1. marc says

    It might just be time for another eastbound trip across the pond.

    Meanwhile on our side lets have some fun –

    You guys might find this very interesting if you haven’t already heard:

    Dan Savage of Savage Love fame started this site as a direct result of Rick Warren speaking at the inauguration. Care to help Dan get the term saddleback to mean something other than a hugely influential church.

  2. Paguroidea says

    Wow! I would love to go to Down House sometime. Does anyone know where the sandwalk would be located from the front of the house that we see on the video?

  3. GILGAMESH says

    So where are the machinations of evil the fundamentalists would lead you to believe must permeate Darwin’s house?

  4. stephanurus says

    Down House can be found on Google Earth at
    51 degrees 19′ 53.14″ N
    0 degrees 03′ 12.40″ E


  5. says

    Nice! Maybe you can tour the Beagle as well.

    Steve Jones argued in the Telegraph online that we should concentrate less on Charles Darwin and more on the science. While it’s hard to argue with more science, no one seems to have come to any harm by reading biographies of Thomas Edison. However, Mr. Jones’ argument gave me an idea: for each succeeding month, let’s discuss the life, influence, and thoughts of another contributor to evolutionary theory as it has developed in the last 150 years. Perhaps a nod back to James Hutton and the others who discovered that the Earth is old. Alfred Russell Wallace, who spent about 15 years in the field looking at the distribution of species. Thomas H. Huxley, who suggested that dinosaurs were related to birds but didn’t have the evidence to test his hypothesis. JBS Haldane and Sewall Wright. R. A. Fisher, who contributed so much to the Modern Synthesis. Avery, who proved tht the genetic material was DNA and not something else, like albumin. Theodosius Dobzhansky and the origins of genetic variation. Barbara McClintock, who discovered “jumping genes.” Someone like Lorenz, whose careful observation found the evolutionary origins of some behaviors. Lynn Margulis, who devised real, repeatable experiments for her theories until they were accepted. Evo-devo, viruses, and retroviruses. It would be fun. We could start off every article with, “You’ve heard enough about Darwin. But he’d never heard of genes. What about the rest of the story? …”

  6. TEBB says

    I was on vacation in London several years ago and didn’t go to Down House. I hope to go back to London this year since the hotels there are getting “cheap” (for London, anyway).

    Anyone know if there is some type of day trip you can take which includes transportation from London to Down House and back? I don’t want to have to figure out the mechanics by myself – I’d enjoy it more if I can just get on a bus or train from London.

    Heck, why not get a bunch of Pharyngulates and go over in Sept as a group? PZ could lead us on a tour of the Natural History museum and other great places and in exchange we could pick up his hotel cost!

  7. Holbach says

    A visit to Down House is at the top of my eventual trip to England, and I am sure I will have gone away even more in awe of this great man.
    I sometimes wonder if Charles Darwin would have been venerated by us if he had been born in America, and his house and works honored as important historic value. When you consider the religious animosity directed at him here, more so than in his own country, it would not surprise me that he would be the object of much more vilification as our country is so dominated by religious morons. The very name of this honored man chokes the religious insane with contempt to have their imaginary god rendered useless and void, and they cannot erase his name or evolution’s reality even without the aid of their god. Suffer, you morons.

  8. says

    What’s on the front page of today’s San Francisco Chronicle? A tribute to Charles Darwin by David Perlman, the grand old man of science journalism. (Perlman turned 90 last month.) Thanks to Perlman’s presence, the Chronicle pays more attention to science than just about any other major metropolitan newspaper.

  9. cactusren says

    I’m planning a trip to England this fall, and Down House is definitely on the list of places to go. I also want to get out to Stonehenge, and it just so happens I’ll be there right around the fall equinox :)

  10. Nick says

    The easiest way to Downe House via public transport, get the train to Orpington Station from Charing Cross or Victoria (Charing Cross has a much more frequent service) then get a mini cab from the station.

    Don’t go into the pub called The Maxwell by the station (if it’s still there) it’s like the pub in American Werewolf in London without the cheery atmosphere.

