February 12, 2008

Darwin Days 2008 Commemorate Most Influential Evolutionary Biologist

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Arguably one of the most controversial figures in recent history, Charles Darwin changed the face of evolutionary biology forever, challenging what were the widely accepted and religious-based views of creationism. In order to commemorate both his contributions to the field and his life, people around the world are celebrating Darwin Day today on the 199th anniversary of Charles’s birthday.
Prof. William Provine, ecology and evolutionary biology, said, “We have a Darwin festival because what he did for evolution was really, truly, deeply wonderful. Darwin is really the one who put evolution on the track for being where it is now putting in on a naturalistic basis. Several people before Darwin believed in evolution, but Darwin was the one who placed it on a real basis in natural history. Evolutionists feel indebted to him.”
According to the Paleontological Research Institution on Cornell’s website, Darwin Day began in 1995 when it was organized by the Humanist Community of Palo Alto, Calif. Cornell will celebrate Darwin and his accomplishments with an entire week’s worth of events, which started yesterday with a dramatic reading of the correspondence between Darwin and Asa Gray, an opponent of evolution. Darwin Days 2008 will conclude on Sunday. This year’s theme is Evolution and Environment.
Upcoming Events:
Today — Prof. Richard Harrison, chair of ecology and evolutionary biology, will give a lecture entitled “Evolutionary Biology in the 21st Century: What Would Darwin think?”. (5 p.m., Goldwin Smith Kaufmann Auditorium)
Thursday —Dr. Lynn Margulis, Carl Sagan’s first wife, will give a lecture entitled “Darwin’s Truths and Symbiogenesis.” (7 p.m., Bio Conference Room G10)
Friday — A panel of experts will discuss the possible implications of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) for future evolutionary change. (5 p.m., Goldwin Smith Lewis Auditorium)
For the complete list of events, click here.