Tag Archives: darwin day
A quick Happy Darwin Day! (Charles Darwin was born on this day in 1809, same day as Abraham Lincoln, two greats and one date to remember. Though only one gets a public holiday, the other we have to make do with our own.)
Since I can’t even manage to sing Happy Birthday in tune, we can celebrate with Symphony of Science’s Greatest Show on Earth instead.
If you’re looking for ways to celebrate this weekend the Center of Inquiry has some fun ideas to play with.
Or if he’s one of those famous names you keep meaning to get around to reading (I’ve got a lot of those myself) Darwin online is digital source of most of his major writings and personal papers so they’ll be handy. Illustrations included, that’s always important. Many of these (not all the papers) are also available on Project Gutenberg. Thomas Henry Huxley, Darwin’s Bulldog (and I’m inclined to say a better writer) also has a fine showing there.
I also found out you can download origin of species as an audiobook for free from librivox! I wasn’t even aware there was a site for public domain audiobooks. Good times for car trips. Happy hunting!
The first is a President’s Day bangle bracelet I made awhile back when I was taking a jewelry making class and learning how to solder.
Being queen of trying to practice with cheap materials that might look interesting nevertheless, I decided to use pennies! Not the best idea, since solder stands out terribly against copper, and the little lines in the Lincoln Memorial I swear were designed to funnel solder out from where it was needed. Overall I think it turned out well, and it certainly gave me the soldering practice I needed.
The other big February holiday (well, to me, since google never seems fit to do anything for it when they celebrate waaay more esoteric figures and their birthdays…) is Darwin Day. Charles Darwin was born the same day (February 12, 1809) as Abraham Lincoln.
There’s this famous image from one of Darwin’s notebooks (B), a little scribble that has become somewhat iconic. It’s a quick doodle of the idea of a tree of life with “I think” written in the corner. I tried to work that image into miniature collages of vaguely contemporary patterns (William Morris designs, an English compass rose, etc.) that I’d saved from museum catalogs and the such. Then I sealed the collages behind glass and turned them into pendants.
“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.” -Charles Darwin
A modern classic of cartooning in Lincoln’s honor…
(Sorry for sticking with links, the computer seems to be really moody about inserting images or videos today!)
Fossil –noun 1. any remains, impression, or trace of a living thing of a former geologic age, as a skeleton, footprint, etc.
There are several different types of fossilization, the one I run across the most in jewelry is replacement fossils, where the original materials are completely replaced by minerals in such a way that the original biological details are maintained. (In nonorganic materials this is called psedumorphism- like how tiger’s eye is an asebestos pseudomorph.)
I decided I’d use the Darwin Day theme to feature some of my favorite fossil inspired pieces.
KubusRubus is an artist I was lucky enough to run across on deviantart. We sort of became craft supply penpals. He’s a much better artist than me, but I take an odd amount of pride in the fact that I’m the one who got him working with fossils in some of his pieces. And I always feel like I’m sending them off to a better home, since I have to take what I’m dealt while he knows how to cut and polish and pamper them 😉 Though I do sometimes worry they’ll come to a bad end if they don’t behave…
Another artist I’ve run across and started following on deviantart is DBPJewelry. She does gorgeous and seriously intricate wirework with some stunning stones, one of which is the gem ammolite. Ammolite is ammonite that fossilized in such a way as to have a dramatic play of color on the surface. Plenty of small ammonites have an irridescense to them, but most are a gentle or pearly sheen. Depending on the thickness of the coating ammolite ranges from firey reds and parrot greens to unreal purples. She also has recently completed some really beautiful pieces using fossil coral and a mix of metals. One of her newest is this really classy little black-dress-craving pale oval coral piece. (Which besides being starkly gorgeous is also an example of a replacement fossil.)
Obviously, I like playing with fossils myself as well as oggling them. Orthoceras and ammonites are my main choices, simply because they’re relatively plentiful and yet interesting. Both are names given to multiple related species of long extinct cephalopods. Various species of ammonites meandered the seas between 300 and 65 million years ago. That’ s a lot of time to leave traces behind! Orthoceras like the one in KubusRubus’s Future pendant are even older than ammonites, they date from around 450 million years ago.
For further fossil hunting inspiration, check out Tracy Chevalier’s novel Remarkable Creatures, which is loosely based on one of the first fossil hunters. And it has ammonites, yay ammonites! And check out the Guardian’s article on Barbara Hastings.
Starting the Darwin Day celebration a little early, and what’s a celebration without a toast?
