David Quammen Paints Portrait of Darwin

DarwinScience writer David Quammen spoke on campus yesterday to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s groundbreaking book, On the Origin of Species.

He metaphorically painted a portrait of Darwin (not the one to the right) by describing the portion of Darwin’s life devoted to Origin, a total of 21 years! During that timeframe, Darwin produced hundreds of pages of dense research, fathered ten children, philosophized in the English countryside, and “wasted” eight years studying barnacles. Was he procrastinating?

After Darwin had researched for Origin for 20 years, a young scientist named Alfred Russell Wallace wrote to Darwin to describe his crazy new theory called “evolution by natural selection.” In the words of Darwin, “Shit.”

In a panic, Darwin ditched his massive manuscript and churned out the palatable version of Origin that we know today.

An informative speaker, Quammen enthralled the audience, which packed the Berg Auditorium to capacity. Many audience members resorted to sitting in the aisles to enjoy the lecture.

Quammen, an award-winning nature, science, and travel writer, has published his work in Outside, Harper’s, Rolling Stone, and National Geographic.

Darwin’s ideas remain prominent after 150 years. Sorry Sarah Palin, evolution is real.

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