The old man would be 199 years old today, so biologists and other science-supporting people are celebrating all around the world. Even in Morris.
I’m actually giving two lectures today. The first is a fortunate coincidence: I’m teaching an introductory biology course that emphasizes the history and philosophy of science, and today just happens to line up with my coverage of the late 19th century, and especially Darwin … so the freshman get a mini-biography of Charles Darwin. I emphasize something I think many of them can relate to, that Darwin was a young man once, who went off to college uncertain about what he was going to do with his life, and that the voyage of the Beagle was an event that changed his life. We’re so used to seeing Darwin portrayed as an old man, but he was 22 when he set sail.
The second lecture is a public lecture sponsored by our biology club tonight, at 7:00, in 1020 Science. Charles Darwin’s Origin is 149 years old this year, and although it is a very good book and well worth reading for the historical context and as an outline of the beginnings of a science, it is, well, 149 years old. There’s much more to evolutionary biology than Darwin. My talk is titled “Evo-Devo: the future of biology?”, and I’m going to be discussing new perspectives on evolution, why I think development is an essential component of our understanding of how organisms evolve, and giving several specific examples.
If you can’t make it to Morris tonight, though, that’s OK. This is a preliminary version of a keynote lecture I’ll be giving at GECCO, the Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference, on 12-16 July in Atlanta, so you could always sign up for that.