"Darwin (and Friends)" Visit The Home Of The Cougars:
Maywood Middle School, Corning, California 96021

Dr. Charles F. Urbanowicz/Professor of Anthropology
California State University, ChicoChico, California 95929-0400
530-898-6220 [Office]; 530-898-6192 [Dept.] FAX: 530-898-6824
e-mail: curbanowicz@csuchico.edu / home page: http://www.csuchico.edu/~curban

28 February 2001 [1]

[This page printed from http://www.csuchico.edu/~curban/CorningSp2001.html] 


For years I have enjoyed talking about, and portraying, Charles R. Darwin. Darwin was born in England on February 12, 1809, and he died there on April 19, 1882. He was an extremely important 19th century scientist and his research is still being discussed today. He was interested in nature and someone has written that it was his life's work to "understand, explain and elaborate" natural laws and "the mechanisms behind them" Elsewhere, the same author wrote:

"Today, despite modifications to Darwin's theory from the development of genetics, it is still an essential ingredient of biology. To the historian of the 19th century, Darwin's name symbolizes that century's intellectual doubts. Although Darwin did not, and could not, have caused such a major change [in thinking] single-handedly, he will always stand for the transformation and enrichment of man's understanding of his place in nature." Jack Meadows, 1987, Charles Darwin. The Great Scientists (Oxford University Press), pages 149-168.

Charles Darwin graduated from university and then took a trip around the world on His Majesty's Ship Beagle over the years 1831-1836; one of his most famous stops was in the Galápagos Islands, 600 miles off the coast of the South American nation of Ecuador. The Galápagos are one of the 21 provinces of the Republic of Ecuador. Spanish navigators first discovered the islands in 1535 but the islands became truly famous because of the three-week visit that Charles Darwin made in 1835. Incidentally, always try to place things into context to better understand them: this county, Tehama County is 2,951 square miles in size; the Galápagos Islands are 3,043 square miles in size. Just as you probably haven't seen all of Tehama County, neither did Charles Darwin explore every island of the Galápagos! Charles Darwin wrote a great deal and had this to say about the voyage:

"The voyage of the Beagle has been by far the most important event of my life and has determined my whole career; yet it depended on so small a circumstance as my uncle offering to drive me 30 miles to Shrewsbury, which few uncles would have done, and on such as trifle as the shape of my nose. I have always felt that I owe to the voyage the first real training or education of my mind. I was led to attend closely to several branches of natural history, and thus my powers of observation were improved, though they were already fairly developed." Charles Darwin, 1887, The Autobiography of Charles Darwin 1809-1882, With original omissions restored Edited with Appendix and Notes by his grand-daughter Nora Barlow, 1958 (NY: W.W. Norton 1969 edition), pages 76-77.

My wife and I visited the Galápagos Islands in July 2000 and I have also been to England and the house where Darwin lived and worked. As a young man, Darwin conducted research in geology; after his trip on HMS Beagle, he became an expert on cirripedia, or barnacles. He also conducted research on pigeons, corresponded with various animal breeders, did experiments with earthworms (how do earthworms do what they do?), and he experimented with various types of seeds and plantings in the greenhouse at his home.

"Natural Selection, in biology, the process by which environmental effects lead to varying degrees of reproductive success among individuals of a population of organisms with different hereditary characters, or traits. The characters that inhibit reproductive success decrease in frequency from generation to generation. The resulting increase in the proportion of reproductively successful individuals usually enhances the adaptation of the population to its environment. Natural selection thus tends to promote adaptation by maintaining favorable adaptations in a constant environment (stabilizing selection) or improving adaptation in a direction appropriate to environmental changes (directional selection). Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace first proposed this concept in 1858 [stress added]." James W. Valentine, Natural Selection. Microsoft® Encarta® 98 Encyclopedia. © 1993-1997 Microsoft Corporation.

Albert Szent-Györgyi (Hungarian-American) was the 1937 Nobel Prize winner for Physiology/Medicine and he stated that a scientist should "see what everybody else has seen and then think what nobody has thought" and it has been written that "nobody did this better than Charles Darwin, who first realized that the evolution of life took place by Natural Selection" (J. Livingston and L. Sinclair, 1967, Darwin And The Galapagos, n.p.).

"Seeing this gradation and diversity of structure in one small, intimately related group of birds, one might really fancy that from an original paucity of birds in this archipelago, one species have been taken and modified for different ends [stress added]." Charles Darwin, 1845, The Voyage of the Beagle [Edited by Leonard Engel, 1962, NY: Doubleday], page 381.  

In 1859 Darwin wrote On The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life (this is the on-line version of the 1859 edition); in the closing words of the second edition of Origin published in 1860, Darwin had the following:

"Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object of which we are capable of conceiving, namely the production of higher animals directly follows. There is a grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved."

