Thursday, February 12, 2009

Darwin Day!

I'm currently spending all of my free time working on my doctoral dissertation but I wanted to celebrate Darwin Day. Today is the 200th annivesary of the Charles Darwin's birth and you will no doubt see a lot about this in the media. If you would like to look at the many Darwin Day activities going on all over the world, and perhaps find one in your area to attend, a great place to start is here. If you haven't read any of Darwin's works, today is a very good day to begin, and you can do it for free online.

For now, I will leave you with the last paragraph of Darwin's On the Origin of Species, also known as the "Tangled Bank" passage:

"It is interesting to contemplate a tangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent upon each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us. These laws, taken in the largest sense, being Growth with Reproduction; Inheritance which is almost implied by reproduction; Variability from the indirect and direct action of the conditions of life, and from use and disuse: a Ratio of Increase so high as to lead to a Struggle for Life, and as a consequence to Natural Selection, entailing Divergence of Character and the Extinction of less-improved forms. Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved."

Darwin, C. R. 1872. The origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. London: John Murray. 6th edition; with additions and corrections.

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