Darwin Day in Wisconsin

February 7, 2010 • 12:20 pm

by Greg Mayer

The Darwin bicentennial year ends this week, as Friday, February 12th, begins the 201st year. The last event in the University of Wisconsin-Parkside’s Darwin 1809-1859-2009 commemoration is this coming Wednesday, Feb. 10, at 7 PM in Greenquist Hall 103, where I will be speaking on “The Origin of The Origin.

In the talk, I’ll take a look at the surprisingly dramatic circumstances of the publication of The Origin on November 24, 1859.  In the spring of 1858, while at work on his “species book”, Darwin received a manuscript from Alfred Russel Wallace, a correspondent of his working in the Malay Archipelago. In Wallace’s manuscript, Darwin saw his own theory in miniature, and despaired that his originality would be forestalled. Darwins’ friends Charles Lyell and J.D. Hooker arranged for a joint publication by Darwin and Wallace; Darwin, now spurred on, completed an “abstract” of his species book: the Origin, which, at 500 pages, was a rather substantial abstract. (Jerry was an earlier speaker in the series; video here.)

On Saturday, the 201st anniversary year gets off to a bang with the University of Wisconsin, Madison’s annual Darwin Day. There’ll be a full day of activities, headlined by my friend and colleague Jonathan Losos, who’ll speak on “Leaping Lizards!  Studies of Ecology and Evolution in the Caribbean”. Over the lunch break there’s a workshop for teachers on lizards and island biogeography, and I’ll be participating. In the afternoon, there’ll be a panel discussion on communicating science, which might be of some interest to WEIT blog readers.

Both events are intended for general audiences, and are free and open to the public. If you’re in the area, please come. Details of both events, including schedules and directions, are here for Parkside (in Kenosha, just north of Illinois) and here for Madison.