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Charles Darwin Essay Research Paper Charles R

Charles Darwin Essay, Research Paper Charles R. Darwin Charles Robert Darwin was the fifth child of Robert Waring Darwin and Susannah Wedgewood. He was born on February 12, 1809 in Shrewsbury,

Charles Darwin Essay, Research Paper

Charles R. Darwin

Charles Robert Darwin was the fifth child of Robert Waring Darwin

and Susannah Wedgewood. He was born on February 12, 1809 in Shrewsbury,

England where his father practiced medicine. He attended Shrewsbury

Grammar School which was a well-kn own secondary school which concentrated

on teaching classic languages. Even as a boy Darwin loved science and his

enthusiasm for chemical studies earned him the name “Gas” from his

friends.

The headmaster at Shrewsbury, Dr. Samuel Butler noted, “Here’s a boy,

plays

around with his gases and the rest of his rubbish and works at nothing

useful.” He was also an avid collector. Anything he could get his hands

on- shells, eggs, minerals and coins interested him.

Darwin was expected to follow his father and become a doctor and in

1825, at the age of sixteen, his father removed him from Shrewsbury and

entered him in the University of Edenburgh to study medicine. He found all

of his classes except chem istry dull. After two years at Edenburg, he

quit school and went to live with his Uncle Josiah Wedgewood. After he

abandoned medicine, his father urged him to attend Cambridge University to

study to be a clergyman. At Cambridge he met John Steven Henslow who

helped him regain his interest in nature. It was Henslow who was

influential in getting Darwin the position of naturalist on the boat The

Beagle. In April of 1831, he graduated from the University.

In the fall following his graduation, the government decided to

send the H.M.S. Beagle, under the command of Captain Fitzroy, to complete

an unfinished survey of Patagonia and Tierra Del Fuego to help map out the

shores of Chile and Peru. Th e voyage was to last two years. Darwin

volunteered his services without salary and offered to pay his own

expenses

on the condition that he was allowed to keep all the plants and animals he

collected. On Henslow’s recommendation, Darwin was chosen to serve as

naturalist for the exploration. The Beagle set sail from Devonport on

December 27, 1831 and returned on October 2, 1836. Throughout the journey,

Darwin shipped back to England crate loads of tropical plants, insects,

flowers, spiders, s hells and fossil animals. He was very popular with the

crew and was given the name “Fly Catcher.”

During the five year journey, he was exposed to different species

of birds, insects and reptiles. He noted that in the different

environments that he visited changes occurred in the same species that

helped them to adapt to their surrounding s. It was as a result of these

observations and observations of other naturalists and geologists that

Darwin began to formulate his theory of evolution known as “Natural

Selection.” Darwin had left England as a youthful collector and returned

as a dedicated naturalist. Before the journey, he believed like Henslow,

that the history of the earth was short and whatever changes occurred were

the result of vast catastrophes. By his return, he was convinced that the

earth was extremely old and its evolution was the result of many small

changes.

Natural Selection, proposed by Darwin, is the most widely accepted

theory on evolution today. The theory is based upon five basic principles.

The first states that organisms increase at a higher rate than their food

supply. However, while there is overproduction of organisms, there is

never

overpopulation because many young never reach adulthood. The second

principle notes that because the resources of nature are limited, all life

engages in a struggle for survival in which only thos e with superior

characteristics survive. The third principle states that no two

individuals are identical. No matter how slight the difference may be,

all show some variation from one another. The fourth principle notes that

some individuals poss ess variations that are most helpful in adapting to

an environment, increasing their chances for survival. This in turn

enables them to produce more offspring. Darwin’s fifth principle concludes

that these offspring will inherit the favored charact eristics of their

parents and pass them on to their children. Each generation maintains and

improves the characteristics which help them diverge further from the

original type. Ultimately the new forms will be so different in structure

and behavior from the original, that they will not be able to breed with

them and are therefore considered a new species. In summary evolution is

based on the survival of the fittest. The individual who’s best suited to

its environment will have a higher survi val rate. Those not favorably

equipped will die preventing overpopulation of the earth. In November,

1859, Darwin published The Origin of Species in which he proposed his

ideas of evolution. The first edition was sold out on the day of

publicatio n and by 1860 over five thousand copies had been sold.

Instantaneously conflict arose and “Darwinism” was put on trial. Darwin

was attacked as a blasphemous radical by the church. Scientific journals

contained articles critical of his theory. Eve n some of Darwin’s closest

friends turned on him. Darwin, himself, stayed clear of the debate and

arguments knowing he had done his work well and it would be its own best

defense. Samuel Wilberforce, the Bishop of Oxford, spoke for the church

and c harged that Darwin and his followers were atheists who denied that

God was the creator. T.H. Huxley, Britain’s leading zoologist, defended

Darwin in the debate with the bishop and by using careful reasoning

convinced many to at least consider Darwin ’s theory as plausible. The

idea of evolution became popular with scientist all over the world.

Darwin lived another twenty-two years after the book was published,

but the major accomplishments of his life had concluded. However, he

continued to work observing earthworms, plants and anything else that

seemed interesting. His work beca me the foundation of modern biology and

established two new sciences- animal behavior and ecology. When asked what

drove him on he answered,”From my early youth I have had the strongest

desire to understand or explain whatever I observed and group a ll facts

under some general laws…”

On April 19, 1882 Darwin died of a heart attack. The family wanted

Darwin to be buried in his home, the village of Downe. However, Parliament

requested that he be buried in Westminster Abbey, a cemetery for Britain’s

kings and queens and i ntellectual giants. This was an indication of how

far Darwin had come towards universal acceptance and respectability.

Darwin’s coffin lies next to Issac Newton which is only fitting because

Darwin has been called “The Newton of Biology.” Darwin w as modest of his

monumental achievements to the very end and said of himself shortly before

his death,”With such moderate abilities as I possess, it is truly

surprising that I should have influenced to a considerable extent the

belief of scientific men on some important points.”

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