Charles Darwin's 200th birthday to be marked at Penn State Hazleton

Faculty in the biology, chemistry and psychology departments at Penn State Hazleton are hosting a celebration of English naturalist Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday on Thurs., Feb. 12. The day will be celebrated at colleges and universities around the world.

Plans include a “Happy Birthday, Charles” event with a birthday cake and brief talks by faculty from noon to 1 p.m. in the lobby of the Evelyn Graham Academic Building.

At 7 p.m. in room 1 of the Kostos Building, the video “Darwin’s Dangerous Idea” will be shown, with an introduction and discussion afterward led by faculty. This event is free and open to the public. Narrated by actor Liam Neeson, the film aired in 2001 and was the first episode in a seven-part PBS series that provided viewers with an overview of the theory of evolution — how the theory was conceived, how it has broadly influenced science, how it is commonly misunderstood, and how the theory affects everyday life.
 
Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection, now the unifying theory of the life sciences, explained where all of the astonishingly diverse kinds of living things came from and how they became adapted to their particular environments. In geology, zoology, taxonomy, botany, paleontology, philosophy, anthropology, psychology, literature and theology Darwin's writings produced profound reactions, many of which are ongoing.
 
Darwin began his studies at Edinburgh University in medicine, but developed a passion for natural sciences and transferred to the University of Cambridge to complete his studies. His five-year voyage (1831-1836) on HMS Beagle established him as an eminent geologist and author after publishing his journal of the voyage. Puzzled by the geographical distribution of wildlife and fossils he collected on the voyage, Darwin investigated the transmutation of species and conceived his theory of natural selection in 1838.
 
His 1859 book “On the Origin of Species” introduced the theory that populations evolve over the course of generations through a process of natural selection. The book was controversial, contradicting creationism that underlay then-current theories of biology, and generating much discussion on scientific, philosophical and religious grounds.
 
The scientific theory of evolution has continued to evolve beyond Darwin's contributions, but natural selection remains the most widely accepted scientific model of speciation. Despite overwhelming scientific consensus, political and religious challenges to the theory of evolution continue in some countries.
 
Darwin also examined human evolution and sexual selection in three other books before his research on plants was published in a series of books. His final book examined earthworms and their effect on soil.
 
For more information on this event, contact the Office of University Relations at (570) 450-3180 or visit www.hn.psu.edu.

 

Last Updated March 19, 2009