Two Darwin articles in Journal of Victorian Culture

The current issue of the Journal of Victorian Culture (April 2020) has two Darwin-related articles:

Perspective: The History and Afterlife of Darwin’s Childhood Garden

Jude Piesse

Abstract This article examines the history and significance of Charles Darwin’s childhood garden at The Mount in Shrewsbury. Unlike the mature Darwin’s garden at Down House, Kent, his childhood garden at The Mount has only recently begun to be restored and it is not well known outside of local or specialist circles. The first part of the article aims to recover the story of the garden for a wider interdisciplinary readership. It builds upon research in the fields of garden history and biography to make a case for the garden’s importance to Darwin’s life and scientific work while also revealing the site’s afterlife as a lost garden and challenging restoration project. The second part of the article argues that the garden can be viewed as an enchanted space that enables us to connect more closely with a positive vision of a romantic, ecologically conscious Darwin who is of particular relevance to our times. I conclude by briefly outlining how these ideas were tested at the Darwin’s Childhood Garden Study Day, organized with Shropshire Wildlife Trust in 2016 following its purchase of part of the site in 2013.

The First Darwinian: Alfred Russel Wallace and the Meaning of Darwinism

Ian Hesketh

Abstract This essay is an initial study of a larger project that seeks to produce a history of the term ‘Darwinism’. While it is generally well-known that Darwinism could refer to a variety of different things in the Victorian period, from a general evolutionary naturalism to the particular theory of natural selection, very little has been written about the history of the term or how it was contested at given times and places. Building on James Moore’s 1991 sketch of the history of Darwinism in the 1860s, this paper specifically seeks to situate Alfred Russel Wallace’s 1889 book Darwinism in the context of a larger struggle over Darwin’s legacy in the 1880s. It is argued that Wallace used his authority as one of the founders of evolution by natural selection to reimagine what he called ‘pure Darwinism’ as a teleological evolutionism, one that integrated the theory of natural selection with an interpretation of spirit phenomena thereby producing a more agreeable and holistic account of life than was previously associated with Darwinian evolution. By considering the reception of Wallace’s Darwinism in the periodical press it will be argued further that Wallace’s interpretation of Darwinism was generally well received, which suggests that our understanding of what Darwinism meant in the late Victorian period needs to be revisited.

 

Cambridge Trip #10: Natural History Museum, London

Tuesday, 12 July 2009

This morning I left Cambridge. I just want to make note of one of the books that sat on the nightstand in my bed and breakfast room:

Books in my room, Cambridge, England

Books in my room, Cambridge, England

That book on top is Period Piece by Gwen Raverat. Raverat was a granddaughter of Charles Darwin, and Period Piece is her memoir about her childhood in Cambridge, and recollections of the Darwin family.

Walking from my lodgings to the train station, I passed by the entrance to the Cambridge University Botanic Garden. This, along with the Darwin and art exhibit Endless Forms at the Fitzwilliam Museum, is one of the places I wanted to visit but missed (the botanic garden has an exhibit on Darwin and carnivorous plants).

Cambridge University Botanic Garden

Cambridge University Botanic Garden

Cambridge University Botanic Garden

Cambridge University Botanic Garden

As I walked from the garden entrance to the train station, one of the wheels on my bag busted off. No good. At times I carried it and other times I just let the one side of the bag drag on the ground – it depended on the condition of the sidewalks: smooth or higgledly-piggledly. When on the train from Cambridge to London, the train’s power failed while in a  tunnel and we sat there for about 20 minutes. Remember that on the tube in London when heading to King’s Cross Station on my first day in England the track failed, leading to my regretting the decision to use the stairs rather than the elevator to get above ground. To and fro did not treat me well on this trip, but while I was at my destinations everything was great!

Before getting to Heathrow Airport, I decided to get off at the South Kensington station to quickly visit Karen James at the Natural History Museum (whom I had also seen in Cambridge). Turns out she was too busy with meetings, but I got to walk around the museum for about an hour, picked up a few souviners, and met up with another good friend. I was surprised at how many visitors there were in the museum. While that is understandable given the free admission, a  girl working in the museum store told me that this day was rather slow, because school had not yet let out. Here are some photos from my visit to NHM:

Natural History Museum, London

Natural History Museum, London

Butterfly Jungle, Natural History Museum, London

Butterfly Jungle, Natural History Museum, London

Natural History Museum, London

Natural History Museum, London

After Darwin: Contemporary Expressions, Natural History Museum, London

After Darwin: Contemporary Expressions, Natural History Museum, London

After Darwin: Contemporary Expressions was open but I hadn’t the time:

In After Darwin: Contemporary Expressions, major artists and writers exhibit newly-commissioned and existing work, inspired by Charles Darwin’s book, The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals. Their pieces explore Darwin’s theory that expressing emotion is not unique to humans, but is shared with animals.

Natural History Museum, London

Natural History Museum, London

Ammonite fossil, Natural History Museum, London

Ammonite fossil, Natural History Museum, London

Tree (Darwin-inspired ceiling art), Natural History Museum, London

Tree (Darwin-inspired ceiling art), Natural History Museum, London

Darwin Shop, Natural History Museum, London

Darwin Shop, Natural History Museum, London

Darwin Shop, Natural History Museum, London

Darwin Shop, Natural History Museum, London

Darwin Shop, Natural History Museum, London

Darwin Shop, Natural History Museum, London

At the Darwin Shop I picked up coffee mug with Darwin’s tree of life sketch on it, and Kristan Lawson’s Darwin and Evolution for Kids: His Life and Ideas with 21 Activities:

Darwin Mug from Natural History Museum, London

Darwin Mug from Natural History Museum, London

Darwin and Evolution for Kids by Kristan Lawson

Darwin and Evolution for Kids by Kristan Lawson

I took pictures of the other books I got during the trip, and all the Darwin literature (brochures, postcards, etc.).

Marine Reptiles, Natural History Museum, London

Marine Reptiles, Natural History Museum, London

Plesiosaur, Natural History Museum, London

Plesiosaur, Natural History Museum, London

Diplodocus (Dippy), Natural History Museum, London

Diplodocus ("Dippy"), Natural History Museum, London

About this statue, which replaced a statue of Richard Owen at the top of the stairs:

The Darwin statue was created by Sir Joseph Boehm and was unveiled on 9 June 1885. In 1927 it was moved to make way for an Indian elephant specimen, and then moved again in 1970 to the North Hall. The statue’s return to its original prime position is in time for the anniversary of Darwin’s birth 200 years ago, and for the start of the programme of Darwin200 events.

