The man who rocked biology to its core

Two hundred years later, Charles Darwin's ideas still live on

By Tom Siegfried, 00:00 AM February 11, 2009

 

Two centuries ago, modern biology’s founding father was born in England. He became the most celebrated scientist of his time, explaining the origin of life’s diversity with his theory of evolution by natural selection.

When the baby Charles Darwin arrived in the world, on February 12, 1809, modern science was also an infant. Chemists had begun talking about things called atoms. But nobody knew what atoms really were. Physicists didn’t know much about energy. Nobody had a clue that light was a combination of electricity and magnetism.

 

And biology — it was a confused mixture of folklore and superstition, waiting for someone to explain how life worked. That person was Darwin.

 

By the time Darwin died in 1882, ...

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