The Origin sesquicentennial approaches

As November 24, 2009, the sesquicentennial anniversary of the publication of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species, approaches, celebrations are continuing around the country and around the world, as well as in the literature and on the internet. As NCSE previously reported, Science is allocating a special section of its website to "a variety of news features, scientific reviews and other special content." Similarly, Nature is providing "continuously updated news, research and analysis on Darwin's life, his science and his legacy." Herewith a sampling of further celebrations in the literature — and let NCSE know of any worthwhile contributions to add!

To celebrate the anniversary, the journal BioScience is making James T. Costa's article "The Darwinian Revelation: Tracing the Origin and Evolution of an Idea," from its November 2009 issue (59 [10]), available on-line free of charge. "The idea of evolution by natural selection formulated by Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace is a cornerstone of modern biology, yet few biology students or professionals are familiar with the processes of discovery behind the idea," Costa writes. "I suggest that in teaching evolution today, educators could profitably draw on both Darwin's personal intellectual journey in coming to his ideas, and the compelling argument structure he devised in presenting his theory."

"Darwinian Revolutions" — written, directed, and narrated by Allen MacNeill of Cornell University — is a new series of six on-line videos that together provide a brief introduction to Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection and its implications. On his blog, MacNeill observes, "the theory of evolution is more dynamic, more exciting, more widely accepted, and more widely applied than at any time in the past century and a half. With the accelerating pace of discoveries in evolutionary biology and their applications in biology, medicine, psychology, economics, and even literature and art, the 21st century shows all indications of being what the founders of the 'modern synthesis' called it back in 1959: the 'century of Darwin' and his theory of evolution by natural selection."

A special issue of the journal Naturwissenschaften (2009; 96 [11]) commemorates the anniversary with papers by Ulrich Kutschera on "Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species, directional selection, and the evolutionary sciences today"; Hartmut Follmann and Carol Brownson on "Darwin's warm little pond revisited: From molecules to the origin of life"; Rolf G. Beutel, Frank Friedrich and Richard A. B. Leschen on "Charles Darwin, beetles and phylogenetics"; Simon Conway Morris on "The predictability of evolution: Glimpses into a post-Darwinian world"; and Ulrich Kutschera and Karl J. Niklas on "Evolutionary plant physiology: Charles Darwin’s forgotten synthesis." All articles in the special issue will be freely available on-line until December 30, 2009.