Darwin statue, Natural History Museum, London

Darwin statue, Natural History Museum, London

Darwin statue, Natural History Museum, London

Darwin statue, Natural History Museum, London

It says:

“Freedom of thought is best promoted by the gradual illumination of men’s minds, which follows from the advance of science.”

Charles Robert Darwin (1809-1882)

Dedicated by The Rt Hon Andrew Burnham MP. Secretary of State for Culture, Media & Sport, on the bicentenary of Charles Darwin’s birth, 12 February 2009

Darwin statue, Natural History Museum, London

Darwin statue, Natural History Museum, London

This is my favorite photo from the NHM:

Darwin reflecting on mans ancestry, Natural History Museum, London

Darwin reflecting on man's ancestry, Natural History Museum, London

Darwins view, Natural History Museum, London

Darwin's view, Natural History Museum, London

And of course, me with the man who gave reason for my trip to Cambridge:

Darwin & Me, Natural History Museum, London

Darwin & me, Natural History Museum, London

Woolly Rhino, Natural History Museum, London

Woolly Rhino, Natural History Museum, London

Toxodon, Natural History Museum, London

Toxodon, Natural History Museum, London

Here is the last photograph I took on the trip:

South Kensington station, London

South Kensington station, London

Made my way to Heathrow, got lunch, damn near missed my flight, flew to Minneapolis, bumped into George from the American Computer Museum in Bozeman there (we were on the same flight), and after a delay flew home to Bozeman. And that was that. Not bad for my first trip out of the United States. I will be going to London this fall for a research trip (archives at the Royal Insitution and Kew Gardens), and will spend more time at the Natural History Museum and – how can I not! – visit Down House, Darwin’s home and laboratory for four decades. If the Darwin biopic Creation (check out the very cool flash website) has not opened in the states yet, I will hopefully see it in London.

The HMS Beagle Project has recently started doing podcasts. The second episode features Karen and Richard, and they both talk about their time with me in Cambridge. Karen said my trip to Cambridge was my Mecca. You can listen to it here.

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

PREVIOUS: Cambridge Trip #9: Darwin’s Room at Christ’s CollegeCambridge Trip #8: Darwin’s Microscope at the Whipple Museum of the History of ScienceCambridge Trip #7: Beetles, Finches and Barnacles at the University Museum of ZoologyCambridge Trip #6: Darwin the Geologist at the Sedgwick Museum of Earth SciencesCambridge Trip #5: Darwin Groupies Explore CambridgeCambridge Trip #4: Darwin in the Field Conference, Pt. 2Cambridge Trip #3: Darwin in the Field ConferenceCambridge Trip #2: Finding My WayCambridge Trip #1: Traveling

Cambridge Trip #9: Darwin’s Room at Christ’s College

Monday, 13 July 2009

As I wrote in the last Cambridge post, historian of science John van Wyhe treated Richard and I to a look at the restored Darwin room at Christ’s College, although it was closed that day. Darwin used this room from 1828 to 1831, having first stayed in a room above the tobacconist’s on Sidney Street, the site now occupied by the store Boot’s the chemist (see here); and afterward the Beagle voyage in a room on Fitzwilliam Street (see here).

I shared previous photos from Christ’s College in this post, so here I will show you my shots from Darwin’s room and another statue on the college grounds:

Courtyard below Darwins Room at Christs College, University of Cambridge

Courtyard below Darwin's room at Christ's College, University of Cambridge

Sign for Darwins room, Christs College, University of Cambridge

Sign for Darwin's room, Christ's College, University of Cambridge

Sign for Darwins room, Christs College, University of Cambridge

Sign for Darwin's room, Christ's College, University of Cambridge

Darwins room, Christs College, University of Cambridge

Darwin's room, Christ's College, University of Cambridge

Darwins room, Christs College, University of Cambridge

Darwin's room, Christ's College, University of Cambridge

Darwins room, Christs College, University of Cambridge

Darwin's room, Christ's College, University of Cambridge

Darwins room, Christs College, University of Cambridge

Darwin's room, Christ's College, University of Cambridge

Darwin Bust by William Couper (replica), Christs College, University of Cambridge

Darwin bust by William Couper (replica), Christ's College, University of Cambridge

Darwin Bust by William Couper (replica), Christs College, University of Cambridge

Darwin bust by William Couper (replica), Christ's College, University of Cambridge

About the original bust:

The original bronze was commissioned by the New York Academy of Sciences (NYAS) in 1909 and was given to the AmericanMuseum of Natural History to inaugurate its Darwin Hall of Invertebrate Zoology.  The original bust has since been returned to the offices of the NYAS where it resides today. A replica was cast by Couper in 1909 and given to Christ’s College,University of Cambridge, where Darwin studied.  The March 1909 issue of The American Museum Journal stated that “The bust is pronounced by those who knewDarwin personally and by his sons in England… the best portrait in the round of the great naturalist ever made.”

Darwin at Christs College, University of Cambridge

Darwin at Christ's College, University of Cambridge

Darwin Genealogy, Christs College, University of Cambridge

Darwin Genealogy, Christ's College, University of Cambridge

The Darwin Poems by Emily Ballou, Christs College, University of Cambridge

The Darwin Poems by Emily Ballou, Christ's College, University of Cambridge

I quoted from the poem “To be a seed” by Emily Ballou at the beginning of my conference talk (which was about Darwin’s seed dispersal experiments):

Late at night he imagined the dispersal of seeds
across seas, could imagine the distances
in the instances of finches
strewn by wind and wing
but how did those fragile seeds swim?
Were they carried in the guts of ducks
or trapped like bubbles in an ice floe
floating until slow snow melt released them?
Did they hook like barnacles to the wood of rafts?
And what of plants? And what of snake eggs
wholly floating, bobbing the waves
to new places? And once there, once born,
once cracked open,
how did one live on entirely foreign islands?
By wits? By chance? By sheer
stubborn determination
to be?

After Christ’s College, Richard and I bid farewell (he had to get back home for he worked the next day), and I continued to explore Cambridge.

