s Beagle Voyage, Fossil Vertebrate Succession, and ‘The Gradual Birth & Death of Species'” (Paul D. Brinkman); “Darwin and Inheritance: The Influence of Prosper Lucas” (Ricardo Noguera-Solano and Rosaura Ruiz-Gutiérrez); and “Of Mice and Men: Evolution and the Socialist Utopia. William Morris, H.G. Wells, and George Bernard Shaw” (Piers J. Hale).

A Darwin article in Plant Biology: “From Charles Darwin’s botanical country-house studies to modern plant biology”: “As a student of theology at Cambridge University, Charles Darwin (1809-1882) attended the lectures of the botanist John S. Henslow (1796-1861). This instruction provided the basis for his life-long interest in plants as well as the species question. This was a major reason why in his book On the Origin of Species, which was published 150 years ago, Darwin explained his metaphorical phrase `struggle for life’ with respect to animals and plants. In this article, we review Darwin’s botanical work with reference to the following topics: the struggle for existence in the vegetable kingdom with respect to the phytochrome-mediated shade avoidance response; the biology of flowers and Darwin’s plant-insect co-evolution hypothesis; climbing plants and the discovery of action potentials; the power of movement in plants and Darwin’s conflict with the German plant physiologist Julius Sachs; and light perception by growing grass coleoptiles with reference to the phototropins. Finally, we describe the establishment of the scientific discipline of Plant Biology that took place in the USA 80 years ago, and define this area of research with respect to Darwin’s work on botany and the physiology of higher plants.”

And another in Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences: “Dog fight: Darwin as animal advocate in the antivivisection controversy of 1875”: “The traditional characterization of Charles Darwin as a strong advocate of physiological experimentation on animals was posited in Richard French’s Antivivisection and medical science in Victorian England (1975), where French portrayed him as a soldier in Thomas Huxley’s efforts to preserve anatomical experimentation on animals unfettered by government regulation. That interpretation relied too much on, inter alia, Huxley’s own description of the legislative battles of 1875, and shared many historians’ propensity to foster a legacy of Darwin as a leader among a new wave of scientists, even where personal interests might indicate a conflicting story. Animal rights issues concerned more than mere science for Darwin, however, and where debates over other scientific issues failed to inspire Darwin to become publicly active, he readily joined the battle over vivisection, helping to draft legislation which, in many ways, was more protective of animal rights than even the bills proposed by his friend and anti-vivisectionist, Frances Power Cobbe. Darwin may not have officially joined Cobbe’s side in the fight, but personal correspondence of the period between 1870 and 1875 reveals a man whose first interest was to protect animals from inhumane treatment, and second to protect the reputations of those men and physiologists who were his friends, and who he believed incapable of inhumane acts. On this latter point he and Cobbe never did reach agreement, but they certainly agreed on the humane treatment of animals, and the need to proscribe various forms of animal experimentation.”

“Darwinism Comes to Penn” [PDF], in The Pennsylvania Gazette: “A century-and-a-half after the November 1859 publication of On the Origin of Species, a Penn microbiologist looks back at how Darwin’s ideas were received by some of the University’s leading thinkers.”

In the Journal of Evolutionary Biology, “WWDD? (What Would Darwin Do?)” [PDF], looks at evolution research and publishing: “We have just celebrated the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin and the 150th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of Species. While I hope we all rejoiced in the success of evolutionary biology and its continued growth, we should not become complacent. Although these are indeed events to celebrate, we still face the real threat of general ignorance of Darwin’s ideas. World leaders (or would-be world leaders) still promote superstition, stories and unthinking acceptance of dogma over scientific evidence. Evolutionary biologists have succeeded in investigating the magnificence, the wonder, the complexity, and the detail of evolution and its role in generating biodiversity. Evolutionary biologists have been less successful in making this relevant to those who are not biologists (and even, alas, some biologists). Is evolutionary biology likely to thrive when governments demand an immediate return on their research investment? How do we begin to educate others as to the value and importance of evolutionary research? I do not begin to claim that I can fathom the mind of Darwin, but I cannot help wondering – what would Darwin do today? Would he respond? How would he respond? And, what would be the form of his response?”

Jerry Coyne on “Why Evolution is True”:

Daniel Dennett on “Darwin and the Evolution of Why”:

A new book “offers a primer in the history of the development of evolution as a discipline after Darwin’s book and in how evolution is defined today”: The Origin Then and Now: An Interpretive Guide to the Origin of Species (Princeton University Press, 2009) by UCR biologist David Reznick. You can read the introduction on the publisher’s page for the book.

