Darwin Day 2012

Today is Darwin Day, or to put it another way, the 203rd anniversary of Darwin’s birth. You can find various posts around the web, as well as various activities to participate in, by searching on “Darwin Day.” My own contribution is below. Continue reading

Lost Microscope Slides Of Hooker and Darwin Rediscovered

This is cool.

Falcon-Lang’s find was a collection of 314 slides of specimens collected by Darwin and other members of his inner circle, including John Hooker — a botanist and dear friend of Darwin — and the Rev. John Henslow, Darwin’s mentor at Cambridge, whose daughter later married Hooker.
The first slide pulled out of the dusty corner at the British Geological Survey turned out to be one of the specimens collected by Darwin during his famous expedition on the HMS Beagle, which changed the young Cambridge graduate’s career and laid the foundation for his subsequent work on evolution.

More info can be found here. Apparently, there is also a more formal writeup in Geology Today, but I haven’t been able to track that down yet.

The Experimental Darwin: More on Microscopes and Plants

Darwin was quite experienced with the microscope. In this experiment we see another aspect of the “experimental Darwin”. Here Darwin is examining the effect of ammonia on plants (this is part of his research in insectivorous plants) Continue reading

How Much Earth Could an Earthworm Move, If an Earthworm Could Move Earth?

It’s a profoundly interesting question and Charles Darwin experimented to find the answer. I bet you all thought I had forgotten about my series on Darwin’s experiments! Darwin came up with a couple of different methods for answering the question. This is one (In this one Darwin also notices a phenomena familiar to archaeologists – but you will have to figure that one out on your own):

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Darwin Experiments With Site Formation Processes

Okay, it was really about mold formation, but the experiment itself sounds like something that would make Michael Schiffer (for those of you unfamiliar with him, Schiffer’s work primarily centers around the processes – natural or manmade – that go into the creation of an archaeological site.) proud. In this experiment Darwin takes advantage of some natural and manmade processes to examine mold formation. The experiment concerns three fields belonging to his father-in-law, Josiah Wedgwood II, that had been treated in three different fashions – it also involves one of Darwin’s favorites (earthworms):

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Darwin and the Cell: Not Just Protoplasm

Intelligent Design proponents are fond of saying that Darwin considered the cell to be just a formless blob of protoplasm. Behe’s Darwin’s Black Box is a good example of this kind of silliness. Few IDiots realize that Darwin was, in fact, a first rate microscopist. In this experiment we see Darwin at the microscope. We also see that he was aware that cells were more than just vague bits of protoplasm.

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The Experimental Darwin, Tuesday Edition: Darwin and His Seeds

I was researching something different when I encountered some, previously unknown to me, experiments Darwin did with seeds.

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