Pembroke College, University of Cambridge

Pembroke College, University of Cambridge

I popped back in the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences to get something for my son at their gift shop, but it was closed. So I looked around some more:

Plesiosaur, Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge

Plesiosaur, Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge

Invertebrate fossils, Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge

Invertebrate fossils, Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge

Ichthyosaur, Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge

Ichthyosaur, Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge

Christs Pieces, University of Cambridge

Christ's Pieces, University of Cambridge

Busses, Cambridge, England

Busses, Cambridge, England

Grand Arcade, Cambridge, England

Grand Arcade, Cambridge, England

Sign for Library Central, Cambridge, England

Sign for Library Central, Cambridge, England

Candy, Grand Arcade, Cambridge, England

Candy, Grand Arcade, Cambridge, England

Kings College, University of Cambridge

King's College, University of Cambridge

Kings Parade, University of Cambridge

King's Parade, University of Cambridge

Senate House, University of Cambridge

Senate House, University of Cambridge

Braille Map, University of Cambridge

Braille map, University of Cambridge

Heffers Bookstore, Cambridge, England

Heffers bookstore, Cambridge, England

I picked up Mark Pallen’s The Rough Guide to Evolution at Heffer’s, along with a book for my son and some postcards for family.

Trinity College, University of Cambridge

Trinity College, University of Cambridge

Trinity College, University of Cambridge

Trinity College, University of Cambridge

Trinity College, University of Cambridge

Trinity College, University of Cambridge

Punts to the River, University of Cambridge

Punts to the River, University of Cambridge

Corpus Christi College, University of Cambridge

Corpus Christi College, University of Cambridge

Karen James had pointed out to me at King’s College how meticulous the grass lawns are kept in the colleges.

Corpus Christi College, University of Cambridge

Corpus Christi College, University of Cambridge

Corpus Christi College, University of Cambridge

Corpus Christi College, University of Cambridge

Fitzwilliam Street, University of Cambridge

Fitzwilliam Street, University of Cambridge

Sheeps Green, Cambridge, England

Sheep's Green, Cambridge, England

Fairly close to my bed and breakfast was The Granta, with an Italian restaurant I decided to have dinner at.

Punting Boats, The Granta, Cambridge England

Punting Boats, The Granta, Cambridge England

Punting boats, The Granta, Cambridge, England

Punting boats, The Granta, Cambridge, England

Bella Italia, Cambridge, England

Bella Italia, Cambridge, England

Then I went to bed. One more Cambridge post to come, which will actually be about my quick stop at the Natural History Museum in London while on my way to Heathrow Airport.

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

PREVIOUS: Cambridge Trip #8: Darwin’s Microscope at the Whipple Museum of the History of Science; Cambridge Trip #7: Beetles, Finches and Barnacles at the University Museum of ZoologyCambridge Trip #6: Darwin the Geologist at the Sedgwick Museum of Earth SciencesCambridge Trip #5: Darwin Groupies Explore CambridgeCambridge Trip #4: Darwin in the Field Conference, Pt. 2Cambridge Trip #3: Darwin in the Field ConferenceCambridge Trip #2: Finding My WayCambridge Trip #1: Traveling

Today in Science History

From Today in Science History:

George Gaylord Simpson (Died 6 Oct 1984; born 16 June 1902). U.S. paleontologist known for his contributions to evolutionary theory and to the understanding of intercontinental migrations of animal species in past geological times. Simpson specialized in early fossil mammals, leading expeditions on four continents and discovering in 1953 the 50-million-year old fossil skulls of dawn horses in Colorado. He helped develop the modern biological theory of evolution, drawing on paleontology, genetics, ecology, and natural selection to show that evolution occurs as a result of natural selection operating in response to shifting environmental conditions. He spent most of his career as a paleontologist at the American Museum of Natural History.

Bernard-Germain-Étienne Lacépède (Died 6 Oct 1825; born 26 Dec 1756). (Bernard-Germain-) Étienne de La Ville-sur-Illon, comte de (count of) Lacépède, was a French naturalist interested in herpetology and ichthyology. Buffon secured him a position at the Jardin du Roi (later the Jardin des Plantes) and invited him to continue his work Histoire Naturelle in animal classification. To supplement Buffon’s work, Lacépède published several volumes which dealt with the oviparous quadrupeds (1788), reptiles (1789), fishes (1798-1803), and whales (1804). After the French Revolution, he became a politician, which activity prevented him making any further contribution of importance to science.

Huntington exhibit spotlights Darwin

From Pasadena Star-News:

Huntington exhibit spotlights Darwin

Photo Gallery: Darwin exhibit

MARINO – Nearly 150 years after Charles Darwin published his seminal work, “Origin of Species,” evolution is still a “polarizing word” in this country, David Zeidberg, director of the Huntington Library, said Friday.

Darwin may be best known for his study of animal evolution – long the primary source of religious debate. But, Zeidberg said, much of Darwin’s understanding of life on Earth was influenced by his lifelong botanical research into how plants change and adapt.

“Darwin’s Garden: An Evolutionary Adventure,” opening today at the Huntington, focuses on that aspect of his work.

The exhibit originated at the New York Botanical Garden and is making its only West Coast appearance at the Huntington. It illustrates the formation of Darwin’s ideas on evolution through more than 60 items, writings in his own hand, rare books and prints, including some from the Huntington’s own Darwin collection.

Darwin’s theory of evolution was formulated within a framework of religious belief, Zeidberg said, and in his time it wasn’t regarded as an “either/or” choice. Subtler “theories of transmutation” had been around for some time, Zeidberg said, put forward by people with religious upbringings suggesting that plants and animals adapted over time.

Proof of that theory in regard to plants is hard to argue with, Zeidberg said.

“There’s the hybridization of plants for food purposes,” he said. “If they were immutable, you couldn’t get a seedless grape.”

Dan Lewis, senior curator at the Huntington’s soon-to-open Dibner Hall of the History of Science, said he wasn’t surprised that evolution is still being questioned.

“Religious beliefs are resilient,” he said. “They live on in the face of many things people call rational or irrational – that’s what makes it faith.”

Still, if alternate theories such as creationism are taught as science rather than religion, Zeidberg said, they should be put to the same rigorous scientific tests as evolution.

The Darwin exhibit has a strong personal touch, reaching back to his childhood in England. A chalk portrait from 1816, with his sister Catherine, shows the 6-year-old Darwin clutching a potted plant to his chest.

The exhibit’s three parts highlight his early formative years and education; his development of “Origin of Species,” based on his botanical research; and evolutionary botany. It chronicles his voyage aboard HMS Beagle, 1831-36, where he collected plants in the Galapagos Islands.

The exhibit runs through Jan. 5 at the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, 1151 Oxford Road. For information, visit huntington.org or call (626) 405-2100.

