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February 12 is World Darwin Day, a holiday dedicated to the scientist’s birthday. We talk about his scientific works, gastronomic addictions and phobias.

Charles Darwin, with his theory of evolution, completely changed the world of science and forced us to reconsider the place of man in nature. Before creating the work of a lifetime, he studied at the Faculty of Medicine, traveled around the world and considered a career as a clergyman. The most interesting facts about the scientist can be found in a joint article by and the Darwin Museum.

I studied badly

School wisdom was given to young Charles with difficulty. Since 1818, together with his older brother Erasmus, he studied at the Anglican School of Shrewsbury, but even then he was more interested in the natural sciences than in the subjects from the main program. Darwin showed no talent for foreign languages, hated mathematics, and had no talent for writing poetry, which his peers entertained themselves with.

But the boy could spend hours looking at the shells of mollusks or caught butterflies, watching animals. As a teenager, Darwin became interested in chemistry, for which he received reprimands from the headmaster.

Can’t stand the sight of blood

Perhaps the most powerful phobia of the famous naturalist was, surprisingly, the sight of blood – even despite the fact that he studied for two years at the medical faculty at the University of Edinburgh, and before that he worked as an assistant to his doctor father.

At the university, Charles finally realized that he did not want to connect his life with medicine – the sight of blood still made him feel bad, and the lectures seemed boring. Studying here seemed to be a torment, besides, he had a new hobby, along with horse riding and hunting – taxidermy. Darwin would have devoted much more time to all this than to studying for exams. Nevertheless, the knowledge of anatomy obtained at the Faculty of Medicine helped him in future studies. But the scientist did not overcome the fear of blood.

“Twice I also visited the operating room of the hospital hospital in Edinburgh and was present at two very difficult operations, and during one of them a child was operated on, but I fled before they were completed,” Darwin wrote in his autobiography.

He has not attended operations since then. And he confessed: there would hardly be such a bait that could make him come there again.

Tried puma and armadillo

In 1828, after dropping out of medical school, Darwin entered Christ’s College, Cambridge University, to receive the priesthood of the Anglican Church – his father insisted on this. But even there, interest in the natural sciences was much stronger than in the curriculum. This interest, among other things, was of a gastronomic nature: Charles Darwin was chairman of the Glutton Club, whose members gathered every week for a tasting of “unusual flesh.” Hawks, bitterns, owls and much more have been on their menu.

After graduating from university, Darwin embarked on a five-year voyage around the world on the Royal Navy expedition ship, the Beagle, during which he conducted research that was very important to his scientific career. Remembering the Glutton Club, he did not miss the opportunity to try something that you will not find in ordinary restaurants. Once, for example, he ate an armadillo, which, in his opinion, tasted like a duck. With great appetite, the scientist also tried puma stew – he was satisfied with the dish, he said that the meat resembled veal.

And somehow, during a Christmas dinner, Darwin realized that a deliciously cooked rhea actually belongs to the rarest species. The scientist jumped up from the table, began to collect the gnawed bones, and then sent them to the London Zoological Society. The bird was named Rhea Darwini (Nandu Darwin).

“Everything was cooked and eaten before I knew it. Fortunately, the head, neck, legs, wings, most of the large feathers and most of the skin were preserved, ”Darwin recalled.

Defended his participation in the expedition

Traveling on the Beagle in Darwin’s life may not have happened because the captain of the ship, Robert FitzRoy, did not like his nose. As it turned out, Fitzroy was a passionate follower of the Swiss physiognomist Johann Lavater.

“Fitzroy was convinced that he could judge the character of a person by his external features, so he doubted that a person with a nose like mine could have sufficient energy and determination to travel around the world. But I think in the end he was glad he was wrong about my nose,” Darwin wrote.

When the captain was persuaded, it turned out that there was another obstacle: Charles’s father. He refused to pay for the trip – the son allegedly goes to have fun. Josiah Wedgwood, Jr., the uncle of the young researcher, helped convince the parent. During the five years of travel, Darwin made several important discoveries regarding the geology of South America, described the anatomy of marine invertebrates, discovered a number of fossil creatures unfamiliar to science at that time, and collected an impressive collection for further study.

On October 2, 1836, when the Beagle returned to England, Darwin had 368 pages of zoology notes, 1,383 pages of geology notes, a diary of observations (770 pages), samples of 1,529 species in containers of alcohol, 3,907 dried samples.

Doubt about the institution of marriage

One of the most exciting questions for Charles Darwin was marriage. For a long time he could not understand whether he wanted to tie the knot. As a result, he decided to approach the problem from a scientific point of view: on a sheet of paper, divided in half, Darwin wrote out the pros and cons of family life. To the pluses, he attributed the constant presence of a loved one, to the minuses – forced visits to his wife’s relatives. However, there were more advantages.

January 29, 1839 Charles Darwin went down the aisle with his cousin Emma Wedgwood, whom he had known all his life. She was the daughter of the owner of the famous Wedgwood porcelain factory, a descendant of King Henry I, and a student of Fryderyk Chopin. Emma also played checkers well and constantly beat her husband.

“She is my greatest happiness, and I can say that in all my life I have never heard a single word from her about which I could say that I would prefer it not to be uttered at all …” the scientist wrote .

The couple had 10 children, some of them achieved impressive success. Son Leonard became chairman of the Royal Geographical Society, his brother Horace became the mayor of Cambridge, and Francis became a famous botanist.

Became world famous at the age of 50

The famous work “The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favored Breeds in the Struggle for Life”, which became the basis of evolutionary biology and turned the scientific world upside down, was published when Darwin was already 50 years old. The book was published on November 24, 1859.

The circulation of 1250 copies (one of them is kept in the Darwin Museum) sold out in a day. The main provisions of the evolutionary theory have remained unchanged to this day; in addition, it has been supplemented with new facts and research methods.

True, the author himself doubted for a long time whether the book was worthy of publication. The year before, he had written to one of his friends that the work was “very hypothetical”: “Most likely, it will not be of any other use than a collection of a few facts. Although it seems to me that I have found my own way of approaching the origin of species. But so often, almost always, the author convinces himself of the truth of his assumptions.

And in 1871, Darwin published another important work, The Descent of Man and Sexual Selection, where he argued that man descended from ape-like ancestors.

Rested with music and romance novels

In his free time, the scientist liked to listen to classical music, but he did not remember the names of composers, or the titles of works (and sometimes the compositions themselves). About some sonata that he had already heard dozens of times, he could ask: “What is this? A very good thing!” He also had no musical ear.

Music and any of its manifestations Darwin assigned a very important role. He conceded that music might have come into existence as part of evolutionary selection: birdsong, for example, is often associated with reproduction—males attract females.

“If I could start life from the beginning, I would make it a rule to read poetry and listen to music at least once a week,” he said.

Darwin also loved to read – he preferred romance novels that help “rest the mind.” It was important for him that the work had a good intrigue, a happy ending and pleasant characters. One of the favorite writers of the founder of evolutionary theory is Jane Austen, author of Pride and Prejudice, Emma, ​​Persuasion and other novels.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and or sentence structure not be perfect.

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