Darwin’s Backyard: How Small Experiments Led to a Big Theory

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Charles Darwin’s fascination with scientific truths and anomalies expanded with the observations he made during his global voyage on the HMS Beagle. The five-year experience sowed the seeds of recognition that culminated in his seminal On the Origin of Species. Within months of his exotic voyage, he published papers on the elevation of the Chilean coast, extinct mammals of South America, and coral-reef formation, then turned to explore challenges presented in and around his own backyard.

James Costa’s aptly titled Darwin’s Backyard describes observations made on the behavioral patterns of bumble bees and ants, and the survival rate of seeds planted in his three-by-two foot “weed garden.” Equally intriguingly, Darwin’s Uncle Josiah, a member of the renowned Wedgewood pottery company, offered his own observation on the “constant churning of the soil by earthworms,” turning Darwin’s attention to an unremarked “geological force.”

Over the years, from student days and throughout his life, Darwin enjoyed reciprocally tabulating and sharing results of experiments, corresponding with scientists in several countries in a way hard to imagine before computers and even airmail simplified communication.

Costa details 18 experiments adults can carry out in a book that’s enriching and a delight to read.

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Author James T. Costa
Star Count 5/5
Format Hard
Page Count 464 pages
Publisher W. W. Norton & Company
Publish Date 2017-Sep-05
ISBN 9780393239898
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue April 2018
Category Science & Nature
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