Darwin Day (Feb. 12, 2009) is months away, but Nature devoted a special issue to it this week. The cover story, Darwin 200, includes 15 articles and features, some of which are available to the public. Features include a list of celebrations and exhibitions around the world, including a re-enactment of Darwin’s voyage on a “modernized replica” of the HMS Beagle. The voyage will be a floating field trip beamed to classrooms worldwide. The lead Editorial, “Beyond the Origin,” contained the expected creation-bashing and touting of Darwin’s theory as the greatest idea in history, but it ended with a curious theme: synthetic biology will allow the origin of life by intelligent design, though Darwin’s law of natural selection will continue to rule biology. By the time the 200th birthday of On the Origin of Species is celebrated, the life under study by science may well no longer be united by common ancestry in the way that all life is today. In that sense, Darwin’s view of the world will have been superseded. But whether that life exists around another star or in a bioreactor, it will still evolve, if given leave to, according to the simple and awe-inspiring algorithms of natural selection. The essay of Dobzhansky’s quoted earlier bears the now-famous title “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution”. That is so close to being an analytical truth – a necessary implication of what life itself is – that we can be certain it will continue to be true into the future. But that certainty in no way limits the diversity and sheer wonder of what we will find on the voyage that Darwin began.The celebratory euphoria in this editorial was quenched somewhat by another article in the special issue by Janet Browne, historian at Harvard and authority on Darwin. Although calling Darwin’s theory a “magnificent achievement” offering “remarkable explanatory power for 150 years,” she found some dirty laundry in the political history of Darwinism.1 Noting that “it is worth remembering that scientific anniversaries also provide an opportunity to push an agenda, and even to adapt the past, so telling us what we like best to hear,” Browne revisited prior Darwin celebrations in 1882, 1909 and 1959 to see what happened then. She found an interesting phenomenon: Darwin celebrations tended to be agenda-driven attempts to shore up a theory in crisis:1882: When Darwin died, his supporters used his “funeral as propaganda.” Concerned at the time over criticisms that Darwin’s views were hostile to religion, Thomas Huxley and crew hastened to get him buried in Westminster Abbey. Why?The funeral service and many obituaries stressed that Darwin was not an atheist. He was instead described as a good man, committed to truth and honesty. This was true, but it was also valuable propaganda at a time when relations between science and religion were intensely fraught. The men of the Royal Society used Darwin’s funeral as a way to reassure their contemporaries that science was not a threat to moral values, but rather was becoming increasingly important in the modern world.1909: The 50th anniversary of the Origin found Darwin’s theory in decline. New views on genetics, fossils and orthogenesis were undermining his views on gradual change, implying instead a goal-directed path of descent and even teleology. “The 1909 commemorations, organized by a small group of naturalists and Darwin family members from the University of Cambridge, provided a way to reassert the primacy of natural selection against other evolutionary rivals,” Browne said.1959: The bombastic Darwin Centennial hosted by the University of Chicago in 1959 was another attempt to whitewash Darwin, Browne argued. This Darwin anniversary was held at the University of Chicago in Illinois, in a symposium that pointedly celebrated the integration of genetics and population statistics with selection theory. Ten years earlier, this integration had almost taken the form of a political treaty. Putting it bluntly, field naturalists were eager to re-establish their value in an increasingly laboratory-based world. Prominent naturalists such as Ernst Mayr managed to get geneticists and statisticians to agree that evolution could take place on three levels: in molecules; in the flow of genes through populations; and in the environmental world of organisms undergoing competition and natural selection. In 1942, Julian Huxley invented the phrase ‘modern synthesis’ to combine genetics with natural selection, and Mayr’s key work within this synthesis, Systematics and the Origin of Species from the Viewpoint of a Zoologist (Columbia Univ. Press), was published.In addition, the Darwinites “in effect created modern Darwinism by emphatically rejecting any form of Lamarckism” in the context of the cold war:In 1959, socialist Russia had only recently withdrawn from Lamarckism in genetics, and the idea was strongly associated in US minds with the cold-war struggle. The delegates also rejected the idea that the fossil record shows signs of directed evolution, and expanded Darwinian thought to cover the evolution of mind and behaviour. During the conference, Julian Huxley, the grandson of Thomas Henry Huxley, gave a secular sermon in the style of his grandfather, and provocatively declared that religious belief was merely a biological feature of evolving mankind.This was about the same time, contrary to many people’s impressions, that the Darwin Finch story became a prop for evolutionary theory. Mayr and Huxley had encouraged David Lack to spend time in the Galapagos observing the finches. “It was only after this … that the finches sketched by Darwin became collectively known as Darwin’s finches, and were held up as the first and most remarkable