“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.”
A very happy 199th birthday, and a big Valentine’s smooch, to Charles Robert Darwin, born February 12, 1809.
(And to Alice Roosevelt Longworth, too, who was born on the same day, in 1884; interestingly, she and her father shared a lifelong interest in human evolutionary biology, and she went on to study the growing field of molecular genetics.)
To celebrate this year, and to get ready for D200, or D2009 (depending on which host and whose party), Farm School offers a highly subjective, not at all comprehensive Charles Darwin bibliography and list of resources for the entire family, with serious and lighthearted offerings; remember, I’m not a trained scientist or a biologist, just a very amateur naturalist who likes to read. By the way, don’t miss the animated countdown over at the Institute of Humanist Studies website.
If you happen to be in or around Los Angeles on Sunday (tomorrow, February 10)
The Center for Inquiry/Los Angeles is celebrating Darwin Day 2008 by staging a reading of one of the late great Steve Allen‘s Meeting of Minds teleplays, with Dan Lauria, Wendie Malick, Robert Forster, and Joe Culp; tickets are $6 (free for CFI-LA members), and seating is limited. The minds meeting that day are Darwin, Galileo, Emily Dickinson, and Attila the Hun. Now if only the folks who own the rights to Meeting of the Minds — and I believe it’s not PBS — would put them on DVD. Please please please please?
Anthropologist and songwriter Richard Milner performs a one-man musical show about Charles Darwin. He’ll be at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco on March 24 and March 26, 2009. Milner has been a guest on WNYC (and here‘s his WNYC visit the other year). If you’re not around San Francisco, check his website for a CD or to book the show. And Milner is also the author of the forthcoming Darwin’s Universe: Evolution from A to Z, with a preface by Stephen Jay Gould and foreword by Ian Tattersall (University of California Press, March 2009).
The Darwin Exhibit
The Darwin exhibition, called variously “The Evolution Revolution” and “Big Idea” is at its final stop, at London’s Natural History Museum, from November 2008 through April 19, 2009. The exhibit opened in New York in 2005 at the American Museum of Natural History, whose website for the exhibit is still up, with a good list of resources. The exhibit, the “most comprehensive exhibition ever assembled on Darwin and evolution includes rare personal artifacts”, has been organized by The American Museum of Natural History in New York, with Toronto’s Royal Ontario Museum; Boston’s Museum of Science; Chicago’s Field Museum; and the Natural History Museum, London, to commemorate the bicentennial. The London Natural History Museum has a good mini website on evolution.
Books for children
NEW One Beetle Too Many: The Extraordinary Adventures of Charles Darwin by Kathryn Lasky, illustrated by Matthew Trueman (Candlewick, January 2009). Publishers Weekly starred review here.
NEW Charles and Emma: The Darwins’ Leap of Faith by Deborah Heiligman (Holt, December 2008). Charles and Emma gets a starred review in the January/February 2008 issue of The Horn Book, and in Publishers Weekly here. Ms. Heiligman’s husband is author Jonathan Weiner, who won the Pulitzer Prize in 1994 for The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in Our Time.
NEW The True Adventures of Charley Darwin by Carolyn Meyer (Harcourt, January 2009); historical fiction about the young Darwin, just setting sail for adventure.
NEW Galapagos George by Jean Craighead George, illustrated by Wendell Minor; to be published April 2009 by HarperCollins. The author of My Side of the Mountain, Julie of the Wolves, and other children’s classics for more than 40 years “traces the evolution of a species of giant turtles on the Galapagos Islands from millions of years ago to the present”.
NEW Animals Charles Darwin Saw by Sandra Markle, illustrated by Zina Saunders; to be published April 2009 by Chronicle Books as part of Ms. Markle’s intriguing new series (Animals Christopher Columbus Saw, Animals Robert Scott Saw)
The Tree of Life by Peter Sís
The Voyage of the Beetle: A Journey around the World with Charles Darwin and the Search for the Solution to the Mystery of Mysteries, as Narrated by Rosie, an Articulate Beetle by Anne H. Weaver, illustrated by George Lawrence (University of New Mexico Press, 2007)
The Sandwalk Adventures: An Adventure in Evolution Told in Five Chapters by Jay Hosler (author of Clan Apis). A comic book by Hosler, a biologist and cartoonist, about the Victorian naturalist’s attempt to explain evolution to a family of mites living in his eyebrows. No, really. Something for the whole family to enjoy. Really and truly. Here’s more from Dr. Hosler on Charlie Darwin: Charlie and Darwin Saves the World.
