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28861.  Sun Oct 30, 2005 6:58 am Reply with quote

Darwin, who found out
Revolutionary things,
what do you lot think?

Zaphod Beeblebrox
28882.  Sun Oct 30, 2005 8:33 am Reply with quote

I think we have a budding hiku-ist in our midst - irrelevant, but hey.

Mostly Harmless
28992.  Mon Oct 31, 2005 3:55 am Reply with quote


Last edited by Mostly Harmless on Sun Jan 08, 2006 9:45 pm; edited 1 time in total

29002.  Mon Oct 31, 2005 5:03 am Reply with quote

Daniel Dennett, in his fabulous book Darwin's Dangerous Idea puts forward the notion that the process of evolution by natural selection is the smartest thing that man has ever realised. If aliens ever came to Earth, their first question, he argues, would be 'have they worked out evolution yet?'

To which the answer would be 'not quite...'

Didn't know that about moths. Could it be something to do with the amount of heat they can absorb from the sun?

29129.  Mon Oct 31, 2005 6:04 pm Reply with quote

Darwin is the subject of The Mark Steel Revolution on BBC7 this week. I found it very informative and entertaining. =D

29955.  Mon Nov 07, 2005 4:10 pm Reply with quote

When Darwin studied plant life he claimed that root formations and rootlets were very similar to the human brain although study of them, much like study of the brain has proved difficult. A single rye plant has over thirteen million rootlets.

Every tendril has the power of independent movement but they only display this power when it is of some advantage to them.

44347.  Mon Jan 09, 2006 1:39 pm Reply with quote

Darwin, as in Charles, is a tricky one to comment on really. Darwinism is not a full explanation of evolution, its more of a formal start point for characterisation of a phenomenon that farmers had long 'known' in an informal sense. There are lots of Darwins that are QI and could provide some questions but evolutionarily our supposed familiarity with 'The Origin of Species' and the nature of QI dictates that the answer is unlikely to be "Darwin" or indeed "The Origin of Species"

Q. Who wrote the "The Origin of Species" (or 'name a published work by Charles Darwin')

This has its pitfalls.

The book is called On The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.

Questions like 'name the work (or, say, the co-author of the work) in which the concept of natural selection was put foreward' do not have the answer some people might expect

On the Tendency of Species to form Varieties; and on the Perpetuation of Varieties and Species by Natural Means of Selection. By CHARLES DARWIN, Esq., F.R.S., F.L.S., & F.G.S., and ALFRED WALLACE, Esq. Communicated by Sir CHARLES LYELL, F.R.S., F.L.S., and J. D. HOOKER, Esq., M.D., V.P.R.S., F.L.S, &c.

Then there's 'who first studied the mechanism of heredity'

That would be Johann Gregor Mendel an Austrian Augustinian monk whose work, begun in 1856, wasn't rediscovered until 1900 by scientists looking for evidence of a mechanism of heredity in published works. Hence Mendelian Genetics as opposed to incomplete dominance or Biometrical Genetics.

Which series these and subsequent lines of questioning might be appropriate to is open to debate.

45875.  Sun Jan 15, 2006 7:38 pm Reply with quote

Perhaps the time to mention Darwin again eg

Q. Why wouldn't Darwin have been offended if you had called him a 'lunatik'?

He was a bit mad anyway - nope
He was interested in the moon - sort of

Lunar Society of Birmingham, or the Lunaticks.

The meetings were started by Erasmus Darwin, Matthew Boulton, and William Small. Erasmus was an enormously fat, popular, and successful doctor, a prolific inventor, father of 12 children by his two wives and two more by a governess, and grandfather of the famous Charles Darwin. Boulton was a manufacturer of buckles and a bold entrepreneur. Small was Boulton's doctor and had been teacher and mentor of the great American politician Thomas Jefferson. They were later joined by Charles Darwin's other grandfather, the potter Josiah Wedgwood, chemist James Keir, steam-engine builder James Watt, chemist Joseph Priestley, and several others. In all, there were some 14 members, though not all at the same time. The meetings were held almost every month for more than 30 years. Arguably, there has never before or since been such a regular concentration of scientific intellect meeting under one roof.