Richard Dawkins closes his latest book The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution by going through and detailing each line of the famous closing paragraph (“There is grandeur in this view of life…”) of On the Origin of Species. It’s available online, for you, to read, and ponder.

“The Evolution of Charles Darwin,” a 4-part series on CBC Radio One: “Ideas pays tribute to Charles Darwin and celebrates the 150th anniversary of the publication of his transformational and contentious book, On the Origin of Species. Darwin’s theory of evolution through Natural Selection completely changed how we think about the world. In this 4-part series, Seth Feldman guides us through the life and ideas of Charles Darwin, a creative genius. The series is produced by Sara Wolch.” Via Adrian.

Via The Evolution List, The Darwinian Revolutions Video Series: “This series of six online videos is a brief introduction to Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection and its implications.” The short videos are: Darwinian Revolutions, Evolutionary Ancestors, Lamarck’s Theory, One Long Argument, Mendel-Eclipse of Darwin, and The Evolving Synthesis.

The November 2009 issue of Naturwissenschaften is devoted to Darwin. The articles are “Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species, directional selection, and the evolutionary sciences today” [PDF] (Ulrich Kutschera); “Darwin’s warm little pond revisited: From molecules to the origin of life” [PDF] (Hartmut Follmann and Carol Brownson); “Charles Darwin, beetles and phylogenetics” [PDF] (Rolf G. Beutel, Frank Friedrich and Richard A. B. Leschen); “The predictability of evolution: Glimpses into a post-Darwinian world” [PDF] (Simon Conway Morris); and “Evolutionary plant physiology: Charles Darwin’s forgotten synthesis” [PDF] (Ulrich Kutschera and Karl J. Niklas).

Two more articles consider Darwin and the origin of life. In Endeavour James E. Strick offers “Darwin and the origin of life: public versus private science”: “In the first twenty years after the publication of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, an intense debate took place within the ranks of Darwin’s supporters over exactly what his theory implied about the means by which the original living organism formed on Earth. Many supporters of evolutionary science also supported the doctrine of spontaneous generation: life forming from nonliving material not just once but many times up to the present day. Darwin was ambivalent on this topic. He feared its explosive potential to drive away liberal-minded Christians who might otherwise be supporters. His ambivalent wording created still more confusion, both among friends and foes, about what Darwin actually believed about the origin of life. A famous lecture by Thomas H. Huxley in 1870 set forth what later became the ‘party line’ Darwinian position on the subject.” In Origins of Life and Evolution of Biospheres, Juli Peretó, Jeffrey L. Bada and Antonio Lazcano offer another analysis in “Charles Darwin and the Origin of Life”: “When Charles Darwin published The Origin of Species 150 years ago he consciously avoided discussing the origin of life. However, analysis of some other texts written by Darwin, and of the correspondence he exchanged with friends and colleagues demonstrates that he took for granted the possibility of a natural emergence of the first life forms. As shown by notes from the pages he excised from his private notebooks, as early as 1837 Darwin was convinced that “the intimate relation of Life with laws of chemical combination, & the universality of latter render spontaneous generation not improbable”. Like many of his contemporaries, Darwin rejected the idea that putrefaction of preexisting organic compounds could lead to the appearance of organisms. Although he favored the possibility that life could appear by natural processes from simple inorganic compounds, his reluctance to discuss the issue resulted from his recognition that at the time it was possible to undertake the experimental study of the emergence of life.”


PZ Myers live-blogged on Pharyngula talks given at Chicago’s big Darwin festival, Darwin/Chicago 2009. Science Life also has a piece about the conference.

From the August 24, 2009 issue of Significance, two Darwin articles: “Darwin, Mendel and the evolution of evolution” by R. Allan Reese: “The history of science is full of myths. Darwin has his fair share; but Gregor Mendel, his fellow scientist and contemporary, has suffered even more. R. Allan Reese disentangles what we like to believe about Mendel from what we should believe—and finds a modern species whose origin was not by conventional evolution;” and “Cousins: Charles Darwin, Sir Francis Galton and the birth of eugenics” by Nicholas W. Gillham: “Sir Francis Galton, scientist, African Explorer and statistician, was a key figure in statistical history. He was the man who devised the statistical concepts of regression and correlation. He was also Charles Darwin’s cousin. And, inspired by his reading of Darwin, he was the founder of eugenics: the “science” of improving the human race through selective breeding. Nicholas Gillham tells of a darker side to statistics and heredity.”Sir Francis Galton, scientist, African Explorer and statistician, was a key figure in statistical history. He was the man who devised the statistical concepts of regression and correlation. He was also Charles Darwin’s cousin. And, inspired by his reading of Darwin, he was the founder of eugenics: the “science” of improving the human race through selective breeding. Nicholas Gillham tells of a darker side to statistics and heredity.”

