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The Life of Darwin
Charles Darwin was born on February 12, 1809. The same day as President Abraham Lincoln. However, Darwin was born on a large Georgian estate that overlooked the River Severn and the Medieval market town of Shrewsbury in England.
It was expected that he would follow in his father’s footsteps and become a physician. In 1825, he interned in his father’s practice over the summer. After that summer, Darwin attended the University of Edinburgh. Unfortunately, lectures bored him and he could not tolerate the sight of blood. This caused the biologist to change direction and study theology.
However, during his travels around the world, he would begin to question this theology. His faith wavered once he witnessed the evils of slavery and again when his three children died. The scientist considered himself to be an agnostic, not an atheist.
An agnostic does not claim to believe or not believe in God, whereas an atheist does not believe there is a God or any gods.
While Darwin was a student at Cambridge University, he organized the Gourmet Club, which was also called the Glutton Club. The purpose of the club was to dine on animals that were not commonly eaten, unknown to the human palate in some cases. This taste testing continued on Darwin’s trip around the world.
The Trip Around the World That Changed History
On December 27, 1831, at the age of 22, Darwin left Plymouth on the HMS Beagle with Captain Robert FitzRoy at the helm. The plan was to explore the Southern Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. The expedition lasted until October 2, 1836. Darwin gathered information on flora, fauna, and geology. This knowledge is what eventually led him to write “Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection.” He would not publish this work until 1859. The biologist did not want to interfere with the evangelic belief system.
Natural selection organisms with genetic variations that suit their environment tend to propagate more descendants than organisms of the same species that lack the variation, thus influencing the overall genetic makeup of the species.
During his five-year tour around the world, not only did Darwin gain an astronomical amount of knowledge, but he also possibly picked up a parasite that caused the biologist to feel exhausted, nauseous, headaches, and heart palpitations. This illness would take his life on April 19, 1882.
Fun Facts About the Biologist
After his death, Darwin’s friends and family petitioned to have him buried in Westminster Abbey. The Dean of Westminster approved of the burial after the public and newspapers joined his friends and family in harmony.
From 2000 to 2018, Darwin’s bearded face appeared on the back of the British 10-pound note, along with the HMS Beagle, a magnifying glass, flora, and fauna. However, England discontinued the note.
Currently, the Darwin Correspondence Project at the Cambridge University Library is digitally cataloging all of the biologist’s personal letters. This includes 392 beans that were neatly folded inside the brittle paper. He would fold anywhere between one and 42 legumes in each paper pocket.
Written by Jeanette Vietti
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Featured Image Courtesy of Rick Wagner’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of cattan2011’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License