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Celebrate the Birth of Lincoln and Darwin (Reprise)

February 12, 2010

(Ed. note: We posted the following last year to mark the 200th anniversary of Abe and Charlie's birth and liked it so much that we've decided to re-run it to mark their 201st.)

On this day two hundred years ago, Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin -- "two men whose ideas and actions continue to shape the course of the world" -- were born just hours apart, Lincoln in a one-room log cabin in frontier Kentucky, Darwin into upper middle class prosperity in Shropshire, England.

Lincoln, of course, eventually became the sixteenth president of the United States and steered the country through its greatest crisis. As the New York Post put it, "Without his singular Civil War leadership, the American experiment would have died less than a century after its birth -- with dire consequences for the nation, and for human liberty."

Darwin's achievement, while less dramatic, is no less important. The first of the evolutionary biologists, his principal works, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection (1859) and The Descent of Man (1871), established evolutionary descent as the dominant scientific explanation of diversification in nature and provided the theoretical basis for the modern life sciences.

To celebrate their legacies, we've created two word clouds using Wordle. Join us in wishing Abe and Charles a happy 200th birthday, 21st century-style.

(Click for larger images)

Wordle based on Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address:


And a Wordle generated by an excerpt from Darwin's introduction to On the Origin of Species:


-- Regina Mahone

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