Take a moment today to wish a happy 150th birthday to the Origin of Species, published on November 24, 1859. This truly seminal work should be read by everyone, scientists and laypeople alike. Darwin was an eloquent and passionate writer, and there are many lovely passages in the book. My favorite has always been the very last paragraph:
"There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved."
I think it's difficult not to find these words moving if you're anyone who gazes at stars or watches plants germinate or waits with bated breath for the latest news from the LHC. We've learned so much about the world during our species' short presence on this planet, thanks to the efforts of intrepid naturalists and researchers like Darwin, who live and breath for the pursuit of knowledge. The power of science to teach, to improve our lives, and to increase our understanding and appreciation of our fragile world is awe-inspiring. Truly, there is grandeur in this view of life.