Bio B Blog 2013-14 where ideas are evolving…naturally


Scientific innovation

1) What characteristics made Darwin well-suited to science? Why did his work represent good science?

If I were to choose one word to describe Darwin it would be innovative. Charles Darwin was a free thinker. He was not tied down to the scientific knowledge that was taught and accepted in his age. Darwin had the remarkable ability to challenge ideas that were previously established as the only answer. Also Darwin was not biased to humans and he did not believe that we are a superior organism to all life on Earth as his rivals believed. He believed the homo-sapiens were only superior in the matter of spoken word and communication. He also was bravely atheist. This influenced him greatly after his daughters death, he refused to accept God as the source of life and death. From this refusal he made new discoveries rather than assuming god has willed it into existence. Darwin had a curiosity and, like a true scientist, was always questioning and relating his life experiences to his work. He was very dedicated and slightly eccentric which suited him will. He had a very simple yet detailed approach to his theory of natural selection. His passion for what he was studying made his discoveries so much more effective, especially since he had the bravery to share his knowledge despite the foreboding consequence.

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Darwin: Influence of Personal Life On Career by Katie C.

The seedlings of thought that would eventually lead to Darwin's publication of The Origin of Species were planted during his five year voyage on the Beagle through the Southern Hemisphere of the world. Undoubtedly, during the the time between his journey and the first publication, there were many events that happened in his personal life that shaped his views and knowledge on science, specifically on natural selection. To begin, it was stated in the movie that the idea of favorable traits being inherited by offspring ran in Darwin's blood--he discovered a book, published by his grandfather, that told of the same idea in a more elementary form. His grandfather (though deceased) was not the only member of his family that supported his scientific beliefs--his brother, Erasmus, was a firm business man who was also a staunch supporter of Darwin's ideas, and believed and encouraged his ideas from the very start. In the movie, we see that they also had a very loving and joking relationship that no doubt helped Darwin when many of his friends and fellow scientists declared his book, and him, blasphemy. His wife, Emma, believed in God's plan of salvation, and worried about the state of her husband's soul, which she though would be abandoned by God if he kept on believing in things that went against the word of the bible. Even though, at least in the beginning of the movie, Emma does not agree with the idea's of the Origin of Species, she was nonetheless a loving and comforting wife who supported him always. The biggest influence of Darwin's personal life on his career, however, we're his children. Emma was his first cousin, and he noted after seeing that many of his children were sickly, that first-cousin marriages almost always produce weaker children--evidence that supports the benefits of variety in a population. He admitted in a diary that he had a favorite child--his eldest daughter, Anne, who was a delightful, careful, and happy daughter who had a great love for her father. She died at age ten of scarlet fever and possibly tuberculosis, and it is said that this death of his beloved daughter was what may have pushed Darwin to finally publish his ideas. With her death, Darwin lost what little was remaining of his religious faith, and in the movie it is said that she was merely another being not able to win in the ever-present struggle to survive.

By Katie Concannon

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Evidence Supporting the Concept of Evolution Through Natural Selection- Zoe Pharo

Darwin, and people following him, have added their discoveries and explorations to help explain how evolution occurred through natural selection. When Darwin went on an exploration with Captain Fitzroy on the HMS Beagle he found the variation of the finches beaks, where even though they originally lived in the same environments, a drought caused the ones able to eat the tougher seeds to live, eventually changing the whole population of finches. Darwin brought home these finches and was able to clearly see the evolution between the species. He compared this evolution to a "tree of life" and theorized that all animals came from a common ancestor, then branched off. However, many people rejected the idea that all things on earth are related. Also, the idea with branching off was discovered by the finches as well, as whole new species of finches were created. This happened when finches from the same species could no longer reproduce with each other. Later on, once technology advanced, DNA supported Darwin's theory- showing how traits were passed on with specific genetic codes and text (A, T, C, and G). Drug-resistance diseases are also a new development that shows how natural selection acts in diseases such as HIV/AIDS, where the disease keeps changing to become resistant to the new medications being introduced to it. Even drug mixing, where multiple drugs are introduced at one time, wasn't always able to stop the resistance the disease was building up, which gives us more information about natural selection. Lastly, a very important discovery in relation to DNA is the fact that human and chimp DNA is 98% identical, proving that we have to have a common ancestor.

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Why was Darwin’s publication of “On the origin of species” a courageous act?

Darwin's publication, On the Origin of Species, was a very courageous act because it undermined all of the theories of creation that came before him. For example, the inheritance of acquired characteristics, or Lamarckism, was an accepted theory of how new species came about at Darwin's time. It stated that if an organism recognized that something would be useful or necessary for its survival, it would change itself to become the best it could be, and then these qualities that allowed it to survive would be passed on to the next generation, changing the species over time. This was a theory that had been floating around since the time of the ancient Greeks. It became fully accepted when Jean-Baptiste Lamarck published his complete theory on The Inheritance of Acquired Characteristics the year Charles Darwin was born. 

