Saturday, May 5, 2007

Lauren's New and Hot (Week 6)

I found a New York Times article, A Split Emerges as Conservatives Discuss Darwin, that has an interesting take on the relationship between conservatives and Darwin. It relates to some degree to Prof Bob's post yesterday - the leaders of the free world - Bob, in that it mentions that only three of tne Republican candidates said they did not believe in evolution. While for some time conservatives have opposed evolution and embraced intelligent design instead, some conservatives now believe that evolution may be well suited to their needs. In part, this shift is due to the fact that intelligent conservatives realize that the focus on intelligent design leads to a focus on creationism and makes conservatives and their ideas seem out of touch with science and the real world.

Conservatives arguing for evolution claim that Darwin's ideas of natural selection can be used to back up conservative ideas like checks and balances and traditional gender roles. Evolution has also been used by conservatives as explanation for morality. Another factor in the conservative shift is that some conservatives realize that they will have no control over what happens with biotechnology if they do not embrace the biological mechanisms that led to it.

The article mentions a book, Darwinian Conservatism, that claims that conservative social institutions always embrace evolution-conservatives use institutions that have evolved over time and have worked in the past. Liberals, on the other hand, tend to try to start anew by thinking out the best possible plan, rather than using systems that have evolved.

I'm not sure how I feel about this. On the one hand, if conservatives embrace evolution, it will be more commonly taught in schools. On the other, using evolution to claim that we should not rethink our institutions because they evolved to the way there are and are therefore good could be counterproductive. Granted, these conservatives do not want to be associated with Social Darwinism, so they probably will not come up with anything that atrocious.

Lauren's Beagle Review

Here is the link to my Voyage of the Beagle review on Amazon.

Garden of savage delights - Bob

Who doesn't love carnivorous plants?
Darwin did.

Bob does.

There is a new exhibit at the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park.

typos in the voyage of the beagle

my copy of the voyage is the big hardcover one from the stanford bookstore and i noticed at least 3 blatant typos in it so far and im wondering if anyone has seen them in the other editions as well? i wonder if its Darwin's original stuff or if the publishers just suck.

instance 1: one of the footnotes was obviously using the word "here" but instead they wrote "her"
instance 2: some random word came out all wrong, like it came out "s'f;5;le", with semicolons and all... i thought that was really weird

i cant remember the 3rd instance off the top of my head but i was wondering if anyone else has noticed this or maybe just my version of it sucks

oh by the way.... this is Alex

Friday, May 4, 2007 - the leaders of the free world - Bob

This is a proxy posting from one of my former students: Melissa Burns

Subject: idiots on parade
When asked, "is there anybody who doesn't believe in evolution?", Brownback, Tancredo and Huckabee all raise their hands.

video below...

what a joke!

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Paul's New and Hot - Darwin's Agony and Ecstasy

[Hey, I'm Paul Craft. Please forgive me for being behind on the blog postings. Much like Darwin himself, I am currently spending my youth in South America- namely, the Stanford-in-Santiago Center. Also like Darwin, any news from back home takes at least a month by sea.]

Darwin's scientific legacy is indisputable. But what about Darwin the writer? An article from today' Slate Magazine briefly examines Darwin's written legacy. According to the author, intellectuals have come to appreciate the literary prowess of Darwin's works. In other words, an appreciation for not just the biological theories born from Darwin's books, but a more specific interest in the texts themselves.

From a recent New Yorker article to a new book by (of course) Janet Browne, an image of Darwin as the tortured poet has taken hold. His life seems to conform perfectly to classically troubled years of many a writer: an aimless youth, an epic journey of discovery, inspiration, massive writer's block, years of tortured procrastination (""Darwin's Delay is by now nearly as famous as Hamlet's," quipped the New Yorker) , an eventual breakthrough, competition, controversial fame, and more.

