21 March 2010

A postcard from Cape Horn

'I went to Tierra del Fuego in November, and was able to
pay my respects to the Beagle gazing south from Cape Horn...' ~Simon Keynes

Norwich or bust: talking Beagle to kids for National Science and Engineering Week

I'll be at the John Innes Centre in Norwich tomorrow for The Voyage of the Beagle, a 'day devoted to Charles Darwin's journey on the Beagle to include exhibitions, display, talks and hands on activities', part of British Association's National Science and Engineering Week.

I'm looking forward to sharing the adventures of a young Charles Darwin aboard HMS Beagle, and our plans to rebuild the Beagle for future young scientists, with around 500 British schoolchildren and members of the public. A beautiful and detailed model of HMS Beagle, commissioned by Simon Keynes and familiar to those who visited the Darwin exhibition at the Natural History Museum last year, will be on display, as will posters, leaflets and video clips about the Beagle Project.

Much kudos to Colette Matthewman, a final year PhD student researching sulphur metabolism in plants at the John Innes Centre, who put the day together and got it funded through an RCUK National Science and Engineering Week Award!

11 March 2010

T minus 6 hours to Dr. Kiki's Science Hour

I was delighted to meet Dr. Kirsten Sanford, an undisputed member of online science communication royalty, at Science Online '10. I was even more delighted and honoured, too, when she invited me to court: that is, to appear on Dr. Kiki's Science Hour!

Tune in TODAY at 3pm PST/11pm GMT for the live show, or catch it on or after Saturday on twit.tv. There are chat rooms: please do participate!

1 March 2010

Darwin writes home about the Concepción earthquake

My dear Caroline,

[…] We are now on our road from Concepciòn.— The papers will have told you about the great Earthquake of the 20th of February.— I suppose it certainly is the worst ever experienced in Chili.— It is no use attempting to describe the ruins—it is the most awful spectacle I ever beheld.— The town of Concepcion is now nothing more than piles & lines of bricks, tiles & timbers—it is absolutely true there is not one house left habitable; some little hovels built of sticks & reeds in the outskirts of the town have not been shaken down & these now are hired by the richest people. The force of the shock must have been immense, the ground is traversed by rents, the solid rocks are shivered, solid buttresses 6–10 feet thick are broken into fragments like so much biscuit.— How fortunate it happened at the time of day when many are out of their houses & all active: if the town had been over thrown in the night, very few would have escaped to tell the tale. We were at Valdivia at the time the shock there was considered very violent, but did no damage owing to the houses being built of wood.— I am very glad we happened to call at Concepcion so shortly afterwards: it is one of the three most interesting spectacles I have beheld since leaving England—A Fuegian savage.—Tropical Vegetation—& the ruins of Concepcion— It is indeed most wonderful to witness such desolation produced in three minutes of time.

— Charles Darwin to his sister Caroline
10–13 March, 1835