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Darwin and Genetics: 1909 and 2009

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Cambridge played host to the grand Darwin Celebration of 1909, and will do so again in 2009 to commemorate the bicentenary of Darwin’s birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of Origin of Species. These two centenary guideposts provide the historian an opportunity to assess the differing perspectives of Darwin’s theory of evolution, especially as it pertains to genetics. This lecture will review Darwin’s view of heredity—the 1868 “provisional hypothesis of pangenesis”—and explore how changing understanding of heredity and the hereditary material over the past century and a half (comparing the state of affairs in 1909 with 2009) has tempered our understanding of evolution by natural selection.

This talk is part of the Lady Margaret Lectures series.

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