evidence of evolution in real organisms in a natural setting.”So instead of being spontaneous occasions to appreciate a universally-accepted hero of science, previous Darwin celebrations, Browne argued, were political ploys by advocates with an agenda. The question becomes, will history repeat itself in 2009?But biologists will also surely use the occasion, once again, to affirm the truth and elegance of Darwinism in the face of criticism, this time from those who prefer a creationist view of the world. Evolution by natural selection has suddenly become a highly contentious idea, especially in the United States. Creationist proponents abound in the US school-board system, opinion polls highlight the public’s belief in a divine origin for humankind, and ideas about intelligent design are widely circulated. Against this, Darwin has become the figurehead for rational, secular science, and Darwinism the main target of the fundamentalist movement spreading across the globe. Attacks extend beyond arguments over the Bible. To criticize Darwinism is a forceful way to express anxieties about the growing power of modern science and the perceived decline of moral values in society. To try to poke holes in Darwin’s argument is to express dislike not just for evolutionary theory but also for science itself. There is some irony in this situation. Looking back to Darwin’s funeral in 1882, Darwin’s Christian qualities, his stature as a man of truth and honesty, were brought to the fore. He was celebrated as a man whose religious doubts were an integral part of his wisdom and insight; few critics made personal attacks on his social virtues. Now, his heroism in modern science is seen by many as an offence to religious values. It goes to show just how diversely Darwin and his theory have been perceived and used over the years. Browne, author also of the award-winning biography Charles Darwin: The Power of Place (Princeton, 2002),2 quipped in conclusion, “Darwin himself would surely be amazed by how differently we have chosen to celebrate his anniversaries.”1. Janet Browne, “Birthdays to remember,” Nature 456, 324-325 (20 November 2008) | doi:10.1038/456324a. This article requires a subscription.2. Search on the keywords “Janet Browne” for quotations from this outstanding book in previous entries.shed the light all around.(Visited 14 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0
‘Women’s raceIn the women’s elite race, which preceded the Schurter show, the competition was a lot closer. Through three laps, six riders were packed tightly together, but then it developed into a battle for line honours between 2012 Olympic champion Julie Bresset and 2012 UCI MTB World Cup Pietermaritzburg winner Maja Wloszczowska, with the two women swopping out the lead throughout the race. World number one Tania Zakelj was up with the front-runners before she fell on sharp descent while trying to keep pace when Wlsozczowska led with Bresset in third, while world number two Eva Lechner saw her title challenge ended by a nasty fall, which cost her almost two minutes. The most stunning aspect of it was the fact that she was able to continue. Heading into the sixth and final lap, Bresset looked a little fresher than the Polish star on the climbs, but Wloszczowska had previously shown herself to be faster in the technical sections at the back end of the testing Nick Floros-designed course. The question as to who would prevail was far from decided. All three podium finishers are regular visitors to South Africa and expressed their gratefulness for the support they received from the local fans. “So many friends came from Durban, from Cape Town, and it felt like I was at home,” Fumic smiled. “I really was looking for that kind of race and I am more than happy that I finished in second place because I felt a little bit of pressure from my friends who came, who told me: ‘If we come, you must finish on the podium’. ‘She was unbelievably strong’“I knew that the finish of the race would be at the top before the Tree House Rock Garden,” she said at the post-race press conference. “I tried to pass Julie there, but she was really unbelievably strong there. I tried to keep my speed to the finish, but definitely it was Julie’s day today.” He pulled out a seven-second lead after the opening lap, but Jose Hermida, the winner of the UCI World Cup Pietermaritzburg in 2009, was keeping him in his sights and by the end of lap three had closed the gap to just five seconds. At that stage, he looked like the only man that could challenge the Swiss ace for the win. Fumic reduced the deficit to only seven seconds after Schurter took a light tumble on the final lap, but the Olympic silver medallist was never in danger of ceding the lead and won in 1:40:17 after seven very testing laps. There was no stopping Schurter, however, and he refused to allow the chasers to close him down, pumping hard up the ascents and speeding smoothly down the descents and the technical sections. Nino Schurter, ranked number one in the world in the men’s elite cross country, and the defending world champion, came into the event having won the past two World Cup stops in Pietermaritzburg in 2011 and 2012 and he rode with the confidence of a man who knew his strengths were perfectly suited to the course. As they headed into the Tree House Rock Garden, Bresset held onto the lead under heavy pressure and opened up a little gap on her Polish pursuer. Still, there was no give in Wloszczowska’s challenge, but Bresset had the bit between her teeth and raced on to a five-second victory. Hermida was a strong third place finisher, 21 seconds behind Schurter. Maxime Marrot took fourth, followed by Olympic champion, Jaroslav Kulhavy, a former team- mate of the late South African star Burry Stander. With the distance to the finish slipping away, there was next to nothing to separate the pair, with Wloszczowska stalking the Frenchwoman. 