So, though it’s not the best take on the theory, Langdon Smith’s Evolution. I always found this poem oddly charming.
By Langdon Smith
When you were a tadpole and I was a fish
In the Paleozoic time,
And side by side on the ebbing tide
We sprawled through the ooze and slime,
Or skittered with many a caudal flip
Through the depths of the Cambrian fen,
My heart was rife with the joy of life,
For I loved you even then.
Mindless we lived and mindless we loved
And mindless at last we died;
And deep in the rift of the Caradoc drift
We slumbered side by side.
The world turned on in the lathe of time,
The hot lands heaved amain,
Till we caught our breath from the womb of death
And crept into life again.
We were amphibians, scaled and tailed,
And drab as a dead man’s hand;
We coiled at ease ‘neath the dripping trees
Or trailed through the mud and sand.
Croaking and blind, with our three-clawed feet
Writing a language dumb,
With never a spark in the empty dark
To hint at a life to come.
Yet happy we lived and happy we loved,
And happy we died once more;
Our forms were rolled in the clinging mold
Of a Neocomian shore.
The eons came and the eons fled
And the sleep that wrapped us fast
Was riven away in a newer day
And the night of death was passed.
Then light and swift through the jungle trees
We swung in our airy flights,
Or breathed in the balms of the fronded palms
In the hush of the moonless nights;
And oh! what beautiful years were there
When our hearts clung each to each;
When life was filled and our senses thrilled
In the first faint dawn of speech.
Thus life by life and love by love
We passed through the cycles strange,
And breath by breath and death by death
We followed the chain of change.
Till there came a time in the law of life
When over the nursing sod
The shadows broke and the soul awoke
In a strange, dim dream of God.
I was thewed like an Auroch bull
And tusked like the great cave bear;
And you, my sweet, from head to feet
Were gowned in your glorious hair.
Deep in the gloom of a fireless cave,
When the night fell o’er the plain
And the moon hung red o’er the river bed
We mumbled the bones of the slain.
I flaked a flint to a cutting edge
And shaped it with brutish craft;
I broke a shank from the woodland lank
And fitted it, head and haft;
Than I hid me close to the reedy tarn,
Where the mammoth came to drink;
Through the brawn and bone I drove the stone
And slew him upon the brink.
Loud I howled through the moonlit wastes,
Loud answered our kith and kin;
From west to east to the crimson feast
The clan came tramping in.
O’er joint and gristle and padded hoof
We fought and clawed and tore,
And cheek by jowl with many a growl
We talked the marvel o’er.
I carved that fight on a reindeer bone
With rude and hairy hand;
I pictured his fall on the cavern wall
That men might understand.
For we lived by blood and the right of might
Ere human laws were drawn,
And the age of sin did not begin
Til our brutal tusks were gone.
And that was a million years ago
In a time that no man knows;
Yet here tonight in the mellow light
We sit at Delmonico’s.
Your eyes are deep as the Devon springs,
Your hair is dark as jet,
Your years are few, your life is new,
Your soul untried, and yet —
Our trail is on the Kimmeridge clay
And the scarp of the Purbeck flags;
We have left our bones in the Bagshot stones
And deep in the Coralline crags;
Our love is old, our lives are old,
And death shall come amain;
Should it come today, what man may say
We shall not live again?
God wrought our souls from the Tremadoc beds
And furnish’d them wings to fly;
He sowed our spawn in the world’s dim dawn,
And I know that it shall not die,
Though cities have sprung above the graves
Where the crook-bone men made war
And the ox-wain creaks o’er the buried caves
Where the mummied mammoths are.
Then as we linger at luncheon here
O’er many a dainty dish,
Let us drink anew to the time when you
Were a tadpole and I was a fish.
Of course, for a more cynical and possibly mean spirited moment of fun, you can always take a moment to celebrate Darwin Day by reading through the Darwin Awards and indulge in a dose or two of schadenfreude.
Though, like most biopics, it was not particularly accurate, I found Creation a worthwhile watch. Besides finding the topic interesting, it had an excellent cast and good soundtrack. Unfortunately I had to get it though netflix once it was released on DVD, since no theaters around here would show it.
Sir David Attenborough gives a quick overview of the evolution of life.
Nowhere to go today, still snowing quite heavily outside. So a quick warning-only one month to plan your Darwin Day party! February 12 was Darwin’s birthday (And Lincoln’s as well, though at least he gets President’s Day) and is considered a good date for a global celebration of science and reason. I’ve always found it a more low key, less exclusive, celebration than Valentine’s Day.