HMS Beagle in the Straits of Magellan

13-Jan-1833: The day HMS Beagle nearly sank

Charles Darwin’s closest brush with death during the Beagle voyage came on Sunday 13th January 1833, near that most infamous of nautical perils, Cape Horn.

Darwin's (and others') fossil barnacles. Natural History Museum.

The great Darwin fossil hunt

In which a friend beyond measure arranges a behind-the-scenes visit to the Natural History Museum to see fossils collected by Charles Darwin during the Beagle voyage.

Drawing of the remains of the Cathedral in Concepción by John Clements Wickham (1798–1864); Engraving: S. Bull fl. 1838–1846. Source: Wikipedia

20-Feb-1835: Darwin witnesses an earthquake

On 20th February 1835, while taking a rest in a wood in Valvidia, Southern Chile, Charles Darwin experienced a major earthquake.

Thomas Wedgwood (1771–1805)

Thomas Wedgwood: the Uncle of Photography

As historians of science are forever reminding us (although nobody listens to those killjoys), we enter dangerous territory when we start to discuss the ‘first’ person to do X, the ‘lone genius’ who invented Y, or the ‘Father of’ Great Idea Z.

Alfred Russel Wallace

07-Nov-1913: Alfred Russel Wallace dies

On 7th November 1913, the man who independently (along with Charles Darwin) came up with the idea of Natural Selection, Alfred Russel Wallace, died, age 90, at his home in Dorset.

Napoleon’s grave, St Helena by Syms Covington.

11-Jul-1836: Darwin visits Napoleon

Towards the end of her second voyage, HMS Beagle called at the island of St Helena in the South Atlantic. Darwin took the opportunity to visit the grave of St Helena’s most famous former occupant/prisoner, Napoleon Bonaparte.

Darwin and Wallace: the lost photograph

I'd heard the legend, of course. Every Darwin groupie has. The missing photograph of the two independent discoverers of evolution by means of Natural Selection, Darwin and Wallace, standing side-by-side. Together. In the same frame.