In Archives of Natural History of October 2009 is a short article, “Letters from Alfred Russel Wallace concerning the Darwin commemorations of 1909” by Henry A McGhie.

Darwin’s Brave New World

In July of 2009, I posted about a forthcoming Australian Darwin film based on historian Iain McCalman‘s recently published book Darwin’s Armada: Four Voyages and the Battle for the Theory of Evolution:

Award-winning cultural historian Iain McCalman tells the stories of Charles Darwin and his most vocal supporters and colleagues: Joseph Hooker, Thomas Huxley, and Alfred Wallace. Beginning with the somber morning of April 26, 1882—the day of Darwin’s funeral—Darwin’s Armada steps back in time and recounts the lives and scientific discoveries of each of these explorers. The four amateur naturalists voyaged separately from Britain to the southern hemisphere in search of adventure and scientific fame. From Darwin’s inaugural trip on the Beagle in 1835 through Wallace’s exploits in the Amazon and, later, Malaysia in the 1840s and 1850s, each man independently made discoveries that led him to embrace Darwin’s groundbreaking theory of evolution. This book reveals the untold story of Darwin’s greatest supporters who, during his life, campaigned passionately in the war of ideas over evolution and who lived on to extend and advance the scope of his work.

McCalman also coedited a volume of papers, In the Wake of the Beagle: Science in the Southern Oceans from the Age of Darwin, based on a conference by the same name held at the Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney in March 2009:

Strange as it may seem, the long wake of the tiny HMS Beagle stretches from the nineteenth century into the future of our globe. Charles Darwin spent only three months in Australia, but Australasia and the Pacific contributed to his evolutionary thinking in a variety of ways. One hundred and fifty years after the publication of On the Origin of Species the internationally acclaimed authors of In the Wake of the Beagle provide new insights into the world of collecting, surveying and cross-cultural exchange in the antipodes in the age of Darwin. They explore the groundbreaking work of Darwin and his contemporaries Joseph Hooker, Thomas Huxley and Alfred Wallace, examine the complex trading relationships of the region’s daring voyagers, and take a very modern look at today’s cutting-edge scientific research, at a time when global warming has raised the stakes to an unprecedented level.

The film, Darwin’s Brave New World, is described as:

A 3 x 1hour drama-documentary TV series about how the Southern Hemisphere gave birth to the most controversial idea in science: evolution by means of natural selection. Interweaving dramatic reconstruction with documentary actuality and moving between the 19th century and the 21st, this series is the story of how Charles Darwin’s ‘dangerous idea’ developed during his epic voyage through South America, Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands and how that idea forever transformed society and science. A series to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the publication of Darwin’s ‘On the Origin of Species’.

The film premieres at the University of British Columbia later this month, and airs on Australia’s ABC1 November 8th (ep. 1: Origins), 15th (ep. 2: Evolutions), and 22nd (ep. 3: Publish and Be Damned). An extended trailer:

Notice in the trailer a few historians or philosophers of science (Jim Moore, Michael Ruse, and Janet Browne), Richard Dawkins, and David Suzuki.

CONFERENCE: Finished Proofs? A Symposium to Celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the Publication of On the Origin of Species (1859)

From the BSHS:

Finished Proofs? A symposium to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of Species (1859)

Location: Lister Hill Auditorium, National Library of Medicine (NIH), 8600 Rockville Pike, Bldg. 38A, Bethesda, MD

Date: 1 October 2009, Time: 9:00 AM – 6:15 PM

SPEAKERS: Janet Browne, Harvard University; Eric Green, National Human Genome Research Institute; Michael Ruse, Florida State University; Barry Werth, Independent Author; Edward O. Wilson, Harvard University

COMMENTATORS: Nathaniel Comfort, Johns Hopkins University; Alan E. Guttmacher, National Human Genome Research Institute; Joe Palca, National Public Radio; Maxine Singer, Carnegie Institution for Science

From the conference program [PDF]:

On 1 October 1859 Charles Darwin wrote in his diary “finished proofs.” The proofs he referred to were those of On the Origin of Species, which appeared in print the following month, a landmark in the history of science.