Clearly this reenergized interest in the actual works of Darwin fits squarely into the goals of our class: understanding not just the ideas, but the contexts and origins of the ideas. Stripped of the hindisight of history- the adendments to the theories, the great debates years after Darwin's death, the new scientific discoveries- much of Darwin's story is indeed the story of a writer: the struggle to write, the process of writing, and then the defense of what was written.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Anne's New and Hot - week 5 - New Museums on Evoltuion...and Creationism

"Museums, God and Man"

In the Travel section of the New York Times on Thursday April 27 there was a pretty interesting article about the growing number of exhibits in science museums relating to evolution. In the American Museum of Natural History in New York city there is a new "Hall of Human Origins" devoted entirely to addressing the scientific view of evolution. There are models, explainations and films. In addition the exhibit addresses specific questions that interest viewers. For example, there is a section on the evoltuion of racial differences. Other recent exhibits include a new one in the Field Museum in Chicago entitled "Dinosours, Ancient Fossils and New Discoveries" that was created as follow up to the permanent exhibit on evolution. Other exhibits are currently on tour such as one entitled "Darwin" which is moving from Boston to Chicago, and one entitled, "Explore Evolution" which has toured the midwest and west coast. In addtion, in San Diego, the permanent exhibit “Footsteps Through Time: Four Million Years of Human Evolution” at the Museum of Man has expanded with displays on stem-cell research and mitochondrial DNA, and soon will add new casts of a Neanderthal skeleton and early hominid skulls found in Chad and the Republic of Georgia.

All of these new exhibitions on evoltion seem like a really great educational tool for the United States population. The fact that the US in particular hosts such a large population that doesn't believe in evolution is quite startling, so this is deffinitely a step in the right direction. Also, these new exhibits incorporting current research are a really great way to keep the public up to date on new discoveries.

Of course, there is always a backlash from opposing creationist groups who wish to counter the exhibits with their own. In Petersburg Kentuky the Christian group, Answers in Genesis, plans to open a large Creationist Museum on May 28. According to the owner there will be sculptures and displays that offer a biblical interpretation of man's origins. The interesting thing is that the museum will be staffed with expert scientists. The owner made sure not to make a distinction between his museum and the other evoltution exhibits. He said, "All museums are religious museums, because those that explain life without God — that's a religious position, that's a faith position that everything happens by natural process.”

To read this article go to :

Julie's New-and-Hot (Week 5)

"Builders with little brains"
From Nature (April 12, 2007)

In this article, Tore Slagsvold gives a book review on James Gould and Carol Grant Gould's Animal Architects: Building and the Evolution of Intelligence. The main question of this book is whether or not "intelligence is actually needed to be a good architect and builder." There are several interesting examples that show intelligence is not necessarily needed to be a good builder. For example, a termite can build a structure six meters high. In human size ratio, this structure would be about four kilometers high. On the other hand, while many members of the animal kingodm are good builders, mammals are actually quite poor at building as they use the womb to protect the baby. The authors argue that building activity does not require intelligence as structures can be built using small steps. They then extend this idea to say that even skills that appear to be as complicated as language learning can be broken down into smaller steps.

The authors then go on to talk about aesthetics (seems to be the theme for the week). Humans generally think that we have a special sense for beauty. Turns out that this is also not always the case. Bower birds use colorful objects to make their huts more colorful to attract mates. Slagsvold describes that authors' claim as:
Bower birds are considered to be intelligent, suggesting that recursive cycles of selection for a single set of cognitive building abilities and aesthetic refinements are part of the same sort of positive-feedback loop that may have led to the evolution of the human mind.
Interesting... The article ends with the following question:
Could it be that our own building activity is driven not only by the need to shelter from the storm, but also by the desire for power and mate attraction?

Josh's New and Hot (Week 5)

Okay, fellow Darwin Safarians(ists, ators???), I'm here tonight to report a gross misuse of the Darwin trademark. I know Dani put a blurb about this at the end of her post, but it really deserves a full exploration. If you haven't already been recruited, this week's new and hot is, a site where you must be both new and hot to survive . Check out a Chicago Tribune article here.

Apparently, too many dating website have become clogged with an overbundance of the fat, ugly, and nerdy, posing a dire risk to all the attractive people in the world. According to the about section of their website, "Attractive people are at a disadvantage on normal internet dating sites. They have to wade through a plethora of ugly people and ugly people pretending to be attractive in order to find someone who matches their own attractiveness" and thus "it has become difficult for the modern attractive human to find other modern attractive humans." What is their proposed solution to this terrible injustice? Have users create profiles that will be judged by the public for "atractiveness", and then extend or deny invitations to join the elite community of beautiful people.

Backing up their claims with evidence, they claim that "in 1859 Charles Darwin proposed the theory that living beings evolved through a process of natural selection where the fittest, healthiest and most attractive beings bred with each other to further their species." Hmmm, I don't remember most attractive being in the Origin of Species, but then again, what do I know? I'm one of those unattractive peons who violates one of the many physical taboos like "fat rolls, hairy feet, out of date fashions, or disproportionately large ears." How did I ever arrive on this planet with my flawed genes (or "jeans" since apparently those could get you kicked out too). In all seriousness though, I feel that Darwin would find this a gross misuse of his name. Although sexual selection has been speculated as the cause to the stratification of different races, I'd say that that theory is treading on thin ice.

