Anyways, a fellow #ukscitweetup regular @ayasawada suggested a science flashmob and then @rpg7twit, @steinsky and I jumped on the idea and agreed to discuss it a bit more at the next #ukscitweetup (which I think is happening during and after the Lord Drayson-Dr. Goldacre debate at the Royal Institution on the 16th of September).
I've given it some occasional thought, wondering if we should do some kind of cool citizen-science project like a London bioblitz, but flashmob style, but nothing had really crystallised until...
I saw @QuestionDarwin's very cute Darwin emoticon complete with bowler hat and beard and then...
BOOM into my brain came 'Beards 'n' Bowlers', a flashmob to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the publication of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species on November 24th, 1859.
The idea is that at an appointed time of day (perhaps 18:59?) on Tuesday, the 24th of November, in a large, public space* with plenty of unsuspecting commuters mixed in with all of us in-the-know flashmobbers, we will suddenly don bowler hats and/or fake beards, open our copies of On the Origin of Species (1st Ed.) and, at some signal, and perhaps following along with someone with a loudspeaker, we will recite, in unison, the last few sentences:
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.After which, everyone removes their props and disperses.
After the initial giggling came a bit more thinking, and a problem started to bother me: where are people going to get bowler hats? Will not having an easy source of bowler hats and/or beards be a deterrent? So I did some googling (as one does) and was delighted to find Bring Back Bowler Hats, the blog/website of Bowler Hat Day 2009. I kid you not: on Friday 13th February, 2009, half a million City workers (okay maybe not quite all of them) went to work in bowler hats. The event was even covered in the Financial Times.
As I guess you might expect of City-folk, they solved the whence-bowler-hats problem in fashionable and profitable style. They convinced not one but three bowler-hat suppliers to donate 10% of their bowler hat sales to their selected charity, SOS Children's Villages. Their suppliers were http://www.hatsandthat.com/ , for fancy dress felt http://www.madworldfancydress.com/ on Tabernacle Street in the City, or plain old plastic www.onlinejokeshop.co.uk (though we frown on plastic here at the Beagle Project).
So I've sent an email to the address posted on Bring Back Bowler Hats asking them if they want to collaborate with The Beagle Project Blog in this special bowler hat flashmob honouring Charles Darwin and benefitting two charities: The HMS Beagle Project and the Galapagos Conservation Trust. I have yet to receive a reply...
*It can't be the Natural History Museum as it closes its doors at 18:00 - perhaps Charing Cross Station as that's where Darwin would have alighted when he traveled from London from his home in Downe, Kent?