Darwin’s Garden Opens at The Huntington Library

From Artdaily.org:

Darwin’s Garden: An Evolutionary Adventure Opens at The Huntington Library

SAN MARINO, CA Charles Darwin (1809–1882) is best known for his theory of evolution and other natural history achievements, but little is known about his enduring and insightful work with plants and the important role they played in formulating his ideas. “Darwin’s Garden: An Evolutionary Adventure” at The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens explores the untold story of these botanical influences, Darwin’s research, his contribution to the understanding of plants, and ultimately, of life in general. The exhibition will be on display in the West Hall of the Library from Oct. 4, 2008, to Jan. 5, 2009.

The exhibition originated at the New York Botanical Garden, with curator David Kohn, Darwin expert and Drew University science and society professor emeritus. “Kohn amply illustrates that Darwin’s early work in botany was the basis for his theories of evolution,” says David Zeidberg, the Avery Director of the Huntington Library, who welcomes the exhibition to its only traveling venue. “Origin of Species focuses on animals, but it was Darwin’s work on plants that laid the foundation for the great work.” Next year marks the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth and the 150th anniversary of the book.

The exhibition features more than 60 items, including rare books, manuscripts, and prints from the New York Botanical Garden’s collection and loans from private individuals and institutions such as the Cambridge Herbarium, Cambridge University Library, Down House (Darwin’s home), the archives and library of the Gray Herbarium of Harvard University, and the Lindley Library of the Royal Horticultural Society. Some items from Cambridge are too fragile to travel, but facsimiles will Darwin’s Garden: An Evolutionary Adventure be available for viewing. The Huntington will display its own copies of a selection of items from the exhibition checklist, including The Botanic Garden (1791) by Darwin’s grandfather, Erasmus Darwin; Robert Hooke’s Micrographia (1665), which features drawings of the first microscopic views of plant cells; and James Bateman’s The Orchidaceae of Mexico and Guatamala (1837–43), a large-format book containing 40 color plates of orchids.

Darwin’s work with plants provided credible and enduring evidence in support of his theory of evolution through natural selection. He laid the foundation of modern botany as an evolutionary discipline. Darwin also became an expert on virtually every British species of orchid. He discovered and demonstrated that the key to orchid pollination was the touch of an insect’s proboscis, which releases spring-loaded pollen. From this breakthrough Darwin structured a convincing argument for adaptation by natural selection. He contended that plants—no less than animals—are sensitive creatures in possession of behaviors that permit them to respond to their environment, including elements such as sunlight, touch, and gravity. Plants climb over neighbors, track the movement of the sun, capture and digest insects, and respond to the “touch from a child’s hair.” Darwin delighted in discovering these adaptations.

The exhibition is divided into three parts: Darwin’s formative years in education; development of Origin of Species based on botanical work; and evolutionary botany. As an undergraduate, Darwin collected specimens for his botany professor’s herbarium. While still a young man, he traveled aboard the HMS Beagle, writing in his journal that his mind was “a chaos of delight” as he reveled in the luxuriance of tropical forests. He spent much of his time collecting plants along with fossil bones and bird skins. Darwin’s collection of “all plants in flower” from the Galápagos Islands, for example, became the basis for the first flora of that archipelago and provided his strongest evidence for evolution.

“Even before he had gone on that trip, he began to crossbreed plants,” says Zeidberg. “This early study of variation would become another principle of Origin of Species and one of the underlying concepts of the notion of survival of the fittest.”

The exhibition also chronicles Darwin’s professional friendships and intellectual exchanges with leading botanists of the era, including Joseph Dalton Hooker, director of the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew, and Asa Gray, renowned Harvard University botanist, and shows how they contributed to Origin of Species.

The exhibition begins just weeks before the grand opening of The Huntington’s new Dibner Hall on the History of Science. The permanent installation, titled “Beautiful Science: Ideas that Changed the World,” opens Nov. 1 and will showcase galleries devoted to four subject areas: astronomy, natural history, medicine, and light. The section devoted to natural history will include a 20 foot wide display of more than 300 editions and translations of Origins of Species, including one of The Huntington’s four copies of the first edition of that seminal work.

A catalog of the exhibition, Darwin’s Garden: An Evolutionary Adventure, by guest curator David Kohn, will be available for purchase in the Huntington Bookstore & More.

Today in Science History: a bunch of botanists were born or died

From Today in Science History:

George Bentham (Born 22 Sep 1800; died 10 Sep 1844). British botanist whose classification of seed plants (Spermatophyta), based on an exhaustive study of all known species, served as a foundation for modern systems of vascular plant taxonomy. Sir William Hooker, invited him to establish permanent quarters at Kew gardens, where Bentham participated in the Gardens’ definitive survey of floras of the British colonies and possessions, for which he prepared the Flora Hongkongensis (1861) and the Flora Australiensis (7 vol., 1863-78), cataloging and describing more than 7,000 species. Collaborating with Hooker’s son Sir Joseph, Bentham spent 27 years in research and examination of specimens for the work Genera Plantarum (3 vol., 1862-83), which covered 200 “orders” of 7,569 genera, and 97,200 species.

Michael Faraday (Born 22 Sep 1791; died 25 Aug 1867). English physicist and chemist whose many experiments contributed greatly to the understanding of electromagnetism. Although one of the greatest experimentalists, he was largely self-educated. Appointed by Sir Humphry Davy as his assistant at the Royal Institution, Faraday initially concentrated on analytical chemistry, and discovered benzene in 1825. His most important work was in electromagnetism, in which field he demonstrated electromagnetic rotation and discovered electromagnetic induction (the key to the development of the electric dynamo and motor). He also discovered diamagnetism and the laws of electrolysis. He published pioneering papers that led to the practical use of electricity, and he advocated the use of electric light in lighthouses.

Christian Konrad Sprengel (Born 22 Sep 1750; died 7 Apr 1816). German botanist and teacher whose studies of sex in plants led him to a general theory of fertilization which, basically, is accepted today. Although director of a school at Spandau and tutor in Berlin, he devoted himself chiefly to the study of flowering plants. Sprengel’s 1793 treatise on floral structure examines the ways that flower colors, scents, shapes, and markings work harmoniously to attract insects for pollination. A clergyman and botanist, he spent his life researching the role played by the wind and insects in the fertilization of flowers. Although Sprengel’s work was neglected by his contemporaries, Charles Darwin later praised Sprengel’s work and brought it brought to public attention.

