Neither the county nor the city of San Diego existed on February 12, 1809, the year Charles Darwin was born in Shrewsbury, England. And it is highly doubtful that he sold many copies of “On the Origin of Species,” his seminal treatise on evolution, when it was published in 1859. The city was home to less than 800 people, and the county less than 5,000.

But it could be argued that modern San Diego, with its world-renowned life science research institutions and biotech industry, owes as much to the great naturalist and his breakthrough theory of natural selection as just about anywhere. And the scientists of San Diego aren’t going to let the bicentennial of Darwin’s birth, and the 150th anniversary of the book’s publication, go without a celebration.

University of California, San Diego and San Diego State University have both put together an impressive array of Darwin-related lectures and events that will take place in the coming weeks and months. They include several lectures on Darwin’s influence on today’s research, movies influenced by Darwin’s work and performances by the La Jolla Symphony.

Check out UCSD’s Darwin website here, and SDSU’s here. I will try to attend a few of the events, and warmly welcome reviews and/or accounts of the celebrations from any of you. You can e-mail them to me at

Expect a few to be naturally selected for publication.


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