Charles R. Darwin did not know of the work of Gregor Mendel (1823-1884) so it is amazing to consider what he did with the technology of the times. Darwin had a loving wife and a supporting family and many scientific friends, such as Charles Lyell (1797-1875), Thomas Henry Huxley (1825-1895), and Joseph Hooker (1817-1911). What else can you find out about them using various "search engines" on the World Wide Web?

Given Darwin's technique for soliciting information from individuals all over the globe (the "Darwin Correspondence" has more than 15,000 letters that were exchanged between Charles Darwin and others), Charles R. Darwin would have embraced the World Wide Web for the "tool" that it is: a device for sharing ideas and information around the globe! The "Darwin Industry" is alive and well, not only in printed materials but also World Wide Web information.

Consider some "search engine hits" for "Charles R. Darwin" that provided the following information on February 24, 2001: Google had 106,000 items; All The Web had 54,086 items; Northern Light had 45,688 items; Alta Vista Search had 41,178 items; and Raging Search had 6,999 items. Obviously, just as with people, all "search engines" are not created equal! Incidentally, on November 6, 2000, "Google" had 71,400 items for "Charles R. Darwin" where "All The Web" had 52,048 items and "Northern Light" had 48,163 items. Clearly, more information is being added to the WWW over time and Darwin information continues to grow. 

I continue to "follow" things in the Galápagos Islands and hope to return to England one day; shortly after returning from the Galápagos I joined the Charles Darwin Foundation. I have been interested in Darwin for a great deal of time and his work is still current:

"Whatever the controversies that surround him, Charles Darwin was certainly the most important natural scientist of the past century; he may become the most important social scientist of the next. His great insight--that humans are animals and that their behavior, like that of all animals, is shaped by evolution--is now making its way into social theory. In economics, linguistics, anthropology and psychology, scholars are attempting to see how our evolved nature, interacting with particular environments, generates the ways we trade and speak, live with others and with ourselves [stress added]." The Wall Street Journal, May 27, 1999, page A24.

Finally, repeating some of the words from above: numerous other individuals had seen many similar things that Darwin had seen in his travels, but it was Charles Darwin who was to "see what everybody else has seen and then think what nobody has thought." Think of problems and raise questions and then read, study, and think for yourselves because one never knows who the next Darwin will be!

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Printed Matter & Web Sites That May Be of Interest Include:

#1. Charles F. Urbanowicz, February 25, 2001, The Galápagos Islands: Every Little Bit Helps. The Chico Enterprise-Record, (page E1 and E2) or see: http://www.csuchico.edu/~curban/GalapagosIslandsoilspill.htm.
#2. http://www.csuchico.edu/~curban/Darwin2000.html] (November 2000 paper) [which also lists several of the sites below]:
#3. http://www.csuchico.edu/~curban/SelfTesting/DarwinTestOne.htm [January 2000g Darwin Self-Test #1].
#4. http://mole.csuchico.edu:8080/ramgen/archive/darwinvoyage.rm [1999a 22 minute video available on your desktop with REALPLAYER; this is tape #2 of the proposed four-part series: it takes "Darwin" from England to South America.].
#5. http://mole.csuchico.edu:8080/ramgen/archive/darwinreflections.rm [1997a, 18 minute video available on your desktop with REALPLAYER; this is tape #1 of the proposed four-part series: it "sets the setting" of Darwin in England].
#6. http://www.terraquest.com/galapagos/wildlife/island/finch.html [Virtual Galápagos: Wildlife - Darwin's Finches]
#7. http://www.ecuadorexplorer.com/ [EcuadorExplorer.com - online guide to Ecuador and the Galapagos]
#8. http://www.terraquest.com/galapagos/ [Virtual Galápagos]
#9. http://www.iexplore.com/multimedia/galapagos.jhtml [iExplore | Multimedia Presentations} The Galápagos Islands]
#10. http://www.darwinfoundation.org/index2.html [Charles Darwin Foundation, Inc.]
#11. http://www.darwinfoundation.org/ [Oil Spill in The Galapagos Islands]
#12. http://www.galapagos.org/cdf.htm [Charles Darwin Foundation, Inc.]
#13. http://darwin.ws/day/ [Darwin Day Home Page]
#14. http://www.ilkley.org/darwin/ [The Ilkley Pages: Darwin Gardens]
#15. http://www.aboutdarwin.com/ [About Darwin]

1. © This was prepared for a presentation to the 7th grade "Life Science" classroom of Ms. Tiana Scott (Maywood Middle School, Corning, California). To return to the beginning of this page, please click here.

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Copyright © 2001 Charles F. Urbanowicz
All Rights Reserved

26 February 2001 by CFU

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