Peter Simon Pallas (Born 22 Sep 1741; died 8 Sep 1811). German naturalist who was a pioneer in zoogeography by going beyond merely cataloging specimens with simple descriptions, but included observations of causal relationships between animals and their environment. He looked for hidden regularities in natural phenomena over an extreme range of habitats. His extensive field studies made on expeditions in Russia resulted in records of hundreds of species of animals and plants together with commentary on the interrelationships among them and their environment, and careful notes on the areas of distribution and boundaries. This work was a precursor to theories of evolution. He was first to theorise that mountain formation resulted from volcanic processes causing uplifts and receding seas.

Merritt Lyndon Fernald (Died 22 Sep 1950; born 5 Oct 1873). American botanist noted for his comprehensive study of the flora of the northeastern United States. In Feb 1891, Fernald was offered a position at the Gray Herbarium of Harvard University that would allow him to work and study part-time at Harvard. He remained at the Gray Herbarium in one capacity or another for the rest of his life, beginning as an assistant, going on to be a professor, eventually as curator of the Gray Herbarium, 1935-37, and director, 1937-1947. Fernald is known for his work on phytogeography. He combined extensive field work with his herbarium work, concentrating on the flora of eastern North America. He did much exploring in Quebec in his younger years; when older, he worked in Virginia.

Florence Augusta Merriam Bailey (Died 22 Sep 1948; born 8 Aug 1863). American ornithologist and author of popular field guides. She preceded Ludlow Griscom in calling for the use of binoculars instead of shotguns when birding. By 1885, she began to write articles focusing on protecting birds. She was horrified by the fashion trend which not only used feathers, but entire birds to decorate women’s hats. Five million birds a year were killed to supply this fashion craze. At age 26, Bailey collected and developed the series of articles she had written for the Audubon Magazine into her first book, Birds Through an Opera Glass, (1889). Altogether she published about 100 articles, mostly for ornithological magazines, and 10 books. including the Handbook of Birds of the Western United States (1902) and Birds of New Mexico (1928).

John Bartram (Died 22 Sep 1777; born 23 Mar 1699). American explorer who is also regarded as the father of American botany, a subject he self-taught from the age of ten. He made a systematic study of healing plants. In 1728, Bartram bought land beside the Schuylkill River at Kingsessing, outside Philadelphia, created Bartram’s Garden, and began likely the first experiments in hybridizing in America. (His Garden now forms part of Philadelphia’s small park system – the oldest living botanical garden in the U.S. – where many giant trees may still be seen that he planted.) He travelled widely to gather ripe seeds, roots and bulbs in proper condition for transplanting. Shipping many species to introduce in Europe developed into a business. His son William Bartram followed him as a naturalist.

Today in Science History

From Today in Science History:

Stephen Hales (Born 17 Sep 1677; died 4 Jan 1781). English botanist, physiologist, who pioneered the quantitative experimental approach in plant and animal physiology. He was a clergyman whose work in plant physiology, Vegetable Staticks (1787), included early demonstrations of the importance of air and light in plant growth, and of the role of transpiration in causing upward sap flow. He also measured the rates of growth of shoots and leaves and the pressure roots exert on sap, and he investigated plant respiration. Hales was the first to quantitatively measure blood pressure, measured the capacity of the left ventricle of the heart, and the output of the heart per minute. He invented an artificial ventilator that could convey fresh air into prisons, ships’ holds, and granaries.

Antoine-Laurent de Jussieu (Died 17 Sep 1836; born 12 Apr 1748). French botanist who developed the principles that served as the foundation of a natural system of plant classification. He was born into a family of eminent botanists from Lyons in France. After graduating from the Jardin du Roi in 1770, he continued to work there. He is remembered for introducing a natural classification system that distinguishes relationships between plants relying a large number of characters, unlike the artificial Linnean system, which uses only a few. He distinguished 15 classes and 100 families, of which 76 remain in botanical nomenclature today. His uncles Antoine, Bernard, and Joseph de Jussieu all made important contributions to botany and his son, Adrien, subsequently continued the family tradition.

Today in Science History

From Today in Science History:

Stephen Jay Gould (Born 10 Sep 1941; died 20 May 2002). American paleontologist, evolutionary biologist, and science writer who grew up in New York City. He graduated from Antioch College and received his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1967. Since then he has been Professor of Geology and Zoology at Harvard University. He consider[ed] himself primarily a palaeontologist and an evolutionary biologist, though he teaches geology and the history of science as well. A frequent and popular speaker on the sciences, his published work includes both scholarly study and many prize-winning popular collections of essays.

Lilian Gibbs (Born 10 Sep 1870; died 30 Jan 1925). Lilian Suzette Gibbs was an independent English botanist who organized botanical expeditions to some of the most remote places on Earth. After her education at Swanley Horticultural College and in botany at the Royal College of Science, she made a botanical trip to Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) in 1905, followed by expeditions in 1907 to Fiji and New Zealand, Queensland and Tasmania. In 1910, she became the first woman to reach the summit of Mount Kinabulu in Borneo. She contributed over 1,000 botanical specimens from that trip to the British Museum. Bambusa gibbsiae (Miss Gibbs’s bamboo) was named for her. In 1912 she made a botanical trip to Iceland, and in 1913, to the East Indies and Dutch New Guinea.

John Needham (Born 10 Sep 1713; died 30 Dec 1781). John Turberville Needham was an English naturalist and Roman Catholic priest. He experimented, with Buffon, on the idea of spontaneous generation of life. After boiling mutton broth and sealing it in glass containers which were stored for a few days, then reopened, he found numerous microorganisms therein. His conclusion was that the organisms had arisen from non-living matter. (However, two decades later, Spallanzani indicated this was invalid since some spores could still survive the short period of boiling temperature Needham used.) He was the first clergyman of his faith to become a member of the Royal Society of London (1768).

George Bentham (Died 10 Sep 1844; born 22 Sep 1800). British botanist whose classification of seed plants (Spermatophyta), based on an exhaustive study of all known species, served as a foundation for modern systems of vascular plant taxonomy. Sir William Hooker, invited him to establish permanent quarters at Kew gardens, where Bentham participated in the Gardens’ definitive survey of floras of the British colonies and possessions, for which he prepared the Flora Hongkongensis (1861) and the Flora Australiensis (7 vol., 1863-78), cataloging and describing more than 7,000 species. Collaborating with Hooker’s son Sir Joseph, Bentham spent 27 years in research and examination of specimens for the work Genera Plantarum (3 vol., 1862-83), which covered 200 “orders” of 7,569 genera, and 97,200 species.

