The theory of Evolution forms the bedrock of all biological sciences today. United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has declared 2009 as “The year of Darwin”.
Charles Robert Darwin (1809-1882) was an eminent English naturalist who achieved lasting fame by convincing the scientific community that species develop over time from a common origin. His theories explaining this phenomenon through natural and sexual selection are central to the modern understanding of evolution as the unifying theory of the life sciences, essential in biology and important in other disciplines such as anthropology, psychology and philosophy. Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution is one of the most fundamentally important concepts in science, philosophy and human culture.
This year highly respectable scientific institutions from all around the world will be organizing many activities to draw attention to the importance of the theory of evolution. 2009 marks the 150th anniversary of the publication of Darwin’s landmark book with the long Victorian title “On the Origin of Species by means of Natural Selection”.
The Darwin year kicks off on February 12th which also marks his 200th birthday. One of the most well known natural history documentary maker is Sir David Attenborough who has been producing exceptional wildlife programs for the BBC for more than 50 years. He perhaps more than anyone alive on earth has seen evidence for the evolution in the stunning diversity in nature. He recently produced a documentary called “the Tree of Life” in commemoration of the Darwin year. In an interview with the scientific journal The Nature, he provides his personal account on Darwin’s theory of evolution and the scope of his documentary:
Darwin’s theory of evolution, has troubled many, including Darwin himself, as it subverted ideas of divine intervention. In a letter to Joseph Hooker, a young botanist who had studied the plants from Darwin’s voyage on the Beagle he described his idea by saying “like confessing a murder”. It is not surprising that the countries least accepting of evolution today tend to be the most devout. In the most recent international survey available polled by Gallup, only Turkey is less accepting of the theory than America. According to the same poll, Iceland and Denmark are Darwin’s most ardent adherents.
Beginning tomorrow, world’s top science journals including The Science Magazine and The Nature as well as many natural history museums and botanical gardens including The American Museum of Natural History, The NY Botanical Garden, The British Museum of Natural History, Kew Royal Gardens will be opening special displays and delivering lectures for the Darwin Year.
Happy birthday Chuck!