I find it terribly interesting that one of the superficial flaws that they point out are "Out of proportion noses", since it that very prejudice against noses that almost lost Darwin his chance to go on the Beagle which would have sabotaged the history of the theory of evolution forever. Where would this site be then? However, I feel that someone might have already pointed out to them that their site would exclude Darwin since they do keep a picture of him on the about page with the caption "Charles Darwin was a genius, but unfortunately very ugly. It is ironic that he wouldn't be able to join Darwin Dating!"

I'd say that it is especially appalling that they start out the about section with the sentence "We live in an ugly world. War, disease, famine and ugly people seem to rule our daily lives." Finally, someone is acknowledging that ugly people are right up there with such irksome realities like famine, disease, and war. Given the choice between eliminating ugliness and ending the war, I'd have to be with Darwindating on the ugliness roundup.

Perhaps this site is actually one big tongue-in-cheek experiment. I can only hope that they are collecting the personal information of thousands of dolts so that they can have telemarketers call them at obscene hours of the night and bombard their mailboxes with offers from an herbalist with crisco-styled hair. Am I asking too much?

Unfortunately, I think I am, since I did, in fact, sign up like every person in America who has every seriously considered buying a roasting machine from Ron Popeil. Check out my profile at the following link and give me a positive vote. In the meantime, try clicking on some of the cool advertisement links they post on their website.

Hot singles online dating and chat - Darwin Dating

Humorous dating website - Darwin Dating

Funny dating website - Darwin Dating

Online dating for beautiful singles - Darwin Dating

Online dating for beautiful singles - Darwin Dating

Online dating for beautiful singles - Darwin Dating

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Dani's New & Hot (Week 5)

Animal Extinction - the greatest threat to mankind.
The article can be found here. It's fairly long, but here's a summary...

Scientists agree that there have been 5 known great extinction events throughout the history of the earth. We are currently living in the 6th, the Holocene extinction event. While the background extinction rate is approximately one species per million per year, with new species evolving to take the place of those extinct, according to Harvard biologist, Edward Wilson, half of all plant and animal species living today will be extinct by 2100. This is almost an 100 fold increase over the background extinction rate. The World Conservation Union's Red List (a list measuring the population status of the world's 1.5 million scientifically identified species) show that approximately 40% of examined species are in danger of extinction. Not only are individual species at risk of extinction, but higher taxa are in danger as well. For instance, the 300 million year old Amphibia class, which has out survived most dinosaurs, is dying off at alarming rates. Most of its members are losing the battle against rapidly changing climates caused by human environmental assults.

Why is this happening? The short answer is that human pollution, deforestation, hunting, etc. is changing climates and wildernesses so quickly that species are unable to adapt. And as we all learned in high school biology (and "Pocahontas"), all the organisms in the world are interwoven in a fragile fabric connecting all life, and a disruption in one fiber causes a chain reaction to occur.

So what is the solution? The article suggests "rewilding" or "megapreservation" as a potential way to remedy the effects of artifical environment and climate destruction. The goal is to connectexisting wild life preserves by "megalinkages", providing animals the ability to roam and thus to increase the biodiversity of each wildlife area. The article also brings up an interesting point in that international border divisions cage animals in and decreases the resources available for wildlife survival.

So how does this relate to Darwin? Mainly, how can Darwin's theory of evolution be applied to organisms that are experiencing artificial pressures due to the increase in human dominance? Darwin's theory deals with NATUR(E)al selection, but how does this natural selection fare with human intervention?


On a lighter note, here are some people whose genes shouldn't be allowed to proliferate:
Darwin Dating
The website only accepts 18-35 year olds, because according to the makers of the site, a male's sexual drive maxs at age 18 and a female's at age 30, thus making "18-35 the perfect breeding bracket."
On second thought, this is a perfect example of natural selection...just not in these people's favor.

Darwin Quotes, from Voyage of the Beagle
1) Whilst talking about a group of escaped slaves in Rio de Janeiro, Darwin talks about how one of the women threw herself from a mountain in order to escape from being recaptured: "In a Roman matron this would have been called the noble love of freedom: in a poor negress it is mere brutal obstinacy."