Darwin may have finished the page proofs, but the process of persuading scientists and the public about evolution had just begun. Darwin pieced together evidence for his theory of natural selection from many sources, including studies of domestic breeding, anatomical similarities among species (“homology”), embryology, the sequential order of fossils, and the presence of vestigial organs. But whether this evidence constituted “proof” of evolution was questioned at the time, and it remains unsettled today, in part because of changes in science, in part because of broader cultural and religious concerns about evolution. The “proofs” were far from finished in 1859.

This symposium brings together leading historians, philosophers, and scientists to explore changing understandings of Darwinian theory in the last 150 years. It has two general aims. First, it seeks to trace the different ways in which evolution has been understood in this period, and how these ways of understanding relate to the changing basis of scientific evidence on evolution. Second, it seeks to explain why scientific “proofs” of Darwinian evolution have been unpersuasive to many individuals, including those who promote creationism and intelligent design. Their perspectives on evolution have raised important questions about the nature of the evidence in favor of evolution, and the relationship between proof and belief. Put another way, a focus on Darwin’s critics and supporters can illuminate the many different ways in which “proof” has been understood in the last 150 years.

Cambridge Trip #4: Darwin in the Field Conference, Pt. 2

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Walking to the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences:

Tennis Court Road, University of Cambridge

Tennis Court Road, University of Cambridge

This was the second day of the Darwin in the Field conference. That means I presented my paper, and it was received well.

Presenting my paper

Presenting my paper

Some suggestions and one small critique from David Kohn, but otherwise fine. Several of the historians were surprised to find out that the bulk of my paper was written during one of my undergraduate courses. Kohn also welcomed me to the community of scholars who look at Darwin’s botanical work. All in all, compliments and best wishes for future work. There are plans to publish the papers from this conference in a volume through the Geological Society of London. So more work to be done on Darwin and his seed dispersal experiments!

After the conference (and while some participants joined David Norman for a look at Darwin’s room at Christ’s College), some of us went for lunch at Origin8. A picture afterwards:

Brian Rosen, John van Wyhe, me, David Kohn, & Alistair Sponsel

Brian Rosen, John van Wyhe, me, David Kohn, & Alistair Sponsel

My Twitter updates from the presentations:

Darwin in the Field: A. Sponsel: Darwin actually had eureka moment w/ coral reef theory in Tahiti, not west coast of S. America#darwinfest

Darwin in the Field: Barton (me!): JD Hooker disagreed w/ Darwin on seed dispersal in part b/c D did experiments @ home, not Kew #darwinfest

Darwin in the Field: Gowan Dawson: Brits more intriqued by Megatherium vs. dinosaurs b/c of stronger association w/ morality #darwinfest

Darwin in the Field: Gowan Dawson: “Darwin rather minimal in my story” Love it. #darwinfest

Darwin in the Field: Brian Rosen: Darwin’s own exhibit on coral reef specimens to be re-displayed at NHM-London #darwinfest

Darwin in the Field: J. Hodge: it’s an anachronism to speak of Darwin and plate tectonics, further, don’t use ‘tectonics’ either#darwinfest

Darwin in the Field: Phil Stone: “Nevermind Darwin’s finches (van Wyhe: no, no, mockingbirds), it’s Darwin’s foxes” #darwinfest

Following lunch, I went back to pick up my bag from the porter’s lodge at Downing College, and made my way to the bed and breakfast I stayed at the next two nights. I looked at my Cambridge map wrong, and went more than a mile out of my way, but that allowed me to see parts of the university I otherwise would not have. Some pictures:

Sidney Street Performer, Cambridge, England

Sidney Street Performer, Cambridge, England

Punting on The River Cam, Magdalene College, University of Cambridge

Punting on The River Cam, Magdalene College, University of Cambridge

Kettles Yard, Cambridge, England

Kettle's Yard, Cambridge, England

Lichen on wall along Northampton Street, University of Cambridge

Lichen on wall along Northampton Street, University of Cambridge

Another view of Kings College, University of Cambridge

Another view of King's College, University of Cambridge

Darwin Festival Fringe Programme, Grantchester Street, Cambridge, England

Darwin Festival Fringe Programme, Grantchester Street, Cambridge, England

The Granta (River Cam), Cambridge, England

The Granta (River Cam), Cambridge, England

When I got to the bed and breakfast, Richard Carter was already there.  We ventured out for some more exploring of Cambridge, which I will share in a later post.

