January 23, 2009

The most powerful idea in science

Scientific American has a special issue out on Evolution, which it calls the most powerful idea in science. The issue is, of course, full of information on the history of the theory of evolution and its recent developments and on its originator, Charles Darwin. As an appetizer, here are just a few quotes from the issue:
  • "A Victorian amateur undertook a lifetime pursuit of slow, meticulous observation and thought about the natural world, producing a theory 150 years ago that still drives the contempory scientific agenda."
  • "Darwin's breakthrough insight was not that a simple mechanism -natural selection- made evolution possible. Rather it was that in organisms whose environment changed nonrandomly and whose reproductive success in that environment depended on inherited traits, evolution became inevitable."
  • "The explanatory power of his concepts proved irresistable. Today, 200 years after his birth and 150 years after Origin of Species, Darwin's legacy is a larger, richer, more diverse set of theories that he could have imagined."
  • The theory of evolution provides human kind with more than just a scientific narrative of life's origins and progression. It also yields invaluable technologies."

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