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Happy 80th birthday to the Golden Gate Bridge. On this day in 1937, this iconic bridge first opened. With towers extending 700 feet into the sky and over 100 feet beneath the San Francisco Bay, the bridge is an engineering marvel. In addition to driving, you can walk or bike the entire length of its 1.2-mile expanse, bounded on either side by spectacular scenery. Photo from Golden Gate National Recreation Area courtesy of Bruce Getty.

Happy Moehanga Day

The 27th of April is Moehanga Day in the United Kingdom

On 27 April 1806 Great Britain was discovered by Moehanga Ngāpuhi. Of course, various indigenous, white-skinned tribes already inhabited the British Isles for thousands of years, but Moehanga was the first Māori to discover Britain. The British natives were in awe of Moehanga’s tattoos and they insisted he meet their chieftain King George III.

When Moehanga arrived on the island he saw families living in primitive, damp and unsanitary conditions and a brutal society that punished almost any act of disobedience—from theft to living with Gypsies—with death. The Britons were a warlike people, renowned and feared for their prowess at fighting other European tribes and even raiding and conquering lands and taking slaves on distant continents.

Today Britain is a thriving multi-cultural nation, producing a range of quality exports whilst preserving its rich heritage and traditions. 

Happy Birthday, Charles Darwin

Born February 12, 1809, Charles Darwin revolutionized science and the culture around it.  On 24 November 1859 Charles Darwin published his monumental work On The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, changing the face of biology. Although he only used the word once at the very end of the book, the word evolve (and evolution) is synonymous with Darwin. The word evolve had been used in a scientific sense specifically in biology for over a hundred years before Darwin wrote Origin of Species-which is one reason why he avoided it. By the mid 1850s, the word had connotations of perfectibility-something Darwin wanted to avoid. It was the last sentence of his book:

There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed 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.

The word evolution arrived in English in 1620 and comes from the Latin word evolutionem(nomnative form evolutio) meaning the unrolling of a book or revealing that which was rolled up. The word evolve arrived a bit later in the 1640s from the Latin word evolvere meaning to unroll and could also pertain to other ‘hidden’ things (see also for example the etymology of vulva), but mostly meant books, when a ‘volume’ was a rolled up manuscript made from vellum. The modern meaning that scientists such ad Darwin meant for it began around 1832 and reached its first full expression in Darwin’s work.

Happy Birthday to Charles Darwin, born on this day, 1809.  

William Morris

English artist, textile designer, poet and socialist activist William Morris was born on this day in 1834. Morris was one of the principal figures of the British arts and crafts movement. 

This is an ink, pen and watercolour drawing of a Woman Playing Cymbals, a design which was used for one of the many Morris & Co stained glass windows at Wightwick Manor.