Getting ready for Darwin Day

You should mark your calendars now…oh, wait, you’re all godless neodarwinist stooges, so you’ve already got Darwin Day colored in with circles and arrows and hearts. OK, so you should add an annotation if you live somewhere near Minneapolis, because the Bell Museum is sponsoring a special Darwin Day Cafe Scientifique, which will combine art and science to tell the story of evolution.

LIFE: A Journey Through Time
North American Premiere /Darwin Day Opening Event
Thursday, February 12, 2009, 7 to 9 p.m.
Bell Museum Auditorium
$10/ free to museum members and University students

Celebrate the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birthday with a special preview of LIFE: A Journey Through Time. The event will feature top University biologists using Lanting’s photographs as a springboard to deliver a rapid-fire presentations relating their research on evolution to the images. From the big bang to the human genome, hear the newest theories on how life evolved and enjoy the North American premiere of one the world’s most celebrated photography exhibits. Think speed-dating – Darwin-style!

This event is also the premier of an exhibit of a stunning collection of nature photography. You should go to that, too.

LIFE: A Journey Through Time
February 14 – April 12, 2009

The University of Minnesota Bell Museum of Natural History is proud to host the North American premier of this internationally acclaimed exhibit. LIFE: A Journey Through Time, interprets the evolution of life on Earth through photographer Frans Lanting. Lanting’s lyrical photos trace Earth’s history from the beginnings of primordial life to the ascent of mammals through otherworldly landscapes and breathtakingly intimate portraits of animals and plants engaged in million-year-old rituals. Many of the exhibit’s 62 photographs are matched with real animal, fossil, and plant specimens from the Bell Museum’s collection. Born in the Netherlands, Lanting serves on the National Council of the World Wildlife Fund and is a columnist for Outdoor Photographer and has received the BBC Wildlife Magazine’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year Award and the Sierra Club’s Ansel Adams Award for Conservation Photography.

One other special feature is that the speakers (I’m one of them) are going to present in Pecha Kucha style. This could be interesting, too.

Pecha Kucha (usually pronounced in three syllables like “peh-chach-ka”) was started in Tokyo, Japan in February 2003 by Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham as a designers’ show and tell event to attract more people to SuperDeluxe, their multi-media experimental event space they had set up in Roppongi.

The idea behind Pecha Kucha is to keep presentations concise, the interest level up and to have many presenters sharing their ideas within the course of one night. Therefore the 20×20 Pecha Kucha format was created: each presenter is allowed a slideshow of 20 images, each shown for 20 seconds. This results in a total presentation time of 6 minutes 40 seconds on a stage before the next presenter is up.

I’m planning to talk about the evolution of multicellularity…with 20 slides in 6 minutes and 40 seconds. We’ll see how that goes.


  1. clinteas says

    What is the benefit of the 20 slides in 6 minutes ?
    Is that some adaptation to the 21st century “cant concentrate for more than an average TV ad break” thingy?

    Good to see the Darwin Day celebrations getting going though….

  2. says

    For those of us in the great science and reason driven state of South Carolina, Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday will be celebrated in Charleston Feb 9 – 15 with the usual zany mix of science, politics, religion, cake and balloons A stellar cast of scientists will be in attendance: Paleontologist Peter Dodson from the University of Pennsylvania, Epidemiologist Marc Lipsitch from Harvard, and Origins of Life researcher Bob Hazen from the Carnegie Institute of Washington. Religious programs are on tap at First (Scots) Presbyterian Church at Meeting and Tradd and the Unitarian Church on Archdale. See the link below for all the details!

  3. says

    The good people at Answers in Genesis are hard at work sounding the alarm about this year’s commemoration of Darwin’s life and work. They say that if “good people do nothing”, 2009 will turn into a celebration of “the evolution myth” and “recruitment” of innocent people into the cult of Darwinism. So we’re not “good people”? I guess folks who accept evolution must be evil, then.

    Damn. I guess I’d better practice my sinister laugh then. Bwa-ha-ha!

  4. says

    If Pecha Kucha comes from Japanese (and it sounds like it) it would be pronounced “pe chahk cha”, not “peh-chach-ka.”

    Interestingly, pecha kucha seems to be a Japanese invective spoken when bored, like the English “blah.” I wonder how that came to refer to a rapid-fire series of presentations?

  5. ivy privy says

    Darwin Days 2009 in Ithaca
    Feb 7 – 15
    Massimo Pigliucci on “What’s science got to do with it? When scientists talk nonsense about religion”
    Ross Brann – Evolution and Religion
    Donald Prothero “Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why it Matters”
    And much much more!

