Recently, comedian/actor Bill Bailey presented two documentaries on BBC2 to highlight the important, but forgotten, role played by Alfred Russel Wallace in the publishing of the theory of evolution. Not only did he arrive at the same conclusions as Charles Darwin (though admittedly 20 years later), he also added the vital piece of the jigsaw that allowed his slow-to-publish idol to complete the puzzle.
During the programmes, much was made of the Wallace Line, the boundary between the fauna of Asia and that of Australia. This was something of which I knew nothing and left me wondering what else I could learn from the history of natural science.
To that end, I drew up a hasty, and makeshift, short list of iconic books covering three centuries of natural history.
With which to edumificate the enthusiasm-rich but knowledge-poor Tense.
It's not an exhaustive list, I'm open to alternative suggestions, but here's my five must-reads:
The Natural History of Selborne (1788-9) by Gilbert White
The Origin of Species (1859) by Charles Darwin
Silent Spring (1962) by Rachel Carson
Gaia (1979) by James Lovelock
Say Goodbye to the Cuckoo (2009) by Michael McCarthy
I'll let you know how I fare, just don't expect the blog to experience a sudden and monumental rise in scientific rigour and factual accuracy. Never forget, since 2009, Imperfect and Tense has been the home of this.