Wednesday, February 12, 2014

My favourite bit of Darwiniana:


Since it's the great man's birthday (February 12, 1809).

I once had reprints of most of his books, including  1881. The formation of vegetable mould, through the action of worms. London: John Murray. 

I never got tired of picturing this experiment:

"Worms do not possess any sense of hearing. They took not the least notice of the shrill notes from a metal whistle, which was repeatedly sounded near them; nor did they of the deepest and loudest tones of a bassoon. They were indifferent to shouts, if care was taken that the breath did not strike them. When placed on a table close to the keys of a piano, which was played as loudly as possible, they remained perfectly quiet."

You know who else was born on February 12, 1809, of course.

Abraham Lincoln.

Quite the auspicious day.

3 comments:

mainly mongoose (Lynda) said...

I love this. One forgets that SOMEONE had to do it...

Jodi said...

One wonders about the musicality of the notes played for the worms. Would the experiment have had different results if an actual melody was played or sung rather than individual notes blared at them? Perhaps worms are dancers, we simply haven't played the right music to inspire them yet.

Hugh said...

Jodi: Or James Brown. That might have worked.