Friday, February 12, 2016

Happy Birthday Charles Darwin

History of Science
Biological Evolution
by Edward Hessler
Elliott & Fry [Public domain],
via Wikimedia Commons
Celebrating Darwin Day
On February 12, 207 years ago was born Charles Darwin.
Last week Glenn Branch of the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) reported that State Senator Andrew Sherwood (Arizona) introduced SR 1001 proclaiming February 12, 2016 as International Darwin Day in Arizona. In 2015, Sherwood co-sponsored a similar resolution in the House that did not survive committee.
About Darwin's discovery of natural selection, resolution 1001 notes that it "continues to serve as the foundation for ongoing advances in science, health, philosophy, art, education and many other areas of modern life." And about Darwin, the resolution makes clear the nature of his achievement: "...he belongs among the most influential scientific minds in history, including Albert Einstein and Sir Isaac Newton."
Darwin Day is an international celebration with many events.

A few Darwin quotes:
By Internet Archive Book Images
[No restrictions],
via Wikimedia Commons
But no pursuit at Cambridge was followed with nearly so much eagerness or gave me so much pleasure as collecting beetles.  It was the mere passion for collecting, for I did not dissect them, and rarely compared their external characters with published descriptions, but got them named anyhow.  I will give a proof of my zeal: one day, on tearing off some old bark, I saw two rare beetles, and seized one, in each hand; then I saw a third and new kind, which I could not bear to lose, so that I pooped the one which I held in my right hand into my mouth.  Alas! it ejected some intensely acrid fluid, which burnt my tongue so that I was forced to spit the beetle out, which was lost, as was the third one. —Autobiography by Charles and Francis Darwin
A scientific man ought to have no wishes, no affections, a mere heart of stone. —Letter to T. H. Huxley
A surprising number [of novels] have been read aloud to me, and I like all if moderately good, and if they do not end unhappily--against which a law ought to be passed. —Francis Darwin, The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin.

Abraham Lincoln born the same day
Mathew Brady [Public domain]. via Wikimedia Commons
It is also a happy coincidence that on this same day in 1809 was born Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln was no stranger to science. At the height of the Civil War, President Lincoln signed into law a bill that brought the National Academy of Sciences into being.
Mental Floss lists six things Darwin and Lincoln had in common and one difference. One was a dog lover and one was a cat lover. Take a stab. I'm not at all sure of this distinction on which an article in Forbes sheds some light.

A few quotes from Abraham Lincoln:
Every blade of grass is a study; and to produce two, where there was but one, is both a profit and a pleasure. —Before the Wisconsin State Agricultural Society.
Nowhere in the world is presented a government of so much liberty and equality. To the humblest and poorest amongst us are held out the highest privileges and positions. The present moment finds me at the White House, yet, there is as good a chance for your children as there was for my father's. —Speech to 148th Ohio Regiment
Upon the subject of education, not presuming to dictate any plan or system respecting it, I can only say that I view it as the most important subject which we as a people can be engaged in. —First Political Announcement

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