31 August 2013 Thankfully, the light downfalls had helped settle some of the dust that had been so prevalent in the under-23 races the previous day. Conditions were ideal for cross country racing and the pace turned out to be torrid. ‘It was a perfect race’“It was a perfect race for me,” Schurter said afterwards. “My goal was to start really fast on the first lap. [Julian] Absalon was my biggest rival, but he always struggles a bit on the first lap, so I started really fast and after the first loop I already had a gap of five seconds. Then I was just riding at my pace and trying not to go too much into the red zone. Behind two front-runners, Esther Suss and Irina Kalentieva were involved in their own duel for third place until Kalentieva took a tumble on the final lap, which effectively ended her challenge and allowed the Swiss veteran to pull clear and secure the bronze medal. The 39-year-old Suss finished one minute and six seconds behind Bresset and was clearly delighted with her bronze medal. After some overnight rain, a bright, cloudless day dawned in Pietermaritzburg for the men’s and women’s elite cross country competitions at the 2013 UCI MTB & Trials World Championships on Saturday. The French star crossed the finishing line in 1:42:54, with Wloszczowska second in 1:42:59. For the Wloszczowska, the world champion in 2010, it was a fourth runner-up finish in the World Championships. For both women, the race was an unexpected triumph, with both having overcome serious injuries in the lead-up to the biggest mountain biking event of 2013. Bresset had suffered a broken collarbone earlier in the year, while Wloszczowska had missed the Olympics and spent almost half-a-year sidelined, uncertain whether she would be able to recover from a foot injury and ride competitively again. Hermida, too, described it as a perfect race and complimented the course. “I tried to stay on his [Schurter’s] wheel, or at least stay close, but it was impossible because the first four laps he just killed me [with his pace]. After I saw that it was impossible to beat him for first place, I tried to keep my pace and to stay on the podium.” “I am very happy. My target was the top five,” Bresset admitted. “First place today was great.” “It’s a track that suits me really well,” he added. “I went in with quite a lot of confidence for this race and I had such a good week before here in training, so I was in a good frame of mind and I had a good feeling on the track, so the pressure was no different to any World Cup or World Championship.” Lost a little timeThe Spanish star lost a little time to a back-marker on the fourth lap, however, and Schurter extended his lead to 17 seconds. Germany’s Manuel Fumic, despite a fall, then moved past Hermida and up into second. In the end, Zakelj clawed her way back to an impressive fifth place finish, while Lechner gutsed it out to take tenth place.
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Share Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Ohio Farm Bureau Federation (OFBF) has offered a second set of recommended changes to the state’s Current Agricultural Use Valuation (CAUV) program, which should result in more accurate valuations that reflect the current economic conditions faced by landowners are facing. An additional benefit should be to encourage more participation in conservation practices and programs.The changes to the CAUV formula were proposed in a letter to the Ohio Department of Taxation and can be taken administratively without the need for new legislation.In its recommendations, Farm Bureau challenged two inaccurate assumptions in the current capitalization rate portion of the CAUV formula: that land is a short-term investment and that it becomes more valuable as its mortgage is paid down.The current formula assumes land is held for only five years when in reality farmland is typically held for decades and often across multiple generations. The formula also now assumes land is more valuable as its debt is reduced, but Farm Bureau argues that land values are a function of productive capacity regardless of the level of owner equity. Both changes would lessen the impact of nonfarm market forces on the capitalization rate.Another proposal asks that all lands in federal conservation programs or other lands managed under year-round conservation practices be valued at the lowest possible rate.Currently, farmers are discouraged from idling land because it is taxed as though it was producing crops. Farm Bureau believes taxing conservation lands at the CAUV minimum value is appropriate because conservation lands are nonproducing. This also supports farmers who take steps to protect the environment and water quality.Farm Bureau is also asking the Tax Department to take additional steps to further reflect the lower value of woodlands compared to crop ground.This is Farm Bureau’s second set of recommendations on ways to improve the CAUV formula. In March, the Tax Department enacted several of the organization’s previous recommendations. OFBF thanked Tax Commissioner Joe Testa and his staff for their willingness to consider Farm Bureau’s views.Ohio Farm Bureau’s ongoing study of the CAUV formula has included extensive effort by volunteers and staff who have obtained input from numerous tax policy experts. The organization believes CAUV is Ohio’s most effective tool for preserving farmland. The goal of its study is to identify adjustments to the formula that provide fairness and accuracy while protecting the integrity of the program.