Science, Just Science

12 February 2008

Happy Darwin Day!

Filed under: Science — Kyuuketsuki @ 6:28 pm

Charles Darwin was born on the 12th of February 1809, so this would be his 199th birthday. It’s natural for me to celebrate the man because he’s one of he greatest thinkers of all time and arguably the single most influential scientist ever.  But I’m not going to.  I’m going to cheer for Darwin for other reasons.  Better reasons.

Darwin wrote several books and they are important and powerful but they are something else as well.  They are comprehensible.  The first scientific theory of any complexity that I really understood was Darwin’s evolutionary theory and the reason was because at the age of ten I could read and understand his books.  If you pick up the Origin of Species you are able to follow, step by step, the thought processes of a man who was not merely a great scientist but also a great communicator.  I salute the first man who could advance science by unimagined amounts and still explain it to a child.

That’s my personal reason for raising a glass to Darwin.  But I think there’s another that may be even more important.

Charles Darwin was a great father.  If there were Olympics for parenting then he’d have been buried under medals.  He made Downe House, his home, child friendly and he played games and went on walks with his children all the time.  His study at the bottom of the stairs always had the door open and when the weather was wet his children used to slide down the staircase on a tray and, kinetic energy working much the same way then as now, slide into his study giggling madly.  He was caring and loving, never too busy to stop work and talk with the younger generation.

The list of people who have truly had great influence on the world is not that long; the list of those who can still personally inspire us with their words today is shorter still. Most of the people who have changed the world have been warlords, dictators, selfish capitalists or greedy politicians.  Some have been unspeakably unpleasant, some have been foolish and vain but few have been truly decent and humble individuals.  Charles Darwin is practically unique as a man who changed the world and still remained a gentleman of charm and character.

Happy birthday Sir.

Ben Slythe (posted by James “Kyuuketsuki” Rocks)

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