Darwin outside of biology Culture, design and fashion

Born into a wealthy English family, he studied medicine and also art, an early stage for those seeking a career as a pastor in the Anglican Church, but he devoted himself to the natural sciences, especially geology and botany. Following the recommendation of one of his professors at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom, he rode the HMS Beagle at the age of 22, in which he traveled around the world for almost five years. Back in England, he lived in London for a while and after getting married he moved around with his wife, Emma and children. In all, she gave birth to 10 children, seven of whom survived. He devoted two decades to the investigation into what would become The Origin of Species, a famous book on the history of science published in 1859.

The subject matter of the exhibition is Darwin, originally from the British naturalist Charles Robert Darwin (1809-1882), as well as the historical context in which the author’s experiments and research on the theory of species evolution developed by general descent and natural selection. Exhibition, which goes as far as DecemberA. Cesc Interlagos, Sওo PauloThe city was conceived by Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie from the University, a scientific, technological and industrial promotion organization affiliated with the French Ministry of Culture, in partnership with the National Museum of Natural History in Paris.

Tiny replica of the HMS Beagle ship. The original ship measured about 30 meters and had a capacity of 74 crew members – Photo: Leo Ramos Chavez

“In addition to the originality of Darwin’s thought, the title also refers to the fact that we used his original texts to compose the show’s content,” explains Crystal Guirwood, a university museologist and curator of the exhibition. “This does not mean that we are displaying time documents in the exhibition, but we do use the books, notes and letters that Darwin actually wrote as the source, because over time much of his thinking has been distorted.”

To combine historical, biographical and scientific content, the show uses technical resources – a repetitive component of university-created shows created by scientist Pasteur, among others, scheduled to premiere at Sesc Santo André in April. “Since diversity is a key word in Darwin’s thought, we have tried to tell this story through graphics, film and games,” added Astrid Aaron, a university museologist and curator of the exhibition.

Interactive station with details of Darwin’s library on the HMS Beagle – Photo: Leo Ramos Chavez

The final module of the exhibition is titled Darwin of Brazil, created by the duo in charge of writer and screenwriter Leda Kurtam and Sophia Nestrovsky, podcast Vinte Mill Leguas. In 2020, the first season of the podcast, directed by literary magazines Quatro Cinco Um and Megafauna Bookstore, with the support of the Serrapilheira Institute, was dedicated to the English scientist, and the book As Twenty Thousand Leagues of Charles Darwin, which has just been published. Nestrovsky reports, “Riding the Beagle, Darwin sailed along the Brazilian coast in 1832 and 1836, when he visited several cities in Fernando de Noronha and Rio de Janeiro.” The interest of tourists coming to Brazil from Europe, he stressed, was not merely scientific. “The Beagle itself had commercial interests. However, Darwin was fascinated by the landscape he saw here and was outraged by the slavery that existed in the country at the time, “Nestrovsky continued.

The purpose of the module, the pair said, is to invite visitors to view their surroundings in a Darwinian way. “We would rather talk about Darwin than talk about Darwin. It was fundamental for Darwin to think deeply about the geological time that accumulates vertically and how species evolved, “commented Khartoum. An example of this, he mentioned, was the collection of soil and rock samples every 2 m during the excavation of an Artesian well about 400 m deep at Sesc Interlagos in 2019. Since the past 60 meters, rocks of the pre-Cambrian era, such as granite and shale, have been found. To show that we are in a place where there are several levels of time and the theory of natural selection is not far from us, “Khartoum continued.

The visitor attempted to reproduce an image from the book The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals (1872) by an English naturalist. The image can be inserted into a virtual gallery behind the scenes – Photo: Leo Ramos Chavez

Some of the items in the Brazilian module came from the Museum of Geosciences and the Museum of Zoology at the University of So Paulo (MZ-USP). This is in the case of replicas of fossils of prehistoric animals, such as Mesosaurus tenuidens, a reptile that lived in the Paran Basin about 280 million years ago. Or the 270-million-year-old wooden trunk found in the Colonia Crater area in the Perelheiros area south of Sao Paulo. The module contains scientific advice from Flavia Natercia da Silva Medieros, a physician communicating with biology and science. “The challenge was to find information of general interest, such as size, appearance, habits and the environment in which these creatures lived. This was to help the viewer visualize what they were like,” said Medieros, who relied on scientific articles and dates and fragments. MZ-USP paleontologist Philip Alves Elias was instrumental in verifying the technical information.

Exhibition Darwin, the original opened in Paris in 2015 and toured Belgium and Argentina. In these places, it attracted a total of 500,000 visitors, according to university museologists. According to Sesc Interlagos, about 3,000 people visited the fair in the first 20 days. “Although we live in a time of scientific denial, creationist groups question the theory of biological evolution. Darwin is a pop scientist we’ve heard about since elementary school. Its contribution to science is immense, although it is a matter of ups and downs like any theoretical product, not to mention that it needs to be understood in the context of the 19th century, ”observes Nelio Bijo, a biologist at the Faculty of Education. An expert on USP and Darwin’s work. “It’s still more discussed than read and unfortunately only known for a few general concepts, even in the biological sciences.”

Movies, interactive multimedia devices and games cover Darwin’s life and work in a 700 m² exhibition – Photo: Leo Ramos Chavez

Biologist and historian Maria Ellis de Brzezinski agrees Prestes. A professor in the Department of Genetics and Evolutionary Biology at the Institute of Biosciences (IB) at USP, he has been teaching a course on The Origin of Species for undergraduate and graduate students from all fields of knowledge for four years. “Although Darwin wrote the book for the general public and not for academics, it is a dry work, difficult to read and only a small fraction of students know it perfectly,” observes the scholar who is currently preparing a book on the theory. The goal is to bring together 25 Brazilian and foreign experts from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (IB-UFRGS) Bizo of the Biosciences Institute, Aldo Melender de Araujo and Gregory Radic of the University of Leeds. UK United. “The idea is to unveil the 14 chapters that make up the first edition of The Origin of Species and create something close to a manual that helps students in any area to enter Darwinian thought,” he explained.

Some of the items in the Brazilian module came from the Museum of Geosciences and the Museum of Zoology at USP. At the front, south of Sao Paulo, a 270-million-year-old woodpecker fossil has been found – Photo: Leo Ramos Chavez

One of these areas is medicine. “Darwin’s principles, such as natural selection, are being used by scientists to understand the development of cancer cells and to aid in the treatment of disease,” said Guillaume Lecointre, scientific curator of the Darwin Exhibition, director and director of the Department of Systematics and Evolution at the museum. National Museum of Natural History in Paris. “The interest in Darwin’s thought is not limited to biologists, although the concept is not yet widespread in Brazil,” observes Jose Eli da Vega, an economist at the Institute for Advanced Studies (IEA) in the USP. To investigate the influence of English naturalists’ ideas on other fields of knowledge, Vega promotes the “Dialogue on Darwinian Theory” cycle, which debuted in March and will be held once a month throughout the year. The online event is a branch of the “Darwinian Evolution and Social Science” cycle, held at the organization in 2007, by Vega, who is also the author of the article Amor à Ciência – Darwinian Materialism (Editora Senac São Paulo, 2017). In the work, he discusses the development of the foundations laid by Darwin and its application in other fields of science such as psychology, quantum physics and anthropology. “This is a new phenomenon, which started in the 1980s, which created controversy and, therefore, is debatable,” said the economist.

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