12 February 2005: On this day 196 years ago a great scientist was born: Charles Darwin!
Darwin made a very important contribution to science by discovering the process of evolution and developing the theory of natural selection, which he described in his famous book The Origin of Species.
A short biography of Charles Darwin:
Charles Darwin was born on 12 February 1809 in Shrewsbury, England. He enrolled to the University of Edinburgh at the age of 16 to study medicine.
Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, was the centre of the Scottish Enlightenment during the mid-1700s, and was the residence of many scientists and philosophers, including the very important David Hume. While at Edinburgh, Darwin developed a very active interest in the natural world and started learning more from his informal activities than the classroom.
He did not complete his medicine studies and at the age of 19 he enrolled to Christ's College (founded in 1505) of the University of Cambridge to become a clergyman in the Anglican Church. Darwin completed his degree in 1831 and went on a 5-year voyage on the HMS Beagle as an unpaid naturalist (he later described his experiences in his book The Voyage of the Beagle).
After he returned to England, which in the mean time had been transformed by the Industrial Revolution, he moved to London and became a member of the Geological Society in 1838. A year later, in 1839, he married Emma Wedghood and had 10 children with her.
Charles Darwin died at the age of 73 in 1882.
The Darwin Day Celebration:
Lest we forget the importance of Darwin and evolution, the nonprofit charitable corporation Darwin Day Celebration encourages everyone to hold events and celebrate science and humanity on or around 12 February every year.
The history of the Darwin Day Celebration (DDC) started when Dr. Robert (Bob) Stephens initiated an effort on 22 April 1995 to celebrate Science in general and Darwin's discoveries in particular, first sponsored by a Stanford student group. His event was successful and he decided to continue, giving birth to DDC. The group hopes to make 12 February an "International day to recognize Verifiable Scientific Knowledge" after the Grand Bicentennial Celebration of Science and Humanity they plan to organise on 12 February 2009, the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin and the 150th anniversary of the publication of his insightful book.
The mission of the DDC organisation, in their own words, is to "promote public education about science and in addition to encourage the celebration of Science and Humanity throughout the global community including the general public, private and public institutions, science professionals, science educators at all levels, libraries, museums, the print and electronic media, and science enthusiasts everywhere". DDC also states that "Science is our most reliable knowledge system".
DDC is governed by a Board of Directors which includes Robert J. Stephens, Ph.D. (Chair), Arthur M. Jackson (Vice Chair), Benjamin Wade (CFO), Mary White, Ph.D. (Secretary). There is also a scientific Advisory Board which provides detailed assistance and answers to questions of scientific importance.
The text of this article is (C) Copyright 2005 by Nikolaos S. Karastathis. You are free to republish the whole text under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Licence, as long as this copyright notice and the link to its original location remain intact: http://portal.wikinerds.org/darwin-day-2005
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