Today in Science History

From Today in Science History:

Ferdinand Vandiveer Hayden (Born 7 Sep 1829; died 22 Dec 1887). American geologist who was a pioneer investigator of the western United States. Just out of medical school in 1853, he turned to paleontology under James Hall, who sent him west to collect fossils in the Badlands and the Upper Missouri Valley. It is generally accepted that the first discovery of dinosaur remains made in North America was in 1854, by Ferdinand Vandiveer Hayden during his exploration of the upper Missouri River. After serving as a surgeon in the Civil War, Hayden continued his western explorations. His explorations and geologic studies of the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains helped lay the foundation of the U.S. Geological Survey. Hayden is credited with having the Yellowstone geyser area declared the first national park (1872).

Comte Georges-Louis de Buffon (Born 7 Sep 1707; died 16 Apr 1788). Buffon was a French naturalist, who formulated a crude theory of evolution and was the first to suggest that the earth might be older than suggested by the Bible. In 1739 he was appointed keeper of the Jardin du Roi, a post he occupied until his death. There he worked on a comprehensive work on natural history, for which he is remembered, Histoire naturelle, générale et particulière. He began this work in 1749, and it dominated the rest of his life. It would eventually run to 44 volumes, including quadrupeds, birds, reptiles and minerals. He proposed (1778) that the Earth was hot at its creation and, from the rate of cooling, calculated its age to be 75,000 years, with life emerging some 40,000 years ago.

Jan Ingenhousz (Died 7 Sep 1799 (born 8 Dec 1730) Dutch-born British physician and scientist who discovered photosynthesis by identifying that sunlight gave green plants the ability to take in carbon dioxide, fix the carbon, and purified the air (returned oxygen) to the benefit of respiration of animals. Earlier, as a physician, he promoted Edward Jenner’s use of inoculation with live smallpox vaccine to induce protection against the disease. Ingenhousz was a diligent experimenter, who studied soils and plant nutrition. He introduced the use of cover slips on microscope slides. He improved phosphorus matches and an apparatus for generating static electricity; investigated Brownian motion and heat conduction in metals, invented a hydrogen-fueled lighter, and mixed an explosive propellant for firing pistols

Darwin’s Garden Exhibit @ The Huntington Library & Botanical Gardens in California

From The Huntington’s website:

Darwin’s Garden: An Evolutionary Adventure

Oct. 4, 2008 – Jan. 5, 2009
Library West Hall

Charles Darwin is best known for his theory of evolution and other natural history achievements, but little is known about his enduring and insightful work with plants and the important role they played in formulating his ideas. While still a young man, he traveled aboard the HMS Beagle, writing in his journal that his mind was “a chaos of delight” as he reveled in the luxuriance of tropical forests. He spent much of his time collecting plants along with fossil bones and bird skins. Darwin’s collection of “all plants in flower” from the Galápagos Islands, for example, became the basis for the first flora of that archipelago and provided his strongest evidence for evolution.

Next year marks the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth and the 150th anniversary of Origin of Species. To commemorate the occasion, the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) opened this exhibition in April 2008; The Huntington will be its only traveling venue. The exhibition explores the botanical influences on Darwin’s formative years in education, their impact on Origin of Species, and Darwin’s place in the field of evolutionary botany. More than 60 items will be on display, including rare books, manuscripts, and prints from the NYBG collection and loans from private individuals and institutions. The Huntington will display its own copies of a selection of items from the exhibition checklist.

Tattooed – Dinosaurs & Darwin

We went to the Museum of the Rockies here in town for a free family day and barbecue, and Patrick got a Triceratops tattoo (for me, a Tyrannosaurus rex). He absolutely loved it! Then later in my mail was an envelope from the New York Botanical Garden. Their marketing department saw this picture I shared, and offered to mail me some of their Darwin’s Garden temporary tattoos. As can be seen in the picture here, they sent a bunch. Thanks! If anyone wants a few, I would be happy to send some your way…

Check out the Science Tattoo Emporium!

Today in Science History

From Today in Science History:

Paul Kammerer (Born 17 Aug 1880; died 23 Sep 1926). Austrian biologist, he claimed to have produced experimental evidence that acquired traits could be inherited. Almost all of Kammerer’s experiments involved forcing various amphibians to breed in environments that were radically different from their native habitat to demonstrate Lamarkian inheritance. (This is the idea that what one acquires during one’s lifetime is passed on to that person’s offspring. If you play guitar, your children will have nimble fingers. Each generation builds upon the past and continues to improve.) When later accused of faking exceptional results with the midwife toad, during a time of depression, he shot himself.

Bernard de Jussieu (Born 17 Aug 1699; died 6 Nov 1777). French botanist whose method of plant classification was based on anatomical characteristics of the plant embryo. Although he first studied medicine, in 1722 he became subdemonstrator of plants in the Jardin du Roi, Paris. In 1758, Louis XV made him superintendent of his royal garden at Trianon near Paris, which was to contain specimens of all plants cultivated in France. It was here that he devised his system to arrange and catalogued the plants of Trianon. He did not arrange the genera systematically in groups according to a single characteristic, but after consideration of all the characteristics, which, however, are not regarded as of equal value. His brothers, Antoine and Joseph, and nephew Antoine-Laurent, were also botanists.

Today in Science History

From Today in Science History:

David Grandison Fairchild (Died 6 Aug 1954; born 7 Apr 1869). American botanist and plant explorer who supervised the introduction of over 20,000 exotic plants and varieties of established crops into the U.S., including soya beans, mangos, alfalfa, nectarines, horseradish, and flowering cherries. He spent 37 years seeking new and useful plants by travelling the world including the South Sea Islands, Australia, New Zealand, New Guinea, Japan, China, the Persian Gulf, Africa, the West Indies, and South America. In 1898 he set up a small plant introduction garden on a six-acre plot near Miami, Florida, especially interested in aesthetically valuable or economically useful exotic fruits and plants. He managed the Foreign Seed and Plant Introduction program of the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (1906-28).

Florentino Ameghino (Died 6 Aug 1911; born 19 Sep 1853). Argentine paleontologist and anthropologist who made significant contributions to the field of vertebrate paleontology and established the Pampas region of Argentina as a rich source of fossils. He discovered over 6,000 fossil species and classified 35 suborders of mammals. Ameghino’s controversial discoveries of stone implements, carved bones, and other signs of a human presence in Argentina during the Pliocene, Miocene, and earlier periods served to increase his worldwide fame.

