Posted by: Rob Viens | January 25, 2012

Welcome to The Beagle Project!

There is no doubt that one of the most influential scientists in human history was Charles Darwin.  The concept of evolution is central to understanding who we are, where we come from and how we fit into the natural world, not to mention the fact that it forms the cornerstone of the fields of biology and historical geology.  I’ve always wanted to read Charles Darwin’s original works – On the Origin of Species and the Voyage of the Beagle in particular – to really understand how his hypotheses evolved.  But like a similar wish to read the works of Charles Lyell, the task has always been a daunting one. It never seems to make it to the top of the list.

When I realized that we just passed the 180th anniversary of the departure of the Beagle from England, I realized that an opportunity had presented itself.  Why not break down Darwin’s diaries (his “raw data” published as Charles Darwin’s Beagle Diary (1831-1836)) chronologically and read it as Darwin himself experienced it – over 5 years.  Essentially, I could read each diary entry 180 years to the date Darwin himself wrote it. After all fitting in a few pages a week should not be very hard. On weeks that I feel particularly ambitious I could use Darwin’s writings to delve deeper into other concepts or resources that they inspired.  And, to make it more interesting, why not blog about it – creating a more direct bond with CD himself by creating a journal of my own.  And thus was born The Beagle Project.

Even on his journey of discovery, Darwin had company on board the Beagle (though I can only imagine what they all though of each other after being cramped on a small ship together for 5 years). So I’d like to welcome my colleagues in the Bellevue College Science Division to take this journey with me.  Feel free to read along and post your own comments and blog entries to this site (just list your name or initials at the end so we can tell them apart). In the end, I hope we can create what is truly a collective project.

Will we make it?  Who knows.  It is clear from his early diary entries that Darwin himself had concerns about such a long voyage. In the end he could have chosen not to go on the trip. Wallace and others would have probably have eventually fleshed out similar ideas, but who knows where we would be today. Knowing in retrospect the importance of this voyage, I think the time is right to at least try.

So – welcome aboard – I hope you enjoy the trip! – Rob Viens


  1. I’m so glad I found your Beagle blog, even though I’m more than a year late. After reading some of your later entries, I’m going to start at the beginning to catch up.

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