Pharyngula

The Beagle Project

Here’s a sweet idea: rebuild Darwin’s ship, the Beagle in time for the bicentennial of Darwin’s birth in 2009 (and also the 150 year mark for publication of the Origin).

2009 is the bicentenary of Charles Darwin’s birth, an event which will be celebrated throughout the world. The Beagle Project will rebuild a working replica of HMS Beagle in Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire, Wales. It will provide the striking icon of Darwin’s achievement around which the celebrations will coalesce, and which is already attracting the attention of TV and film companies on both sides of the Atlantic.

The replica Beagle will recreate the 1831-36 circumnavigation with international crews of aspiring young scientists aboard, following the same course and making similar landfalls to those made by HMS Beagle when Darwin was aboard. The crew will take part in modern sampling, observation and experiments in a range of disciplines: biology, geology, oceanography, physics and meteorology. Their work will be followed in labs and classrooms worldwide through an interactive website. They will also compare the climate and wildlife observations made by Darwin and the crew of the Beagle in the 1830s with conditions today.

They’ve got plans, they’re looking for support, and of course they have a blog.

Comments

  1. #1 Paguroidea
    January 29, 2007

    What an exciting educational project that will generate a lot of great publicity for evolution!

  2. #2 coturnix
    January 29, 2007

    And some (all) Seed sciencebloggers should go and liveblog the trip, of course!

  3. #3 llewelly
    January 29, 2007

    Sweet! Hopefully this time they’ll establish contact after lands on Mars.
    .
    .
    (er, sorry, wrong Beagle.)

  4. #4 TheBrummell
    January 29, 2007

    The replica Beagle will recreate the 1831-36 circumnavigation with international crews of aspiring young scientists aboard

    WHAT THE HELL DO I NEED TO DO TO GET A BERTH????

    Sorry for the all-caps shouting, but DAMN, what an awesomeness that would be.

    I just started my PhD (evolutionary biology) – if I get it done record-time will they let me sail, just for a little bit?

  5. #5 Matt the heathen
    January 29, 2007

    I thought PZ and everyone here would be interested in this.

    http://www.crooksandliars.com/2007/01/29/the-evangelical-war-on-science/

  6. #6 James Roden
    January 29, 2007

    Thank you for posting this…you have brightened my day considerably. (Although a part of me screams in jealousy at the lucky people who get to be on board 😉 )

  7. #7 Paula Helm Murray
    January 29, 2007

    WAAAAAH, I wanna go! (right now I’m so sore and feeling old and broken, between a fall at New Year’s and just the aches and pains of cold weather, I wouldn’t be fit to do the job).

  8. #8 sparc
    January 29, 2007

    PZ, didn’t you allways want to become a pirat. That’s your opportunity.

  9. #9 Ick of the East
    January 30, 2007

    Oh great.

    Evolution and circumnavigation – as if the Earth were actually a sphere! – all in the same voyage.

    When will the persecution end?

  10. #10 Torbjörn Larsson
    January 30, 2007

    Meanwhile, biologists may enjoy celebrate the tercentary since Carl Linneaus birth. The Linnaeus Tercentenary will be celebrated internationally, for instance in Sweden and Netherlands.

  11. #11 Torbjörn Larsson
    January 30, 2007

    Meanwhile, biologists may enjoy celebrate the tercentary since Carl Linneaus birth. The Linnaeus Tercentenary will be celebrated internationally, for instance in Sweden and Netherlands.

  12. #12 Avery
    January 30, 2007

    Darwin was one of 74 people on the Beagle…anyone interested in doing that for 5 years? It’s a lot smaller then you think when you have to live that close to everyone for that long.

  13. #13 G. Tingey
    January 30, 2007

    I went on board the replica of HMS Endeavour, when she sailed into Greenwich, a few years ago …
    The same suuroundings where Cook and Banks and Solander worked.
    Incredibly inspirational.

    All success to this project.

    “Out oars for the sunset”

  14. #14 Heleen
    January 30, 2007

    The burying place of the real Beagle has been found a few years ago providing support in a dike in East Anglia. I think the BBC had a documentary. Does anyone have access to that video?

  15. #15 Greco
    January 30, 2007

    From the Science section:

    Oceanographic studies in the open ocean, coastal waters and at the Amazon delta.

    Huh, what? That would be a little hard to do, for two reasons:
    1- the Beagle itinerary doesn’t go within a thousand kilometers of the Amazon;
    2- the Amazon doesn’t even have a delta.

  16. #16 Torbjörn Larsson
    January 30, 2007
  17. #17 Torbjörn Larsson
    January 30, 2007
  18. #18 Torbjörn Larsson
    January 30, 2007

    Uups, sorry, it seems technically a delta isn’t islands in the mouth but only land from deposits. And the Amazon hasn’t any such. It is an estuary.

    At a guess the site made the same conflation as I did.

  19. #19 Torbjörn Larsson
    January 30, 2007

    Uups, sorry, it seems technically a delta isn’t islands in the mouth but only land from deposits. And the Amazon hasn’t any such. It is an estuary.

    At a guess the site made the same conflation as I did.

  20. #20 fusilier
    January 30, 2007

    I’ve got my lipped shipwright’s adze, my bowsaws, my chisels, my mallets, and my planes. If they don’t need another biologist, do they need a carpenter’s mate?

    fusilier
    James 2:24

  21. #21 Steve LaBonne
    January 30, 2007

    I was thinking the same thing as Avery- people will be shocked when they see how tiny it really is.