The Adventures of Charles Darwin by Peter Ward (Cambridge University Press, 1986); chapter book about life on the HMS Beagle as told by a young cabin boy
Inside the Beagle with Charles Darwin by Fiona MacDonald, illustrated by Mark Bergin
Who Was Charles Darwin? by Deborah Hopkinson, illustrated by Nancy Harrison
The Beagle and Mr. Flycatcher: A Story of Charles Darwin by Robert M. Quackenbush; apparently out of print in the US (though not in the UK) but worth searching out at the library because Quackenbush is always fun
Darwin and Evolution for Kids: His Life and Ideas with 21 Activities by Kristan Lawson (Chicago Review Press)
Our Family Tree: An Evolution Story by Lisa Westberg Peters, illustrated by Lauren Stringer
Life Story: The Story of Life on Our Earth from the Beginning Up to Now by Virginia Lee Burton
Mammals Who Morph: The Universe Tells Our Evolution Story by Jennifer Morgan, illustrated by Dana Lynne Andersen
Eyewitness: Evolution by Linda Gamlin (Dorling Kindersley)
The Tree Of Life: The Wonders Of Evolution by Ellen Jackson, illustrated by Judeanne Winter Wiley
We’re Sailing to Galapagos by Laurie Krebs, illustrated by Grazia Restelli (Barefoot Books)
The Evolution Book by Sara Stein; out of print but worth checking the library
Evolve or Die (from the Horrible Science series), by Phil Gates
Evolution by Joanna Cole, illustrated by Aliki (Harper, 1989); out of print but well worth finding for the very young
Books for older children and adults
The Voyage of the HMS Beagle by Charles Darwin, first published in 1845
The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals by Charles Darwin (1872)
From So Simple a Beginning: Darwin’s Four Great Books (Voyage of the Beagle, The Origin of Species, The Descent of Man, The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals), by Charles Darwin and edited by Edward O. Wilson
The Autobiography of Charles Darwin, 1809-1882, edited by Nora Barlow
The Portable Darwin, edited by Duncan M. Porter and Peter W. Graham (from the Viking Portable Library series)
Origins: Selected Letters of Charles Darwin, 1822-1859, edited by Frederick Burkhardt, with a foreword by Stephen Jay Gould. New anniversary edition published by Cambridge University Press in June 2008.
The Beagle Letters, edited by Frederick Burkhardt, with an introduction by Janet Browne
Evolution: Selected Letters of Charles Darwin, 1860-1870, edited by Frederick Burkhardt, Alison Pearn, and Samantha Evans; with a foreword by Sir David Attenborough. New anniversary edition poublished by Cambridge University Press in June 2008. This volume and the foregoing are a distillation of the late Professor Burkhardt’s 15 volumes (to date) of Darwin’s correspondence.
The Triumph of the Darwinian Method by Michael T. Ghiselin (Dover, 2003)
Charles Darwin: Voyaging and Charles Darwin: The Power of Place, by Janet Browne; Browne’s two-volume biography. She has also written a “biography” of Darwin’s best-known work, Darwin’s Origin of Species: A Biography (from the Books That Changed the World series)
Darwin’s Century: Evolution and the Men Who Discovered It by Loren Eiseley. Out of print. Find it.
