February 12th is traditionally recognized as Lincoln’s birthday, but it was also the birthday of naturalist Charles Darwin.
What’s interesting and a more than a little terrifying is that just looking up Darwin Day will find you a barrage of anti-science websites and information.
So spare a little time to celebrate Darwin Day with a visit to a science museum, or to do something to support science education. You can visit http://darwinday.org/ for an interactive map to see if there are any special events in your area.
Or check a science book out from your local library!
For a quick catch up on some of the amazing ladies science and history tend to skip, check out Rachel Ignotofsky’s Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World; or Rachel Swaby’s Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science-and the World.
Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything is a wonderful intro to science book for those a bit nervous of the math and huge numbers science can involve. It gives a great history of how we know what we know!
I’m Sam Kean fan as well, so if you want to learn more about chemistry, genetics, neuroscience, or the atmosphere, look into The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements; The Violinist’s Thumb: And Other Lost Tales of Love, War, and Genius, as Written by Our Genetic Code; The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons: The History of the Human Brain as Revealed by True Stories of Trauma, Madness, and Recovery; or Caesar’s Last Breath: Decoding the Secrets of the Air Around Us, respectively.
(I will warn you that if you’re a bit of a wimp on gory bits those last two have some rough moments. I had to put the neuroscience one down when it got to brain tissue texture and the air one down at some of the death by volcano scenes…)
Since it is Darwin Day, you could scope out a bit on evolutionary theory with paleontologist Neil Shubin’s Your Inner Fish: A Journey Into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body. (And/or watch his PBS special of the same name.)
For a bit of biodiversity, a bit of travelogue (and possibly a bit of laughter and a bit of tears)- Douglas Adams and Mark Carwardine’ Last Chance to See was a wonderful book. I read it recently after discovering the Stephen Fry and Mark Carwardine show on Netflix. Even though it’s outdated and we’ve already lost our chance to see some of the species mentioned it’s a good read. (This one is another good watch as well. Charming, great photography.)
And because they’re so oddly adorable, have a buzzfeed article with lots of pictures and videos of the endangered kakapo, the world’s largest parrot.