PODCASTS: Alfred Russel Wallace lectures from AMNH and Royal Society

The American Museum of Natural History has put up the audio from David Attenborough’s talk, “Alfred Russel Wallace and the Birds of Paradise,” on November 12 here.

David Attenborough

David Attenborough unveiling the statue of Alfred Wallace at the Natural History Museum London, photo by “Greta dark”

The Royal Society has also put up audio from several lectures given at a conference on October 21-22, “Alfred Russel Wallace and his legacy” (each link is direct to an mp3):

Dr George Beccaloni, Natural History Museum, UK
Wallace’s life

Dr John van Wyhe, National University of Singapore, Singapore
Wallace and Darwin: what really happened?

Professor Janet Browne, Harvard University, USA
Natural selection a la Wallace

Professor Steve Jones FRS, University College London, UK
Wallace and the Limits to Natural Selection

Professor Charles H. Smith, Western Kentucky University, USA
Early Humboldtian Influences on Alfred Russel Wallace’s Scheme of Nature

Professor Lynne Parenti, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, USA
The Modern Biogeographical Legacy of Alfred Russel Wallace

Professor R.I. Vane-Wright, Natural History Musuem, UK
Wallace and Colouration

Professor Tim Caro, University of California, Davis, USA
Colouration today

Professor James Mallet, University College London and Harvard University, UK and USA
Wallace’s understanding of species and speciation

Professor Tim Birkhead FRS, University of Sheffield, UK
Wallace, Darwin and female choice

Professor Ted Benton, University of Essex, UK
Wallace and human evolution

Professor Chris Stringer FRS, Natural History Museum, UK
Old and new views on human evolution

Martin Rees FRS, University of Cambridge, UK
Wallace and the universe

Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz FRS, University of Cambridge, UK
The Vaccination Controversy

Dr David Stack, University of Reading, UK
Wallace, a social scientist’s perspective

Dr Andrew Berry, Harvard University, USA
The Wallace legacy

History of creationism

A recent lecture and a podcast both look at the history of creationism in America.

The podcast BackStory with the American History Guys brought on historian of science Ronald Numbers and high school educator Joe Wilkey to discuss “In the Beginning: Evolution & Creation in America” (mp3):

On this episode of BackStory, the History Guys explore the ways Americans have attempted to grapple with the biggest question of them all: “Where did we come from?” Together, they trace the ups and downs in the relationship between science  and religion. Are there times when the two have not been at odds? How did the Founders conceive of “creation,” and why did the idea of extinction pose such a challenge to their worldview? How were Darwin’s ideas received in the U.S., and why did it take six decades before public school systems started challenging the teaching of his theories? What lessons does history offer those interested in charting a peaceful relationship between science and religion in the future?

And Adam Laats gave a lecture entitled “‘Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Huckabee’ – Creationism in Historical Perspective” for the Evolutionary Studies seminar series on November 7th, and video is available:

Skeptically Speaking #129: The Prince of Evolution

Click here to listen or download episode 129 of Skeptically Speaking:

This week, we’re discussing evolution, and a less well known, but just as fabulously bearded, scientist who helped to expand the theory. We’ll talk to Dr. Lee Alan Dugatkin, about his book The Prince of Evolution: Peter Kropotkin’s Adventures in Science and Politics. And science history blogger Michael D. Barton joins us to examine the ways that evolution deniers misuse the words of Charles Darwin to make their case.

Podcast Beyond Belief

Podcast Beyond Belief

Podcast for Secular Parenting

Foundation Beyond Belief (website/Blog/Twitter/Facebook), the non-profit organization started by Dale McGowan (blog/Twitter), author/editor of Parenting Beyond Belief and Raising Freethinkers, now has a podcast, Podcast Beyond Belief (Facebook):

The fathers at Science-Based Parenting are producing a new podcast affiliated with Foundation Beyond Belief called “Podcast Beyond Belief”. We’re teaming up with Laurie Tarr of Rational Moms, Elyse Anders from Skepchick, and Heidi Anderson from She Thought to bring you an assortment of interesting interviews, audio articles, and parenting news targeted toward freethinking families.

The first episode is with Dale McGowan himself (“What is Secularism?”). Listen here.

Reshelving anti-evolution books on Skeptically Speaking podcast

Can you find the Creationist book?  (Photo by Colin Purrington)

Can you find the Creationist book? (Photo by Colin Purrington)

The whole fiasco revolving around my reshelving anti-evolution books in a bookstore was discussed on the podcast Skeptically Speaking (listen here/mp3 here), and considers whether my sort of activism is effective. You can hear it toward the beginning of the program before they move on to the Independent Investigations Group.

I’ll repost the links to my posts, and posts at other blogs concerning my “subversive” activities:

Feb 7 – My first post on the topic.

