Fun with Darwin Day!
It is hard not to overstate the importance of Charles Darwin. While any attempt to make an ordered list of the greatest scientists would result in quibbling and arguing about the order, if you had a metaphorical, giant room where you could put all of the greatest scientists—cocktail party maybe?—he would be in that room. Whether he would enjoy the party or not, well that is another story.
February 12 is Darwin Day, the international observance of Charles Darwin’s birthday (He would be 207 years young today!). It is also an acknowledgement of his contributions to science and the world. While there are many ways to celebrate Darwin Day, from rereading On the Origin of Species to purveying the assorted articles (1, 2, 3) detailing his importance, we wanted to curate a more off-kilter approach that may be a bit more fun.
Here are some other ways you can celebrate Darwin Day . . .
Do you enjoy arts and crafts? Sarah Hume, from the Geological Society offers plans on how to make your own Mini Crochet Darwin!
“Coming in at seven inches tall, with the magnificent beard and somewhat over enthusiastic eyebrows of his later years, mini Darwin is frankly the best thing I’ve ever made . . .”
Perhaps some light reading? May I suggest “The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists: Novel” by Gideon Defoe? This brilliant and hilarious book follows the adventures of “The Pirate Captain” who assists a young Charles Darwin make his return to England. This book also serves as the basis for “The Pirates! Band of Misfits,” the equally great 2012 film. You can’t go wrong with either of these.
Maybe you want to incorporate Darwin into your wardrobe? You definitely have options there. How about a shirt that bears the entire text of On the Origin of Species? It can be yours for $34 USD.
How about some random Darwin facts?
- Darwin was born on the same day as Abraham Lincoln. No idea if they ever hung out though.
- Whether it was while circumnavigating the globe on the H.M.S. Beagle or enjoying a meal at the Cambridge Gourmet Dining Club, Darwin expanded his palette by dining on hawk, bittern, armadillo, puma, ostrich, and a famously “indescribably” bad tasting brown owl. No judgement. It was a different time.
- England thought he was pretty keen too, putting him on the ten pound note. He is getting replaced by Jane Austen in 2017. Nothing gold can stay.
- Darwin joined the voyage of the H.M.S. Beagle to be a dinner guest for Capitan Robert FitzRoy.
- In his seminal work on earthworm ecology, entitled The Formation of Vegetable Mould, Darwin, very overly specifically estimated there were 53,767 earths worms per acre.
- The highest peak in Tierra del Fuego is named Mount Darwin.For more great trivia, check out this excellent list from Alex Santoso
There are a tremendous number of events both today and in the coming week celebrating Charles Darwin and his contributions. This list from www.darwinday.com will help you find one near you—and you may not even have to eat brown owl!
If you have thoughts on Darwin and how he has impacted either your own work or research, we would love to hear from you (@atkinsjeff on Twitter).
But never go to his childhood home. There is a plaque there, saying this is his childhood home, but the actual building is now a government office 🙁 Nothing there but a small plaque. There is a Darwin museum at his adult home, but the home in Stoke on Trent does not recognize him very well.