Nature celebrates Darwin and his work

Next year will be the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Robert Darwin, perhaps the most influential scientist of modern times. In this week’s issue (20 November), Nature presents a special collection of news, features, research and analysis of Darwin, his life, his science and his legacy. This special will be updated throughout 2009 with essays, podcasts and free educational resources, as well as news from the Darwin200 consortium of organizations celebrating this landmark event. The first installment is here. From the current issue (20 November 2008), all of which can be accessed from Nature‘s Darwin main page:

Editorial: Beyond the origin (free to access online). As Nature anticipates next year’s bicentenary of Darwin’s birth and the 150th anniversary of On the Origin of Species, we begin our coverage with a look 50 years into the future.

News features:

The needs of the many (free to access online this week). The idea that natural selection acts on groups, as well as individuals, is a source of unending debate. Marek Kohn reports on what the two sides disagree about — and why it matters to them.

Systems biology: Beneath the surface Biologists see living systems like mechanical clocks: optimally tuned and prone to failure if one component goes wrong. But, as Tanguy Chouard reveals, this is not what happens in the real world.

Let’s make a mammoth (free to access online for one month from pubication date). Evolution assumes that extinction is forever. Maybe not. Henry Nicholls asks what it would take to bring the woolly mammoth back from the dead.

Online slideshow: An eye for the eye. Darwin knew that the eye — so brilliantly ‘designed’ — might represent an obstacle to the acceptance of natural selection. We now know that the eye is one of evolution’s crowning glories.

Commentary: Great expectations. A new path for evolution? A truce in the culture wars? Here’s what a selection of readers told Nature they expect from Darwin 200. Add your own suggestions at Nature Network’s online discussion forum.

Events: Darwin: Heading to a town near you (free to access online for one month). The theory of evolution challenges artists and philosophers as much as scientists. Joanne Baker rounds up the many forthcoming events worldwide that examine Darwin’s life, his work and reactions to it.

Books in brief: A Down House bookshelf. An archipelago of books to celebrate Darwin’s anniversaries is about to hit the shelves. On the Origin of Species will be reissued, and new biographies and analyses will examine the man behind the ideas. Joanne Baker reports.

Essay: Birthdays to remember. Anniversaries of Charles Darwin’s life and work have been used to rewrite and re-energize his theory of natural selection. Janet Browne tracks a century of Darwinian celebrations.

Podcast: The next 50 years (free). Simon Ings and Gáspár Jékely on the evolving eye, and Marek Kohn on group selection. Henry Nicholls and Stephan Schuster discuss making mammoths — and the online trade in mammoth hair. Presenters: Adam Rutherford and Charlotte Stoddart.

Among the other articles and research in the Darwin special is the Letter Sequencing the nuclear genome of the extinct woolly mammoth by Webb Miller et al.. This Letter is free to access online.

See here for the full list of articles and features in the Darwin special collection, and find direct online links to all material.


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