• PG museum’s Darwin event scores big

    Birthday bash attracts throng
    by Jon Guthrie

    Never mind competition from the AT&T. Forget the inclement weather.

    A full house plus a hoard of “standing room only” enthusiasts elbowed into Chautauqua Hall Saturday to celebrate Charles Robert Darwin’s 200th birthday. Heartfelt applause announced that the crowd was delighted by the event … which was sponsored by the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History.

    Stephen Palumbi, director of the Hopkins Marine Station, spoke about evolution (gradual changes in the gene pool of planet earth and inhabitants) and advised the audience as to why evolution is more than just a theory. Palumbi indicated that the most minute modifications in the world’s flora and fauna can be attributed to evolution, as explained within the concepts promoted by Darwin and contemporaries.

    At the time of their introduction during the mid to late1800s, Darwin’s conjectures were spoofed by many nay-sayers, most of whom were unyielding creationists. A few radical adversaries threatened Darwin and his family with legal action, others promised physical harm. Even today, nearly half of the world’s population remain skeptical about Darwinism.

    Since being founded in 1967, the museum’s association of volunteers has supported the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History, Point pinos Lighthouse, and the Monarch (butterfly) Sanctuary. Funds received by the association are spent on upkeep, improvements, and the offering of learning activities, exhibits, and lectures. The latter are always free to the public. To support the association, telephone 831.648.5716 or e-mail pgmuseum@mbay.net.

    Darwin’s complete theory was published in an 1859 book, On the Origin of Species. Reaction to the book proved so volatile that the work gained a reputation as “the book that shook the world.”

    Origin sold out the first day after its release, and a subsequent six editions, frantically published, quickly disappeared from book shops.

    Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection holds that the offspring of every species strive to survive. Those young that do survive (and produce the next generation) tend to display advantageous variations. These variations are passed along through heredity. Therefore, each generation will improve, adaptively (if only slightly), over the preceding generations.

    After winding up his presentation, Dr. Palumbi led the audience to the Museum of Natural History to enjoy birthday cake and to view the special “Darwin” exhibits.

    Lori Mannel, director of the Museum, said that she was very pleased with the turn-out. Mannel also noted that she and the Museum’s Association hope to re-make the museum into the area’s center of scientific curiosity and endeavor.

    Also planned as an honor to Charley (as Ms. Mannel respectfully refers to Darwin) is a March 5 lecture by Ron Rutowski. The presentation begins at 7 pm. Rutowski will address the question of whether Charles Darwin is right. Rutowski will also tell the audience how Darwinism contributes to such things as the color schemes of butterflies.

    On March 21 at 2 pm, Adres Durstenesld will be on hand to help solve what the speaker calls “Darwin’s Dilemma”.

    Ms. Mannel labeled these events as opportunities for the community to join the world in celebrating Darwin and Darwinism. “We’ve offered an overview of Charley as a man, examined natural and sexual selection, and looked at evolution as it exists today. I think that within these special events there’s something that will appeal to every visitor.”

    posted to Cedar Street Times on February 27, 2009

    Topics: Uncategorized


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