Ismo!

I learned today at the volunteer/intern orientation that in the olden days (1950s), the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry had a spaceman mascot, named Ismo (OMSI backwards).

Ismo

Ismo (click on image for source of photo)

Science is fun, Ismo! But who needs such a silly-looking mascot when OMSI has its own astronaut and OMSI kid:

Michael Barratt, OMSI kid

Michael Barratt, OMSI kid

Barratt, I should note, has ties with The HMS Beagle Project.

Wednesday we leave for a trip to California to see both of our families and a few days in Yosemite National Park (I’ve never been), and I will start interning at OMSI in mid-June, with the Einstein exhibit coming later in that month. In the meantime, I’ve some Tyndall letters to finish up, and reading Walter Isaacson’s Einstein: His Life and Universe.

100K & Evolution Shaft

Whislt moving to Portland, possibly while passing this enormous tree farm along the 84 in northern Oregon:

Trees, trees, and more trees

Trees, trees, and more trees

And still some more

And still some more

… The Dispersal of Darwin, version 2.0 (so not including 1.0 at Blogger), surpassed 100,000 hits. Nice!

Also, another picture to share. This is in Wallace, Idaho, a silver-mining town since the late 19th century, a mining shaft called Evolution Shaft.

Wallace, Idaho

Wallace, Idaho

Wallace? Evolution? Just who founded this little town? Any idea if there’s a connection, George?

Tomorrow we are off…

Truck is packed. Rental house is clean. Tonight we are in a hotel. Patrick goes to school tomorrow while carpets gets cleaned and we do the checkout. After that, we are off to Portland, spending the night in Spokane.

Patrick seems to be doing fine with things. He talks about missing his friends, but he doesn’t appear upset – yet!

Patrick, Clark Park, Butte, MT

Patrick, Clark Park, Butte, MT

Tyndall on Prayer

John Tyndall, 1874

Maybe we should do what John Tyndall suggested. From Edward J. Pfeifer’s chapter on the United States in The Comparative Reception of Darwinism:

[Tyndall’s] materialistic inclination was enough to make him notorius in the United States, but shortly before his visit he endorsed a proposal that shocked Americans even moree. This was the prayer test. Since prayers, he argued, are frequently said for a particular purpose, their efficacy could be tested. This might be done by establishing separate hospital wards,one of which would be given over to patients treated medically, while patients in the other ward would receive only the benefit of prayer. Recovery rates could then be established and the efficacy of prayer determined. (1)

The experiment, in response to Bishop Wilberforce‘s call for a national day of prayer to cease the wet weather that threatened harvests in Britain, never took place (2). But prayer meetings were held for Tyndall in Boston and Philadelphia in 1872-3. Albert Jackson wrote to Tyndall on January 13, 1873 that the same stage on which he lectured in New York was the same that a prominent Brooklyn Presbyterian clergyman had given a speech entitled “Tyndall’s Prayer Gauge,” on “the infidelity of science in general.” Jackson noted that the clergyman’s own pulpit burned to the ground, “which science might have prevented, but which prayer certainly did not” (3). Unfortunately, that Tyndall was embroiled in theological controversy during his lecture tour urged Joseph Henry, first secretary of the Smithsonian Institution and Tyndall’s sponsor, to question whether he made the right choice in inviting  Tyndall to talk up science in America. Henry, afterall, was a religious man. He wrote to Benjamin Silliman, Jr.:

I regret very much that he got into the Theological controversy as to prayer since this not only involves himself in an apparent antagonism to christianity [sic], but also the cultivators of science generally. The effect has been unfortunate. The subject of the connection of science and Theology is one which requires to be treated with great delicacy. (4)

Perhaps, today being the National Day of Prayer, we can utilize the millions of Americans surely participating to test its efficacy, since Tyndall’s proposed experiment was never carried out.

Notes

1. Edward J. Pfeifer, “United States,” in Thomas F. Glick, ed., The Comparative Reception of Darwinism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988), 168-206, on 196-7.

