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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Celebrating 150 years of On the Origin of Species

Today marks the 150 years since the publication of Charles Darwin’s groundbreaking book On the Origin of Species.

It brings to an end a year of celebrations of Charles Darwin and his work, which began in February with the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth.

There's been a lot to celebrate and the Wellcome Trust has rolled out and supported a variety of different activities, many of which can be accessed online.

This includes, of course, this very website. If you hadn't already noticed, click on the links above to view the spectacular Tree of Life animation that formed the centrepiece of Sir David Attenborough’s BBC1 documentary. You can then experience it again as an interactive and explore our other educational and scientific resources.

Available elsewhere are the webisodes and minigames from the Routes series, developed in partnership with Channel 4 to engage young people in genetics and bioethics. This includes the ‘Sneeze’ minigame, which demonstrates how sneezing can spread colds and flu. It has been played over 14 million times.

The Trust’s free experiment kits for schools, the Great Plant Hunt and Survival Rivals, are also still available. This aims to provide a free Darwin-inspired experiment to every child in the country and has given out 23 000 Great Plant Hunt and 8700 Survival Rivals kits so far.

This year also saw the Trust provide £10 million to help build the Natural History Museum’s new Darwin Centre. Opened in September, the Centre houses millions of insect and plant specimens and offers members of the public a glimpse into the working lives of 200 scientists, demonstrating how discovering and collecting new species can help understand climate change and diseases like malaria.

For further details of the Wellcome Trust’s Darwin200 activities see www.wellcome.ac.uk/darwin200

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Daniel Glaser

Wellcome Tree of Life

Mun-Keat Looi