You can view all the photos from my trip here, if you feel so inclined.

PREVIOUS: Cambridge Trip #3: Darwin in the Field ConferenceCambridge Trip #2: Finding My WayCambridge Trip #1: Traveling

Cambridge Trip #3: Darwin in the Field Conference

Saturday, July 11, 2009

This was the first day of the Darwin in the Field conference. You can view the list of speakers and paper titles here. All of them dealt with some repsect with Darwin’s geological work during and soon after the voyage of HMS Beagle. I did not present until the second day. Below are some updates from my Twitter giving little bits from the presentations:

Darwin in the Field: J. Hodge: “The Darwinian Revolution” created in ’40s w/ Modern Synthesis, finches not “Darwin’s” til 1947 #darwinfest

Darwin in the Field: J. Hodge: Darwin’s brain itself is a material object (hands-on work AND brain-on work) #darwinfest

Darwin in the Field: Endersby: Hooker: Evolution shouldn’t change how botanists treat species, b/c stable in human life time #darwinfest

Darwin in the Field: Endersby: Being philosophical more important to JD Hooker than being professional #darwinfest

Darwin in the Field: Rudwick: Darwin concedes Glen Roy theory: “I give up the ghost” #darwinfest

Darwin in the Field: Rudwick: don’t deify Darwin, for canonization is the death of history #darwinfest

Darwin in the Field: Pearson: Darwin’s igneous theory similar in ways to natural selection (liquid line of descent) #darwinfest

Darwin in the Field: Howe: Brit. Geological Survey specimen numbering system very much like Darwin’s #darwinfest

Darwin in the Field: van Wyhe: Darwin has a self portrait in his Beagle notebooks – and it’s a stick man! #darwinfest

thanks John van Wyhe for a signed copy of his book “Darwin in Cambridge.” Very generous, and a neat way to remember Darwin 2009 #darwinfest

John van Wyhe plans to dispel myth that Darwin was simply a gentleman companion to Fitzroy #darwin #darwinfest

got a tour of “Darwin the Geologist” exhibit at the Sedgwick Museum in Cambridge – very nice! Love the old cabinets…#darwinfest #museum

It was great meeting many of the Darwin historians whose works I’ve read or at least whose books sit on my shelf: Peter Bowler, Sandra Herbert, David Kohn, M.J.S. Hodge, Martin Rudwick, John van Wyhe, Jim Endersby. A few scientists as well: Brian Rosen, Paul Pearson, Phil Stone, and David Norman. A fellow student: Alistair Sponsel. And from the Sedgwick Museum: Lyall Anderson and Francis Neary.

During the conference, we breaked to watch the premiere performance of Pif-Paf Arts‘ “Under the Floorboards,” a street theater play about Adam Sedgwick and the history of the earth. Corny, yes, but entertaining. Some photos:

Under the Floorboards, Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge

Under the Floorboards, Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge

Under the Floorboards, Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge

Under the Floorboards, Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge

Under the Floorboards, Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge

Under the Floorboards, Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge

Under the Floorboards, Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge

When the presentationed ended for the day, the conference organizers treated us to a viewing of the new exhibition at the Sedgwick Museum, “Darwin the Geologist.” I’ll cover the exhibit in another post because I came back to see it again on Monday. But here’s a shot from the viewing:

Viewing of Darwin the Geologist, Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge

Viewing of Darwin the Geologist, Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge

Leaving the conference I spotted this bike outside. It belongs to historian John van Wyhe.

Darwin Fish Bike

Darwin Fish Bike

Saturday evening saw me at a local internet cafe working on my paper and slideshow, since the laptop I brought was not treating me so well.

You can view all the photos from my trip here, if you feel so inclined.

PREVIOUS: Cambridge Trip #2: Finding My WayCambridge Trip #1: Traveling

Cambridge Trip #2: Finding My Way

Friday, July 10, 2009

Once in Cambridge, I found my room in Downing College and took a shower. That was necessary.