The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Human Evolution, edited by Stephen Jones, Robert D. Martin, and David R. Pilbeam; with a foreword by Richard Dawkins
Climbing Mount Improbable by Richard Dawkins
The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins
Galapagos: The Islands That Changed the World by Paul D. Stewart
Darwin for Beginners by Jonathan Miller and Borin Van Loon
Ever Since Darwin: Reflections on Natural History by Stephen Jay Gould
The Panda’s Thumb: More Reflections in Natural History by Stephen Jay Gould
The Book of Life: An Illustrated History of the Evolution of Life on Earth, edited by Stephen Jay Gould
The Richness of Life: The Essential Stephen Jay Gould, edited by Stephen Rose, with a foreword by Oliver Sacks
The Structure of Evolutionary Theory by Stephen Jay Gould
The Diversity of Life by E.O. Wilson
The Creation: An Appeal to Save Life on Earth by E.O. Wilson
The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in Our Time by Jonathan Weiner
Evolution: Society, Science and the Universe, edited by Andrew C. Fabian; with essays by Stephen Jay Gould, Lewis Wolpert, Jared Diamond, Freeman Dyson, and others (Cambridge University Press, 1998)
Living with Darwin: Evolution, Design, and the Future of Faith by Philip Kitcher (Oxford University Press)
Teaching about Evolution and the Nature of Science by the Working Group on Teaching Evolution, National Academy of Sciences
Evolution for Everyone: How Darwin’s Theory Can Change the Way We Think About Our Lives by David Sloan Wilson
Evolution by Jean-Baptiste de Panafieu (translated by Linda Asher), with photographs by Patrick Gries
From So Simple a Beginning: The Book of Evolution by Philip Whitfield (Macmillan, 1993); out of print
Just A Theory: Exploring The Nature Of Science by Moti Ben-Ari; not specifically about evolution but very useful
NEW Evolution: The First Four Billion Years, edited by Michael Ruse and Joseph Travis, with a foreword by Edward O. Wilson (Belknap Press, February 2009)
NEW Darwin’s Universe: Evolution from A to Z by Richard Milner, with a preface by Stephen Jay Gould and foreword by Ian Tattersall (University of California Press, March 2009).
NEW The Young Charles Darwin by Keith Stewart Thomson (Yale University Press, February 2009)
NEW Mrs. Charles Darwin’s Recipe Book: Revived and Illustrated, edited by Dusha Bateson and Weslie Janeway (Glitterati, November 2008)
NEW Darwin’s Island: The Galapagos in the Garden of England by Steve Jones (Little, Brown, January 2009 in UK, March 2009 in Canada); an excerpt in The Guardian, and reviewed in The Economist. Steve Jones is the author of Darwin’s Ghost.
NEW Darwin’s Sacred Cause: How a Hatred of Slavery Shaped Darwin’s Views on Human Evolution by Adrian Desmond and James Moore (Houghton Mifflin, January 2009); reviewed in The Economist
NEW Darwin Slept Here: Discovery, Adventure, and Swimming Iguanas in Charles Darwin’s South America by Eric Simons (Overlook, January 2009)
NEW Endless Forms: Charles Darwin, Natural Science, and the Visual Arts edited by Diana Donald and Jane Munro (Yale University Press, April 2009); a “lavishly illustrated book” published to accompany an exhibition organized by the Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge, in association with the Yale Center for British Art
NEW by Charles’s great-great-granddaughter, Darwin: A Life in Poems by Ruth Padel (Knopf, March 2009). Ms. Padel is a Fellow of both the Royal Society of Literature and the Zoological Society of London. She will read from the new book, and converse with geneticist Jonathan Howard, at “Darwin, Poetry and Science”, chaired by Randal Keynes, at the Royal Society, Kenneth Clark Lecture Theatre, Somerset House on Monday, 9 February 2009 at 6:30pm.
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Books by science writer and reporter Carl Zimmer:
Virus and the Whale: Exploring Evolution in Creatures Small and Large, edited by Judy Diamond, with Carl Zimmer, E. Margaret Evans, Linda Allison, and Sarah Disbrow; published by the National Science Teachers Association, 2006. An activity book for teachers and their students, which includes parents and their students.
Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea, Carl Zimmer’s companion guide to the PBS series of the same name (see below)
Mr. Zimmer has a ScienceBlog, The Loom: A blog about life, past and future. Not only is there lots of good stuff to read, but he has a regular feature, Science Tattoo Friday, where some of the tattoos are so fascinating and attractive (such as the Copernicus/scientific revolution ones) that I sometimes forget how much I dislike tattoos.