Feb 8 – An anti-evolution blog from Brazil (the Google translation of this post).

Feb 10 – West’s post on the Discovery Institute blog (this post was copied here,  here, and here).

Feb 10 – Posted on an anti-creationism blog.

Feb 11 – Posted on a pro-evolution blog.

Feb 11 – My response to West.

Feb 12 – Posted on a pro-evolution blog.

Feb 12 – Mentioned at the website for the National Association of Science Writers.

Feb 12 – Posted on an intelligent design blog (this post was copied here and here).

Feb 14 – Mentioned by aforesaid antievolutionist in Brazil in comments on this post on Telic Thoughts.

Feb 15 – Discussed on Open Parachute (this post was copied here).

Feb 15 – Discussed on Thoughts in a Haystack, in “Tempest, Meet Teacup!”

Charles Darwin’s American Adventure: A Melodrama in Three Acts

The February 2010 issue of Origins: Current Events in Historical Perspective includes Charles Darwin’s American Adventure: A Melodrama in Three Acts by Steven Conn:

2009 was celebrated around the world as ‘The Darwin Year.’ It marked the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of his landmark On the Origin of Species. While Darwin’s theory of natural selection caused considerable controversy at the time, his ideas are now accepted as the foundation of all the modern biological sciences. With the festivities winding down, this month historian Steven Conn looks back on Darwin’s history in the United States—the only developed country where Darwin denial is still widespread—to look at the strange career Darwin has had in this country.

You can read the article here and download the podcast here.

Royal Society on “In Our Time”

BBC Radio 4’s In Our Time (with Melvyn Bragg) is doing a four-part series about the Royal Society, for which 2010 marks its 350th anniversary:

Programme 1.  9.00am, 4 January 2010
Melvyn travels to Wadham College, Oxford, where under the shadow of the English Civil War, the young Christopher Wren and friends experimented in the garden of their inspirational college warden, John Wilkins. Back in London, as Charles II is brought to the throne from exile, the new Society is formally founded one night in Gresham College. When London burns six years later, it is two of the key early Fellows of the Society who are charged with its rebuilding. And, as Melvyn finds out, in the secret observatory in The Monument to the fire, it is science which flavours their plans.

Programme 2.  9.00am, 5 January 2010
Programme two begins in the coffee house Isaac Newton and the fellows of the early 18th century frequented. At the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, we learn how Newton’s feud with the Astronomer Royal John Flamsteed tested the lines between government-funded research and public access. By the end of the century the President, Sir Joseph Banks, successfully embeds the Royal Society in the imperial bureaucratic hub of the new Somerset House. But while senior fellows concentrated on foreign fields, a more radical, dissident science and manufacturing base wrought the Industrial Revolution right under their noses.

Programme 3.  9.00am, 6 January 2010
The 19th century blooms scientifically with numerous alternative, specialist learned societies and associations, all threatening the Royal Society’s pre-eminence. Attempts to reform the membership criteria – marking scientific leadership’s painful transition from patronage to expertise – are troubled, and organisations such as the British Association for the Advancement of Science (now the BSA) excite and enliven scientific discourse outside of London.

Programme 4.  9.00am, 7 January 2010
The horrors of the First World War were a shocking indictment of the power of science. Picking up the thread at this hiatus in scientific optimism, this programme, recorded in the current home of the Royal Society in Carlton House Terrace in London, looks at the more subtle, discreet role the Society played in the 20th century, such as secretly arranging for refugee scientists to flee Germany, co-ordinating international scientific missions during the Cold War and quietly distributing government grant money to fund the brightest young researchers in the land..

You can download the mp3s of the four parts here, herehere, and here.

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.

PODCAST: [More] More Darwin Podcasts from Endless Forms Exhibit

As part of hosting the art exhibit Endless Forms: Darwin, Natural Science & the Arts (opened June 16th), the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, England is doing a series of podcasts. I have posted the first 13 episodes so far (herehere, here, and here), and here are a few more:

14. Evolving Images: Race and Popular Darwinism in Nineteenth-Century Photography (with Elizabeth Edwards)

15. Between Apes and Angels: Representing the Darker Implications of Darwinism (with Dr. Marek Kohn)

16. Struggles and Strikes: The “Survival of the Fittest’ in Art and Literature (with Dame Gillan Beer)

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

PODCAST: More Darwin Podcasts from Endless Forms Exhibit

As part of hosting the art exhibit Endless Forms: Darwin, Natural Science & the Arts (opened June 16th), the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, England is doing a series of podcasts. I have posted the first 3 episodes so far (here, here, and here), and here are others:

4. Uncovering our Origins: Monkeys, Apes and “Primitive Man’ – and how Darwin got it wrong (with Richard Foley)

5. ‘Flaunting It’ – Sexual Selection and the Courtship of Nature (with Tim Clutton-Brock)

