3 Things You Might Not Know About Charles Darwin

Feb 6, 2017

By Tania Lombrozo

This Sunday, Feb. 12, is Darwin Day, an international day of celebration commemorating the birth of Charles Darwin and his contributions to science.

It’s also an excuse for science- and evolution-themed events around the globe, and for all of us to take a moment to appreciate the value of science and the wonders of the natural world.

As you prepare to celebrate, here are a few things you might want to know about Darwin — some insights new and old to impress your friends and family.

1. Darwin developed the Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection. Studies consistently find that many Americans — including college students and even pre-service teachers — misunderstand critical features of how the process works. You can read through common misconceptions here, or review the key ingredients for natural selection — heritable variation that leads to differential reproduction — in this easy nursery-rhyme created for 13.7.

2. Darwin wasn’t only a meticulous observer of the natural world, he was also a careful reader and a diligent record-keeper when it came to his own habits. Beginning in 1838, Darwin kept a notebook in which he recorded the books he was reading. From 1837 to 1860, he reported reading 687 distinct works of English non-fiction. These years span an important period in the development of his thinking, from his return to England from the Galapagos Islands to the publication of On the Origin of Species.

Continue reading by clicking the name of the source below.

10 comments on “3 Things You Might Not Know About Charles Darwin

  • 1
    Ulrich Utiger says:

    Cool, my comment was deleted because I just wrote something you don’t like… For sure, you will even delete this comment.

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  • Well Ulrigh Utiger, you’ve come to the right place for a debate if you want one. The Mod’s are only going to remove comments if they are offensive to people, you can attack evolution all you like if that’s what you intent is (it’s unclear from your comment). I come here in part to have my beliefs challenged and tested so I’d be more than happy to hear what you have to say if you wanted to challenge evolution. I’m probably going to disagree and point out where I feel your wrong but if you want to have a stab at it go for it.

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  • Ulrich Utiger #1
    Feb 9, 2017 at 6:11 am

    Cool, my comment was deleted because I just wrote something you don’t like…

    Comments are not deleted “because they are not liked”.
    . . . . Only if they fail to present an evidence based reasoned argument, are offensive to others posting comments, or are preaching ideology or dogma, without evidenced quotes from reputable sources.

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  • Web Hopper #5
    Feb 12, 2017 at 4:18 pm

    Today is Darwin Day and apparently nobody cares… Who has made this declaration?


    Darwin Day is a celebration to commemorate the anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin on 12 February 1809. The day is used to highlight Darwin’s contribution to science and to promote science in general. Darwin Day is celebrated around the world.

    In 1909, more than 400 scientists and dignitaries from 167 countries met in Cambridge to honour Darwin’s contributions and to discuss vigorously the recent discoveries and related theories contesting for acceptance. This was a widely reported event of public interest.[2][3] Also in 1909, on 12 February, the 100th birth anniversary of Darwin and the 50th anniversary of the publication of On The Origin of Species were celebrated by the New York Academy of Sciences at the American Museum of Natural History.

    The Dawkins Foundation?

    Nope! It’s history pre-dates that foundation.

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  • Good photo of Darwin. He has the face of a kind and humane man. Not all geniuses are kind and humane. (I also detect suffering, in his eyes.)

    What a contribution he made! That was a man who served humanity, whose living was not in vain.

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  • Modern scientific knowledge – built on the shoulders of giants!


    1842 – Christian Doppler: Doppler effect
    1843 – James Prescott Joule: Law of Conservation of energy (First law of thermodynamics), also 1847 – Helmholtz, Conservation of energy
    1846 – Johann Gottfried Galle and Heinrich Louis d’Arrest: discovery of Neptune
    1848 – Lord Kelvin: absolute zero
    1858 – Rudolf Virchow: cells can only arise from pre-existing cells
    1859 – Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace: Theory of evolution by natural selection
    1861 – Louis Pasteur: Germ theory
    1861 – John Tyndall: Experiments in Radiant Energy that reinforced the Greenhouse Effect
    1864 – James Clerk Maxwell: Theory of electromagnetism
    1865 – Gregor Mendel: Mendel’s laws of inheritance, basis for genetics
    1865 – Rudolf Clausius: Definition of Entropy
    1869 – Dmitri Mendeleev: Periodic table

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  • Brave one! And although I haven’t quite unterstood (from the source article) what books have Darwin read, I concur that our reading habits have lots to do with creativity and ideas that we can come up with. Sometimes totaly unrelated text, a fiction books and similar, can inspire someone to some creative breakthrough in their field. Pitty that they didn’t put some titles of the books Darwin used to read, haha, that is so interesting for me. Uf, perhaps I need to read fiction books more. Somehow for years and years I have problem concentrating on what am I reading. It is odd, and I used to read a lot with an interest and love of reading. Anyway, I consider this human the best human Earth ever had! 🙂

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