KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 23 – A local science club in Kuala Lumpur organised an event to celebrate the birthday of notable naturalist Charles Darwin. Darwin who was born on 12 February 1809 became world famous after he proposed his scientific theory called “natural selection”. His book On The Origin Of Species, published in 1859, presented a body of evidence that life evolved through a process of natural selection; the strong continue to propagate while the weak eventually die out.
This free event was open to all and organised by APOSL, a science club whose acronym stands for “Advocates of the Propagation of Science Literacy”. It was held at Loyarburok’s Pusat Rakyat LB in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur. The club’s aim is to help promote science and sceptical thinking.
When the guests came in, each one was given a banana and a large cookie decorated with a fish with legs. The banana and legged fish were later explained by Nathalie Kee, an 18 year old student. She explained, “The banana we enjoy today is actually a man made ‘natural selection’. Bananas in the wild are small and filled with seeds. Over the years, we have selected and only planted the types of bananas that give us the desired shape, quality and taste. The fish with legs symbolises evolution. There is an extincted fish called Ichthyostega which had limbs like legs.” She was also quick to emphasise that the cookie is not to snub the Christian symbol “ichthys”.
Pusat Rakyat LB was decorated with posters about Darwin’s life and his work. Guests were encouraged to read the bytes of information to learn more about him. An interesting fact I found while reading the poster was that the Church Of England issued an official apology for criticising Darwin, in 2008.
Hari Darwin gave the opportunity for many of the guests to meet. Most of them have only met each other online at APOSL’s Facebook page and were happy to meet one another in real life.
Ho Kian Kheong, a genetics and molecular biologist, presented a short biography of Charles Darwin. It seems Darwin procastinated 20 years before presenting his theory until another scientist named Alfred Wallace wrote to him and presented him with the same idea Darwin was working on. Being a gentleman, Darwin presented both ideas to the Linnean Society of London.
There were also sing-along songs about Darwin sung to the tune of The Beatles’ Revolution and the opening theme to The Big Bang Theory, a comedy television series.
The club baked a special cake depicting the evolution of human beings and sang a rowdy “happy birthday” for Darwin.
The most interesting part of the day’s programme was left to the end: a screening of a 3D documentary. The audience was handed reb-blue 3D spectacles for viewing the documentary about modern scientists who returned to the Galapagos Islands to continue the study Darwin started almost 200 years ago.
Darwin’s birthday is celebrated all over the world on or around 12 February. Schools, universities and science enthusiasts ahve been celebrating his birthday since 1882.