Galapagos Islands Coloring Book (Dover Coloring Books); for young children
PZ Myers at Pharyngula has some of the best online prehistory/evolution reading lists in a variety of categories — “for the kids”, “for the grown-up layman”, “for the more advanced/specialized reader”, etc. (scroll through the comments for more titles).
Magazines, Journals & Articles
Scientific American‘s 2002 article by editor John Rennie, “15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense” (including the hoary old chestnut, “Evolution is only a theory”)
New York Times profile of E.O. Wilson, “Taking a Cue From Ants on Evolution of Humans” (July 15, 2008)
Guardian profile of E.O. Wilson, “Darwin’s natural heir” (February 17, 2001)
Verlyn Klinkengborg’s New York Times column, August 2005, “Grasping the Depth of Time as a First Step in Understanding Evolution”
NEW “Charles Darwin and the Tree of Life”, a one-hour BBC One documentary special narrated by Sir David Attenborough, 1 February 2009; Sir David is described in this BBC press release as “a passionate Darwinian”.
Speaking of the BBC, the Beeb is hailing Darwin this year as “The Genius of Evolution” with a variety of special presentations
“Evolution” (PBS), narrated by Liam Neeson. There is also a companion volume, Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea by Carl Zimmer (see above); and the PBS program website, with some projects and links for “Teachers and Students”
Dr. Jacob Bronowski’s “The Ascent of Man”(BBC, 1973), new on DVD (five disc set)
“Growing Up in the Universe” on DVD (two disc set, region-free); Richard Dawkins’s 1991 five one-hour lectures for children, originally televised by the BBC as part of The Royal Institution The Christmas Lectures for Young People, founded by Michael Faraday in 1825.
“NOVA: Origins: Fourteen Billion Years of Cosmic Evolution” (PBS)
“NOVA: Genius: The Science of Einstein, Newton, Darwin, and Galileo” (PBS)
On the Big Screen I: The upcoming film “Creation”, starring Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connnelly, based on Annie’s Box: Charles Darwin, His Daughter and Human Evolution (published in 2001) by Randal Keynes, Darwin’s great-great-grandson. The movie is adapted from the book by John Collee (Happy Feet and Master & Commander) and directed by Jon Amiel (The Singing Detective). To be released in the autumn of 2009.
On the Big Screen II?: a film adaptation by Chase Palmer of the recent book Evolution’s Captain: The Story of the Kidnapping That Led to Charles Darwin’s Voyage Aboard the Beagle by Peter Nichols (a bargain right now at Barnes & Noble, by the way). Not much news on this one lately, so it may have fizzled.
Richard Milner (see above) as “Charles Darwin: Live and In Concert”, and also on CD. At the website, you can listen to excerpts of “When You Were a Tadpole and I Was a Fish” and “I’m the Guy Who Found Natural Selection”. The New York Times recently discovered Dr. Milner and has a related science blog post by John Tierney for a science song contest offering “a prize to the Lab reader who comes up with the best lyrics to be sung by Charles Darwin or any other scientist, alive or dead.”
“Origin of Species in Dub” by the Genomic Dub Collective. Yes, that would be reggae. Not just a CD and MP3s, but a DVD too and online videos. And a bonus track, “Dub fi Dover”, to celebrate the outcome in the Dover, Pennsylvania trial. Truly amazing.
“Charlie is My Darwin” by the Torn Rubbers, official theme song of The Friends of Charles Darwin ; and a bonus, “The Darwinian Theory” by John Young, C.E. (to the tune of the Scottish ballad, The King of the Cannibal Islands)
British composer Michael Stimpson is working on a classical piece, “Into the Unknown“, to celebrate the life and work of Charles Darwin.
Timothy Sellers’ band, Artichoke, released a CD several years ago, “26 Scientists, Volume One: Anning — Malthus“; the lyrics and a clip of the song about Darwin, who beat out da Vinci and Doppler for the fourth letter of the alphabet, are here. The CD is $10 at the band’s website and you can buy or download the disc at CD Baby, where you can also read more about it from Timothy Sellers, who was also interviewed by The New York Times.
