Morning Musically-Minded, Medically-Minded, Masticators!
(Today’s post is sponsored by the letter “M”)
Over the past 600+ episodes, The Simpsons has taken us on an amazing journey involving music, science, and food to name a few concepts.
And what better way to start your week, then by discussing some of these concepts Monday morning?
So let’s get started this week by talking about a scientist who revolutionized the way we think, Charles Darwin.
In the seventeenth episode of The Simpsons, Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish (Season 02, Episode 04), Bart catches a three-eyed fish in the river by the power plant. The catch of the three-eyed wonder (named Blinky) makes headlines.
State nuclear inspectors find numerous safety violations at the power plant, and order Mr. Burns to fix them or else the plant will be closed down. When attempts to bribe the nuclear inspector fail, Mr. Burns heeds Homer’s advise and plans to run for governor so that he can pass laws that will keep the plant open. During his campaign, he runs ads that promote Blinky as a natural evolution of fish. The ad features celebrity spokesman Charles Darwin.
Mr. Burns: Hello. Many questions have been asked about our friend the three-eyed fish. So to clarify the matter I have asked Charles Darwin! Hello Charles.
Actor portraying Charles Darwin: Hello Monty!
Mr. Burns: Would you please explain the theory for this three-eyed fish?
Actor portraying Charles Darwin: Oh certainly! Every now and then Mother Nature experiments with her creatures, giving them longer legs, sharper claws, or in this case, a third eye. If she finds the changes favorable the creatures will multiply and a new race of superfish will be created. I would not mind having a third eye, would you Monty?
Mr. Burns: Oh no, of course not.
But have you ever wondered who Charles Darwin is?
Charles Darwin (12 February 1809 – 19 April 1882) was an English biologist, naturalist, and geologist. Darwin is best known for his contributions to the science of evolution. His proposition that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestors is now widely accepted, and considered a foundational concept in science.
A fundamental premise of his theory of evolution is natural selection. Darwin started developing the concept of natural selection in 1838 following scientific voyages on the HMS Beagle from 1831 to 1836. Following a joint publication with British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace (8 January 1823 – 7 November 1913) in 1858, Darwin published his theory of evolution with compelling evidence in his 1859 book “On the Origin of Species“. By the 1870s, the scientific community and a majority of the educated public had accepted evolution and natural selection as fact.
A celebrity in scientific circles, Darwin chose to marry his cousin Emma Wedgwood (2 May 1808 – 2 October 1896) with whom he had 10 children. A very devoted and attentive father, Darwin feared his children may have inherited weaknesses from inbreeding due to the close family ties he shared with his wife/cousin any time his children felt ill. Despite his fears, seven of his 10 survived to adulthood and went on to have distinguished careers.
Darwin died in 1882 of heart disease and was buried at Westminster Abbey, near Sir Isaac Newton, following a funeral attended by thousands. In June 1909, hundreds of the brightest minds around the world came together at Cambridge University to commemorate the centenary of Darwin and the fiftieth anniversary of “On the Origin of Species“.
Now that we’ve learned more about Charles Darwin, be sure to come back next week when we continue our Monday morning musings with the next episode of The Simpsons.
Were you familiar with Charles Darwin? What’s your favourite Simpsons science figure reference? What about your favourite Simpsons political episode? Would you eat a three eyed fish? Would you like having a third eye? Sound off in the comments below. You know we love hearing from you.