There is a lot going on this year to engage those of us interested in science. The 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of his book “The Origin of Species” is being celebrated throughout the world.
It would be very easy to get “all Darwined out” because there is just so much available. New books, lectures, TV documentaries, etc. However, there is just so much variety in what is available. OK, there has been a lot of biographical information – but even this has provided new insights. Modern biographies also provide more interest because of new findings and new approaches. These days biographies are less reticent about dealing with negative features of a person’s life or personality.
But this year much of the material has concentrated on different aspects. The influence of Darwin’s ideas on society, the conflict with religion, Darwin’s contribution in the context of the evolution of science and society at his time, recent findings in evolutionary science and modern scientific controversies in evolutionary science. And the seemingly ever present political struggles or “conflict of cultures.”
So the Darwin celebrations have provided a great opportunity for discussion of scientific ideas and philosophies.
What about Galileo?
So what about Galileo? This year is also the International Year of Astronomy. It marks the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s first astronomical observations using a telescope and the publication of Johannes Kepler’s Astronomia Nova (which described the fundamental laws of planetary motion). Seems to me the ideal opportunity to subject Galileo’s life and ideas to public discussion. And to look at the current amazing progress being made in astronomical science in light of Galielos life and times.
I am aware that there is a lot going on. Observatories and astronomers are organising events involving public participation. But I would like to see more in the way of documentaries and public lectures. Video and audio material we can download on the internet. Something similar to the material available on line commemorating Darwin.
I may be missing something (in which case someone please enlighten me). And perhaps more of the material will become available throguhout the years (after all some of the Darwin material was aimed at his birthday commemoration early in the year).