  11. Alan C says

    I went there two years ago and found it interesting. Apparently, when Darwin had a large book to read he would break it down the spine and read half at a time. :-0

  12. says

    I was at Down on Friday, in picture perfect snow. They were still finishing off the new exhibitions, but I reckon they are going to be fantastic. Whatever they are like, it’s quite humbling to stand in his study, pretty much exactly as it was.

    But if it’s in competition with other UK attractions, go to the Natural History Museum. It rocks. Awesomely. Contains lots of rocks too. CD is at the top of the stairs these days, and Owen tucked away in a dark alcove round the corner. Huxley bears down on you in the cafe with enormous eyebrows looking rilly pissed.

  13. cedgray says

    It’s bloody closed for the Big Man’s birthday, of course. Instead they’re treating the staff to a fun day of their own. Typical. :-#

  14. Ray M says

    I sometimes wonder if Charles Darwin would have been venerated by us if he had been born in America, and his house and works honored as important historic value.

    If that were the case, I suspect his house might well now be known as “Burnt Down House” :-(

  15. says

    Monado, the BBC actually had a program narrated by Armand Marie Leroi entitled “What Darwin didn’t know” as one of the first broadcasts in its Darwin season a couple of weeks ago. It covered quite a lot of the discoveries about evolution that have been made since Darwin’s time.

    Of course it’s far from complete and has a couple of mistakes and oversimplifications (in particular an explanation of the evolution of the eye which doesn’t quite work…though I can see what he was getting at) but it does a good job overall.

  16. Moggie says

    OMG. Judging from a video at the BBC link, I think I once bought a car from Darwin’s great great granddaughter. I wondered about the name at the time, but didn’t ask if she was related, on the grounds that I’d have turned into a stammering fanboy if she’d said yes. Also, she might have jacked up the price.

  17. Tycho the Dog says

    I’m only thirty minutes from Down House, but to my eternal shame I’ve never been there. Definitely something to do this year.

    Plus I’d second the Natural History Museum in Kensington as a must see, as much for the architecture as the exhibits. And as a bonus you can access the Science Museum through a corridor that connects the two buildings.

    And if you wanted to make a day of it, the Crystal Palace Park dinosaurs are worth an excursion

  18. Marcus says

    Been there a couple times, and last time I was over in the UK I took my wife too. Did the tour, but more importantly did the walk. Definitely an interesting place to visit just because of its significance in history. We go to a lot of castles, stately homes and such. Down House though was one place where I must have read every part of every sign. At least I thought I had, I didn’t see any reference to PZ visiting unfortunately. Must have missed that one. :)

  19. Adam Rutherford says

    Apparently, there are 72 cousins in the great great grandchild strata. Don’t forget that as well as Wedgewood genes, there are Maynard Keynes genes in there too.

  20. AnthonyK says

    Hey, I’m a cousin of Darwin’s too – though, alas, only through common descent!
    Yeah please PZ, do come back to Britland soon (there’s a TAM planned there (see BA) – you could talk at that and we could all go on a coach trip to Down House and like, totally do Darwin…it would be awesome).
    I’d also like to find out it it’s true that you have no shadow though my only personal theory is that you do have one but that it’s only found pointing away from a light source, if I may be so bold.

  21. Max says

    Sigh… someday I’ll go to England.
    After I finish my teaching degree.
    And I’m going to Down House, Stonehenge, and Abbey Road Studios.

  22. jeffox says

    Just think. If you slept there, upon awakening, you would be up in Down house.

    Who’s this Kent guy, anyway?


  23. Alan Champion says

    When I was about 11, our french teacher lived actually next door to Down House. We were lucky enough to have a special visit arranged, and ;looking back I think this may well ahve been influential in my interest in science and its effect and benefit for humanity.
    The irony? I was at a choir school run by the C of E. Must go back after 35 years…..
    Oh, and Max? Don’t feel too disappointed by your 2nd and 3rd venues.