HMS Beagle, famous ride of Charles Darwin, now rots quietly on the bottom of the River Roach. But if The Beagle Project is successful, the storied ship may sail again, retracing its famous round-the-world route from 2009-2011. In the words of Beagle Project organizers:
We aim to celebrate Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday by building a sailing replica of HMS Beagle and then retracing the 1831-1836 Voyage of the Beagle with an international crew of researchers, aspiring scientists and science communicators. The new Beagle will symbolise both the physical and intellectual adventure of science; she will be equipped with laboratories, 21st century science equipment and satellite communications, she will host cutting-edge science projects of international relevance while serving as vehicle for improving wider public engagement with and understanding of science.
The Beagle Project exemplifies what I think is best about reenacted voyages (something I wrote about two weeks ago). While some reenact expeditions in hopes of proving historical points (e.g. sailing an ancient Phoenician ship around Africa to “prove” that Phoenicians did it first) others sail to experience life aboard ship, and hopefully, insight into particular aspects of the original voyage. The Beagle Project is very much an enterprise of the latter variety – a voyage which will sail between the worlds of history and the present day. Meanwhile, the scientific crew of the new Beagle will be pursuing a variety of projects including metagenomics and DNA barcoding.
In other words, this is a project that deserves support. If you aren’t convinced, consider the money now pouring into anti-Darwinist reenactments. Millions have been spent on Kentucky’s 60,000 sq ft. Creationist Museum and Florida’s Dinosaur Adventure Land, venues that base their historical reenactments on the Old Testament rather than geological or biological history.
Close your eyes now and imagine your children walking through the Creationist Museum’s Garden of Eden diorama. Now they’re off to the humans-living-with-dinosaurs exhibit. Soon they’ll be at the gift store, emptying their pockets to buy “4 Power Questions to Ask an Evolutionist.” Now open your eyes, wipe the sweat off your brow, and give generously to the Beagle Project.
Humans Frolicking with Dinosaurs at the Creation Museum
Keep up to date with expedition plans at The Beagle Project Blog.