By the way, in my search for Darwinian music, I found something MASSIVE, for those who like to learn, and teach, with music. It is in fact called MASSIVE: a database for “Math And Science Song Information, Viewable Everywhere”. The database, which is maintained by Greg Crowther and is part of the National Science Foundation’s National Science Digital Library,
contains information on over 2500 science and math songs. Some of these songs are suitable for 2nd graders; others might only appeal to tenured professors. Some songs have been professionally recorded; others haven’t. Some are quite silly; others are downright serious.
Finally, sung to the tune of Gilbert & Sullivan’s “Model Major General” and inspired by Tom Lehrer’s “The Elements”, here is Amadan’s “I Am the Very Model of a C – Design – Proponentsist“
If you or your kids get inspired by Project Beagle and want to build your own — ship, that is — you can, with the HMS Beagle plastic ship model kit (1:96), made in Germany by Revell; “features detailed hull with gunports, deck with hatches, masts, yards, 2 anchors, stairways, sails, railings, wheels, cannon, lifeboats with oars. Also included is yarn for rigging, flag chart and display stand with name plate. Measures 16″ long and 11 3/4″ high.”
HMS Beagle: Survey Ship Extraordinary by Karl Marquardt; part of the Anatomy of the Ship series by Conway Maritime Press, which includes volumes on the Endeavour, Bounty, and Bellona.
Out and about online
The Charles Darwin Has a Posse sticker page, from Colin Purrington. Because you can never underestimate the power of a well-placed sticker or bookmark. As I noted in my 2005 Posse post, “As Darwin himself said, and as you can be reminded daily from a bookmark, ‘Doing what little one can to increase the general stock of knowledge is as respectable an object of life as one can, in any likelihood, pursue’.”
The Complete Works of Charles Darwin Online: “This site contains Darwin’s complete publications, thousands of handwritten manuscripts and the largest Darwin bibliography and manuscript catalogue ever published; Darwin Online also hundreds of supplementary works: biographies, obituaries, reviews, reference works and more”, including MP3s for your listening edification and pleasure.
Cambridge University’s Darwin Correspondence Project, founded in 1974 by Frederick Burckhardt (see below), with a remarkable online database with the complete, searchable, texts of around 5,000 letters written by and to Darwin up to the year 1865. The project continues despite Professor Burckhardt’s death last fall at the age of 95.
More Darwin at Cambridge, with the Darwin 2009 Festival. Charles Darwin began at Christ’s College Cambridge as a student in 1827, at the age of 18. Four years later he sailed forth on the HMS Beagle. Of his years at university, he once wrote, “The only evil at Cambridge was its being too pleasant.”
Darwin Day Celebration website, with links, events, and other items leading to a celebration of the great man’s bicentennial on February 12, 2009.
Darwin200, a bicentennial project from the Natural History Museum in London, England
Darwin at Downe, his home and neighborhood
The Dispersal of Darwin blog, with a long list of Darwin links
Evolve2009, commemorating the occasion in and around San Francisco
Colin Purrington is also the force behind the Evolution Outreach Projects page, which includes a wealth of educational and amusing links
More shopping, over at EvolveFish’s Darwin Day shop
Teaching Evolution and the Nature of Science (NY Academy of Sciences)
Understanding Evolution website, created by the University of California Museum of Paleontology; lots of resources for educators and children
Toys for the young and young at heart
(I haven’t ordered from any of the following companies so you’re on your own)
Charlie’s Playhouse: “We make games and toys that teach kids about evolution, natural selection and the work of Charles Darwin”, including a giant timeline floor mat, giant timeline poster, ancient creature cards, and a great selection of t-shirts
Thames & Kosmos Milestones in Science kit
Charles Darwin and friends in the Oddfellows Scientists Collection
From the Farm School archives
Radio Darwin (January 2009)
Project Beagle (March 2007)
Celebrating Darwin Day: Many happy returns (February 2006)
Charles Darwin Has a Posse (December 2005)
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If you have any additional suggestions or recommendations or corrections (links moved around by themselves, disappeared, etc. more than once), please add them to the comments below. Thank you!
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