2. Richard G. Olson, Science and Religion, 1450–1900: From Copernicus to Darwin (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press,2004), 207.

3. Albert Jackson to John Tyndall, January 13, 1873, letter stuck into Tyndall’s American journal, RI MS JT/2/10, Tyndall Papers, Archives, Royal Institution of Great Britain.

4. Joseph Henry to Benjamin Silliman, Jr., February 28, 1873, in The Papers of Joseph Henry, Vol. 11: January 1866-May 1878 (Sagamore Beach, MA: Watson Publishing/Science History Publications, 2007), 448-51, on 449.

Other sources:

Robert Bruce Mullin, “Science, Miracles, and the Prayer-Gauge Debate,” in David C. Lindberg and Ronald Numbers, eds., When Science and Christianity Meet (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003), 203-24.

Rick Ostrander, The Life of Prayer in a World of Science: Protestants, Prayer, and American Culture, 1870-1930 (Religion in America) (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000), 17-34.

John Tyndall, “On Prayer,” Contemporary Review, October 1872, republished in The Prayer-Gauge Debate (Boston: Congregational Publishing Society, 1876), 109-15.

John Tyndall, “Thoughts on Prayer and Natural Law” (1861), in Fragments of Science (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1871), 33-40.

To do list

1. Complete final draft of professional paper (not a thesis, but a shorter paper intended for publication). Turning in on Friday! See picture below:

Done!

2. Complete shorter paper for philosophy of science course – hopefully tonight; if not, tomorrow.

3. Complete set of Tyndall letters & additions to project wiki – by Saturday night.

4. Give new address to university for diploma to be mailed to me.

5. Pack remaining crap in house – Saturday & Sunday.

6. Load U-Haul – Monday & Tuesday.

7. Check out of rental house & get carpets cleaned – Tuesday.

8. Hit the road for Portland – Tuesday afternoon.

9. Arrive in Portland, start new adventure – Wednesday night.

10. Realize I am no longer a student – now! What am I going to do?!?!?

Exhibit Review for “Darwin the Geologist” (Cambridge, UK)

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

Darwin the Geologist

Last summer, when I was viewing an exhibit about Darwin and geology at the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences in Cambridge, England, I did not think I would be reviewing it for the Journal of the History of Biology. But I have, and it is now up online:

Exhibit Review: Darwin the Geologist, The Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, England. Opened July 2009, Permanent. Curator: Francis Neary. Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Opened in 1904 in memory of the geologist Adam Sedgwick, and containing the collections Sedgwick and John Woodward had previously accumulated, the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences houses a vast collection of geological and paleontological specimens, including some collected by Darwin himself during the voyage of the HMS Beagle. The Sedgwick acts as a fitting locale, then, for an exhibit exploring Darwin and his geological work. Darwin the Geologist, a permanent exhibit opened in July 2009 to coincide with Cambridge’s Darwin anniversary celebrations, evolved from a temporary exhibit at the museum that had been titled Charles Darwin – Becoming a Geologist and had been on display from September 2008 to June 2009.

Darwin the Geologist tells the story of Darwin’s career as a geologist, displaying not only some of the 1,500 of Darwin’s actual specimens that the Sedgwick holds, but also books, geological tools, maps, and even a pistol carried by Darwin on the Beagle. The exhibit is an exploration of the development of Darwin’s ideas about the Earth and how they related to the development of his theory of evolution by natural selection. Darwin is more commonly labeled as a naturalist, or biologist, because of his work on evolution, but as Sandra Herbert has convincingly shown in Charles Darwin, Geologist (Cornell University Press, 2005), he was a self-proclaimed geologist and pursued his interests in geology in many ways from the Beagle voyage (1831–1836) leading up to the publication of On the Origin of Species in 1859. Geology, as an exhibit label attests, dominated Darwin’s early scientific career, and his ‘‘reputation as a scientist was built on his training as a geologist.’’

