Thursday, February 12, 2009

Happy Birthday, Darwin

I haven't posted a science article in quite a while, and what better time to do another than the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin's birthday. Actually it's not an article so much as a statement. Darwin, as most people know, was the man who developed the theory ("theory" as defined as the best explanation of a phenomenon developed through rigorous and repeated application of the scientific method) of evolution by natural selection and wrote On the Origin of Species. Even 150 years after that critical book, evolution is still one of the most debated scientific theories. In fact, according to the Gallup Poll, fewer than 40% of Americans "believe" in evolution. I put "believe" in quotes because science is not about belief. Science is about utilizing the scientific method to develop a working theory of a phenomenon. Here's a run-down of the scientific method:
  1. A phenomenon is observed

  2. A hypothesis is made about how the phenomenon occurs

  3. A test is developed and performed to determine if the hypothesis is valid

  4. The results are analyzed

  5. The hypothesis is revised if necessary and the cycle starts again

Science is not random. Evolution and natural selection have been tested again and again and remain the strongest explanations for the observations we have regarding the origin of life on Earth. Happy birthday, Darwin. You remain an inspiration to scientists everywhere.

See the official site of Darwin Day 2009.


Glendon Mellow said...

...And not just to scientists!

Merry Darwin Day Heather!

Excellent and succinct post.

Heather M. Ward said...

So true! I wrote it late last night and wasn't even sure if it made any sense. Thanks :)