  22. #22 Tony Jackson
    January 30, 2007

    The Brummell: “Sorry for the all-caps shouting, but DAMN, what an awesomeness that would be”,

    You get to spend five years puking you guts out and sharing a small cabin with a mentally unstable Christian fundamentalist captain. Go for the whole Darwin experience!

  23. #23 Peter McGrath
    January 30, 2007

    Heleen: bbc story about finding the original here:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/3490564.stm

    Darwin biographer Jim Moore (also a Beagle Project supporter) has found records showing that childrens from the crew of Watch Vessel 7 (as the Beagle became after decomissioning) attended the school at Paglesham, close to the site where ground-penetrating radar found what are thought to be the remains of the Beagle’s hull. It’s in the County of Essex, under about 5 metres of mud at low tide.

  24. #24 TheBrummell
    January 30, 2007

    You get to spend five years puking you guts out and sharing a small cabin with a mentally unstable Christian fundamentalist captain. Go for the whole Darwin experience!

    I’m all about the authenticity. Bring it! Especially if I’m granted status as an independently wealthy gentleman for the duration.

    Actually, I suspect very few people will be aboard for the full 5-year voyage. I’d be quite happy to puke my guts out (upon said mentally unstable Christian fundamentalist) for a couple of months. This project is extremely awesome.

  25. #25 Peter McGrath
    January 30, 2007

    Sorry to disappoint, but we won’t have any mentally unstable Christian fundamentalists aboard, and bags will be searched for such contraband on boarding. As for the puking, Darwin was one of those unlucky few who never get over seasickness (most people get over it in 24-48 hours) that just adds to my admiration of the man for sticking it out for five years knowing what was coming up every time the boat left port. He was a rich kid, he could have baled but didn’t.

    Our recreation won’t take five years – the original did a lot of hanging around South America to let FitzRoy carry out the surveying work which was the purpose of the voyage, if you discount the need to return the Fuegians kidnapped on the previous voyage. And we’ll have engines, although being sailor I’m naturally disinclined to use them.

    Greco: delta. Apologies. Just one of those slips you get when you’re putting together a big project like this in your spare time. And given that there is a lot of alarming environmental change happening around the Amazon estuary, and our prime reasons for doing this include science education and public engagement with science, I thought taking a detour there might be a good thing to do. I’m more bothered about raising the cash right now.

  26. #26 Steve LaBonne
    January 30, 2007

    As for the puking, Darwin was one of those unlucky few who never get over seasickness (most people get over it in 24-48 hours) that just adds to my admiration of the man for sticking it out for five years knowing what was coming up every time the boat left port. He was a rich kid, he could have baled but didn’t.

    I’m glad you said that, because that’s always been my strongest reaction to the whole Beagle saga. It really sheds light on the fact that a major component of what we call genius consists of supernormal energy, determination and motivation. Darwin’s self-effacing nature, and the focus on his chronic illness in later life, have tended to obscure the truth of just how superbly endowed he was in those departments.

  27. #27 Keith Douglas
    January 30, 2007

    Sounds nifty, though I for one wouldn’t want to go if asked, since I am very vulnerable to motion sickness. I’m sure I could find a biologist to replace me if it came to that, though …

  28. #28 Peter McGrath
    January 30, 2007

    Keith, we’ll have cameras aboard streaming footage to a website: you’ll be to have all the voyages and none of the vomiting.

  29. #29 Tatarize
    January 30, 2007

    At least this is better than that guy trying to build a “replica” of the ark. The HMS Beagle could actually float.

  30. #30 raj
    January 30, 2007

    One of the more interesting aspects of this endeavor is that it might encourage high school students to understand that doing science can actually be exciting.

  31. #31 Loren Petrich
    January 30, 2007

    With the various other re-enactments of notable voyages, why aren’t fundies attempting to re-enact Noah’s legendary voyage?

    Especially as a lot of religious rites can be interpreted as re-enactment in some way or other.

  32. #32 Peter McGrath
    January 31, 2007

    Loren, Tatarize: There was a program(me) on BBC TV a couple of years ago which looked at Noah’s flood from a scientific point of view. Below the belt, I know. They made a computer model of the Ark according to biblical marine engineering plans and set it virtually afloat. It broke up and sank before the champagne had finished dribbling down the side, and that was without all the pairs of sauropods aboard…

    Raj: exciting and inspiring youngsters is one of the big drivers for this project. We’re already working with a UK curriculum development body and with science teachers about the educational materials that we can generate, and are looking for partners in US States (and other countries) to do the same.

  33. #33 Steve_C
    January 31, 2007

    Peter,

    Do you remember the name of the show? I would love to have that handy for countering the “Noah’s Ark was possible” crowd.

  34. #34 Peter McGrath
    February 2, 2007

    Steve, I’ll have a look. The sinking footage was really good. No life rafts spotted.

    I’ll also have a look for the post from Brit pro-Darwin website Gruts where the most recent Ark finding failure Dniel McGovern is offered a bet: you find the Ark, I’ll bare my backside in a place of your choosing. Fail, and I’ll do the same in a place of yours. Mr McGovern failed to answer, and what wass throught to be the ark was a dead fly on the lens. Or the Mt Ararat Kebab van. Or something.

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