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In Context #21 (Spring 2009, pp. 16-23); copyright 2009 by The Nature Institute
This essay is based in part on the first of four talks on evolution that I gave at The Nature Institute in the spring of 2007. It was meant as one entryway into the topic of evolution, which I explored in greater depth and breadth in the ensuing three talks.
Without a doubt, Charles Darwin (1809-1882) is the most influential evolutionary scientist. In 2009, the world celebrates a Darwin year: 200 years ago Charles Darwin was born and 150 years ago, in 1859, he published his Origin of Species. This book - the first edition sold out in one day - changed forever the landscape of thinking about life, its history, and its diversity.
While Darwin was by no means the first person to write about evolution, no book has had such a great impact on a whole wa