When young Charles Darwin set out on the Beagle, near the top of his wish list was a rare and coveted bird: the lesser rhea, a South American version of the ostrich. The bird had been sighted by a French rival — but never caught. Darwin wanted to be the first to snatch the prize for Britain. And he did find the bird, just not in the shape he was expecting.
Also huffduffed as…
February 12 marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin, certainly the most important biologist in history and one of the great figures in science. Darwin, of course, spent his life developing the theory of evolution by natural selection, which has become the foundation for the understanding of biology. In the 1960’s evolutionary biologist Theodosius Dobzhansky said that "nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution," and that’s a statement with which few biologists would argue.
To honour Darwin’s birthday, we’re devoting our program to a discussion of the life and work of Charles Darwin, and to a discussion of his impact on modern science, with three special guests.
"Last week’s powerful earthquake in Chile may have shifted the Earth’s axis and changed the length of a day, according to NASA researchers. The magnitude 8.8 quake of February 27 was powerful enough to alter the position of the planet’s figure axis, an imaginary line around which the mass of the planet rotates, by about 3 inches. That adds up to an Earth day that lasts about 1.26 microseconds less than it did before the earthquake. We’ll talk about how geological processes can effect the planet’s rotation, and how researchers model planetary movements."
Incidentally, this also mentions Charles Darwin & the Beagle’s assistance and observations of a Chilean earthquake in the same spot as the recent one. It mentions how that quake shaped Darwin’s geologic interests that helped shape his theory of evolution. Great stuff. Also mentions FitzRoy, the captain of the Beagle. The same story is fictionalized (but still historical in inspiration) in "This Thing of Darkness" which I highly, highly recommend.
200 years ago Charles Darwin was born. 50 years later, after many adventures, Darwin published a little book, ‘On The Origin of Species’. This little book went on to have an influence well beyond its author’s lifetime. In recent years, Darwin has been brought into a fierce debate between religion and science. In this talk at the University of Sydney’s regular Sydney Ideas programme, Professor Michael Ruse gives personal, philosophical and scientific reasons for why Darwin’s theories have endured and should endure well into the future.
Professor Michael Ruse is a world-leading expert on the social and philosophical consequences of Darwin’s theories. He is a Professor of Philosophy and Director of the History and Philosophy of Science Program at Florida State University. In 1981 he was called up as a witness for the plaintiff of the State law in the case of the Arkansas school system teaching "creation science". He has written more than 20 books on Darwin and his influence, including Darwinism and its Discontents (2006), The Evolution-Creation Struggle (2005) and Darwin and Design: Does evolution have a purpose? (2003). He is also the founder of the journal Biology and Philosophy.