Happy Birthday Mr. Darwin


 

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Happy Birthday Mr. Darwin


Charles_Darwin.jpg Charles Darwin, father of evolution

February 12 marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin, certainly the most important biologist in history and one of the great figures in science. Darwin, of course, spent his life developing the theory of evolution by natural selection, which has become the foundation for the understanding of biology. In the 1960's evolutionary biologist Theodosius Dobzhansky said that "nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution," and that's a statement with which few biologists would argue.

To honour Darwin's birthday, we're devoting our program to a discussion of the life and work of Charles Darwin, and to a discussion of his impact on modern science, with three special guests.

David Quammen is a well known naturalist and science writer, a contributing writer for National Geographic magazine, and a visiting professor at Montana State University. In his book, The Reluctant Mr. Darwin: an Intimate Portrait of Charles Darwin and the Making of His Theory of Evolution, he explores the fascinating story of Darwin's quiet life as a scientific pioneer.

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Dr. Steve Jones is a professor of genetics and Head of the Department of Biology at University College London. His latest book is Darwin's Island, The Galapagos in the Garden of England. While the wildlife of the Galapagos Islands are one of the most important icons of Darwin's work, Dr. Jones argues that, in fact, his research on the wildlife of England - barnacles, plants, soil and and domestic animals - were at least as important in developing his ideas about evolution as his early exploration.

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Dr. Olivia Judson is an evolutionary biologist, a science writer, and a research fellow at Imperial College, London. Like most biologists she's an ardent admirer of Darwin and his work, especially the way it transformed biology from a practice of description into a real predictive and experimental science. She says Darwin's insights into the operations of the natural world raised questions that scientists are still exploring today, as they investigate the subtle mechanisms of natural selection through genetics.

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