Tuesday, February 10, 2009

10 simple ways to honor Charlie D (aka Darwin)

If you do not know, Thursday is a big day - Darwin Day 2009. A global celebration in honor of the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth. Today I am making a suggestion of 10 simple things you can do to honor Darwin:
  1. Read one of his books OTHER than Origin of Species (see Darwin online for some there). My favorite is the Voyage of the Beagle but there are many others.
  2. Stop using the terms Darwinism and Darwinian evolution (see Safina for more on this - I thought this article was a bit of overkill but still has some important points).
  3. Vote against anyone who says Intelligent Design should be taught in science class or that you should "teach the controversy." Or at least endorse right thinking candidates.
  4. Contribute to evolution education in some way - teaching, writing a book, releasing teaching materials, donate to a museum (e.g., California Academy) or other organization (e.g., NCSE) or even the cool HMS Beagle Project. Just help educate the world about the science of evolution.
  5. Attend some Darwin Day celebration(s).
  6. Get a cool evolution tattoo (see Zimmer for more) or display your support in some outward way.
  7. Support the National Science Foundation (if you are in the US) as they are the strongest supporters of Evolution related research.
  8. Name your kid or pet or boat or city after him.
  9. Visit the Galapagos or at least check out the Darwin Station online.(see pics below ...)
  10. Insert your own here .....


  1. Pffft, read Origin! Surely everyone has read Voyage already?

    Actually, A monograph on the fossil Lepadidae, or, pedunculated cirripedes of Great Britain sounds rather inviting ;)

    I second the Beagle Project, though.

  2. I am not so sure more have read Voyage than Origin

  3. Nice list. I ordered 4 books from Amazon 2 weeks ago and made a conscious decision to read one other than Origin before Darwin Day. Unfortuately, I first chose On the Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, which I have to say is tough to get through - the subject matter is less mature and the edition I have is terrible (whole passages and parts of sentences are either missing or out of order, footnotes are mixed throughout the page and hard to distinguish from the rest of the text, etc, simply poor publishing).

    So I put that down and picked up Voyage of the Beagle instead, and I'm enjoying it immensely so far. It's very interesting to read his eye for scientific detail, and get a sense of his distaste for slavery and respect for living things, human and otherwise.

  4. Actually, he has a great respect for non-living things as well - very detailed descriptions of geologic formations and landscapes. All in all he was evidently fascinated by pretty much everything.

  5. I first read Voyage while on a deep sea research trip that started at the Galapagos. I spent three days waiting for the boat on the island with the Darwin Station and walked all around carrying my camera and the Voyage. Then I finished the Voyage on the boat while I was trying to study deep sea organisms while dealing with the dengue fever I caught in transit ...

  6. My favorite part is the part about the iguanas on the Galapagos: "The nature of this lizard's food, as well as the structure of its tail and feet, and the fact of its having been seen voluntarily swimming out at sea, absolutely prove its aquatic habits; yet there is in this respect one strange anomaly, namely, that when frightened it will not enter the water. Hence it is easy to drive these lizards down to any little point overhanging the sea, where they will sooner allow a person to catch hold of their tails than jump into the water. They do not seem to have any notion of biting; but when much frightened they squirt a drop of fluid from each nostril. I threw one several times as far as I could, into a deep pool left by the retiring tide; but it invariably returned in a direct line to the spot where I stood. It swam near the bottom, with a very graceful and rapid movement, and occasionally aided itself over the uneven ground with its feet. As soon as it arrived near the edge, but still being under water, it tried to conceal itself in the tufts of sea-weed, or it entered some crevice. As soon as it thought the danger was past, it crawled out on the dry rocks, and shuffled away as quickly as it could. I several times caught this same lizard, by driving it down to a point, and though possessed of such perfect powers of diving and swimming, nothing would induce it to enter the water; and as often as I threw it in, it returned in the manner above described. Perhaps this singular piece of apparent stupidity may be accounted for by the circumstance, that this reptile has no enemy whatever on shore, whereas at sea it must often fall a prey to the numerous sharks. Hence, probably, urged by a fixed and hereditary instinct that the shore is its place of safety, whatever the emergency may be, it there takes refuge."

  7. My favorite part of _Voyage_ is where Darwin encounters halophilic archaea! When describing a salt lake in Argentina he wrote:

    "Parts of the lake seen from a short distance appeared of a reddish colour, and this perhaps was owing to some infusorial animalcula"

    Visit the Galapagos or at least check out the Darwin Station online.

    I wonder if visiting the Galapagos is such a good idea (unless you are actually doing research there) -- I remember reading something to the effect that casual tourism was having a negative effect on the ecosystems there.

    As for suggesting something else to do, how about reading Darwin in another language?

    The _Origin_ in Esperanto

    The _Origin_ in French

    The _Origin_ in German

    Volcanic Islands in French

  8. Well I made him a cake.

  9. i'll gve him a cake... heheh

    you could visit my site for more article about politics, love, life and everything under the sun... feel free to leave a comment and express your views... :)


  10. Two other suggestions: participate at the Darwin Aloud or make a post about Darwin in your blog (see the initiative Blog for Darwin)

  11. 10: listen to some darwin rap blogs.sciencemag.org/origins/2009/02/rapping-with-darwin-and-dawkin.html

  12. Thanks for the shout-out.
    ...and I second the suggestion to participate in Darwin Aloud.

  13. Some comments:

    Jonathan B. yeah - good point about not overvisiting the Galapagos. That is kind of why I put "visit the station online" ..

    And love the halophile ref ... I missed that in my reading somehow ...

    All others - thanks for the #10s --- I hope everyone out there does something today ...

  14. this ws my advisor's idea...

    10. Bake ANOTHER cake accompanied by Darwin's Pigeon's cupcakes!


  15. Big voyage fan myself - except im not sure he was too fond of Australia.....

    i walked around wearing a t-shirt a friend of mine designed for the occasion:


    Also I think this brewery had the right idea:



  16. I've used darwinian alot, I will top now, thank you,

  17. I mean stop not top, damn touch screens..........

  18. I added an idea to your No. 4:


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