Situated among the beautiful and tall glass and wooden display cases, Darwin the Geologist fills one end of the museum’s two-winged gallery, replacing what used to be displays about the Holocene epoch. The exhibit displays are organized chronologically, beginning with Darwin’s childhood fascination with collecting and into his education at Edinburgh, where Darwin was introduced to geology, and Cambridge, where Darwin met John Stevens Henslow and gained collecting and field-work experience on a geological field excursion to Wales with Adam Sedgwick. More displays are devoted to the Beagle voyage, as this afforded Darwin more opportunities to practice geology and to think about the forces that created the landscapes he visited. We learn about a raised coastline at Sa˜o Tiago in the Cape Verde Islands and the numerous fossils Darwin discovered, including the famous Megatherium; of the geology of the Andes and the formation of igneous rocks at the Galapagos Islands; and the growth of coral reefs in the Pacific. We learn about Syms Covington, Darwin’s assistant during and after the voyage, and the many specialists to whom Darwin farmed out his geological specimens for identification: William Miller for minerals, Robert Brown for fossil plants, Alcide D’Orbigny for fossil shells, Richard Owen for fossil mammals, and William Clift for the fossil teeth of Megatherium. We are shown how Darwin became a member and later secretary of the Geological Society of London as a result of his geological work on the Beagle.

A label reflecting on Archibald Geikie’s centenary celebration lecture in Cambridge (1909) [Charles Darwin as Geologist: The Rede Lecture, Given at the Darwin Centennial Commemoration on 24 June 1909 (Cambridge Library Collection – Life Sciences)] about Darwin’s geology—‘‘Since 1909 Darwin’s theory of evolution has played an increasingly important role in our understanding of life on Earth, while his geological theories have been largely forgotten’’—segues between Darwin’s own life and work and labels showing how more recent scientists have used Darwin’s collections and ideas in their geological work. For example, geologist Lyall Anderson studies rocks from the Beagle collection to consider Darwin’s collecting practices. Darwin received some specimens as gifts from other geologists, such as Andrew Smith. Through studying the rocks themselves, Anderson has been able to conclude that Darwin included in his collection specimens he did not collect himself. Similar research by Sally Gibson has helped to understand Darwin’s geological route on the island of Santiago in the Galapagos. While the Beagle collection is of importance to scientists, the specimens can help to answer questions important to historians of science as well. Darwin the Geologist stresses this point. Anderson is quoted in a label: ‘‘From a personal point of view I think my biggest surprise was that Darwin didn’t collect everything himself. Maybe that’s a misconception that the Darwin Industry has kept running.’’ While Darwin is surely an important figure, lesser-known figures in the work brought Darwin his scientific fame.

Smaller displays between the larger glass cases emphasize other aspects of Darwin’s geology. From the influences of Alexander von Humboldt and Charles Lyell to the letter of introduction inviting Darwin to join the Beagle, these displays flesh out the story and provide contextual information. Several consider various practices associated with geology, such as how to collect appropriate specimens, the use of field notebooks, and the analysis and interpretation of specimens, and how this work for Darwin resulted in various publications. Some of the smaller displays discuss Darwin’s ‘‘scientific failure’’ in theorizing how the Parallel Roads of Glen Roy in Scotland were formed, how geology figured into On the Origin of Species, and how Darwin continued to study geological topics after the publication of Origin, most notably with earthworms and the formation of soil, the subject of his last book. Also included in the exhibit are a recreation of Darwin’s cabin on the Beagle and an interactive globe showing the places where Darwin collected particular specimens. A touchscreen allows visitors to go behind the scenes of the exhibit, which is essentially a collection of the posts from the blog that accompanies Darwin the Geologist and is accessible at http://darwinthegeologist.org/.