  6. Dahan says

    It’s not fair! I want to go to the Bell, but I teach that night. Life really is cruel and without purpose…

  7. says

    Darwin Day 2009 in Philly

    Barry Werth – Banquet at Delmonico’s: Great Minds, the Gilded Age, and the Triumph of Evolution in America
    Wednesday, February 11
    University of Pennsylvania Bookstore

    Dr. Kenneth R. Miller | Only a Theory? Evolution and the Battle for America’s Soul
    Thursday February 12
    University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

    Darwin’s Legacy in 21st Century Biology
    Thursday, February 12 through Friday, February 13
    University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

  8. Citizensmith says

    Oh, I like Godless neodarwinist stooge. I think I’ll change my Facebook religion as I’ve been a godless liberal elitist for a while now.

  9. Holbach says

    The Science Pundit @ 8

    Thanks for the post and link. So nice to see the great city of Philadelphia paying homage to a great man.

  10. Holbach says

    Both my wall calendars and Engagement calendars only make mention of Lincoln’s birth on February 12th. So I printed in red felt tip pen “Darwin’s Birthday” so I will not overlook this momentous day. Abe will be proud to share a birthday with another great man. We miss you both and keep your humanity and greatness alive.

  11. Steve Ulven says

    That sounds good and all, but you have failed to relay the parking ticket price in Dinkytown [$700/hour (barely an exaggeration)] regardless if you park legitimately or not.

  12. says

    Damn. I guess I’d better practice my sinister laugh then. Bwa-ha-ha!

    A lot of guys ignore the laugh, and that’s about standards.


  13. Gregory Kusnick says

    #5: Wikipedia says:

    (usually pronounced in three syllables like “peh-chak-cha”)

    which I agree makes more sense. So apparently “peh-chach-ka” is a mutant meme in the Bell Museum blurb — but one that will no doubt live forever now that it’s been propagated here.

  14. funda62 says

    Woohoo three cakes in one week! Darwin 12th, Daughter 14th, Me 15th! I’m ready to be sugared up and scienced down!

  15. Matt Penfold says

    Rather than a Darwin Day, the BBC here in the UK is having a Darwin year.

    It recently had a week long series on Radio4 where Melvyn Bragg along with scientists, historians, philosophers and others looked at the Darwin’s life and the influence he had on people at the time, and since. There was another series in which which allowed scientists to write a letter to Darwin explaining to him how he impacts their work today. Both series were brilliant.

    BBC Television is getting in on the act as well, with a forthcoming series entitled “What Darwin Didn’t Know”. The trailers for it look interesting, and the premise seems sound. We now a know a LOT more than Darwin did which is something the creationists seem to ignore. I imagine genetics will have a prominent role in the programs but I hope they also discuss ideas such as genetic drift and founder effect.

    Thankfully the BBC still seems to hold to some of its Reithian ethic, and understands that balance does not mean giving both sides equal time. Apart from one occasion(*) I have not seen the BBC give creationism an easy ride. Pitting a creationist against the likes of Richard Dawkins or Steve Jones is not an even match.

    (*) The exception was an odious program on Radio 4 that makes Thought for the Day look like the height of intellectual enquiry. The program in question is called “Something Understood” that looks at things from a religious and spiritual perspective. The program that dealt with evolution had the premise that science cannot explain what makes humans really human, as opposed to just being animals. I nearly broke my radio throwing it across the room in disgust. Sadly the program is almost as vacuous every week.

  16. kamaka says


    Did PZ just refer to me as a stooge??

    Oh! godless NeoDarwinist stooge.

    I misunderstood.

    We’re cool.

  17. kamaka says

    Posted by: cedgray Author Profile Page | January 18, 2009 6:12 PM

    I’m going to be at Darwin’s own house in Kent. It’s going to be excellent.

    Perhaps pz would post an email you sent him about all of this. I’d sure like to read more.

  18. Siamang says

    “From the big bang to the human genome, hear the newest theories on how life evolved…”


    I guess I can’t really snicker when creationists say that evolution starts with the Big Bang, now can I?

  19. says

    If I may be so bold, for Darwin Day, I’m offering up some of the profits of my Darwin Took Steps image in support of The Beagle Project. I got some good comments about the shirt at ScienceOnline09 this past weekend.

    I hope everyone will take time out of the daily routine and study an organism for a few minutes! Reflection on nature seems appropriate.