6. A Tour of ‘Endless Forms’ (with Sir Paul Nurse)

7. Evolving Philosophy (with Philip Kitcher)

8. Darwin, Hooker and the Venus Flytraps (with Sir Peter Crane)

9. Humankind – A Troubling Future? (with Lord Robert May)

10. The Evolving Body (with Randolph Nesse)

11. Darwin, Design and Christianity (with John Brooke)

12. From ‘Missing Link Mania’ to Creationism.com: 150 Years of Popular Darwinism in Europe (with Peter Kjaergaard)

13. The Predatory Ape: Sex, Simians and Society in Nineteenth-Century Europe (with Gowan Dawson)

PODCAST: John van Wyhe on “Darwin in Cambridge”

As part of hosting the art exhibit Endless Forms: Darwin, Natural Science & the Arts (opening June 16th), the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, England is doing a series of podcasts. In this second podcast, John van Wyhe (historian of science and director of The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online), discusses “Darwin in Cambridge: From Christ’s College to the Beagle”:

Dr. John van Wyhe, Director of Darwin Online, discusses Darwin’s student days at Christ’s College, Cambridge in the 1820s, and investigates the young naturalist’s developing eye for visual observation – as well as debunking a few persistent Darwin myths. Also featured: how Darwin’s rooms were restored and re-opened to the public.

Download or listen online (with a slideshow) here.


PODCAST: Jim Secord on “Darwin and the Ancient Earth”

VIDEO: Endless forms: Charles Darwin, Natural Science and the Visual Arts

EXHIBIT: Endless Forms: Charles Darwin, Natural Science and the Visual Arts

PODCAST: Jim Secord on “Darwin and the Ancient Earth”

As part of hosting the art exhibit Endless Forms: Darwin, Natural Science & the Arts (opening June 16th), the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, England is doing a series of podcasts. First up, Jim Secord (historian of science and director of the Darwin Correspondence Project, on “Darwin and the Ancient Earth: Dinosaurs and the ‘Deep Past’ in the 19th-Century Imagination”:

Why was the young Darwin’s fascination with geology so important for his later work? And why was prehistory so popular in early nineteenth-century Britain? 

Download or listen online (with a slideshow) here.

VIDEO: Endless forms: Charles Darwin, Natural Science and the Visual Arts
EXHIBIT: Endless Forms: Charles Darwin, Natural Science and the Visual Arts

Listen to The Dispersal of Darwin on ‘Pods and Blogs’

Audio for the episode of BBC Radio’s Pods and Blogs (now Outsiders) (with Jamilla Knowles) that features The Dispersal of Darwin, which Peter was nice enough to spread the word about, is now up online (mp3 link below, Darwin segment starts at 13:40 into the program). (UPDATE: the audio for this is no longer available online)

Pods and Blogs: 17 February 2009
Geek ink, Darwin online, the death of TV as we know it and the game that hooked us early when the ball was square. All on pods and blogs this week.

Original audio source.

Nature Podcast: Darwin

Nature Podcast: Darwin

Nature Podcast: Darwin

12 February 2009

play full podcast | Text

In this episode:

PODCAST: Charles Darwin in Australia

Charles Darwin in Australia

Charles Darwin in Australia

From the Australian radio show Ockham’s Razor for January 11, 2009:

Charles Darwin arrived in Australia on 12 January, 1836, 173 years ago. He was on board of a Royal Navy ship called the ‘Beagle’ as a companion for the Captain Robert FitzRoy. Emeritus Professor Frank Nicholas from the University of Sydney has written a book called Charles Darwin in Australia, in which he writes about Darwin’s experiences while in this country.

Download mp3 here.

PODCAST: The Man Who Wasn’t Darwin: Alfred Russel Wallace and the Founding of Evolutionary Biology

Quammen’s recent lecture on Wallace is now available online, here.

Alfred Russel Wallace, a contemporary of Charles Darwin, independently proposed a theory of natural selection in 1858 which prompted Charles Darwin to publish on his own theory. In his fall Stegner Lecture on November 5, 2008, David Quammen, prolific writer and current Wallace Stegner Endowed Chair in Western Studies at MSU, discusses this lesser known naturalist, evolutionist, geographer, anthropologist, social critic and theorist. (52 minutes)

PODCAST: Peeking over Darwin’s Shoulder (Humanist Network News)

Via Greg Laden, there is a recent podcast from the Humanist Network News titled “Peeking over Darwin’s Shoulder”:

In this month’s audio podcast we are dedicating the entire program to one story. During the 1970s, P. Thomas Carroll read and transcribed hundreds of Charles Darwin’s personal correspondences for research purposes. Carroll shares his story of becoming intimately familiar with the great 19th century evolutionary biologist over the course of several years and 14,000 letters.

