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Reflections on Life and Legacy of Charles Darwin
A worldwide celebration in honor of Darwin's bicentennial birth
Lim Kong Soon (wordscods)     Print Article 
Published 2009-02-12 10:24 (KST)   

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Charles Darwin
©2009 University College London
When Charles Darwin proposed the theory of natural selection on a groundbreaking book, "On the Origin of Species" in 1895, little did he expect that his ideas would have influenced the core principles of modern biology. After two centuries since his birth, the legacy of Darwin still revolutionized our understanding towards nature and within itself.

Scholars around the world would gather for Darwin Day on Jan. 12 in memories of Darwin. Museums, universities and organizations have organized events on this global celebration of science and humanity. This year marks Darwin's bicentennial birth that is also the seminal anniversary of his famous yet controversial groundbreaking book on evolution. Britain has declared Darwin200 as a national program in honoring his scientific ideas. Events on this day include an all day reading of "On the Origin of Species," exhibitions, forums, and debates. It is inevitable that Darwin's work is still debated until today.

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Evolution by Natural Selection

Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection demonstrates that every living species evolved from a shared ancestor. Evolution occurs as preservation of favorable individual with differences and variation while eventually losing out bad traits. This theory is recognized as a fundamental philosophy in biology and other human cultural as it is the key in understanding about the living world.

Darwin never relied on any sophisticated techniques and equipment in understanding this concept. Unlike today's scientist, Darwin spent part of his life studying and interpreting his observations while exploring the world in the Beagle voyage. Throughout this five years adventure, Darwin collected hundreds of plants, animals, insects and fossils. These specimens are on display in the London's Natural History Museum.

At the age of 29, Darwin drew his first diagram that shows ancestral links between living species and extinct groups known as the "tree of life." In his journal, Darwin added that with the "tree of life" fills with its dead and broken branches the crust of earth, and covers the surface with its ever branching and beautiful ramifications. Evolution has proved him right.

It took Darwin many years after his exploration to accumulate evidence before publishing his work. Although Darwin wasn't the first man to theorize the decadence of living organisms, his insight as a naturalist and biologist demonstrated the basis of evolution with the term natural selection. Greek philosophers like Empedocles and Anaximander already had viewed on this in the 6 BC. Alfred Russel Wallace idea on evolution was much similar with Darwin's insight although both of them only knew each other from a distance.

A living legacy

Charles Darwin remains as a living legacy and the idea of Darwinism is simply tells us that life begins with a common ancestor. The huge volume Darwin's works were more than just explanations and answers. Darwin wasn't an atheist but he regard himself as an agnostic as his age advances. The great scientist was honored with knighthood after his death. He was buried in the Nave of the Abbey; Westminster Abbey next to memorials of the greatest intellectuals. Today, the world honors him as he lives in peace as a living legacy.


©2009 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Lim Kong Soon

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