Today, February 12, 2009 happens to be 200 years after the birth of the well known scientist named Charles Darwin. It happens that he was not physicist, but I gather he was some sort of biologist of note. Among some of his accomplishments was, based on extensive notes from his sea voyage on the Beable and much further careful observation and incredible insight, he proposed and elaborated upon a theory of natural selection which describes how life evolves and species can transmutate into new species. This unassailable principle is now the foundation upon which the entire science of biology rests. Much has been learned since then, of course. We know the role genes play in producing traits, for example, of which Darwin was unaware. More continues to be learned. This does not in any sense diminish the grand feat he had accomplished however. Many of his insights are just as valid today as they were in the late 1800s.
Rather than try to describe the awesome grandeur of the process of life on this planet that evolution describes, I’ll let Darwin speak for it. From The Origin of the Species:
There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.
Ah, nice. He mentioned gravity. With his mind, it seems almost a pity he wasn’t a physicist.
Happy Birthday Charles Darwin!