The exhibit does a fine job of placing Darwin’s work in the context of geological questions at the time. It does not address the ‘‘Genesis and geology’’ dispute in the nineteenth century beyond one label stating that ‘‘Heated debate and controversy over science and religion captured the public imagination,’’ nor is there a label stressing the importance of correspondence to scientific practice. These minor quibbles aside, Darwin the Geologist offers a wealth of interesting material in both the objects on display and the accompanying labels, and it does it in a rather small space. It is a well-organized exhibit, and includes a wonderful artistic tribute to Darwin. While a life-size bronze of a young Darwin, by Cambridge alum and zoologist-turned-artist Anthony Smith, now adorns a garden in Christ’s College at Cambridge, a bronze bust also by Smith oversees Darwin the Geologist as if to suggest that Darwin himself is either the epitome of humankind (for Darwin is situated at the most recent end of the geological and paleontological timescale that is the Sedgwick Museum) or a typical specimen of humankind. The former runs the risk of claims of hagiography. The latter is more likely, as the exhibit suggests that scientific discovery follows from curiosity, and Darwin the Geologist surely expresses throughout to its visitors the act of scientific discovery. If nothing else, the statues help to emphasize that for much of the work that made Darwin a reputable scientist, he was an energetic young man eager to explore the world around him, not always the long-bearded sage of Downe.

Michael D. Barton
Montana State University

The photos I took of the exhibit can be seen here.

ExplorationWorks, Helena, MT

Since we bought a family pass to OMSI while we were in Portland in March, when my wife said she wanted to drive to Helena, the capital of Montana (little over an hour north of Butte) to find product for our used bookselling, I thought, Patrick & I can check out the little science museum I’ve heard about (the Passport Program for science centers is an awesome thing).

So Patrick & I did. ExplorationWorks: An Interactive Museum of Science & Culture, is a neat little museum nestled in an area of Helena the city is building up, the Great Northern Town Center (also includes a neat carousel we’ll check out some other time). The museum is full of interactive displays teaching about wind, sound, motion, etc., plus a younger kid play room themed as a nature area. We had a lot of fun. Here are some pictures:

ExplorationWorks, Helena, MT

ExplorationWorks, Helena, MT

ExplorationWorks, Helena, MT

ExplorationWorks, Helena, MT

ExplorationWorks, Helena, MT

ExplorationWorks, Helena, MT

ExplorationWorks, Helena, MT

ExplorationWorks, Helena, MT

ExplorationWorks, Helena, MT

ExplorationWorks, Helena, MT

ExplorationWorks, Helena, MT

ExplorationWorks, Helena, MT

ExplorationWorks, Helena, MT

ExplorationWorks, Helena, MT

ExplorationWorks, Helena, MT

ExplorationWorks, Helena, MT

ExplorationWorks, Helena, MT

ExplorationWorks, Helena, MT

ExplorationWorks, Helena, MT

ExplorationWorks, Helena, MT

ExplorationWorks, Helena, MT

Great Northern Town Center, Helena, MT

You can see more photos here.

Oregon Museum of Science and Industry in Portland

I noticed this comment left on the Facebook fan page for the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry in Portland on Saturday:

Amoeba – Protozoa (single “simple” cell, “simple” form of life) Turned into a: Human (Trillions of different cells, 11 complex systems, numerous organs, thought process, emotions, 5 senses, teeth, knee caps, gender, etc. etc. etc.) How does one turn into another as OMSI teaches? I like the good science I saw, but was really saddened by the anti-God propaganda.

The person who left that comment is a youth pastor in Idaho and a fan of the Creation Museum on Facebook. Can folks just understand that a “science” museum is not into teaching about or promoting religion?

Today I visited OMSI for the first time – what a cool museum. We were there only a few hours, and one of those hours was taken up by my interview for a science education internship this summer. Patrick was overly tired, so we decided that he and I will come back later in the week while Catherine is at her library conference to explore some more. Plus, we bought a family pass!

Here are some photos from today:

OMSI, Portland, OR

OMSI, Portland, OR

Curiosity

OMSI inspires curiosity

Samson the T. rex

Samson the T. rex

Who is Samson?

