Charles Darwin

Darwin Day 2008 at Cal

Charles Darwin was born on February 12, 1809. His birthday is an opportunity to celebrate his contribution to science and its influence in such diverse academic fields as biology, anthropology, and medicine. Darwin Day is now an international celebration not only of the life and contributions of Charles Darwin, but also of science in general.

Darwin Day at Cal is dedicated to informing the public about evolution and its importance as a unifying concept in all of biology. This year a variety of campus events are scheduled around Darwin's birthday. They include:

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Global climate change and its influence on evolution
Global climate change and its influence on evolution, a new UC Museum of Paleontology short course
9:00 am to 4:00 pm, Valley Life Sciences Building, Room 2050
There are growing concerns that we are experiencing global warming at a level that will have major consequences. But both global warming and global cooling have occurred in the past, so how is this different? Meet and chat with experts to learn about past global climate changes and how they have influenced evolution, even our own, and what the implications might be for the future. Check the website for speaker and registration information.

Diversification and radiations, a Tree of Life workshop
9:00 am to 3:00 pm, Valley Life Sciences Building
The recent explosion of research in the Tree of Life has brought a wealth of phylogenetic hypotheses that serves as a framework in which to study important ecological and evolutionary patterns. One area that has advanced significantly with the use of phylogenetic comparative methods is the study of diversification events in the evolutionary history of plants. This workshop will introduce the study of radiations including the methods used to understand factors influencing diversification. For more information about the program and registration information, visit the Jepson Herbarium Public Programs website or email/call Anna Larsen (510-643-7008) to request a program brochure.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Evolution: Plants Through Time, a Darwin-inspired tour
11:00 am to 12:00 pm, UC Botanical Garden
Join docents as they trace the story of plant evolution from a hostile, barren earth 4.5 billion years ago to the astounding diversity of plants today. We'll use our knowledge of plate tectonics, climate change, and the fossil record to try and understand the key changes that have allowed these organisms to emerge and survive. Free!

Darwin Day at the Hearst Museum — "Truth or Fact?"
12:00 pm to 1:00 pm, Hearst Museum of Anthropology
Come for a free, docent-led tour that examines the definition of science by seeing the footprints of Bigboy, also known as Bigfoot or Sasquatch, on display to the public for the first time at the Hearst Museum! In celebration of Darwin's birthday, and to offer an opportunity for reflection on museum collections, we invite you to ponder the difference between what is considered "evidence" and "truth" in science. The tour will also showcase our other current exhibitions.

Tours and demonstrations in the Valley Life Sciences Building
1:00, 2:00, and 3:00 pm
Explore the Museum of Paleontology (1101 VLSB), the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology (3101 VLSB), and the University and Jepson Herbaria (1001 VLSB).

Tours and displays at the Essig Museum of Entomology
1:00, 2:00, 3:00 pm; 211 Wellman Hall See displays of special insects, historical books, and some of the plants and animals that were the focus of Darwin's interests.

Darwin Day "Tree Party" for BNHM students, faculty, and staff, hosted by the Essig Museum of Entomology
5:00 pm, 311 Wellman Hall

Discussing Darwin's Influence — Meeting of the Bay Area Biosystematists (BABS)
Featured speakers are Kristy Deiner, Benoit Dayrat, Peter Wainwright, and Brent Mishler
7:30 pm, 2050 VLSB
Listen to presentations on Darwin's influences on modern day biosystematics in the broad sense, including ecology, evolution, and systematics: historical context and modern research. A general panel discussion with audience participation will follow. Prior to the presentations, join a social gathering and informal pizza dinner at 6:00 in room 2063 (~$12, to be collected at the door). If you plan to attend the dinner, please e-mail your reservation to Anna Larsen (put "BABS" in the Subject line) by Monday, February 11.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

East Bay Science Cafe
What Darwin said — and didn't say, presented by Kevin Padian, faculty curator, UC Museum of Paleontology and professor, Department of Integrative Biology
7:00 pm to 9:00 pm, an East Bay Science Cafe talk, Central Perk at 10086 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito
Charles Darwin is at once the most revered and the most reviled figure in the history of biology — though the opinions usually come from different camps. What did Darwin really say? Were his views atheistic? Does natural selection imply that random processes guide the history of life, and that there is no meaning to existence? What is "intelligent design" really about? And why do Darwin's views remain the cornerstone of evolutionary biology nearly 150 years after he published the Origin of Species?

Stay tuned for more event listings.

Is your campus unit doing something special for Darwin Day? Send the information to Dave Smith and we'll post your event here and add you as a co-sponsor of Darwin Day at Cal.

  • Great information about evolution that you can share with others is available at Understanding Evolution, a free online resource developed here at Berkeley.

  • The year 2009 will be the Year of Science (sponsored by the Coalition on the Public Understanding of Science), the bicentennial of Darwin's birth and the sesquicentennial of the publication of On the Origin of Species. Visit the link to learn how your organization can participate in the celebration!

Darwin Day at Cal is sponsored by the
UC Berkeley Natural History Museums