Reawakening the origins of research
by Emily Slutsky
Source: The Beagle Project
Pembrokeshire, UK, Mar. 4—Building a boat to celebrate a scientist’s career may not seem particularly commemorative. But when his pop-culture status is as pronounced as Benjamin Franklin’s or Albert Einstein’s, and his sea voyage is perhaps only rivaled by Christopher Columbus’ trifecta, a new boat for Charles Darwin is a fitting tribute.
2009 marks the bicentennial anniversary of Darwin’s birth, as well as the 150th anniversary of his landmark publication, On the Origin of Species. To celebrate his 1831 voyage aboard the famed ship, the aptly-named HMS Beagle Project—an ongoing initiative to revolutionize Darwin’s historical impact—is setting modern-day science to the backdrop of a sailing replica of the HMS Beagle.
The project is a £5-million effort (in 1820, the HMS Beagle was purchased for less than £8000) to construct a functional replica of the larch and oak HMS Beagle, equipped with modern-day improvisations such as diesel auxiliary engines, GPS navigation, satellite communications, and a 21st–century laboratory.