Lincoln and Darwin

Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin were born on the same day, February 12, 1809, two hundred years ago. As the Birthday Paradox illustrates, you need only 23 people in a room to get better than 1/2 chance of any two people sharing a birthday. The coincidence is welcome however, as I admire them both. What I find more interesting is how separate these people live in the consciousness of people and the media. In all my calendars/dairies I find the day marked as 'Lincoln's birthday', but Darwin goes unmentioned. The newspapers are going to devote more space to Lincoln, while Darwin's going to get a footnote somewhere in the Science page. Perhaps, the man of the moment, Barack Obama shares more with the former Illinois Representative than a would-be-curate-turned-naturalist.

In another parallel universe, Darwin's day has not gone unnoticed as Science magazine is running series on Darwin. The National Geographic had a Darwin cover story. Some folks in the city of Ann Arbor have decided to celebrate Darwin's Day. Now that I shall have more time this week, I intend to re-read the Origin of Species and Lincoln's speeches.

I am curious to see if Google's logo tomorrow is going to pay homage to Darwin or Lincoln. Regardless of the final choice, both were truly great men who contributed in immensely in two completely separate spheres. It also occurred to me that people are rarely shot for their scientific beliefs, merely excoriated or excommunicated. Political belief seems to be a more dangerous responsibility.

2 comments:

Anais said...

hey
you should go to one of the celebrations, if you're near Ann Arbor (we're going to be at Vinology on Main street starting at 7pm) and talk a bit about Lincoln. We mention him on our Darwin Day webpage, they were both truly amazing men, you're right!

Javed said...

Google likes Darwin more :)