Which reminds me - why not try getting Adam Hart-Davis on the show (his and Alan's scores combined might...whatever)

<Edit> Shockingly irritating habit of misplacing the apostrophe in ...n't words.

Last edited by Celebaelin on Mon Jan 16, 2006 11:36 pm; edited 1 time in total

45883.  Sun Jan 15, 2006 8:10 pm Reply with quote

Thanks for that link, Celebaelin - excellent stuff. Incidentally, there is a book about this group, The Lunar Men: A Story of Science, Art, Invention and Passion by Jenny Uglow, which looks fascinating. One for the QI shop, methinks. :)

45891.  Sun Jan 15, 2006 9:08 pm Reply with quote

Q: Who was the author of Darwin’s Zoonomia, or, The Laws of Organic Life, a book which formulated one of the first formal theories on evolution?

A: Erasmus Darwin (1731-1802). Although he did not come up with natural selection, he did discuss ideas that his grandson elaborated on sixty years later, such as how life evolved from a single common ancestor, forming "one living filament". Although some of his ideas on how evolution might occur are quite close to those of Lamarck, Erasmus Darwin also talked about how competition and sexual selection could cause changes in species.

post 3171

45894.  Sun Jan 15, 2006 9:32 pm Reply with quote

When asked if he found his stutter an inconvenience Erasmus (1731-1802) replied

"No, Sir, because I have time to think before I speak and don't ask impertinent questions."

Spurred on to investigate friend Erasmus further I found

which unfortunately I cannot cut and paste from for some reason but which tells me that ED graduated in medicine (which CRD didn't despite studying it) and was offered, and rejected, the position of physician to George III. He was a man of huge talents in a broad range of fields.

I particularly noted that in one popularist book he wrote, The Botanic Garden, ED characterised science of the day within 'a Rosicrucian framework' representing the elements of Earth, Air, Water and Fire as Gnomes, Sylphs, Nymphs and Salamanders.

But for the one crucial theory CRD might be a long forgotten useless grandson of the great Erasmus Darwin (and also of course of the similarly reknowned Josiah Wedgewood).

45915.  Mon Jan 16, 2006 7:50 am Reply with quote

Celebaelin, you may also be interested to read about another member of the Darwin-Wedgewood clan, Sir Francis Galton (apologies if, as is likely, you are already aware of him).

Sadly, he's probably most well known for his work on Eugenics, but he's really a rather QI man.

I'll post something on him in the next few days when time allows.

45916.  Mon Jan 16, 2006 8:00 am Reply with quote

When talking about Darwin, you could allways add a trickquestion to the works of Empedocles. Or Aristotle's reaction on Empedocles' ideas on evolution. (As he was the one who coined the idea of survival of the fittest). Remember the example of the minotaur, and so on.

45921.  Mon Jan 16, 2006 8:34 am Reply with quote

Not sure I understand your reference here iluphade.

Empedocles' ideas on the universe without love descending into chaos, his influence on Lucretius

Inque brevi spatio mutantor...

and the story of Theseus and the minotaur I know about, but what do you mean? Tell us, tell us now!

The only other minotaur reference I can find is in Dante (Canto XII). Come to think of it is there a Dante thread? There should be.

45956.  Mon Jan 16, 2006 10:11 am Reply with quote

It's something I've picked up in some philosophy classes i followed at the university of Leuven, I'll check te reference.

During a discussion of teleology, we read a reaction by Aristotle on Empedocles (Physica II, 8)
I'll try to translate, but I'll have to summarize a bit.

It was a reaction against random processes of existing.

"Imagine that everything was conceived at random, while it looks like their was a cetain goal. Then the things that still exist were correctly created by chance, and the things that aren't adapted are still dying, as Empedocles says about calves with human heads"
It's a bad translation, I know, but I couldn't find a correct english version. So, it's not so much evolution per se, but it is "survival of the fittest", the species that are best adapted to live in the existing world.
Or atleast, that is what the class concluded at the end of the seminar.


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