Darwin the dropout

Darwin_aged_31It annoys me slightly that almost all the pictures of Darwin circulating around on #DarwinDay are of some grey-haired old guy. Darwin made many of his important break-throughs as a young man. I mentioned ‘Darwin the dropout’ to my new class of evolution students this semester. Darwin was hassled by his dad to get a proper job. He tried medicine, but he found it a bit dull. He started to train for the clergy, but it wasn’t for him. Then he decided at short notice to go off travelling. He set off on the Beagle at age 22 (23 maybe?), only a couple of years older than my undergrad class.  I think that they liked the idea that Darwin was a bit like them, unsure of what he wanted to do, keen on having some fun. I hope some of them, like Charles, can also do good science.

In the picture he’s a much more responsible 31.

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