Today in Science History

From Today in Science History:

William Henry Hudson (Born 4 Aug 1841; died 18 Aug 1922). English (born in Argentina of American parents) author, naturalist and ornithologist. His interest in nature started in his youth when he studied the local flora and fauna in Argentina, where he was born of American parents. After moving to England (1869) he published onithological works including Argentine Ornithology (1888-1899) and British Birds (1895). He followed these with popular books on the English countryside, including Hampshire Days (1903) and Afoot in England (1909). His work helped foster the back-to-nature movement of the 1920s to 1930s, and he was a founder member of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

John Tradescant, the Younger (Born 4 Aug 1608; died 22 Apr 1662). British botanist and gardener who was appointed by King Charles I as Keeper of his Majesty’s Gardens, Vines, and Silkworms at Oatlands Palace in Surrey, where he continued the work of his father John Tradescant the Elder (c.1570-1638). Together, they were among the earliest English botanists. After his apprenticeship, John Tradescant the Younger became a freeman of the Worshipful Company of Gardeners (1634). Three years later, he went to Virginia on a botanical collection expedition (1637-38) “to gather up all raritye of flowers, plants, shells.” His father had served similarly for the king from 1630, travelling abroad several times to bring back new plant species. The son succeeded to the post at Oatland Palace upon his father’s death in 1638.

Walther Flemming (Died 4 Aug 1905; born 21 Apr 1843). German anatomist who was the first to observe and describe systematically the behaviour of chromosomes in the cell nucleus during normal cell division (mitosis, a term he coined in 1882). Thus, he was a founder of cytogenetics as a branch of science to study chromosomes, the cell’s hereditary material. Flemming coined other terms: spireme, aster, chromatin, achromatin, monocentric and dicentric phases. Chromatin (Gr. chroma = colour) referred to certain fragments of the cell nucleus that took on a strong colour from the dyes he used during microscopic study. Flemming did not know of Mendel’s work, so 20 years passed before the genetic implications were realized. Chromosomes, formed from cromatin, were named in 1888 by Waldeyer-Hartz.

"What’s New" at Darwin Online

These were added to The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online between July 25 and 30, 2008:

Huxley, Leonard. 1921. The home life of Charles Darwin. R.P.A. Annual [Rationalist Press Association] pp. 5-9. Text Image

Fabre, Henri. 1913. My relations with Darwin. The Fortnightly Review n.s. 94: 661-675. Text Image

Vignoles, O. J. 1893. The home of a naturalist. Good Words 34: 95-101. Text Image

Bowen, Elizabeth. 1934. The mulberry tree [Downe House]. In Greene, Graham ed., The old school: essays by divers hands. London: Jonathan Cape, pp. 45-59. Text Image

[Litchfield, Henrietta Emma.] 1910. Richard Buckley Litchfield: a memoir written for his friends by his wife. Cambridge: privately printed. [Darwin extracts only] Text Image

Anon. 1882. [Obituary] Charles Robert Darwin. Punch (29 April): 203. Text Image

Nash, Wallis. 1919. A lawyer’s life on two continents. Boston: Richard G. Badger, the Gorham Press. [Darwin reminiscences only] Text Image

[Duff, Ursula Grant ed.] 1924. The life-work of Lord Avebury (Sir John Lubbock) 1834-1913. London: Watts & Co. [Darwin recollections only] Text Image

[Shipley, Arthur Everett and James Crawford Simpson eds.] 1909. Darwin centenary: the portraits, prints and writings of Charles Robert Darwin, exhibited at Christ’s College, Cambridge 1909. [Cambridge: University Press]. Text Image

Webster, A. D. 1888. Darwin’s garden. Gardeners’ Chronicle (24 March): 359-360. Text Image

Darwin, C. R. ed. 1841. Birds Part 3 of The zoology of the voyage of H.M.S. Beagle. by John Gould. Edited and superintended by Charles Darwin. London: Smith Elder and Co. Text

Photos of Darwin’s Garden: An Evolutionary Adventure

Here are some photos (start here, go to the left) of the Darwin’s Garden: An Evolutionary Adventure exhibit at the New York Botanical Garden earlier this summer, care of Karen James of The HMS Beagle Project.

Previous posts about Darwin’s Garden:

Today in Science History

From Today in Science History:

Sir William Jackson Hooker (Born 6 July 1785; died 12 Aug 1865). English botanist who was the first director of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, near London. He greatly advanced the knowledge of ferns, algae, lichens, and fungi, as well as of higher plants. [Father to botanist Joseph Dalton Hooker]

Alexander Wilson (Born 6 July 1766; died 23 Aug 1813). Scottish-born ornithologist and poet who left his homeland in 1794, aged 27, in search of a better life in America. Naturalist William Bartram sparked his interest in birds. By 1802, Wilson had resolved to author a book illustrating every North American bird. He travelled extensively to make paintings of the birds he observed. This pioneering work on North American birds grew to nine volumes of American Ornithology, published between 1808 and 1814, with illustrations of 268 species, of which 26 were new. As a founder of American ornithology he became one of the leading naturalists who also made the first census of breeding birds, corrected errors of taxonomy, and may have inspired Audubon’s later work when they met in 1810.

Joseph LeConte (Died 6 July 1901; born 26 Feb 1823). American geologist who was a universalist in the scope of his scientific writings. As a founding member of John Muir’s Sierra Club, he spoke fervently for broad preservation of California forests by government and wise use of timberlands in private enterprise. He was one of the earliest advocates of contractional theory of mountain formation. LeConte accepted the theory of evolution about 1874, becoming one of its leading proponents and a writer able to reconcile the idea with religious thought. His Sight: An Exposition of the Principles of Monocular and Binocular Vision (1881) was the first treatise on physiological optics written in the U.S. He was an ardent camper, and his death occurred during a trip in the Yosemite Valley.

Darwin on BBC Radio 4’s "Today"

From July 1st:

Today’s science correspondent Tom Feilden visits Charles Darwin’s garden in Kent, which he used as an open air laboratory, to find out how Kentish hedge parsley helped Darwin to refine his theory of natural selection. LISTEN

From July 5th:

Charles Darwin, author of the Origin of Species, may have seriously considered the possibility that life arrived here in a meteorite. Dr John Van Whye, a historian of science at Cambridge, has been exploring this theory for a paper he is giving and he discusses the possibility with Dr Caroline Smith, the meteorite curator at the Natural History Museum. LISTEN

Both of these radio pieces were discussed on the blog Question Darwin: Pilgrimage to Downe House and Charles Darwin and the coal from space!, and the following was added to The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online on July 3rd:

Darwin, C. R. 1881. [Quotation from a letter]. In R[achel, G. W.], Mr. Darwin on Dr. Hahn’s discovery of fossil organisms in meteorites. Science 2, No. 61 (27 August): 410. Text Image A newly discovered Darwin publication!

