*LIVEBLOGGING from the Darwin Symposium at Caltech*
It's seven-thirty and I'm at the Beckman Auditorium at Caltech. In a minute or so Michael Ruse will be speaking about Darwin's famous book. "The Origin at 150: Is It Past Its Sell-by Date?" I predict he's going to say that while evolutionary theory has evolved (pun planned for months) since then, The Origin still has a lot of useful stuff to tell us. And I predict that when he finally says that, I will go "pfft!"
8:34. They changed the schedule. Peter and Rosemary Grant were on first. Here's my questions to them (for after Ruse's talk):
Allopatric speciation is easier to picture, and to infer, but I wonder about the hard evidence that Geospiza speciated allopatrically. Can we rule out sympatric speciation in this case? In times of stress it may be advantageous to specialize on a subset of resources, and one population may split into two specializing on different resources.
[The Grants' lecture ("Darwin's Finches") was great, but my battery was running low, so I decided just to sit and listen instead of typing.]
Michael Ruse is on. So far about how rich Darwin's family was. Darwin was not a rebel. He speaks of Darwin in present tense, which is confusing to me. "He's a great revolutionary, but not a rebel." Ruse quickly goes over the history of the voyage in six sentences. Then he's back.
8:49. Ruse remarks that there is absolutely no doubt whatsoever that Wallace and Darwin came up with their ideas of natural selection independently of each other. I beg to differ. There is at least doubt, as I have written about before.
9:16. In 165 lectures at South Kensington, Huxley gave natural selection ten minutes only. He just wasn't interested.
So far it's been a historical perspective of Darwin and his contemporaries. For instance, Ruse makes the point that while The Origin was published in 1859, we have to compare Darwin's thinking on the matter of evolution to his contemporaries of the 1830's. But then after 1859 evolution was widely accepted, except in the American south (laughs).
9:20. Pffft! "Thank God! No part of Darwin's theory is still standing. And thank God! All of Darwin's theory still stands.
Ruse's lecture was entertaining. It's always good to hear about the details of the lives of great scientists.
I'll have to send my question to the Grants by email, because we left before the question session, at about 10pm.
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