The Reluctant Mr. Darwin: An Intimate Portrait of Charles Darwin and the Making of His Theory of Evolution by David QuammenThe Reluctant Mr. Darwin presents Charles Darwin the man in relief against the simplicity and near perfection of his most lasting ideas. Using Darwin’s own journals and correspondence David Quammen, brings the father of evolution to life. He illustrates beautifully the birth and development of the then shocking concept of natural selection. He asserts that natural selection, not evolution is Darwin’s major contribution. Quammen defines and differentiates between evolution and its mechanism natural selection. He discusses the past and current controversy around Darwin’s ideas, with emphasis on current theological dissent. I was most interested in Quammen’s discussion of the burdens Darwin faced. Darwin struggled with three internal difficulties; keeping his evolution ideas a secret, relentless study to find and prove the mechanism behind evolution and his subsequent or parallel loss of faith.
Quammen proposes several reasons for Darwins’s need to keep his ideas secret. He asks whether Darwin understood the implications of his evolution ideas. He seems to believe that Darwin did. Quammen even proposes at one point that the secret was what kept Darwin sickly. His obsession with perfecting his work, his concern over how the concept would be received and his fear of shocking his family with his lack of faith were all important factors in his reluctance to publish. Quammen’s years as a science journalist give him unique insight into the effect of delivery style on public reception of information. He explores this story with a keen understanding of Darwin’s need to express his ideas in just the right way. Quammen does a wonderful job of describing the influences of personages like; Malthus, Lyell, and Wallace on Darwin’s work and decisions.
Quammen conveys the human character of Darwin well. He speaks of Darwin’s fears about money, his avoidance of funerals, and his love for billiards. He doesn’t fill the page and my head with lofty notions of some demigod handing down the laws of nature. Quammen introduces to us a quiet, hard-working, carefully observant man who is at times self-obsessed.
This book will be a fascinating diversion for anyone interested in the psyche and pathos of Darwin the man. It is also interesting from the perspective of one who wonders about the reconciliation of faith and reason. I was a little disappointed that for several reasons, The Reluctant Mr. Darwin excludes the HMS Beagle years. Regretfully I cannot compare Quammen’s book to others on the subject, as I have not read other Darwin biographies, or Darwin’s The Origin of Species. This book left me with a strong resolve to do so. This thorough and insightful book will appeal to readers from a broad spectrum of disciplines and education levels.
Darwin and Natural Selection: Crash Course History of Science #22
Summer Reading 2017
Like Darwin, Wallace did extensive fieldwork; first in the Amazon River basin , and then in the Malay Archipelago , where he identified the faunal divide now termed the Wallace Line , which separates the Indonesian archipelago into two distinct parts: a western portion in which the animals are largely of Asian origin, and an eastern portion where the fauna reflect Australasia. He was considered the 19th century's leading expert on the geographical distribution of animal species and is sometimes called the "father of biogeography ". These included the concept of warning colouration in animals, and the Wallace effect , a hypothesis on how natural selection could contribute to speciation by encouraging the development of barriers against hybridisation. Wallace's book Man's Place in the Universe was the first serious attempt by a biologist to evaluate the likelihood of life on other planets. He was also one of the first scientists to write a serious exploration of the subject of whether there was life on Mars.
The theory of evolution by natural selection was first proposed by Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace in the scientific article below. It is probably the most important scientific paper in the history of biology and it was first read at a meeting of the Linnean Society of London on July 1st , before being published on the 20th August of that year in the Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society: Zoology. Wallace's essay on natural selection, which forms part of the article below, was written in the village of Dodinga [Dojinga] on the Indonesian island of Halmahera Gilolo in February and posted to Darwin together with a covering letter from the neighbouring island of Ternate probably in March For a detailed account of the curious events which led up to the publication of this paper see my article Alfred Russel Wallace and natural selection: the real story. Chapter 4. Wallace's annotated copy of the Darwin-Wallace paper on natural selection. In : Smith, C.
On Darwin and His Theory
The Failure of Darwin's Theory
This film explores the epic voyages of Darwin and Wallace that led each to independently propose the natural origin of species and formulate the theory of evolution by natural selection. Up until the early s, most people, scientists included, believed that every species was specially created by God in a form that never changed. The epic voyages and revolutionary insights of two brave young British naturalists, Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace, overturned this long-held idea. Prodigious collectors of animals and plants, each man developed a keen appreciation for the variation within species, the relatedness of species, and the patterns of geographic distribution, all of which was hard to reconcile with special creation. This hard-earned knowledge led each to ask why and how creatures came to live in a given place.
The epic voyages of Darwin and Wallace led each to independently discover the natural origin of species and to formulate the theory of evolution by natural selection. All rights reserved. The epic voyages of Darwin and Wallace led each to independently discover the natural origin of species and to. In the Caribbean islands, adaptation to several common habitats has led to a large adaptive radiation with interesting. In some parts of the world, there is an intimate connection between the infectious parasitic disease malaria and the. After the end of the last ice age 10, years ago, populations of marine stickleback fish became stranded in.
Charles Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection made us rethink our place in the world. The idea that humans shared a common ancestor with apes was a challenge to the foundations of western civilisation. Darwin kept silent for 20 years before going public and was only half joking when he described writing his book 'On the Origin of Species' as 'like confessing a murder'. Both of Darwin's grandfathers belonged to the 'Lunar Society': a group of industrialists and Natural Philosophers. Charles Robert Darwin was born in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, the fifth of six children of wealthy and well-connected parents. The young Charles had a quietly Christian upbringing, but his family life was one of openness to new ideas.