Downing College, University of Cambridge

Downing College, University of Cambridge

I decided then to just walk around, to familiarize myself with the area. Here are some shots from that walk:

Parkers Piece, Cambridge, England

Parker's Piece, Cambridge, England

Downing Street, Cambridge

Downing Street, Cambridge

Sign for directions to various museums, Cambridge

Sign for directions to various museums, Cambridge

The Eagle Pub is famed for being the place where geneticists James Watson and Francis Crick announced that they had discovered the secret of life (determined the structure of DNA):

The Eagle Pub, Cambridge

The Eagle Pub, Cambridge

All Saints Church from Christs Pieces, Cambridge

All Saints Church from Christ's Pieces, Cambridge

Walking around I kept my eyes open for places with free wireless access, but couldn’t find any besides a McDonald’s near an outdoor market.

Outdoor Market, Cambridge

Outdoor Market, Cambridge

Karen James (of NHM and The HMS Beagle Project), who was in Cambridge for the entirety of the Darwin Festival (listen to a podcast about her, mine, and Richard Carter’s time at the festival), met me at McDonald’s (we did not eat there), and we embarked to see a few sites around the university. It was a pleasure to meet Karen, having been online friends for a while now – in fact, this was just my second time meeting a fellow science blogger (the first was Anne-Marie while at UNCW back in March).

First up, Christ’s College, where Darwin attended. His room has been restored (the room was closed, but I saw it another day, photos in a later post) and the grounds of the college is now home to a Darwin garden, centered ’round a stunning sculpture of a young Darwin by Anthony Smith:

Young Darwin sculpture by Anthony Smith, Christs College, University of Cambridge

Young Darwin sculpture by Anthony Smith, Christ's College, University of Cambridge

Karen James with young Darwin

Karen James with young Darwin

I really liked the attention to detail in the sculpture (mainly titles on the books – Herschel, Paley, Humboldt) and the addition of a beetle:

An inordinate fondness for beetles

An inordinate fondness for beetles

Christ’s College boasts a variety of all things bearded-Darwin: a plaque at the porter’s lodge entrance, a stained glass window, and an 1883 copy of an 1875 portrait Walter William Ouless:

Darwin plaque at Christs College

Darwin plaque at Christ's College

Darwin stained glass window at Christs College

Darwin stained glass window at Christ's College

Darwin portrait by Walter William Ouless

Darwin portrait by Walter William Ouless

After Christ’s, Karen and I walked through King’s College (we bumped into Daniel Dennett!) and over the River Cam:

Kings College, University of Cambridge

King's College, University of Cambridge

with Daniel Dennett (notice the Darwin fish pin on his jacket!)

with Daniel Dennett (notice the Darwin fish pin on his jacket!)

Punting Boats, the River Cam, University of Cambridge

Punting Boats, the River Cam, University of Cambridge

Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus), the River Cam, University of Cambridge

Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus), the River Cam, University of Cambridge

After lunch for Karen and coffee for me, we went our own ways. I walked around a bit more, then headed back to room to start making sure I was ready to present my paper at the conference.

Pembroke Street, Cambridge

Pembroke Street, Cambridge

Christs College, University of Cambridge

Christ's College, University of Cambridge

Look familiar? This illustration usually accompanies the image section in Darwin biographies:

Engraving of Christ's College, by J. Le Keux after I. A. Bell. Published April 1838.

Engraving of Christ's College, by J. Le Keux after I. A. Bell. Published April 1838.

St. Johns College, University of Cambridge

St. John's College, University of Cambridge

Later I went to see Re:Design at the ADC Theatre, the play commissioned by the Darwin Correspondence Project about the exchanges between Darwin and Asa Gray. Wonderful play, wonderful acting. Dennett was sitting behind me. You can view a performance of it from 2008 here.

Stage for Re:Design at the ADC Theatre, University of Cambridge

Stage for Re:Design at the ADC Theatre, University of Cambridge

The ADC Theatres Bars Featured Cocktail

The ADC Theatre's Bar's Featured Cocktail

That all made for a very long day (even if I hadn’t flown all the previous day). It was time for sleep. I needed to be awake for the first day of the conference on Saturday. And like Karen said in the podcast, this visit was like Darwin Mecca for me. Friday’s tour through Cambridge barely scratched the surface for all the Darwin it had to offer.

You can view all the photos from my trip here, if you feel so inclined.

