In 1837 a celebrated young naturalist, fresh back from a five-year long expedition around the Americas and a year of touring England’s leading academic institutions, was scribbling in his notebook- struggling with a puzzle he had come across during his travels. The problem was simultaneously simple and fiendishly complex: Our young scientist had come to recognize that even within a relatively small area such as the Galapagos islands, there existed a significant difference in anatomy between animals of the same species (particularly within the finch family). The animals were all clearly related, but had somehow developed in unique directions. Not being able to put his idea initially into words he scrawled a web like that shown left with the immortal words ‘I think’. The young scientist was of course Charles Darwin, and the scribble the beginnings of his seminal theory, evolution by natural selection, immortalized in the ‘Origin of the Species’.
Now 200 years after the birth of the bushy-bearded genius, and 150 years after the publication of the Origin of the Species, The Bookworm is launching a month-long series of events dedicated to Darwin’s ideas. Appropriately named ‘EVOLVE’ the events are probably even more varied than Darwin’s finches and include presentations, dinosaur-building workshops, writing workshops and even a ‘Discovery’ themed pub quiz. In short the Bookworm is the place to be this month. Many of the events are kid-friendly, and adults should enjoy the evening speaker events which features a stellar line-up of experts in fields as varied as dinosaur model-making, business writing, poetry, paleontology, journalism and more.
All of which kicks off this Saturday 5th September, with some events costing more than others and Bookworm members getting a discount. Expect to pay RMB 30-50 for normal events and RMB 80 for workshops. I for one will be trying to make it to as many of the events as I can (afford). As such, I’ve made a little list my top 4 potential highlights (with my reasons for wanting to go in italics):
1) Why Big Ideas Matter- David Quanmen. The opening event of the EVOLVE month sees the world renowned science and nature writer talking about why we need to keep challenging accepted norms, and pushing the boundaries of knowledge. More importantly he’s interested in geography AND he’s a writer.
2) Learning with Ludovic, workshops with Ludovic Blein. An amazing hands-on workshop on how to create accurate representations of claws, teeth and bones. The man makes dinosaurs for museums and films- how awesome is that! Plus you get to keep your masterpieces afterwards.
3) Dinosaur Hunter- Xu Xing. A presentation on paleontology, and of the professors experiences of digging for dinosaurs in China and beyond. I soooo wanted to be a paleontologist when I was a kid, I even had my own little fossil collection- but didn’t we all? Here’s someone who’s actually done it.
4) HMS Beagle, Darwin and Discovery- David Lort-Philips. Lort-Philips, a member of the ‘Beagle project’ to recreate Darwin’s famous journey of exploration shares the insiders information on what he’s going to be doing, and how and why he’s doing it. Anyone mad enough to build a sailing replica of Darwin’s ship and willing to take that around the world has just got to be an interesting person.
So there you have it, get EVOLVED this September at the Bookworm. Darwin would approve.