Monday, 14 December 2009

Winter for the Tree of Life…

Sadly, the time has come to suspend the Tree of Life blog. As noted last week, the end of 2009 brings to an end a year of Darwin200 celebrations and our blog along with it.

We’ve had the pleasure of launching some wonderful projects in that time. It all kicked off in February with the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth. This saw the airing of that wonderful BBC documentary (perhaps you’ve heard of it?) ‘Charles Darwin and the Tree of Life’ presented by Sir David Attenborough (if by any chance you have been living in a cave, click here to see the animation at the heart of it).

The documentary attracted some six and a half million viewers and the animation has been viewed over 150,000 times on YouTube. It has also been featured at museums and events around the world, including the Gulbenkian Museum in Lisbon, the Boston Museum of Science, London Zoo, the Natural History Museum in London, the Darwin Evolution and the Movies festival in London, as well as educational establishments in India and South Africa.

‘Charles Darwin and the Tree of Life’ also won Best Science Documentary at the 2009 Gierson British Documentary Awards and the animation was nominated for Best Graphic Design - Programme Content Sequences at the 2009 Royal Television Society Craft and Design Awards.

But the end of Darwin year does not mean an end to our Darwin activities! 2010 will see some exciting new projects come to fruition.

The Wellcome Trust will be launching a competition to win a trip to the Galapagos islands, allowing a lucky winner to follow in the footsteps of Darwin himself. Further details on this are coming soon so keep an eye on the Trust’s website or follow @wellcometrust on Twitter.

And if you haven’t had enough of the Tree of Life by now (and who hasn’t?), you’ll soon be able to experience it from the inside. The animation is being adapted into an interactive ‘augmented reality’ attraction, the ‘iFilm’, coming soon to the Natural History Museum’s Darwin Centre from early 2010.

The Tree of Life animation/interactive itself is, of course, still available to download and remix from this very website. Do contact us at if you would like to use it in any other way.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading the blog. As Darwin himself once said:

"doing what little one can to increase the general stock of knowledge is as respectable an object of life, as one can in any likelihood pursue"

I hope we’ve achieved that at least a bit. Until the next Darwin anniversary…..

Thursday, 3 December 2009

The Darwin/evolution round up

With the passing of the On the Origin of the Species anniversary last week, Darwin year is coming to a close.

Sadly, this means that the Tree of Life Blog itself will shortly be put into a cryogenic sleep, waiting to be awakened sometime in the future for the next big Darwin anniversary, when humans will have evolved into cyborgs and hoverboards are the kids' toy of choice.

The end is not quite here yet though, so for your delectation, here is a list of links that the Tree of Life Blog has collected over the last few months, but never got round to blogging about:

More on the International Conference on Evolution and Society that took place in Egypt a few weeks ago. Blogs from the World Federation of Science Journalists.

Belief versus acceptance: Why do people not believe in evolution? Open-access paper by James Williams at the University of Sussex School of Education.

“A unique experiment to answer the question "Does culture evolve by natural selection?". The DarwinTunes Experiment.

A US project to more precisely chart geological time scales is launching a new initiative to educate students on deep time in order to challenge religious groups who argue life was divinely made about 10,000 years ago. Nature Great Beyond Blog.

Charles Darwin really did have advanced ideas about the origin of life. Labspaces blog.

Dinosaurs and Darwin. An Interview with Peter Dodson, anatomist and fossil expert.

Professor Richard Dawkins on the New York Academy of Sciences podcast.

A zoo of video and audio from the Cambridge Darwin Festival.

David Haines, composer, performs Mr Darwin and Taxonomy from his “science oratorio” Lifetime. New Scientist.

Darwin: the geologist. Nature News.

Podcasts from the excellent Beagle Project blog.

Darwin images in the Charles Darwin Flickr group. Add your own!
And if beard Darwin, isn’t your thing, there’s a Young Darwin Flickr Group too.
(Hat-tip to the Dispersal of Darwin blog for these two)