PREVIOUS: Cambridge Trip #1: Traveling

Cambridge Trip #1: Traveling

Thursday, July 9, 2009

On Thursday, July 9th I headed from Bozeman to Cambridge, England to participate in the conference “Darwin in the Field: Collecting, Observation and Experiment” held at the Sedgwick Museum of the Earth Sciences. Besides the student conference at UNCW back in March, this was my first conference. I will talk about the conference in another post. This post highlights instead that this trip was my first time traveling out of the United States (and only my third time flying!). So, in several ways, I was exciting for the trip – going to another country, flying over an ocean, etc. I’ve never been to New York, but I can now say I have seen the Empire State Building:

New York from the plane

New York from the plane

It’s in the photo, on the horizon. A nice view from my departing plane:

Sunset in New York

Sunset in New York

Most of the flight over the Atlantic was through the night. Seeing the light of the moon shimmer on the surface of the ocean was a new sight for me, and I could not help, given the paper I was preparing to present at the conference (same one as the UNCW conference), but imagine seeds floating among the currents. The view over Wales was pretty neat – I love the higgledy-piggledy nature of the fields, unlike the right angles you would see when flying over the Midwest.

Fields of Wales

Fields of Wales

As the plane approached Heathrow airport in London, some famous sites were visible:

Thames River, London

Thames River, London

London Bridge

Tower Bridge

London Eye (Ferris Wheel)

London Eye (Ferris Wheel)

We also flew right over Kew Gardens (I recognized the Temperate House), but didn’t take any photos. When I got to Heathrow, I made my way via the London Underground to King’s Cross Station to catch a train to Cambridge. The tube track failed at the station just before King’s Cross. So I had to get up above, and walk with my luggage to King’s Cross. That part was fine. Getting to the ground from the station below, however, was horrid. I decided on going up some spiral stairs because the lines for the elevators were enormous. Nobody told me how deep he tube really is!!! My legs were sore for days after. This is where I emerged from the underground:

Russell Square

Russell Square

And here is King’s Cross Station:

Kings Cross Station

King's Cross Station

I got to Cambridge just fine. Checked into my room at Downing College, and then met up with Karen James of NHM & the HMS Beagle Project, who was in Cambridge for the Darwin Festival. More to come in later posts…

You can view all the photos from my trip here, if you feel so inclined.

DoD in Cambridge

I arrived in Cambridge, England today. Saturday and Sunday will see me at the Darwin in the Field conference at the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences. Today, I walked around, saw Darwin posters/ads everywhere, met up with Karen from The HMS Beagle Project (she was in town for the festival) and checked out a Darwin-art exhibit, as well as the very nice Young Darwin sculpture at Christ’s College. Long day, I am tired, and I have a little work to do on my paper in the morning (I present on Sunday).

Oh, Karen and I met Daniel Dennett! We were walking around King’s College and there he was! A picture with Dennett and many more to come, probably Sunday night or Monday night.

And on Monday I get the pleasure of exploring Cambridge and many Darwin exhibits with Richard Carter, the chap part responsible for Darwin being on UK currency.

One more thing: this evening I saw, and thoroughly enjoyed, the play Re:Design. Learn more about it here.

Blogging Slacker & Cambridge Planner

Sorry for the lack of posts lately. A summer class (independent study reading texts on the history of American science) and my son (see below) keep me busy enough. Right now I am planning a trip to Cambridge, England, in mid-July to present a paper (my Darwin’s seed experiment paper) at the “Darwin in the Field” conference at the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences. This will be my first time traveling outside the U.S. I will hit up plenty of other Darwin-related exhibits/events while there, including the play sponsored by the Darwin Correspondence Project, Re:Design. Is anyone planning to see this play as part of the Cambridge Darwin Festival (July 5-10)? If so, let me know which of the two nights.

As always, you could add my Google Reader shared items feed (RSS) to your reader to keep up with Darwin/evolution content I browse.


ARTICLE: “Charles Darwin and Andrew Smith – an overseas exchange”

Lyall Anderson, a paleontologist working at the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences at the University of Cambridge, has just published the following article:

Lyall I. Anderson, “Charles Darwin and Andrew Smith – an overseas exchange.” Scottish Journal of Geology 45 (2009): 59-68.

Here is the abstract:

Charles Darwin met Andrew Smith in Cape Town, southern Africa on the last leg of his voyage aboard HMS Beagle (1831-1836). Both men shared a common background of having attended medical school at the University of Edinburgh although there was no apparent overlap of their times there; the latter became a career medic whereas the former did not. Evidence from the Beagle Collection of geological samples held at the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences reveals that as well as accompanying Darwin on geological fieldwork around Cape Town, Smith supplied him with rocks which he had collected personally during his expedition to central southern Africa the previous year (1835). The two men remained firm correspondents until the year before Smith’s death in 1872.

