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Two Hundred Years old

Something exciting is happening this year. It's gotten a few friends jobs. It's bringing other friends over to visit me from Canada. It's the inspiration for dozens of exhibitions at a disparate selection of major and minor museums. It's led to the restoration of at least one historic property, now open to the public, and a rash of media coverage. Today's Google logo is revamped in honor of it.

Two hundred years ago today, in Shrewsbury, Charles Darwin was born. Of course, at the age of one day, Darwin didn't accomplish very much.

Celebrating birthdays like this does always strike me as subscribing to the cult of genius, that the great works that would eventually be accomplished by the birthday boy were inherent in him at his birth. I would much rather, given the choice, celebrate the anniversaries of the actual accomplishments. Still, it'll be a long time until any more significant Darwin anniversaries roll around, so I don't mind all the celebrating and educational outreach; especially since many of my history of science friends are benefiting from it, and I from the incentives which bring them to the UK!

You can read every last one of his works online at Darwin Online. You can also read his wife's diaries there.

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
zephre
Feb. 12th, 2009 01:31 pm (UTC)
We're having a big thing here, too. There are probably more protests. LOL. :)
Birthday is a bit odd, but how lucky that On the Origin of Species turns 150 this year, too. Convenient!


Edited at 2009-02-12 01:31 pm (UTC)
owlfish
Feb. 12th, 2009 01:36 pm (UTC)
You've been paying MUCH better attention than I have. The 150th anniversary of Origin explains all these celebrations much more compellingly than Darwin's 200th. Thank you!
zephre
Feb. 12th, 2009 02:39 pm (UTC)
oh, my school is running some courses in conjunction with Houston's Darwin festival, so I've read the marketing copy a million times. :D
(Deleted comment)
owlfish
Feb. 12th, 2009 04:10 pm (UTC)
I'm happy to celebrate birthdays when they're those of people I know. I'm also happy to celebrate anniversaries of significant days. (Poppies for Parturition Day, perhaps?)

I understand why birthdays get used, though. It's a handy way of celebrating a whole batch of achievements, or of choosing which day to commemorate something ambiguous (like book publication often is; or the group celebration of the anniversaries of lots of books by one author). But still, when I step away from it - it's a little disconcerting. (Happy 199th anniversary of Darwin turning one years old!)
rhiannon76
Feb. 12th, 2009 09:30 pm (UTC)
Such exciting academic celebrations! It's also Abraham Lincoln's 200th birthday as well. I don't know if there's anything to be read into the fact that he and Darwin were birthday twins, but it does have a certain synergy to it.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )