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Young Darwin 201st BIRTHDAY OF CHARLES DARWIN FEBRUARY 12, 2010, at Noon ASU Life Sciences A-wing, first floor alcove The 201st anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth is February 12, 2010. This year at noon, the School of Life Sciences and the Natural History Collections will sponsor a birthday tea. Free and open to the public, the gathering point will be in the alcove on the first floor of Life Sciences A-wing (adjacent to Palm Walk), where the natural history collections are displayed. Light refreshments will be served (tea and cookies). Here are some posters that were on display at the birthday party:

Charles Darwin’s Book “The Origin of Species” and his other works changed the way scientists and many other people think about the World and were arguably the most important works on biology ever written. So, how did that happen? What events led Darwin to write such a book and to go on to write several others supporting his concept of evolution by natural selection? Anyone who studies the well-documented life of Darwin realizes that numerous events and people influenced his life. History is a web of connected events and people. The Beagle In December 1831 Charles Darwin, 22 years old, left on a voyage around the World as “naturalist” on the HMS Beagle. The Beagle’s main mission was to do a hydrographic survey of the coast of South America from about Uruguay on the east coast to Cape Horn and then to Central Chile on the west coast. Darwin said that the voyage was “the most important event in my life, and has determined my whole career.” Yet, his father had doubts about his going, thinking it was a “wild scheme,” and only through the intervention of Charles’ uncle, Josiah Wedgwood, was he allowed to go. Captain FitzRoy, 26 years old, at first doubted that Charles was up to the rigors of a long ocean trip. Several unlikely events converged to make this voyage possible and these will be discussed. They include suicide, kidnapping, nepotism, and perhaps a little sexual lust. Darwin started the voyage as a somewhat irresponsible youth. His father once said “you care for nothing but shooting, dogs and rat catching.” He might have added beetle collecting and wild parties. But Charles came home a man driven to make a name for himself in science, with a willingness to doubt the accepted scientific “truths” of his time. On seeing Charles for the first time after the voyage his father said, “Why, the shape of his head is quite altered,” believing that his mental work during the voyage was the cause. Although the shape of his head was not altered, something had happened on the voyage that had caused a great change that his father noticed. Darwin without the voyage may never have redirected the course of science.

To learn more about how Darwin’s audacious thinking still reverberates and fuels our medical discoveries, scientific accomplishments, arts and culture, please listen to Darwin’s Distinguished Lecture Series