Here’s the webpage for the podcast, mp3 direct download, Carroll’s website, An Annotated Calendar of the Letters of Charles Darwin in the Library of the American Philosophical Society, and A Calendar of the Correspondence of Charles Darwin, 1821-1882.

Today in Science History

From Today in Science History:

Thomas S. Kuhn (Born 18 Jul 1922; died 17 June 1996). Thomas S(amuel) Kuhn was an American historian of science, MIT professor, noted for The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962), one of the most influential works of history and philosophy written in the 20th century. His thesis was that science was not a steady, cumulative acquisition of knowledge, but it is “a series of peaceful interludes punctuated by intellectually violent revolutions.” Then appears a Lavoisier or an Einstein, often a young scientist not indoctrinated in the accepted theories, to sweep the old paradigm away. Such revolutions, he said, came only after long periods of tradition-bound normal science. “Frameworks must be lived with and explored before they can be broken.”

Here are an online outline and summary of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.

Gilbert White (Born 18 Jul 1720; died 26 Jun 1793). English cleric and pioneering naturalist, known as the “father of English natural history.” Over the course of 20 years of his observations and two colleagues’ letters, he studied a wide range of flora and fauna seen around his hometown of Selborne, Hampshire. In 1789, he published this studious work. His book The Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne contained observations of nature drawn from life. The book has been in print continuously since 1789, and is the fourth most published book in the English language.

Blog: The Natural History of Selborne (journals of Gilbert White)

Robert Hooke (Born 18 Jul 1635; died 3 Mar 1703). English physicist, born Freshwater, Isle of Wight, who discovered the law of elasticity, known as Hooke’s law, and invented the balance spring for clocks. He was a virtuoso scientist whose scope of research ranged widely, including physics, astronomy, chemistry, biology, geology, architecture and naval technology. On 5 Nov 1662, Hooke was appointed the Curator of Experiments at the Royal Society, London. After the Great Fire of London (1666), he served as Chief Surveyor and helped rebuild the city. He also invented or improved meteorological instruments such as the barometer, anemometer, and hygrometer. Hooke authored the influential Micrographia (1665).

Podcast from the Royal Society: Robert Hooke: the archival tragedy of dying intestate (mp3)

Today in Science History

From Today in Science History:

Ernst Mayr (Born 5 Jul 1904; died 3 Feb 2005). German-born American biologist known for his work in avian taxonomy, population genetics, and evolution. In 1928, he led the first of three expeditions to New Guinea and the Solomon Islands where he studied the effects of geographic distribution among various animal species. He led development of the modern synthetic theory of evolution (the interplay of gene mutation and recombination, changes in structure and function of chromosomes, reproductive isolation and natural selection). In 1940, he proposed a definition of species that became accepted in scientific circles. He began bird watching as a young boy, and by the age of ten, he could recognize all of the local bird species by call as well as sight.

[ “Darwin’s Influence on Modern Thought” by Ernst Mayr, and his books here, Johnson, Kristin. “Ernst Mayer, Karl Jordan, and the History of Systematics,” History of Science 43 (2005): 1-35, Haffer, Jurgen and Franz Bairlein, “Ernst Mayr – ‘Darwin of the 20th century’,” Journal of Ornithology 145 (2004): 161-162, and Haffer, Jurgen. Ornithology, Evolution, and Philosophy: The Life and Science of Ernst Mayr 1904-2005 (Springer, 2007)]

Robert Fitzroy (Born 5 Jul 1805; died 30 Apr 1865) British naval officer, hydrographer, and meteorologist who commanded the voyage of HMS Beagle, aboard which Charles Darwin sailed around the world as the ship’s naturalist. That voyage provided Darwin with much of the material on which he based his theory of evolution. Fitzroy retired from active duty in 1850 and from 1854 devoted himself to meteorology. He devised a storm warning system that was the prototype of the daily weather forecast, invented a barometer, and published The Weather Book (1863). His death was by suicide, during a bout of depression.

A Fitzroy podcast from the Royal Society.

Darwin Podcast from the Royal Society

Find it here:

Whose Darwin is the true Darwin?

Battles over Charles Darwin’s legacy and the implications of his theory are central to current debates on evolution. Darwin’s extensive correspondence shows, as nothing else can, how he arrived at his published views. Here, two Darwin experts [Paul White & Alison Pearn [she’s not in the podcast, actually] from the Darwin Correspondence Project] talk about their current work on Darwin and evolution.

Direct mp3 here. I have yet to listen to it, but please do comment on it if you have…

UPDATE: There is also a video of the slideshow for the lecture, worth watching for the clips of the play Re:Design toward the end. Download by clicking here.