Happy Darwin Day!
Charles Darwin would be 207 years old today, if pesky ol’ evolution didn’t insist on death and limited lifespans.
As Dobzhansky wrote, “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution,” so take a moment today to think about what Darwin did for science. Naturally, I’ve selected a few cool items to tickle your curiosity:
Looking for a nice intro to some principles of evolution and natural selection? Check out my 12 Days of Evolution series on the It’s Okay To Be Smart YouTube channel.
Charles Darwin is most famous for his book On The Origin of Species, but did you know that Darwin’s kids had a bad (but adorable) habit of drawing all over his manuscripts? Check out this gallery of younger Darwin doodles courtesy of the American Museum of Natural History.
This is one of my favorite pieces of Darwin-inspired art, Darwin Took Steps, painted by Glendon Mellow. Head over to his blog to learn more about its creation and the meaning of the different visual elements.
Glendon’s painting features Darwin’s original tree of life drawing, which he quickly sketched in a notebook as the significance of his work in the Galápagos began to sink in. Best part? “I think”. Check out Darwin’s original evolutionary “a ha” moment, captured in a letter to Joseph Dalton Hooker.
Charles Darwin had some pretty interesting views on marriage, and being the analytically-minded person that he was, he made what is perhaps the most hilarious list of matrimonial pros and cons ever put to paper:
Children — (if it Please God) — Constant companion, (& friend in old age) who will feel interested in one, — object to be beloved & played with. — better than a dog anyhow.– Home, & someone to take care of house — Charms of music & female chit-chat. — These things good for one’s health. — but terrible loss of time. —
My God, it is intolerable to think of spending one’s whole life, like a neuter bee, working, working, & nothing after all. — No, no won’t do. — Imagine living all one’s day solitarily in smoky dirty London House. — Only picture to yourself a nice soft wife on a sofa with good fire, & books & music perhaps — Compare this vision with the dingy reality of Grt. Marlbro’ St.
Freedom to go where one liked — choice of Society & little of it. — Conversation of clever men at clubs — Not forced to visit relatives, & to bend in every trifle. — to have the expense & anxiety of children — perhaps quarelling — Loss of time. — cannot read in the Evenings — fatness & idleness — Anxiety & responsibility — less money for books &c — if many children forced to gain one’s bread. — (But then it is very bad for ones health to work too much)
Perhaps my wife wont like London; then the sentence is banishment & degradation into indolent, idle fool —
Read the list in Darwin’s own hand here, courtesy of Darwin Online.
Finally, rest assured that even Charles Darwin had days when he hated everybody and felt like a big pile of sad, as he detailed in this letter to geologist Charles Lyell (the letter is pictured above):
But I am very poorly today & very stupid & hate everybody & everything. One lives only to make blunders.– I am going to write a little Book for Murray on orchids & today I hate them worse than everything so farewell & in a sweet frame of mind,
I am ever yours
Happy Darwin Day!