2) More with Darwin & slavery in Rio de Janeiro: "While staying at this estate, I was very nearly being an eyewitness to one of those atrocious acts, which can only take place in a slave country. Owing to a quarrel and a law-suit, the owner was on the point of taking all the women and children from the men, and selling them separately at the public auction at Rio. Interest, and not any feeling of compassion, prevented this act. Indeed, I do not believe the inhumanity of separating thirty families, who had lived together for many years, even occurred to the person. Yet I will pledge myself, that in humanity and good feeling, he was superior to the common run of men. It may be said there exists no limit to the blindness of interest and selfish habit."

3) In the summer of 1832 while around Maldonado, Darwin writes, "The Molothrus pecoris is a Norht American bird, and is closely allied in general habits, even in such peculiarities as standing on the backs of cattle (as its name implieds), and in appearance, with the species from the plains of La Plata; it only differs in being rather smaller and of a dfferent colour, yet the two birds would be considered by every naturalist as distinct species. It is very interesting to see so close an agreement in structure, and in habits between allied species coming from opposite parts of a great continent." Could this have been where he started? Or did he add this in later after he had began to formulate this theory of evolution?

The Galapagos and Invasive Goats, Guava: Robbie's Week 5 New and Hot

A real goat, in the Charlie Brown sense of the word. David Rochkind/Polaris, via NYT.

"War in the Pacific: It's Hell, Especially if You're a Goat" was a fun read after Darwin's description of the Galapagos in The Voyage of the Beagle (reviewed on Amazon). This article describes a new extermination project targeting goats on the Galapagos. These goats, interestingly enough, were introduced to the Galapagos in the 1800s by sailors, who used the goats as a food source when stopping by.

Invasive species have a particularly devastating effect on fragile island ecosystems. This is certainly true in the Galapagos, where many of the plants and animals that Darwin observed growing and frolicking, respectively, are now threatened by invasive species. The Galapagos are in many ways fortunate because many of the threatened endemic species are high profile, having become iconic of evolution thanks to the work of our very own Charles Darwin. The finches, tortoises, and marine iguanas, for example, are all threatened by introduced cats, rats, and dogs.

The tortoises especially have a rough time because they compete with goats for some prime, delicious cactus. Galapagos National Park Rangers are pretty serious about getting rid of the goats: "Pilots from New Zealand were hired to fly helicopters above the largest island, Isabela, so that gunmen could reach herds of goats with AR-15 rifles and one million rounds of ammunition imported from the United States."

Anyway, I liked this article because it's an example of evolution getting short circuited by the global transport of all kinds of species; biodiversity loss is a big deal. But I think that the article makes a pretty valuable point: though the goats have a huge impact on the environment of the Galapagos, the rapidly growing human population on the islands will almost certainly have a bigger effect.

Joy's New and Hot, Week 5

Was the earth's atmosphere enough to create primordial soup?

My article comes from Scientific American and discusses the possibility that early earth's atmosphere could have had the necessary ingredients for life, versus the idea that these essentials came from the outside forces of comets and meteors. This idea is brought up by the recreation of a famous experiment first done by Stanley Miller at the University of Chicago in 1953. Miller used a sparking device to mimic the lightning storms of early earth with a mixture of methane and ammonia. This experiment produced a brown liquid rich in amino acids. The experiment was groundbreaking, until it was established that earth's atmosphere probably didn't contain the gases Miller used, but rather a mix of carbon dioxide and nitrogen. When Miller retried the experiment in 1983 with these gases, a colorless liquid containing only a few amino acids. Creationists picked this up as proof that life can't be created in a lab.

However, Jeffrey Bada, a chemist at Scripps Oceanographic Institute, who was mentored by Miller, has discovered something adding new insight into the experiment. He discovered that the reactions were producing nitrites, compounds which quickly destroy amino acids. However, earth's atmosphere would have contained iron and carbonate minerals which neutralize these nitrites. When he reran the experiment with these included, he produced the same colorless liquid, but now it was full of amino acids.

However, while this lends insight into what conditions might really have been like on ancient earth, scientists still debate whether earth's atmosphere alone could have created the building blocks of life.

Sulloway's Galapagos - Bob

Since we are now moving onto a Beagle/Galapagos theme...

Frank Sulloway does the Galapagos

Cool research, amazing photos.

Rational thought - Bob

While the topic is pertinent, the actual web content bares only peripheral relevance to Darwin.
Nevertheless, I thought the Darwinophiles might find it of interest regarding the relationship between science and religion, and also because some of the people posting to the list have published books, articles, and web pages on Darwin.

