Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Happy Birthday Charles Darwin!

I meant to post this yesterday but I ran out of time with other things going on. In any case here's a short bio on Charles Darwin to celebrate the founder of the theory of common descent!

Charles Robert Darwin was born February 12, 1809 and if he were still alive today, he'd be 204 years old. Darwin pioneered the theory of Evolution, which many consider to be the unifying theory of  the life sciences and is often applied to most if not all other sciences as well. He also coined the term Natural Selection and established the tree of life.

Born in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England and the fifth of six children. A born naturalist who even at a young age was fond of collecting. One would find it ironic that C. Darwin actually found lectures to be dull. Charles attended the University of Edinburgh Medical School with his brother but found surgery to be too taxing and thus wasn't a very good student and like most kids who find school boring neglected his studies.

This was actually a blessing is disguise for good ol Charlie because out of spite his father sent him off to Christ's College, Cambridge wherein the young Darwin would eventually meet and become good friends with one John Stevens Henslow. Charles did well at Cambridge and would return home to find a letter from Henslow inviting Charles to accompany him on the Voyage of the Beagle. The voyage was delayed several times but began nonetheless on December 27, 1831 and lasted nearly five years.

Throughout the journey Darwin collected specimens of a myriad number and sent a great deal back to Cambridge for expert appraisal. Henslow fostered Darwin, his studies and theories into something of a celebrity in the scientific community. Darwin's collections of both modern and extinct life including fossil specimens could hardly be rivaled and he worked diligently on his new theory of natural selection, through both illness and marriage leading up to his publishing On the Origin of Species in 1859.

Common Descent was met with both praise and criticism, but none attacked the theory with more ferocity than fellow peer and Darwin's superior Sir Richard Owen (founder of the British Museum (Natural History) in London and responsible for coining the word Dinosauria). Owen even went as far as to lie outright amid peer review just to discredit the theory. None the less Darwin's theory has stood the test of time and weathered the last century and a half through both criticism and countless attempts to disprove it.

Even in life though Darwin couldn't begin to imagine the advances made in genetics (although he did elude to a method by which information must be passed down). One would think that new information or scientific advancements would make the theory obsolete but they have only made it stronger thus established the Twin Nested Hierarchy.

Contributing one of the most influential scientific theories of all time we celebrate you! Happy Birthday Charles Robert Darwin!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.