When the Beagle Set Sail

On this day in 1831 the Beagle set sail with Charles Darwin on board. Darwin would later publish “The Voyage of the Beagle” to document his five year journey, in which he traveled the world, explored, collected specimens, and ultimately gained experience and knowledge that would lead him to formulate his theory of evolution.

HMS Beagle

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The Discovery of the Coelacanth

On this day in 1938 a museum curator discovered an unusual fish among the catch of a fisherman off the South African coast. The fish was a coelacanth, believed to have been extinct for millions of years. Since then more living specimens have been found, primarily along the east African coast. Learn more about coelacanths and their important place in our own evolutionary history in this video –> https://youtu.be/ujKL1pUHDfo

Latimeria chalumnae

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The Piltdown Man Hoax

On this day in 1912 Charles Dawson announced to the Geological Society of London the finding of the Piltdown Man skull, which supposedly belonged to a missing link between apes and humans. Some scientists expressed doubts about the skull’s authenticity, believing that it was a human skull with an ape’s jaw attached. However, the skull was not officially revealed as a forgery until 1953. Unfortunately by then the fraud had lead to significant confusion in research on human evolution and wasted the time of many scientists (over 250 papers were written on the subject).

Piltdown man examination

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The First Star Whose Diameter Was Measured

On this day in 1920 the star Betelgeuse became the first to have its angular diameter measured. Betelgeuse is the second brightest star in the constellation Orion and is nearly 1000 times larger than our Sun. It is one of the largest and brightest known stars, emitting more light than 100,000 Suns. Because of its extreme size the star will soon collapse in a supernova, even though it is young for a star at only a few million years old.
Betelguese
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Ada Lovelace’s Birthday

On this day in 1815 Ada Lovelace was born. She would become a mathematician and writer, and was the first person to write a computer program while she worked with Charles Babbage on his Analytical Engine.
Learn more about her life and work in this video –> https://youtu.be/uBbVbqRvqTM

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The Last Manned Mission to the Moon

On this day in 1972 Apollo 17, the last of the Apollo missions, was launched. The crew spent three days on the lunar surface and collected scientific data from the surface as well as from orbit. One of the experiments of the mission involved five pocket mice that were brought along to test whether they would suffer any damage from cosmic rays.
The crew gave the mice the unofficial names “Fe”, “Fi”, “Fo”, “Fum” and “Phooey”.
This was the last time that humans visited the moon or traveled beyond low earth orbit.

Apollo 17 astronaut

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Pioneer 10’s Closest Approach to Jupiter

On this day in 1973 the Pioneer 10 spacecraft made its closest approach to Jupiter, sending back photos of the planet of increasing size. These were the first direct observations and close up images of Jupiter we had yet obtained. In its closest encounter the spacecraft came within 81,000 miles of Jupiter’s atmosphere. The measurements Pioneer 10 took of the intense radiation surrounding Jupiter were critical in the designs of later spacecraft for the Voyager and Galileo missions. http://www.nasa.gov/content/forty-years-ago-pioneer-10-closest-approach-to-jupiter

Pioneer 10 Jupiter

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The Founding of the EPA

On this day in 1970 the U.S. EPA was founded following growing public concern over pollution and environmental degradation. The work of the agency has led to significant improvements in air and water quality, and many engineers and scientists are employed in creating and enforcing its regulations.
Founding of the EPA
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Anniversary of “On the Origin of Species” Publication

On this day in 1859 “On the Origin of Species” was published. In the book Darwin laid out the evidence he had gathered over many years of travel and research, that led him to believe the process of natural selection and evolution was responsible for the biodiversity of life on our planet. Darwin’s ideas were highly controversial and still face opposition today, but they irrevocably changed the way we view the natural world.
Origin of Species
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Darwin’s Relentless Urge to Collect

“One day, on tearing off some old bark, I saw two rare beetles, and seized one in each hand. Then I saw a third and new kind, which I could not bear to lose, so I popped the one which I held in my right hand into my mouth. Alas! It ejected some intensely acrid fluid, which burnt my tongue so that I was forced to spit the beetle out, which was lost, as was the third one.”
Darwin wouldn’t let anything stop him from collecting!
This awesome illustration is by Boris Kulikov –> http://boris-kulikov.blogspot.com/
Darwin Beetles
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