This google group was dormant for a very long time and then burst into action within the last week. A sensitive area was clearly touched to get this kind of reactivity.

Chad's New and Hot, Week 5

Evolution and Global Climate Change

My new and hot for this week is a really cool article by Beth Daley of the Boston Globe that discusses the effect that changes in climate caused by humans are having on the process of natural selection in the animal world. Daley writes that the changes in the environment caused by global climate change favor animals with shorter life spans – such as insects and rodents – and put mammals and other animals that reproduce slowly at a disadvantage. Daley focuses on the Wyeomyia smithii, a species of mosquito in New England with an 8-week life span, whose recent generations can now enter hibernation over a week later they did 30 years ago. By doing this, they are able to take advantage of the late arrival of winter in the American northeast. Scientists fear that this manner of rapid adaptation to climate change will soon spread to other short-lived species of animal, especially potential disease carriers such as insects and rodents, while animals with longer life spans may become extinct or forced to migrate.

“Until now, the effects of climate warming had been most noticeable in the Arctic, as glaciers melt. But dramatic changes are also being seen in northern temperate zones such as New England, where the average winter temperature has risen 4.4 degrees Fahrenheit over the last 30 years. Growing seasons have lengthened, winter is arriving later, and the weather has become more erratic.

Scientists are worried that climate change, caused largely by the release of heat-trapping gases from power plants and cars, will drive evolution in unpredictable and unwelcome ways in these regions, where millions of people live. Researchers are trying to determine in more detail how species will adapt to a projected 3.2- to 7.2-degree rise in the world's average annual temperature by the end of the century. Their answers could help predict outbreaks of diseases spread by insects and rodents, and how ecosystems will change as species react at different rates to the warming.”

Check it out!

Kate's Beagle Review


My review of Voyage of the Beagle can be found here.
And yes, I listened to it instead of reading it. Since it was in first-person, it was actually quite entertaining. :)

My new and hot for this week is in with the group from last week because I posted it on Thursday.

See you all tomorrow,

Erika's New and Hot, Week 5

Coral is dying. Can it be reborn?

This article's about how several people, aware of all the problems coral is facing around the world, are trying to rehabilitate the species by setting up underwater nurseries. Besides increasing the population of coral in areas where global warming, pollution, and overfishing have severely harmed the indigenous coral, the scientists also are trying to determine what factors can be changed to improve the chances of coral surving for the next century.

Their project relates to Darwin in that the coral have been outcompeted- they're dying because they can't deal with the pollution and the changing temperatures, and they rely on other species that are dying. However, since it's mostly humanity's fault that they are no longer "fit," we're trying to reverse the process- with little success. We're trying to change the environment so that one favored species can survive again; we want to save an ecosystem that we recognize we're destroying.

Becca's New and Hot-- Week 5: more genome mapping!

My article comes from the LA Times by way of, and reports that researchers have mapped the rhesus macaque genome. This is very useful to the field of genetics beyond just being one more known genome because it allows us to compare humans, chimpanzees (genome mapped 2 years ago), and macaques to get a more complete picture of what and when certain genetic additions or changes to the primate line might have occurred. Chimpanzees split off from humans about 6 million years ago, and we share 99% of our DNA, whereas macaques split off 25 million years ago and we share 93%. But even within these shared genes, scientists found, there are changes in phenotype, which to me was the most interesting part of the article.

Scientists found several of the genes that, when mutated in humans, cause very harmful or even fatal genetic diseases-- this includes the mutations that cause phenylketonuria, cystic fibrosis, and genetic blood diseases-- in macaques. This is no great surprise. The more stunning fact was that the same mutations in macaques are not harmful! Phenylketonuria is a disease in which individuals cannot metabolize the amino acid phenylalanine, and as a result it builds up in the body and causes brain damage; if macaques can live normally with a mutated copy of the gene, they must either have evolved insensitivity to phenylalanine or avoid it completely in their diets (as humans with the disease are forced to). Cystic fibrosis is a recessive genetic disease in which chloride channels form incorrectly as a result of a mutation in the CFTR gene, which encodes these channels. It leads to a host of terrible symptoms, including trouble breathing, lung infections, and many, many more. The article did not mention whether scientists have any idea why mutated CFTR genes do not affect macaques, but it is certainly interesting.

