24 November 2007

Happy birthday Origin of Species.

Sing it along with me now....
Happy birthday to you!
Happy birthday to you!
Happy birthday dear Origin!
Happy birthday to you!

148 years ago today, a book with the unpromising name 'On the origin of species by means of natural selection or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life.' (all 1250 copies) hit the bookshelves. They went like the proverbial hot cakes including, to the spluttering indignation of Victorian conservatives, 'into the the drawing room and public street.' Open access science? Shocking.

Darwin, riding out the storm around the publication in Ilkley, Yorkshire, started corrections and revisions for a second edition of 3000 copies. The rest, as another cliché goes, is history. And, paradoxically, it was and still is the future.

Also on the subject: Pharyngula suggests a party, science blogger Corpus Callosum makes the telling point - probably what was causing those conservatives to have kittens at the time - that things haven't been the same since.

Right, I'm off for that party. (Pic: Facsimile of first edition of The Origin, held open by one of the unfavoured races in the struggle for life, the ammonite Dactyloceras sp. - I think, happy to be corrected - in a nodule taken from lower Jurassic shale cliffs, Runswick Bay which is in (appropriately for this story) Yorkshire.

Update: was going to do a further round up, but Bora at Blog Around The Clock has done the heavy lifting for me, missing only Formsmostbeautiful whose blog title is an 'omage to the wonderful last paragraph of The Origin:
Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed 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.

3 comments:

nunatak said...

Gosh for a second there I thought the Happy Birthday to yous were for me... you see it is my birthday today (the 25th). I was born on the 114th anniversary of Origin + 1! Now don't everyone get out their calculators.

Sissy Willis said...

I've always favored the words in Origin that reveal the sacred fervor of Darwin's quest for scientific truth: "There is a grandeur in this view of life"

Happy Birthday, nunatak! Cosmic convergence?

nunatak said...

Thanks Sissy! Cosmic convergence, hmm well, I like to think so, but in a happy randomness way not a predestined way.