Samson the T. rex

Samson the T. rex

Patrick & I in an earthquake simulator

Patrick & I in an earthquake simulator

Time for pulleys

Time for pulleys

Going down

Going down

View from OMSI

View from OMSI

Another view of Portland & Willamette River

Another view of Portland & Willamette River

w/ Patrick

w/ Patrick

Evolution book in The Science Store

Evolution book in The Science Store

Lines for "Hubble," which opened there today at the IMAX

Lines for "Hubble," which opened there today at the IMAX (I liked the name of the cafe - Galileo's)

More photos here.

Portland

This Friday we are driving out to Portland for a week (we visited before in Jan. 2009). Catherine is attending the annual conference for the Public Library Association. While there I am meeting with someone at the Oregon Museum of Science & Industry about possibly doing a science education internship this summer. I may or may not have mentioned this, but my next degree following the completion of my Masters in History this May will be a Masters in Science Education, likely through an online program from Oregon State University in Corvallis. The history Ph.D. is not my route. I won’t start for a few years probably, to give some time to pay off some debt.

That said, in May we are moving to Portland. Catherine is actively seeking library positions in the area, and hence my interest in an internship at OMSI. If that happens, I will likely be working on the traveling exhibit Einstein, from late June to late September. Wish me luck for that internship! We will also continue our book-selling through Amazon (store/blog), but need to change our name to something not connected to a geographic location.

While in Portland next week, we are going to of course spend a day at OMSI, another day driving around exploring neighborhoods and libraries, a day to the coast, and while Catherine is at her conference, Patrick and I plan to visit the Japanese Gardens, take the aerial tram, and go to Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge for some birdwatching. We are renting a vacation house for the week in the John Landings neighborhood.

Any suggestions for Portland?

Any sciencey events next week I should know about?

History of Science Society conference later this week

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

Let me know if you’ll be there!

Down/e and Back Again, A Barton’s Tale

Darwin's Greenhouse, Down House

Darwin's Greenhouse, Down House

On Darwin's Sandwalk, Down House

On Darwin's Sandwalk, Down House

 

Down House

Down House

As I am sure you can tell, I had the opportunity to visit Darwin’s home and laboratory for forty years, Down House, while I was in London. See more pictures here. The weather was to be rainy that day, but luckily the clouds broke and sunshine spilled forth. Did I enjoy the visit? What do you think?

Thomas Huxley, “Darwin’s Bulldog,” statue at NHM, London

More photos from my visit to the Natural History Museum in London last week can be viewed here. A separate set for the Wallace Collection.

Saw ‘Creation’


100_3724, originally uploaded by darwinsbulldog.

I finally saw Creation, on Wednesday evening in London. I really enjoyed the flick, and certain aspects stuck out to me as great. Other parts did not, but I am going to sit on it a while before writing a full review. I want to wait until I can see it again, probably at home in December. But I urge you, don’t wait for my thoughts, go see it yourself when you are able.

The Linnean Society: Darwin and Wallace

 

Darwin and Wallace at the [old] Linnean Society

Darwin and Wallace at the (old) Linnean Society

I am in London right now, on a research trip to the Royal Institution (I posted about this on Transcribing Tyndall yesterday). The Linnean Society is just around the corner from the RI, so on my lunch break today I popped in for my daily dose of Darwin. The Linnean Society is, of course, where Darwin’s and Wallace’s papers on natural selection were presented on July 1, 1858. The current location of the Linnean Society is not where it stood in 1858. It used to be in the part of Burlington House that now houses the Royal Academy of Arts. So, in the meeting room of the current location there are portraits of Darwin, Wallace, and other important naturalists, and in the Academy of Arts you can go to the room that used to be the meeting room, know what happened there, and check out a commemorative plaque. Pictures of both locations can be had here.

