Sunday, November 18, 2007

On Evolution

I often hear people asking the question: Do you believe in Evolution? Well, for starters, Evolution happens. It is a fact, not something you believe or not believe in.

Evolution is one of the topics not taught in schools in India. As a result, many people I speak to have an incorrect notion of evolution. Back in high school, I remember learning about botany and zoology and the difference between classes of animal kingdom, but nothing about how this variation came about. We learn the answer to the 'What' question, totally sidetracking the more fundamental 'How' and 'Why' questions.

In reality the process of natural selection (via which evolution occurs) is a simple and fascinating concept. Unfortunately most of the literature on the net, like this Wikipedia article, is rife with scientific terminology, making it too intimidating for a layman to understand.

Here is an amazing clip from Carl Sagan's Cosmos series where he explains natural and artificial selection using the Heikegani crabs as an example in a very clear and lucid manner. Check it out...

Carl Sagan is one of my favorite authors and the entire Cosmos series is worth watching. Or if you prefer the book, it is equally good. Definitely something worth checking out.