Something else that Darwin's work completely undermined was extremely important to the people of the age of industry was religion. When Darwin proposed the idea that slowly, and by chance, species change and evolve creating better and more specialized creatures without the help of any God or superior being, it destroyed the basis of just about every major religion around the world. Darwin took an indirect stand against the church and most followers of the church despised him for it. Charles was fully aware that the church would react this way, and it was causing him to not want to publish his book. Darwin may not have if it wasn't for the death of his daughter. When his daughter died his faith crumbled because he couldn't comprehend how a "Good" god would ever hurt his little girl so he concluded that there must be no God.

Darwin's work messed up a lot of theories, but at the same time it did a good thing. It opened people's eyes as to how the world really works, and it made people curious as to how it all happens. Though controversial, at the end of the day Darwins work did all people a great service.


Isaac Arocha

Bio B period


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Darwin’s Dangerous Idea: Question 4 (Madison Dunk)

4. What types of evidence have scientists uncovered to support the concept of evolution through natural selection?

Scientists have uncovered lots of evidence to support natural selection. For example, the finches that Darwin collected in the Galapagos Islands all had beaks of different depths. Each group of finches had adapted as a species to have the depth of beak that was needed to survive based on the food available to them. So through the course of natural selection, finches that were once identical, evolved to become adapted to their specific environments (with deeper or shallower beaks). Also, among hummingbirds, there are some very long beaked birds and some very short beaked ones. Each species of hummingbirds had a length beak due to the flowers available to them for food. Scientists today know that both long beaked hummingbirds and short beaked hummingbirds have very similar DNA, thus they very recently adapted/changed in order to survive in their environments. Lastly, DNA has helped scientists to prove evolution through natural selection. Scientists can compare species through DNA, and thus have learned that humans and chimpanzees are 98% the same. (Therefore, humans probably evolved from chimps.) Because of the fiches, hummingbirds, and now DNA, scientists have evidence to prove that natural selection is happening.
Madison Dunk
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Darwin’s dangerous idea- Sudan

Scientist have uncovered evidence to support the concept of evolution through natural selection. One of the biggest pieces of evidence is the eye.If you look at the differences in eyes between different species the eye has changed to help those species survive. The biggest piece of evidence, however, is the discovery of DNA. Scientist have been able to look at DNA and see how long ago the two species had a common ancestor.

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(Lizzy) Darwin’s Dangerous Idea : how did his personal and professional lives influence each other?

During the time of Darwin's life, the accepted explanation for life and species was that God willed it to be so. For Darwin to refute that was completely unorthodox. Religion played such a large role in his life--it was the basis of his society. His wife was very religious; she strongly believed in Heaven while Darwin, as a scientist, did not. And though his brother seemed to be Darwin's biggest supporter, even he was slightly shocked at first at the notion on natural selection. When his daughter died, Darwin concluded that God didn't exist and became even less of a believer. Religion vs science was that main force that divided his personal and professional lives, but his two worlds influenced each other in other ways. Because Darwin cared deeply about his family and society in general, he was hesitant to make any rash claims/publish his works lest they bring harm. He eventually did publish, to horses of criticism from every corner, but he was mainly prompted to do so because Alfred Wallace had published a work with the same idea of natural selection. Because of his care for his loved ones, Darwin didn't have as much confidence as a scientist would have today, in a more open-minded world.

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The Influence of Darwin’s Personal Life on Darwin’s Professional Life-Griffin Rubin

Darwin's personal life affected his professional life in a couple of ways. I believe that the main way that his personal life affected his professional life was his brother. His brother, Erasmus Darwin, was a true businessman. He pushed Charles to his full potential and then some. As shown in the movie, Erasmus made sure that his brother was always looking strong and sure of himself. At times, Darwin was unsure of himself and never seemed to stand up for himself. His competition in career was squishing him to a pulp and without the influence of his brother, he would never have shared his ideas and would have let his competition pass him by. Also, Erasmus planned times for Darwin to share his ideas to his fellow scientists. However, the biggest reason for why I believe that Erasmus was helpful was his encouragement. Whenever Darwin felt down and didn't want to go on, Erasmus was there to make sure that he shared his ideas, kept strong, and knew that he was about to change science forever.

By Griffin Rubin

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Darwin’s Dangerous Idea Question 1 Ellis Toms

What characteristics made Darwin well-suited to science? Why did his work represent good science?

Darwin was well-suited to science because even at a young age he was very open minded and observant. He was a great explorer with a brilliant mind and was able to imagine and think of ideas which would be unthinkable in the 1800's when he was a scientist. He would try to relate whatever he could, ( most everything) to science, which helped him discover observations and thoughts that we still use today. Darwin also went against, and challenged what was the "social norm" during his time period, bringing new ideas and theories that would advance the science world forever. Charles Darwin really changed the science department for the good by taking risks and sharing his brilliant thoughts, theories, and discoveries with the world.
Ellis Toms

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Quade Lukes, Video on Darwin

Darwin's personal life was weird. He married his first cousin but was a loving husband and father. In his professional life he was weird too, he had a crazy idea that good did not make all animals perfectly. People thought he was wrong just like marrying your cousin is wrong. When Darwin's daughter passed away from sickness at a young age he stopped believing in god. He stopped believing that everything happened for a reason. Darwin thought that proving his theory would show God did not have a reason for everything and that natural selection is where the weakest die off and the strong ones live. This makes sense because natural selection would work and be beneficial. If the strongest survive, humans and animals, then they would produce their strong genes again.

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