Finally, the researchers found that macaques have about three times as many immune system genes as we do, which is significant given that macaques are a popular animal for vaccine testing. The article also mentions that several other primate species, including the marmoset, gorilla, orangutan, and gibbon, are being sequenced. It will be fascinating to see what details these genomes can provide about primate evolution.

The full article can be found at Sorry, my browser won't let me link to a single word to make it simpler and prettier to get to the URL...

Monday, April 30, 2007

Lauren's New and Hot (Week 5)

Scientists seek Lonesome George's tortoise kin

Lonesome George is a Galapagos tortoise from the island of Pinta, and for years researchers thought that he was the last of his species. Found in 1972, he lives on a research station on Santa Cruz (another island in the Galapagos). Researchers have attempted to convince him to mate with females of a similar species from the island Isabela, but so far have had no luck. They have gone so far as to bring in younger male tortoises of the same species as the females to demonstrate, but George did not take the hint. At 70 years of age, he is still young enough that there is hope, provided that researchers come up with an idea that actually works.

Things are looking up for George, however, because a tortoise has been found whose father belongs to George's species. This means that unless he has died, there is another male tortoise of George's species on Isabela. Since this male exists (or existed), researchers now hope that there may be others that simply have yet to be found.

On a tangential note, I was amused to find that my BIOSCI 43 (third quarter of BIO core) lecture last Friday seemed to be an extremely abbreviated version of this course. For the introductory lecture on evolution, we learned about Darwin's voyage and how Wallace inadvertently pushed him to publish The Origin of Species.

Roarke's New and Hot (Week 5)

Ducks and the Coevolution of Genitalia

In class, we've discussed some interesting examples of both sexual selection and coevolution. A recent study of the genitalia of a strange species of duck provides a fascinating example of sexual coevolution.

The duck in question - the Meller's Duck from Madagascar, is certainly a rare breed. While 97% of all bird species don't even have phalluses, the Meller's Duck has incredibly long phalluses, sometimes as long as the length of its entire body.

Previous scientists assumed this long phallus evolved as a result of competition between males who wanted to get their sperm in as far as possible during forced copulation to increase their chances of producing offspring. Dr. Brennan, however, points instead to the strong correlation between long male phalluses and elaborate female genital defenses in the same species, and argues that male and female Meller's Ducks are locked in a constant sexual arms race that has resulted in the development of such unusual structures. The females have evolved elaborate oviducts with pockets and spirals to limit the success of forced copulation, and the males have in response evolved longer phalluses that allow them to force copulation despite the females' defensive measures.

Dr. Brennan's study is the clearest example of genital coevolution in vertebrates uncovered so far, though Dr. Brennan believes that more subtle examples of coevolution are likely to be discovered in other species with further research.

Read the full New York Times article here, it's quite interesting!

Sagar's New and Hot (Week 5)

Chimpanzees have recently been studied to find clues as to the origin of language. Researchers have found that chimpanzees rely more heavily on hand gestures than they do on vocalizations and facial expressions. Interestingly, researches have noticed that most chimpanzees use their right hands to communicate, which is controlled by the left brain, the same location where language is controlled in humans. A funny note: male chimps extend their arm with an open hand to beg for food, to urge a female to have sex, or to send a signal of reconciliation after a fight with another male.

The entire article can be found here . Check it out!

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Alex's Week 5: New and Hot and Beagle preview.

Here is the updated version of my post:

Link here:

So quite interestingly, Malaysia recently celebrated its 50th anniversary for national independence. This article was a book review written by some guy on the British Council last Sunday. Basically he wanted something Malay-themed, and he picked "The Malay Archipelago" Volumes 1 and 2 by Alfred Russell Wallace. It's a pretty interesting book review because it gives you a general background of what Wallace did in the frame of Darwin's world and you see how the two sort of fit together.

The next thing to note is that the book (from the sound of the review, at least) sounds just like a travel guide. What i mean is that this book apparently tells a lot of anecdotes and interesting stories about the places Wallace visited. And in that respect it's sort of like the Voyage of the Beagle, I think. How interesting that these two men wrote such similar books. Both arriving at the theory independently, whereas one came up with the theory in the South Pacific, the other did it near the indian ocean. From my impression though, The Malay Archipelago seems like a really fun read. Whereas unfortunately, The Voyage of the Beagle isn't particular compelling thus far. =[

Who says Darwin doesn't have a sense of humor? I'm reading the voyage of the beagle right now and there this one passage that is HILARIOUS. It's near the beginning of the book. I will share in class.