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In The Origin of Species, published in 1859, Charles Darwin penned the following phrase:
“Light will be thrown on the origin of man and his history.”
Those words, and that book, placed Darwin on the front lines of a battle that continues to this very day.Did we appear on the earth fully formed as we are now or did we evolve gradually over time from some long gone ancestor? Or were we placed here on purpose?
Those arguments aside, that wasn’t the goal of Darwin’s great book. His goal, his life’s work, was to explain the world and the abundance of species around him. His theory of evolution by natural selection is perhaps the single greatest idea that anyone has ever had. Ever. If you are truly ambitious you can apply selection theories to almost anything. A beautiful example of this is the first successful flights of a powered glider by the Wright Brothers in 1911. Less than 60 years later we were walking on the moon. In the span of one human lifetime we achieved more than can be imagined, and if you trace the evolution of flying machines from the Wright Brothers to the Space Shuttle you will see a history of small, beneficial, adaptations in design that allowed our journey to progress from the sands of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina to the stars.
It’s All About Adaptation
Without the ability to adapt and to survive we as a species wouldn’t be here. They key to success is the ability to pass those adaptations down to one’s offspring. This is where evolution really takes center stage.
Which brings us to the Evolution Talk podcast. If you’ve ever wondered what all of the fuss was about, or how evolution works, then you’ve come to the right place. Over the next few weeks, months, and years, we will look at Darwin’s revolutionary theory and what it means to the life we see around us. And that includes us. I mentioned above that the key to survival is an organisms ability to pass on those adaptations that benefit that organism. We have DNA and our genes to thank for that. From chromosomes, to replication, and on to the emergence of new species.
Darwin’s ideas were considered dangerous when he first published The Origin of Species a little over 150 years ago (2009 marked its 150th anniversary). Darwin knew what he was suggesting when it came to explaining our presence on this earth and, as much as it troubled him, he also knew that we needed to understand it if we were to move forward.
There is something here for everyone. The theory of evolution by natural selection is not threatening, nor is it difficult to understand. In fact, it’s so simple that you’ll wonder why it is that no one had ever thought of it before.
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