Archive for ‘History’

January 2, 2013

Weapons of the Second Amendment

Weapons of the Second Amendment

I’m just sayin’….

September 21, 2012

Alfred Russel Wallace Statue Commissioned

News Release from The Wallace Memorial Fund:

Discoverer of Natural Selection to finally get his statue (albeit 100 years late)

Statue of Alfred Russel Wallace to be commissioned for the Natural History Museum, 100 years after the project was scuppered by the First World War.

Alfred Russel Wallace was one of the greatest scientists of the nineteenth century and when he passed away aged 90 in November 1913 plans were soon underway to commemorate his remarkable life. Fundraising began for a statue to be displayed at the Natural History Museum in London, but within a few months this was scuppered by the outbreak of the First World War and the project had to be abandoned.

One-hundred years on, the Wallace Memorial Fund has been revived and is attempting to raise £50,000 GBP to commission a life-sized bronze statue which it will donate to the Natural History Museum. It would be unveiled on 7th November 2013, to commemorate the centenary of Wallace’s death. The piece would be sculpted by Anthony Smith; a zoology graduate-turned sculptor, who in 2009 created an acclaimed statue of Charles Darwin for Cambridge University.

The Wallace Fund has already received a generous donation of £10,000 GBP, but it needs to raise the remaining £40,000 GBP in just four months, in order to give the sculptor enough time to produce the work for the November 2013 unveiling.

British comedian Bill Bailey, the Wallace Memorial Fund’s Patron, who is a long-time admirer of Wallace, appealed to everyone who loves natural history and science for donations. “Wallace was a maverick genius who deserves much greater recognition for his brilliant discoveries.” He continues, “The statue will be seen by many of the 4.5 million people who visit the museum each year and it will help raise awareness of this extraordinary man.”

Bill Bailey at the Natural History Museum, London, with a painting of Wallace and some of Wallace’s specimens (© Janet Beccaloni).

Bill at the Natural History Museum, London, with a painting of Wallace
and some of Wallace’s specimens. © Janet Beccaloni

The Natural History Museum is planning a big celebration of Wallace’s life and scientific legacy called Wallace100 ( which will be launched in January 2013. Wallace100 will culminate with the unveiling of the statue in November. Many other museums and other organisations worldwide are also planning Wallace events; with conferences in London, New York, Mexico, Gibraltar and Sarawak, Malaysia; museum exhibitions in London, Oxford, Wales, the Netherlands, Singapore and Australia; plus several books; and at least one TV documentary.

For more information about the statue, including details of how to donate, visit the Wallace Fund’s website:

May 2, 2012

Carnival of Evolution #47 now up at Evolving Thoughts

Carnival of Evolution 47: All the Evolution News that’s Fit to Blog

Newspaper 300x225

Now at Evolving Thoughts:

Welcome to the 47th edition of the Carnival of Evolution. We have had our science reporters out in force hunting down the best of the blogosphere on evolution and related subjects, and here they are for your delectation and delight and other d-words.

Go there now, and see what the big white ape has in store…

May 21, 2011

Darwin’s Archipelago

Not the Galapagos…

The Darwin Archipelago–The Naturalist’s Career Beyond Origin of Species is a new book by Steve Jones, in which he examines Darwin’s lesser known works in biology. From the publisher (Yale University Press):

Charles Darwin is of course best known for The Voyage of the Beagle and The Origin of Species. But he produced many other books over his long career, exploring specific aspects of the theory of evolution by natural selection in greater depth. The eminent evolutionary biologist Steve Jones uses these lesser-known works as springboards to examine how their essential ideas have generated whole fields of modern biology.

Earthworms helped found modern soil science, Expression of the Emotions helped found comparative psychology, and Self-Fertilization and Forms of Flowers were important early works on the origin of sex. Through this delightful introduction to Darwin’s oeuvre, one begins to see Darwin’s role in biology as resembling Einstein’s in physics: he didn’t have one brilliant idea but many and in fact made some seminal contribution to practically every field of evolutionary study. Though these lesser-known works may seem disconnected, Jones points out that they all share a common theme: the power of small means over time to produce gigantic ends. Called a “world of wonders” by the Times of London, The Darwin Archipelago will expand any reader’s view of Darwin’s genius and will demonstrate how all of biology, like life itself, descends from a common ancestor†.

And the NCSE is offering a free preview.

† “…all of biology, like life itself, descends from a common ancestor.” Really? All of biology? A cute turn of phrase, but not true.

April 23, 2011

Miserere Me

As an ex-Christian, I still find it pleasurable to acknowledge some of the holy days, in that they have often inspired brilliant music and art. Here is one of the treasures of my Christian heritage – Gregorio Allegri‘s “Miserere mei, Deus” ( “Have mercy on me, O God”). Traditionally sung over the Holy Week preceding Easter Sunday presents the music with footage from BBC’s Earth movie.

Jeremy Summerly leads the  Oxford Camerata.

March 27, 2011

The Sunday Week Link Fest 2

A selection of good links that caught my attention in the last week:


August 28, 2010

Darwin’s Armada – Free Sample

From the National Center for Science Education:

NCSE is pleased to offer a free preview of Iain McCalman’s Darwin’s Armada: Four Voyages and the Battle for the Theory of Evolution (W.W. Norton, 2009). The excerpt discusses Alfred Russel Wallace’s voyages, culminating with his insight about natural selection: “Whatever it was that triggered Wallace to think about Malthus, it had given him the key to the mechanism that drove evolution. He was not to know that Malthus had done exactly the same for Charles Darwin in 1837-38, when Darwin reread Principle of Population after returning from his Beagle voyage. ‘The more I thought it over,’ Wallace recalled, ‘the more I became convinced that I had at length found the long-sought-for law of nature that solved the problem of the origin of species.’ He had found the motor that explained how varieties were driven to become new species, in competition with the parent species that had  originally produced them.” According to the New York Times Book Review, “[McCalman’s] narratives are as much bildungsroman as scientific analysis, showing how the four voyagers were steeled and transformedby the demands of the sea and the wondrous unfamiliarity of life on distant shores.”

For the excerpt from Darwin’s Armada (PDF), visit:–DarwinsArmada.pdf


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