Annual Darwin Lecture
Author David Reznick speaks on the evolution of the understanding of “species”.
Charles Darwin's Origin of Species is one of the most widely cited books in modern science. Early scientists did not see the Origin as a statement of truth, but rather as a challenge to first ask if Darwin was correct, then to study the consequences.
“Darwin’s book was misnamed, because it is … not a treatise on the origin of species,” said Ernst Mayr in 1942. Mayr was one of the foremost evolutionary biologists of the 20th century and a major figure in shaping our modern concept of species and speciation.
This comment upset author Dr. David Reznick, who will speak at the University of Calgary on Friday, Feb. 11, about his new book "Origin" Then and Now.
“When I read this quote it distressed me, since I and most others thought that Darwin wrote about the origin of species,” said Reznick, a professor of biology at the University of California. “It took me over 20 years to reconcile Darwin and Mayr and to confirm that The Origin of Species was indeed about the origin of species.”
Tackling this classic can be daunting for students and general readers alike because of Darwin's Victorian prose and the complexity and scope of his ideas.
Reznick’s “Origin" Then and Now is a unique guide to Darwin's masterwork, making it accessible to a much wider audience by deconstructing and reorganizing the Origin in a way that allows for a clear explanation of its key concepts.
The book examines the Origin within the historical context in which it was written, and modern examples are used to reveal how this work remains a relevant and living document for today.
Reznick shows how many peculiarities of the Origin can be explained by the state of science in 1859, helping readers to grasp the true scope of Darwin's departure from the mainstream thinking of his day. He reconciles Darwin's concept of species with our current concept, which has advanced in important ways since Darwin first wrote the Origin, and he demonstrates why Darwin's theory unifies the biological sciences under a single conceptual framework much as Newton did for physics.
Reznick’s lecture, which is free and open to the public, begins at 4pm in EDC 179 on Friday February 11th.
After the lecture, there is a licensed catered dinner in MacEwan Centre hosted by the Biology Students Association. For tickets contact: Dr. Sean Rogers firstname.lastname@example.org (students $25; graduates and post-docs $35 and faculty $45).