Put on your party hat. Tomorrow, in universities and public auditoriums, at festivals and museums, people around the world will be celebrating the life and works of one of the most influential scientific minds in history: Charles Darwin. February 12th is Darwin’s 200th birthday, and this year – 2009 – also marks 150 years since the publication of his most famous work, On the Origin of Species. Darwin’s works have – time and again – played a key role in advancing scientific thought in such fields as biology, genetics, biochemistry, and paleontology (just to name a few!).
The life and works of Darwin have been deemed so important by scientists from around the world that hundreds of museums, organizations, and scientific societies have decided to celebrate his birthday and his research. Here are some of the notable events planned in celebration of Darwin, his life, and his contributions to the field of science.
National Academy of Sciences: Two Centuries of Darwin
The National Academy of Sciences of the United States, a prestigious scientific honors society that provides advice to the nation’s leaders on all topics related to science and technology, has revamped its resources on evolution in honor of Darwin Day. In addition, it is hosting a series of events to honor Darwin and his scientific works. The Academy is sponsoring a lecture series centered around the importance of evolution in advancing medical research. The lecture series will be held in Washington, D.C., but it will be streamed online to anyone who wishes to learn more about this fascinating topic.
Celebrations on the Newsstands
Many major scientific publications, including Science , Nature , National Geographic, and The Lancet, have released special issues in honor of Darwin’s work. Science has also begun publishing a blog, Origins, which tackles some of the most fascinating aspects of modern evolutionary theory. Each of these journals has chosen a specific aspect of evolutionary theory to discuss, giving us deeper insight into the mind of Darwin and how scientific research has progressed over the last 150 years.
University of Cambridge: Darwin 2009
Darwin’s alma mater – Cambridge University – is particularly excited about Darwin Day. The institution has planned several days of activities throughout the town and university, though we’ll have to wait a bit longer to celebrate. Cambridge is organizing the bulk of the festivities for July, where – over five days – the town will be transformed into a celebration of scientific thought. Organizers and volunteers have planned dozens of lectures, film showings, tours, exhibitions, and workshops. Such well known scientific personalities as Richard Dawkins, Richard Leakey, and Sir David Attenborough will be presenting their take on the importance of Darwin and the importance of evolution. It is sure to be an exciting festival – so start booking flights now!
There are in fact several hundred Darwin Day-related events going on during all of 2009, with many beginning this week. Be sure to check the official list of Darwin Day 2009 activities in your area.