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Darwin and the Barnacle (edition 2004)
Darwin and the Barnacle: The Story of One Tiny Creature and History's Most Spectacular Scientific Breakthrough by Rebecca Stott
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0393057453, Hardcover)A scientific detective story that illuminates the remarkable saga of Darwin's greatest achievement.
Pairing Charles Darwin and a rare species of barnacle as her unlikely protagonists, Rebecca Stott has written an absorbing work of history, a book that guides readers through the treacherous shoals of nineteenth-century biology. Beginning her narrative in the 1820s even before Darwin's Beagle voyage, Stott examines the mystery of why Darwin waited over two decades between formulating his pivotal theory of natural selection and publishing it. Lavishly illustrated, filled with riddles and concepts that challenge our notion of Victorian science, Darwin and the Barnacle is a thrilling account of how genius proceeds through indirection—and how one small item of curiosity contributed to one of science's greatest achievements. 32 illustrations.
(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:05:42 -0400)
"Pairing Charles Darwin and a rare species of barnacle as her unlikely protagonists, Rebecca Stott has written an absorbing work of history that guides the reader through the treacherous shoals of nineteenth-century biology. Beginning her narrative in the 1820s, even before Darwin's Beagle voyage, Stott examines the mystery of why Darwin waited over two decades before revealing his pivotal theory of natural selection. In 1846, as Stott relates, Charles Darwin already possessed a secret: an essay, sealed in an envelope and locked in his study drawer. The essay would later overturn human understanding of time and nature forever. But for almost thirty years Darwin kept it locked away." "Following Darwin's thoughts through thousands of letters he wrote during these years, Stott re-creates Darwin's investigations of the tiny barnacle he found on the shores of southern Chile - a specimen that didn't fit into any established definitions or accepted archetypes. As these letters reveal, Darwin promises himself a month or so to study this creature, but eight years later, his study filled with hundreds of barnacle specimens in labeled pillboxes sent from around the world, Darwin's eyes are fixed to a microscope, his mind preoccupied with the evolutionary and anatomical history of these bizarre sea creatures." "In a gripping narrative, Stott shows how Darwin in time would shock Victorian society not only with his presentation of evolutionary theories but also with his suggestion that man was indeed closely linked with thousands of other species, including the lowly barnacle. Drawing on a glittering cast of nineteenth-century scientists and literary characters, including George Eliot, Jean Baptiste Lamarck, T. H. Huxley, and Louis Agassiz, Stott portrays the fierce intellectual atmosphere of Victorian England."--BOOK JACKET.
(summary from another edition)
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