Creativity is Cool (Happy Birthday Charles Darwin)

By Emily Jane Dennis,@emilyjanedennis Creativity is cool. Today is Darwin’s birthday. Instead of talking about his life or how he made everything in biology make sense, I want to talk about two of his drawings. Darwin’s first (left, 1837) and final (right, 1859) evolutionary trees These two drawings, separated by 22 years, are a perfect illustration of the creative process in scientific thought. On the left is the first ever evolutionary tree, and on the right is Darwin’s final tree from On the Origin of Species.When he sketched out this first tree, Darwin had already spent years coming up with and expanding on his idea of transmutation (what we call evolution). I think about this drawing as a proof, a way to visually evaluate what he had been mulling over for so many years. He used this figure to take a bunch of independent thoughts and pull them together to address one big question: how do the species we see today relate to species that existed in the distant past? I like to believe that the “I think” above Darwin’s first tree drawing is a glimpse into his inner-critic. It was written by that doubting voice inside his head, urging him to find

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The Incubator - hatching conversations about science - is a blog fueled by The Rockefeller University community.  In an effort to help shape expectations for the type of content you will find on The Incubator, we have highlighted a few key points that are central to our mission: Community Engagement   By improving the dialogue between RU and the broader community, we hope to improve science literacy and create a base of informed consumers of science.  There is a clear disconnect between the appropriate interpretations of basic and clinical research projects and what the public understands.  When explanations are offered, they are generally dull, jargon-laden science lessons. We have seen the consequences of a scientific community that has become disengaged with the general public.  If scientists do not help pass on their passion for science to the populous, the public cannot differentiate between evidence-based science and pseudoscience.  Examples of this are found by simply looking at declining vaccination rates, or legislative policies that are not aligned with rigorously proven scientific findings. Scientific Openness The Incubator is meant to be, in part, a platform to facilitate discussions among scientists, and provide a window to showcase the work and philosophies born at RU in