Help the Beagle sail again!

The Beagle Project is having a fundraiser — they’re selling t-shirts and other gear to raise money for their project of reconstructing Darwin’s ship and sending scientists off to sea on it. I’m eyeing that large mug with the Beagle blueprints on it myself.


  1. says

    I assume PZ is the Kraken that will eat it. He wants the blueprints to find the weak points and ensure the attack is successful.

  2. Jon H says

    Um, in terms of science, I’m afraid I don’t see the point. Surely it’d be a more productive use of money to buy a modern vessel, equip it with modern science gear, and use *that*. Or pay for a few more postdocs or grad student to join an already-planned voyage.

    The Beagle didn’t have much in the way of ROV’s, for example.

  3. Don says

    Any chance of getting letters of marque and pillaging a seasteader or two?

    Could be self-financing.

  4. Ian H Spedding FCD says

    I bet PZ is imagining himself as Cap’n Jack Sparrow ordering his scurvy crew aloft to the yardarms.

    I’m looking at the Union Flag buttons. We need to make sure everyone remembers Beagle was British before Hollywood remakes it as an American expedition with Charles Darwin portrayed as an Indiana Jones type of adventurer complete with fedora and bullwhip…

  5. says

    Dear Jon H,

    Thank you for raising an important question (#4): What is “the point” of a replica Beagle, in terms of science? “Surely”, you say, “it’d be a more productive use of money to buy a modern vessel…more post docs” etc. etc.

    If the actual collection of data were the only important thing that we scientists did, then I’d agree with you, and I’d say that any old (or better yet new) research vessel would do, and the more high tech bells and whistles the better.

    But it’s not just about collecting data.

    It’s about engaging children, students, teachers and the general public around the world in the excitement and adventure of science, as symbolized by a ship like the Beagle.

    It’s about raising the global profile of the living science of evolutionary biology, the importance of conserving biodiversity, and highlighting the shared challenge of climate change.

    It’s about streaming contemporary science experiments into classrooms around the world, using the captivating site of a historic square-rigged sailing ship to hit home that science is an adventure.

    And it’s about publicly asserting the primacy of the scientific method for answering questions about how our world works (since you are here on Pharyngula, I will assume you are aware of the many sophisticated attacks being mounted against evolution).

    I urge you to learn more about the multiple aims of our project on our website:

    Karen James
    Director of Science
    The HMS Beagle Project

  6. says

    Jon H. If all you are interested in is doing research, then away you go: endow some post docs on existing research vessels. Don’t tell anyone, Jon (just you and I here) but we have a bigger vision. First off, a square rigger replica of one of the most significant ships in history being built in 2008 will generate media and public interest in the run up to the Darwin bicentenary in 2009. In 2009, her launch (attended by descendents of the original crew) and departure on the Voyage of the Beagle: restaged will be one of the media events of the year (in a way, I respectfully suggest, funding a few postdocs on a steel motorboat night not). Not a few post docs but dozens, maybe hundreds of young internationally mixed scientists over the course of the circumnavigation. Some doing the ocean legs (some science to be done there), others retracing Darwin’s shore expeditions, applying the techniques of modern science to Darwin’s work, the raw exploration, the observations and results being streamed to classrooms and labs the world over. Science classes throughout the UK (and elsewhere, if they wish) taking part in part in the experiments (proper ones, not canned, results-known stuff) in parallel. Are we getting value for money yet?

    We have meeting with broadcasters of worldwide reach next week: the point of this is not just the primary science (but there;ll be plenty of that), but to build a science education and outreach project.

    We have declining recruitment to science courses in Britain, and a lack of scientific literacy. Darwin was English, but you might not know that living here (and we’re not being nationalistic about this – we are really looking forward to getting our enthusiastic overseas supporters aboard – as Steven Jay Gould said, science at its best is international and collaborative). The Beagle Project aims to play a part in reversing both: do we do that with learned lectures and exhibitions of rocks in boxes alone, or do we bring a replica HMS Beagle harbours, get school kids aboard, take them to sea and let some good science teachers and communicators loose one them. Those who cannot sail can follow the science though an interactive website: have you sen what happens when young people see, far less get aboard a square rigger? I have. $7 million (capital) for a charismat science outreach, research and education project with a 20 year lifespan and the capacity to make you minds look, say ‘cor! and wonder. Plenty of scientific bang for you buck, methinks.

  7. Rjaye says

    I am so going to get some stuff, and I’m going to see if I can get on her crew.

    The idea of a beautiful recreation of The Beagle is so cool, I am about to launch into tech speech, and I must not do that. Old wooden ships are gorgeous and an important part of our history for themselves, and protecting or recreating that history to show our youngin’s the past is important, and it’s important to remind ourselves of what our fore-parents went through in making fantastic discoveries and in developing the scientific method.

    Modern gadgets and gizmos are way cool and shiny, but think about what scientists hundreds of years ago had to do: use their minds. And careful measurements. What takes us minutes to do took them days, and weeks, and sometimes months and years to do. Patience, and a view of how important it was to stick with it. All of that just to start to build a body of scientific knowledge.

    Technology is wonderful, but we can’t forget what it really takes to “do” science: a well-educated, disciplined, and facile mind. And those early scientists had that. It is something to aspire to.


  8. Scrofulum says

    I like the mugs. Apparently, the handles are a slightly different shape depending on which factory they come from.