 

A very cool scuplture of Linneaus by Anthony Smith (who did the young Darwin statue in Cambridge):

Carl Linnaeus by Anthony Smith

Carl Linnaeus by Anthony Smith

Darwin’s Brave New World

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

London in October & “Creation” Reviews

I will be in London in October for a research trip, and thought it would be a good idea to give my agenda here in the event that anyone wants to meet up. I have met three fellow science bloggers thus far (Anne-Marie in Wilmington, NC, and Karen and Richard in Cambridge, England), and I think meeting more would do me good, because sometimes here in Montana I feel like I am in a world of my own (although, my university boasts another science, and yay, Darwin blogger – Michael Bertasso of Darwinaia – but I have yet to meet him). So, this is when I will be in London and what I will be doing:

Sunday, October 25: Arriving in London, will be tired I am sure, but up for something in the evening

Monday, October 26: archives at the Royal Institution from 10am-5pm, so free in the morning and evening

Tuesday, October 27: archives at the Royal Institution from 10am-5pm, so free in the morning and evening

Wednesday, October 28: archives at the Royal Institution from 10am-5pm, so free in the morning and evening

Thursday, October 29: archives at Kew Gardens from 9am-5pm, so free in the evening

Friday, October 30: spending the day at the Natural History Museum (I spent only an hour there in July) and the new Darwin Centre!

Saturday, October 31: spending the day going to and visiting Down House

I think it would be neat to see Creation in London. I am not sure yet if I will have seen it in the U.S. by then, for it still lacks a distributor here. The film opens the Toronto International Film Festival on September 10th, opens in the UK on September 25th, and has been reviewed so far by Wired and The Globe and Mail, and an “On the Set” piece from the LA Times.

What else should I do in London while I am there?

One week and counting…

… until the fall semester starts. I’ve still got some summer reading to finish up. I’ve been spending time at our new apartment in Butte, Montana. Butte is about an hour (or a little more) west of Bozeman. Since July, my wife Catherine has been working her new job as the digital collections librarian at the Butte-Silverbow Public Library. Bozeman did not have much available for the kind of library job she needed. We planned on her communting to and fro, while I finish up my last year at MSU, and Patrick goes to the on-campus-daycare. Well, it turns out we are changing that. Over the next month we will move to the apartment in Butte (which cuts our rent in half), Patrick will attend a daycare in Butte, and I will commute for school.

So, this semester I have 2 graduate courses myself: world history and 3 credits to work on my own research. I am going to be a teaching assistant (my first time) for a religion course that focuses on the history of Jerusalem over four millenia and the intersection of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam there. This requires me to attend the lectures each week, and facilitate discussion in four 50-minute sessions each week, each with from 20-25 students. The class looks at history, and will not, the professor tells me, be about the theology.

On top of my classes and TAing, in October I am headed to London for a research trip to archives – to the Royal Institution for John Tyndall material (my master’s research), and Kew Gardens for Joseph Dalton Hooker material (for more work on my paper about Darwin’s seed dispersal experiments, which, having presented it at the conference in Cambridge in July, may get published as part of a volume from the Geological Society of London). November sees me attending my first meeting of the History of Science Society, in Phoenix. I will be giving a talk about my experience with blogging about the history of science (the student’s perspective). Another presenter in my session will discuss using blogs for teaching, and another about online image collections and teaching. I think someone was to present on teaching and history of science podcasts, but backed out. I am looking forward to this meeting because I will get to meet yet more science bloggers, and folks connected with the John Tyndall Correspondence Project.

A busy semester, but one I am excited about!

100_1881

Yellowstone National Park, 1 Aug 2009

Cambridge trip posts

At the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge. Photo by Richard Carter.

At the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge. Photo by Richard Carter.

I am done with posting about my trip to Cambridge, England in July. Here again are all the posts:

Cambridge Trip # 1: Traveling

Cambridge Trip # 2: Finding My Way

Cambridge Trip # 3: Darwin in the Field Conference

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

Cambridge Trip # 5: Darwin Groupies Explore Cambridge

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

Cambridge Trip # 7: Beetles, Finches and Barnacles at the University Museum of Zoology

Cambridge Trip # 8: Darwin’s Microscope at the Whipple Museum of the History of Science

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

Cambridge Trip # 10: Natural History Museum, London

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.

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