Internet Evolution of Darwin's Theories

The Birmingham Post (England), April 18, 2008 | Go to article overview

Internet Evolution of Darwin's Theories


Charles Darwin's original version of the theory of evolution was published on the internet yesterday.

The first draft of the paper was among thousands of the Shropshire scientist's papers being made available online by Cambridge University.

Staff said documents stored at the university library could be seen for free at http://darwin-online.org.uk A university spokesman said the publication was the largest of its kind and featured about 20,000 items and nearly 90,000 images.

"As well as the first draft of his theory of evolution, the vast collection of Darwin related items includes thousands of notes and drafts of his scientific writings, notes from the voyage of the Beagle - with his musings on Galapagos birds - and his first recorded doubts about the permanence of species," said the spokesman.

"It also contains photographs of Darwin and his family, newspaper clippings, reviews of his books and much more."

He added: "On a less scientific note, there is material revealing Victorian family life such as (his wife) Emma Darwin's recipe book. Contained within are delicacies such as 'Ilkley pudding' and a rudimentary recipe for boiling rice, scrawled in Darwin's own hand-writing."

Dr John van Wyhe, director of The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online project, said the collection was a "treasure trove" and the publication "important" and "very exciting".

"This release makes his private papers, mountains of notes, experiments and research behind his world-changing publications available to the world for free," said Dr van Wyhe. "His publications have always been available in the public sphere - but these papers have until now only been accessible to scholars."

Dr van Wyhe added: "Darwin changed our understanding of nature forever. His papers reveal how immensely detailed his researches were. The release of his papers online marks a revolution in the public's access to - and hopefully appreciation of - one of the most important collections of primary materials in the history of science."

Darwin - who outlined the Theory of Evolution in On the Origin of Species in 1859 - was born in Shrewsbury in 1809.

The online project has been developed over a number of years in readiness for celebrations of the 200th anniversary of the scientist's birth. …

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