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February 5 – Marcia Bjornerud

Marcia Bjornerud


The text of The Origin of Species reflects Darwin’s love for exploring the minutest details of the natural world, his meticulousness as a scientist, his personal timidity and reluctant role as a revolutionary, and also his wracking self-doubt and pre-emptive defensiveness against the backlash that he knew would come. The last formal portrait of Darwin depicts a hunched, sad-eyed old man haunted by the conflict between his belief in an idea that he felt must be right and his inability to rebut critiques of it, given the limits of science in his time. In honor of Darwin’s birthday, I imagine a conversation in which I share illustrations of how marvelously his simple idea has flowered and explain discoveries in geology and biology that would have eased his troubled mind.

Marcia Bjornerud is Professor of Geology and Environmental Studies at Lawrence University in Appleton. Bjornerud’s research focuses on the physics of earthquakes and mountain-building, and she combines field-based studies of bedrock geology with quantitative models of rock mechanics.

Music:  Gerri Friedberg
Service Leader:  Phil Hansotia