Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday



Thursday, February 12 marked Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday anniversary. The English naturalist and father to the theory of evolution stands to be one very distinguished figure in history along with a handful of others, including Albert Einstein. Both men made revolutionary discoveries that altered our understanding of the physical and natural world in the field of science.

Darwin’s voyage on the HMS Beagle beginning in 1831 lasted about five years, stopping in various countries and specific locations including South America, the Galapagos Islands, Tahiti, New Zealand, Australia, and Southern Africa before returning to England. As the Beagle stopped at these places, Darwin made keen observations detailing plant and animal organisms, geological landscapes, and marine life specimens dwelling beneath waters.

The conclusion of these observations resulted in the publication of several books, the most notorious being “The Origin of Species”, which postulates that all organisms have survived by adapting to change in their environments, and therefore propagating their species; this is what is meant by the term “natural selection”. A classic example of this phenomenon occurred during the British industrial revolution. While lighter colored moths died out, the darker ones who adapted better became less likely to be seen by predators. The altering of the darker colored moths was due to melanin.

In commemoration of Darwin’s 200th birthday several events are going on in the San Francisco and Bay Area. The California Academy of Sciences has an excellent display of evolution for guests to view. One employee says that event, although today is a “light day”, is usually “sold out”. For this special occasion people are mostly interested in live lectures concerning Darwin’s life and works.

Bev Parker, a guest at the museum, came to visit the Academy for the purpose of Darwin’s 200th birthday, and says that “Darwin was a genius to have constructed such an intricate theory of evolution”. Another guest, Marylyn Dickmin, came to the museum “to check it out” but nonetheless was intrigued by his speculative work. Bundles of children and young school kids roamed around the museum with their parents and classmates armed with a sense optimism and curiosity. On the second floor of the museum one can find a naturalist library embellished with all sorts of different books on science, skulls of different specimens along with skeletons of smaller invertebrates, computers, and an information desk with staff members who are happy to answer any questions and aid anyone with information regarding the museum.

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