Who was Charles Darwin and what did he do?
Want to skip ahead to a particular section?
Before I tell you about International Darwin Day, it is important to know who Charles Darwin was and why his day is celebrated every year internationally. Charles Darwin was born on 12 February 1809; he was a geologist, biologist, and an English naturalist. He contributed to the field of science by proposing the theory of “selective breeding,” i.e., why some species keep evolving and some die and now this theory is considered as a stepping-stone for many scientific experiments.
He introduced this theory in a joint publication with Alfred Russel Wallace, in which called this process of selective breeding as “natural selection.” He also explained this theory backed with evidence in his book “On the origin of species” in 1859, after the rejection of his previous theory of “transmutation of species.”
The early life of Charles Darwin:
When he was a kid, he was more interested in collecting little insects like moth and beetles instead of focusing on his studies; he was never a good student because the studies seemed boring and dull to him. His home and his family members provided him with the atmosphere to become a naturalist, as his father was a doctor in Shrewsbury; his grandfather was also a naturalist and a poet. His father wanted him to become a doctor or do something in medicine, but he did not perform well in his medical studies at Edinburgh. Then he thought of doing theology from Cambridge University but it still did not click him, he did not know that nature had something else in store for him.
So at Cambridge University, he met a person Adam Sedgwick, who has great contributions in the field of geology and they would go on field trips together. Also, he became friends with his teacher Professor Henslow, with whom he used to catch moth and butterflies and learned about plants and their classification.
At the age of 22, he got the opportunity to work as a naturalist for the Royal Navy Survey Ship, i.e. HMS Beagle. And while they were surveying the Galapagos Islands, he made his observations as why to some plants and animals were there, and nowhere else, in fact, all the 10 islands had different species and showed his concerned to Captain Fitzroy, who a religious along with being a captain. He made him believe that it is selective breeding by God and the birds plants found in this island would have ancestors on other places of the earth.
While he was concentrating on his survey, he got married and concluded that even humans offspring are like their parents in many ways, but at the same time, they are different from them too. The reason behind is that with the variations, they will be able to survive for a longer time in the ever-changing environment, that’s why they evolve with time, and that’s how he summed up his theory of natural selection.
But this theory led to many controversies, as it was against the belief of many religions and therefore, much criticized, also there were some biologists, who further worked on this theory. Due to so much pressure of work, his health got disturbed and he starting falling ill most of the time. He was then diagnosed with coronary thrombosis disease, which is heart disease. He left the world on 19 April 1882. He was buried in Westminster Abbey, next to John Herschel and Isaac Newton. He also has a statue in London’s Natural History Museum.
Why is International Darwin Day celebrated?
This day is celebrated too in the memory of Charles Darwin on 12 Feb that is also the birthday of Darwin. It is a way to give honor and realize his efforts and contributions in the field of science.
Events were previously organized in the town house, where Darwin used to live with his family until the death of Darwin’s wife. 400 scientists and delegates of 167 celebrated the International Darwin Day in Cambridge and further discoveries related to the theory were discussed in that event. On the same day, the New York Academy of Sciences and American Museum of Natural history celebrated the 50th anniversary of Darwin’s book On the Origin of Species. The same year in June, International Darwin Day was celebrated by the Royal Society of New Zealand that was attended by thousands of people. Then in 1959, there was a huge celebration of the day, which was held by the University of Chicago. Salem State College has been celebrating this day every year, as Darwin festival since 1980.
The humanist community also started celebrating International Darwin Day, after getting motivated by Dr. Robert Stephens on 22 April 1995. The event consisted of a lecture given by Dr.Donald Johansons. And since then the community is celebrating this day every year. Also in 1997, the University of Tennessee celebrated Darwin’s day; the professor Massimo Pigliucci initiated that. This event consisted of public speeches and workshop for the student and teachers, to get a better understanding of the Natural selection theory.
Then finally, in 2015, 12 February was declared as the International Darwin Day by the governor of Delaware, Jack Markell. That becomes the first country to dedicate a day for Darwin’s contributions. On 2nd Feb 2015, a resolution was passed by Jim Himes, a representative of United States House of Representative to make 12th of February as International Darwin Day in the US, i.e. an international celebration of humanity and science.
Darwin Day Celebration:
Amanda Chesworth and Robert Stephens were the two people, who made all the efforts to dedicate a day for Darwin in 1990s. Then in 2001, after that Amanda formed an NGO called New Mexico Corporation, in which she was the secretary, executive director, which was chair by Stephens, who was also the president and Massimo Pigliucci, the vice president of the non-profit organization. In which it was proposed to dedicate day as International Darwin Day. Which got dissolved in 2004, and they made another organization with the name of Darwin Day Celebration in California. On its website shared all the information about Darwin and his contributions in science. Also about, the events that took place previously to celebrate the International Darwin Day and also what events will be held in the future. The University of Georgia also celebrates this day in collaboration with Franklin College of Arts and Sciences Odum School of Ecology.
Read How Peoples Celebrates A Happy Valentine’s Day on 14th of February
International Darwin Day 2019:
Even this year, it is going to be huge, there are going to be a lot of events. Firstly, there will be an event by Unione Bolognese Naturalist (UBN) in collaboration with, the Department of Biological, Geological and Environmental Sciences (BiGeA) and the University Museum System (SMA) of the University of Bologna and Golinelli Foundation. The agenda would be the impact of Darwin’s theory on sociology, science, medicine, and philosophy.
Then there will be an event in Poland to celebrate Darwin’s day 2019 on the evolution of language. Another event will be in Italy on pine, its classification, its evolution, and its geographical distributions. There will be an event by the humanist association of Connecticut, where Dr. Abby Hafer will present Darwin’s Apostles. Then there will be workshops and lectures by the UAAR Circle of Palermo at San Francisco. There is also an event at Stanford, where it is going to be a dinner party along with a science quiz and presentation by Mark Siddall.
In Utah, Darwin’s day 2019 will be celebrated as a festival, where people can come with their family, and there will be science displays, cakes, prizes, etc. The Museum of Natural and Cultural History is also organizing the event by discussing dinosaurs and its feathers and their evolution. STEM Education Department (CASE) in collaboration with the Department of Biological Sciences is also organizing an event in which there will be lectures on the evolution theory.
The Glenn Hill Center is also organizing an event on Darwin’s day 2019 in the US, where there will be a live dinosaur, lots of activities and evolution museum. Another event will be on the topic evolution in your lifetime. Eastern Illinois University is organizing an event in which the agenda will be Natural selection in Europe and human evolution. There will also be an event in Baltimore on the evolution of sharks. The University of Pavia will celebrate the day by talking on the impact of Darwin’s theory. Also, there will be a birthday gala in California.
The roaring brook nature center is going to celebrate Darwin’s day 2019 by imitating Charles Darwin, which the professor Kenneth Noll will do and it’s going to be a family event. Michigan State University Museum is going to celebrate the day by letting people explore different species and their evolution.
In short, there is going to be a lot going on around the world on Darwin Day 2019 and if you don’t want to miss out the action then do attend these events or can log on to the website of Darwin day to watch all the events.