Today in Science History

From Today in Science History:

Sir Ferdinand von Mueller (Born 30 Jun 1825; died 10 Oct 1896). German-born Australian botanist and explorer. He migrated to Australia in 1848 for health reasons, and there became the country’s greatest 19th-century scientist. Mueller gained an international reputation as a great botanical collector and writer. His contributions covered a wide field of sciences such as geography, pharmacy, horticulture, agriculture, forestry, paleontology, and zoology. His activity as a botanist is shown by hundreds of Australian plant names which are followed by ‘F. Muell’. From 1853, he held the post as the first Government Botanist of Victoria until his death, 43 years later. He travelled widely throughout the colonies on botanical exploration, including as naturalist to the Gregory expedition to northern Australia (1855-57).

Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker (Born 30 Jun 1817; died 10 Dec 1911). English botanist who was assistant on Sir James Ross’s Antarctic expedition and whose botanical travels to foreign lands included India, Palestine and the U.S., from which he became a leading taxonomists in his time. His Student’s Flora of the British Islands became a standard text. He was a great friend of Charles Darwin, and they collaborated in research. With Charles Lyell, Hooker encouraged the publication of Darwin’s theory of evolution. He served (1855-65) as assistant director to his father, Sir William Jackson Hooker, of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, whom he succeeded as director for another 20 years. He was also a president of the Royal Society. At age 94, he died in his sleep and was buried at Kew.

See Jim Endersy’s website on J.D. Hooker, and his new book, Imperial Nature: Joseph Hooker and the Practices of Victorian Science. Also, my post on Hooker from March 2008, and today’s post from Mystery of Mysteries.

Abraham Werner (Died 30 Jun 1817; born 25 Sep 1750). Abraham Gottlob Werner was a German geologist who founded the Neptunist school, holding that all rocks have aqueous origins. This contrasts with the Plutonists, or Vulcanists, who maintain that granite among other rocks were of igneous origin. Werner also rejected the idea of uniformitarianism whereby geological evolution has been a uniform and continuous process.

And on this day in 1860, Bishop Samuel Wilberforce and Thomas Henry Huxley squared off in a debate. Prof. Olsen has more, but also read Did Huxley really mop the floor with Wilberforce? from Brian at Laelaps.

Today in Science History: Darwin Receives Wallace Manuscript

From About Darwin:

1858 June 18 Darwin received a paper from Alfred Russel Wallace, who was still at the Malay Archipelago. The paper was titled: “On the Tendency of Varieties to Depart Indefinitely from the Original Type.” Darwin was shocked! Wallace had come up with a theory of natural selection that was very similar to his own. The paper contained concepts like “the struggle for existence,” and “the transmutation of species.” Upon further examination Darwin saw that Wallace had some ideas about natural selection that he did not agree with. For one thing, Wallace tried to mix social morality with natural selection, proposing an upward evolution of human morals which would eventually lead to a socialist utopia (Darwin’s natural selection had no goal). What’s more, Wallace believed that cooperation in groups aided in the progress of mankind (Darwin saw natural selection as being influenced by competition). Finally, Wallace’s natural selection was guided by a higher spiritual power (there was no divine intervention in Darwin’s version).

From Today in Science History:

Alexander Wetmore (Born 18 Jun 1886; died 7 Dec 1978). Alexander Wetmore, whose first name was never used, became a prominent ornithologist and avian paleontologist, noted for his research on birds of the Western Hemisphere. Between 1910 and 1924, he worked for with the U.S. Bureau of Biological Survey, Department of Agriculture. In 1925, he was appointed Assistant Secretary, head of the Smithsonian’s U.S. National Museum. From 1945 to 1952, he served as the sixth Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. Upon retiring, he continued his research at the Smithsonian Institution for another quarter century.

F.A.F.C. Went (Born 18 Jun 1863). F. A. F. C. Went, was professor of botany and director of the Botanical Garden at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands where he initiated the study of plant hormones and advanced the study of botany in the Netherlands. With a modern, well-equipped laboratory of botany, he attracted a great many visitors from all over the world, many of them famous in their own right. His son, Frits Warmolt Went followed in his footsteps researching plant hormones, and became well-known for studying and naming auxins.

Today in Science History

From Today in Science History:

Francis Crick (Born 8 Jun 1916; died 28 Jul 2004). Francis Harry Compton Crick was a British biophysicist, who, with James Watson and Maurice Wilkins, received the 1962 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for their determination of the molecular structure of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), the chemical substance ultimately responsible for hereditary control of life functions. Crick and Watson began their collaboration in 1951, and published their paper on the double helix structure on 2 Apr 1953 in Nature. This accomplishment became a cornerstone of genetics and was widely regarded as one of the most important discoveries of 20th-century biology.

William Dampier (Born 8 Jun 1652; died Mar 1715). English navigator who recorded descriptions of native cultures as well as coastlines, rivers, and villages during his several voyages of mapping and exploration around the world. He published these, along with natural history observations, including his experience on 4 Jul 1687 when his ship survived a typhoon. This, one of the earliest known European descriptions of a tropical revolving storm, also presented a new understanding that storms somehow move, rather than remain stationary. He collected plants in Brazil, Australia, Timor and New Guinea. His book A New Voyage Round The World contained descriptions of people, places, things, plants, fish, reptiles, birds and mammals. In effect he was an early contributor to scientific exploration.

Titan Arum In 1937, a specimen of the world’s largest flower, first bloomed in the U.S. in the NY Botanical Garden. The giant Sumatran Titan Arum, Amorphophallus titanum, measured 8½-ft high and 4-ft diam. Its putrid rotting-corpse fragrance repelled visitors. Native in Sumatran jungles of Indonesia, it is known there as the “corpse flower.” Dr. Odoardo Beccari, an Italian botanist, was the first western expert to find the Titan Arum in the Pading Province during 1878. Seeds he sent back to his patron, the Marchese Corsi Salviati were grown in Italy, and a few plants were at Beccari’s request sent to Kew Gardens in England in 1879. One of those seedlings flowered in June 1887. Another plant bloomed there in 1926, to wide attention.