Charles Darwin and his „dangerous idea”
Ivar Puura looks for reasons why the ideas of the nature researcher who was born 200 years ago, are still spoken about the same way: either by praising, ridiculing or fanatically attacking. He gives an overview of the family history of the Darwin family and Darwin’s own family. It is likely that Darwin’s ideas are dreaded because of the trueness of algorithmic and quantitative approach used in predicting and analyzing the multitude phenomena of the living nature, affirmed by practical work. For many, this trueness is too uncomfortable to handle. Also, his ideas about nature as well as human society functioning on the basis of self-regulation by the means of natural selection, proved difficult to be accepted.
Charles Darwin as a geologist
Liisa Lang, Liina Laumets and Tõnu Meidla describe the less-known input of the famous scholar to the science of geology. Darwin showed interest in geology since his childhood and was exposed to geology studies in the University of Cambridge. First he studied stratigraphy spending five years on research ship „Beagle”. His main works in the discipline of geology include „The Structure and Distribution of Coral Reefs”. He also made important remarks on the nature and effects of volcanic activity. Most of his publications from before 1959 were focused on geology.
How the development of an individual can affect evolution
Scott F. Gilbert brings about examples about the first findings of a young discipline – evolutionary developmental biology. This discipline examines hereditary changes that affect the development of an organism. These changes bring about evolution and form the basis the biodiversity of living organisms. The main aim of the discipline is to study how small changes in genetic regulation can provoke changes in morphology. The four main changes include heterotopy, heterochrony, heterometry and heterotypy – all well described in the article.
The adoption of Darwin’s ideas in Estonia
Ken Kalling and Erki Tammiksaar recall how Darwin’s ideas reached Estonia and how these were accepted by the Baltic Germans as well as by Estonians. In the second half of the 19th century, Estonian society was characterized by radicalism, which saw the Church as its main opponent in breaking free from the so-called free world. In this context Darwin’s scientific ideas were used as a tool to fight against the ecclesiastical ideology. The most outstanding proponent of Darwinism was zoologist Georg von Seidlitz. Karl Ernst von Baer, however, had contradictory views to Darwin’s ideas. He was much against social Darwinism and believed that science and religion can be consolidated. The main groups introducing Darwin’s ideas to public (mostly around the turn of the century) were radical nationalists and moderate nationalists. In the beginning of the 20th century, Darwin’s ideas were employed by eugenics. Darwin’s ideas were more completely adopted during the Soviet times, when the science of biology was strongly politicized.
Estonian Nature enquires
Toomas Paul explains the attitude of the Lutheran Church towards Darwin’s theory of evolution.
Mart Niklus writes about translating Darwin’s publications into Estonian.
The carnivore bog plant that inspired Darwin
Sirje Aher takes a look at the Darwin’s profound study of the Sundew and other meat-eating plants: plants and animals can be functionally surprisingly similar. The article describes Darwin’s work and experiments with Sundew species – his book is still the most profound publication ever published about meat-eating plants.
Interview: The principles of evolutionism are adopted quite easily
Juhan Javoiš has interviewed Mart Viikmaa, a biologist and university lecturer.
Darwin and orchids
Tiiu Kull explains the complicated pollination of orchids. Darwin’s study of the subject was so profound that it laid basis for further research of flowering biology. Darwin was amazed by the endless variety of forms that always fulfill one purpose: to fertilize the blossom with the pollen from another blossom. The article presents Darwin’s main findings of orchid pollination.
Karl Eichwald, Professor of Botany – 120
Mati Laane writes about the merits of his teacher and also investigates his ancestry based on the registers of the clergy. Eichwald was born and died in the village of Rõngu in South-Estonia.
Essay: Darwinism by Tarmo Timm
The Tree of Life of the Eukaryotes
Marko Prous gives an overview of the tip of the living nature’s iceberg – the Eukaryotes and their kinship. Modern research of genetic differences, as well as other sciences, has enabled to come close to fairly true genealogical trees of each kingdom. The article introduces the new proposed classification of Eukaryotes, based on the actual phylogeny.
Urmas Kokassaar commends an Asiatic foodstuff, which can be obtained also from Estonian food stores. In Asia, bamboo is used as construction material, it is raw material for various products and it is also eaten. Among about 1500 bamboo species, only a few of them are used in human diet. People mostly eat new sprouts, but they also consume bamboo juice and sometimes buds and seeds. Different Asian countries have different traditions and uses of the plant.
Practical tips: How to photograph small birds in winter birdhouse
Toomas Ili shares tips about getting better results with a little bit of cleverness and a lot of patience. The author has set up two places where he feeds birds and “shoots” them from his hidden tent. The numerous great close-up photos of small birds provide high credibility for his shared tips.