Anderson, who is researching Darwin’s geology collection at the museum, is also organizing the conference “Darwin in the Field: Collecting, Observation and Experiment” in Cambridge in July, which I posted about here. Oh, and I am going to this conference!

Boston University: Charles Darwin in Biography

From BU:

Charles Darwin in Biography: The Lives behind the Origin of Species

May 1, 2009

Photonics Center, 8 St. Mary’s Street (PHO Colloquium Room, 9th floor

Free and Open to the Public

Morning Session: 10 a.m.- Noon
Janet Browne, Harvard University, discusses “Is your Darwin, My Darwin?”

Andrew Berry, Harvard University, discusses “Industrious and Persevering Traveler: Alfred Russel Wallace’s Journey”

Afternoon Session: 2 p.m.– 5 p.m.
Richard Milner, American Museum of Natural History, discusses “Darwin, the Unknown”

David Kohn, American Museum of Natural History, discusses “Charles Darwin: to the Greenhouse Born Peter Parnell.”

Panel discussion, 5 p.m.– 6 p.m., entitled “Putting Darwin and Wallace Onstage: Creating ‘Trumpery.” Thomas F. Glick, CAS History, moderator. 

Peter Parnell’s play, “Trumpery,” about Darwin’s relationship with Alfred Russel Wallace, will be playing at BU Theatre, on Thursday April 30, Friday May 1, and Saturday May 2.

For more info: http://www.bu.edu/dev/darwin2009/

Center for Philosophy & History of Science

T.J. Kalaitzidis 



Plethora of Darwin

Orchids through Darwin’s Eyes, an exhibit at the National Museum of Natural History, through April 26.

Darwin’s newly re-discovered student bills from Christ’s College, Cambridge, at Darwin Online

A review of the Darwin exhibit on the blog Entangled Bank.

Some music about scientists from Artichoke: 26 Scientists,Volume 1 (Anning-Malthus).

Watch Carl Sagan’s Cosmos free on hulu.com.

Carl Zimmer’s Darwin Day lecture, “Darwin and Beyond,” is available on blip.tv.

The BBC’s Charles Darwin and the Tree of Life, with David Attenborough, is now available on DVD.

Darwin’s Bulldogs, the Consortium for Evolutionary Studies at California State University, Fresno.

Case Western University’s Year of Darwin / Darwin and the Evolution of Industries and Firms by Hayagreeva Rao:

The March-April 2009 issue of Comptes Rendus Palevol is devoted to “Histoire évolutive de la Vie/Evolutionary history of Life.” View the TOC here.

The University of Birmingham will host a one-day Royal Institute of Philosophy conference on June 10, 2009 focusing on Darwin’s philosophy and the philosophy of biology more generally. More information here.

Darwin biographer/historian Jim Moore discusses Darwin and his own interest in Darwin in several videos from Open2.

Darwin stamps from Bulgaria, India, and a coin from Australia.

The February 2009 issue of The American Biology Teacher was devoted to Darwin an evolution. View the TOC here.

Several history of science-relates articles in the February 2009 issue of Taxon, including “Carolus Linnaeus (1707-1778): his life, philosophy and science and its relationship to modern biology and medicine” and “Taxonomy was the foundation of Darwin’s evolution.”

The Journal of Biology‘s Special Darwin Issue, view the entire issue as a PDF here.

Darwin Across the Disciplines at the College of William and Mary:

As a reminder, you can add my Google Reader shared items feed to your feed reader to remain updated on Darwin/history of science content I browse…

Darwin’s Legacy Conference Over, Back in Bozeman

I flew back to Bozeman today, after 3 days in Wilmington, NC for the Darwin’s Legacy student conference. A good experience giving a first conference paper (and I won best paper in my session). Enjoyed some other students’ papers/posters, others not so much. Good to meet students in other disciplines as well. Great talks by David Mindell of the California Academy of Sciences and Kevin Padian of UC Berkeley (he spoke on both new research on dinosaurs he is doing with Jack Horner and on his role in Dover and “what’s next” for ID proponents). Other talks by David Buss and Peter Carruthers. Met historian of science David Sepkoski, who has some edited volumes on the history of paleontology/paleobiology on the way. Missed meeting up with Bora (he says he was too busy – Bora, busy?), but it was nice to meet another science blogger. This was only my second time flying ever. God, planes are uncomfortable! However, that matters not so much when considering unfortunate events

You can see the few photos I took at the conference here.

Overall, a good time and it was great to meet many new faces!