25 August 2008

About the banner

Thanks to everyone who has complimented our spiffed-up new (okay, newish) look here at TBPB. Dedicated readers will have noticed a number of changes, from the slightly wider format to several new goodies in the sidebar, including fancy shmancy Splashcast audio and video player.

Most noticeable of all, though, is our all-singing, all-dancing banner up there. I figured that some of you might be wondering, "Okay, I can see that's Darwin there in the middle, and that must be the Beagle on the left, but what's that squiggly sketch hovering next to Darwin's temple, what ship is pictured upper right, and what gives with the sheet music?"

So, to slake your raging curiosity, I have decided to provide a key:

1. South America, surveying the coastline of which was the raison d'etre of HMS Beagle's 1831-1836 voyage
Source: The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online, Charles Darwin: a life in pictures
2. HMS Beagle as painted by Ronald Dean of the RSMA and kindly emailed to us by one Richard Johnson, who wrote, "[Ronald Dean] explained that the painting is a representation of the arrival of Charles Darwin at the Galapagos Islands. In the background is naturally HMS Beagle, whilst in the foreground, a small boat makes its way to the islands, carrying Charles Darwin (the figure in the bow). A biologist, who had developed an interest in Charles Darwin and later HMS Beagle, apparently commissioned the painting. The patron had also collected a lot of material and technical plans relating to HMS Beagle, which were temporarily loaned to the artist to ensure a ship portrait, which was as technically accurate as possible ... Although the oil painting representation of Beagle by the remarkable John Chancellor is the image that is familiar in peoples' minds, I thought might be interesting to see a different, less familiar interpretation, particularly since it features the famous English naturalist."

3. Male and female Geospiza magnirostris, one of the species of the so-called "Darwin's finches", as named and painted by John Gould and published in The Zoology of the Voyage of HMS Beagle
Source: The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online, Darwin, C. R. ed. 1839. Birds Part 3 No. 4 of The zoology of the voyage of H.M.S. Beagle. by John Gould. Edited and superintended by Charles Darwin. London: Smith Elder and Co., [BIRDS Pl. 36.]
4. Title page of the book now called The Voyage of the Beagle (but then called Journal of Researches into the Natural History and Geology of the Countries Visited During the Voyage of H.M.S. Beagle Round the World, Under the Command of Capt. Fitz Roy, R.A. by Charles Darwin, M.A., F.R.S., 2nd Edition. 1845)
Source: The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online, Darwin, C. R. 1845. Journal of researches into the natural history and geology of the countries visited during the voyage of H.M.S. Beagle round the world, under the Command of Capt. Fitz Roy, R.N. 2d edition. London: John Murray., [page i]

5. Charles Darwin, age 32, five years after he returned from his voyage on the Beagle
Source: The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online, Charles Darwin: a life in pictures
6. Charles Darwin's sketch of his jury-rigged plankton net, about which he wrote in his diary on the 10th of January, 1832:
"I proved to day the utility of a contrivance which will afford me many hours of amusement & work. — it is a bag four feet deep, made of bunting, & attached to [a] semicircular bow this by lines is kept upright, & dragged behind the vessel. —this evening it brought up a mass of small animals, & tomorrow I look forward to a greater harvest.

"11th I am quite tired having worked all day at the produce of my net. — The number of animals that the net collects is very great & fully explains the manner so many animals of a large size live so far from land. — Many of these creatures so low in the scale of nature are most exquisite in their forms & rich colours. — It creates a feeling of wonder that so much beauty should be apparently created for such little purpose."

In a footnote, Richard Darwin Keynes writes, "This appears to be only the second recorded use of a plankton net, the first being that of J. V. Thompson a few years earlier, of which CD may have learnt from Professor Grant in Edinburgh. It is evidently based on the oyster-trawl recommended to him in a letter from John Coldstream dated 13 September 1831 (see Correspondence 1: 151–3), which, however, was designed with a bar to scrape along the bottom rather than collecting at the surface in open water."

Source: The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online, Charles Darwin's Beagle Diary, [page] 21 TO C. VERD IS. JANUARY 1832
7. DNA, an appropriate curtain between the Victorian and modern sections of the banner

8. Yours truly, in the grip of full-on wild-eyed excitement to be sitting in the Space Shuttle cockpit simulator at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas (photo by Mike Barratt); for more info about our pending collaboration with NASA, see Houston, we have a partner and Pics in space

9. The International Space Station, aboard which NASA astronaut and physician Mike Barratt will be spending six months starting March 2009. Mike is the instigator of the NASA-Beagle Project collaboration we've got bubbling away in the bureaucratic cauldron.

10. Peter McGrath, co-blogger on this here Beagle Project Blog and co-founder (with David Lort-Phillips) of The HMS Beagle Project, looking ever so sailorly.

11. The beautiful and evocative rigging of the Swedish Ship Götheborg, which I photographed when I was at a reception aboard following a meeting at the Linnean Society of London. Read more here and see how the HMS Belfast ceremonial gun fares against the Götheborg's in the last video listed in our Splashcast player at left, "Gotheborg sails from London".

12. The unofficial Beagle Project anthem (we are still eagerly awaiting submissions for official Beagle Project anthems ...ahem)

1 comment:

Kevin Zelnio said...

Once I'm settled in my new digs, I promise to dedicate myself day and night till I perfect the Beagle Project Anthem!