12 February 2009

Darwin 200

Variety for fitter life.
Not by eliminating others,
But, by letting them live.
The more, the merrier days.
How true, how true!
Dearest grand sire Charles,
This toast is for thee,
A birthday we cannot miss.

Today, is the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin, who in his book On The Origin of Species led the foundation for modern evolutionary theory. This year (to be precise, November 24) is also the 150th year of this important book. To know more, see events for his bicentenary celebrations as also the special in Nature.

The three principles underlying the process of natural selection are (1) variation or diversity in the population - a necessary prerequisite, (2) principle of heredity - off-springs have to resemble their parents more than other members of their species, and (3) better adapted individuals have more number of off-springs - the principle of the struggle for existence (survival of the fittest). Note that his principle of variability is very important. But, its importance is lost while giving greater prominence to the struggle for existence.

It means that if survival requires interaction then the existence of multiple groups is very essential. If they become extinct then interaction is not possible and as a result the fitter players will also become extinct. In the present economic crisis, a possible lesson is to encourage the existence of a large number of smaller players. Emphasizing on a few bigger players can be a recipe for furthering the disaster. It is for this that "Business as usual is not an option" (IAASTD) and Small is Beautiful.

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