Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Cambridge day 9 (Monday) Down House!

We set off at 9:30 for Darwin's residence, Down House. Bagged lunches were provided.

Due to the narrow country road, there was only room for one bus to pass. The bus that confronted us went in reverse for some time, until finally pulling into a parking lot.

Down house! No photographs were allowed inside, sadly. The bottom floor was a recreation of Darwin's house, as it would have looked when he lived there. His study was the most interesting of the recreated rooms. Various pillboxes were neatly arranged on the table, and chemist's bottles were crammed into the small space on a vanity. Despite the large space, his workspace was compact, comparable to his Beagle cabin arrangement, which we saw upstairs. In the upstairs reconstruction of Darwin's cabin, a holograph of Darwin was seated at the table, sometimes taking snuff or using some of the instruments on the table. Museum exhibits filled the upstairs, detailing Darwin's journey to the Beagle voyage, and demonstrations of his theory of Natural Selection in interactive exhibits.

I enjoyed wandering the grounds!

me by a tree with an enormous root structure (photo credit to Forrest)
Darwin performed many experiments on carnivorous plants. The greenhouse was set up to hold many of the plants he may have experimented upon, including this Venus flytrap.

Pitcher Plant

the garden path

view out onto the meadows from the Sandwalk

Darwin wrote a paper on the way that worms' movement through the earth causes erosion. His son William designed this wormstone. The stakes at the center reach beyond the worms' action, and so they form a measure of the erosion caused by worms. Though the stone has sunk, they remain.

on our way home

sainsbury soup for diner
walked past Queen Anne's college during my evening walk

The Mathematical Bridge

Monday, July 15, 2013

Cambridge day 8: breakfast and formal dinner

 Slept in after staying late at the Pickerill last night, so I missed breakfast. Instead, I opted to get a fruit platter at the Copper Kettle, a local cafe.

After breakfast, we walked around Cambridge, until it was time for the afternoon seminar in Caius College.

Dr. Bill Durbin gave us another presentation, this time on the background of Darwin's theory itself.

We had scones and tea!

End of the seminar
After the seminar, we had about one and 1/2 hours to prepare for the formal. The formal was wonderful. Dr. Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canturbury and current headmaster of Magdalene College, presided.

Picture with Dr. Graalman, who is stepping down from his post as Director of the Scholar Development office

Cambridge day 7: bike ride, shopping, choir concert

Today was Saturday, so we had no class. Instead we visited St. John's College.

view from the Bridge of Sighs

me on the Bridge of Sighs

looking down the promenade

We rented some bikes at City Cycle, and went for a ride. Originally we intended to drive to Grantchester, but the treacherous (at least for us Americans) made us rethink our plans.

Instead we found some country bike trails outside Cambridge.

Lovely views!

Did some (window) shopping...
Got a mushroom-cheese crepe for lunch

street performers

a little bit of home on Jesus Green

The OSU concert chorale was performing in St. John's chapel

Excited for the concert

The doorway outside of St. John's chapel

Friday, July 12, 2013

Cambridge day 6

Today in class we discussed the way in which Darwin used the latter half of the book to refute any possible arguments that one might have, beefing up his argument as much as possible. 

I got a panini for lunch

I ate it in the Backs, behind the colleges, where I could see punters on the Cam.

Pistachio-cream filled cannoli was my dessert

On the way back, I stopped at the Haunted Bookshop.

Sorely tempted by the copies of Sherlock Holmes and Alice in Wonderland, I resisted, but I shall return.

Stopped in an art shop

And found a little craft market on my way back to class.

In the afternoon, we had a visitor, Bill Durbin, give a talk on the Galapagos, addressing the negative impact of tourism on these unique ecosystems. One example he gave was that of the tortoises, which have been decimated by introduced dogs and cats. Another was the albatross, whose feeding ground of fish has been taken over by fishermen. As a result the albatrosses become tangled in fishing nets and hooks. The example which impressed and saddened me the most was that of the Scalesia daisy population, which used to form forests. 

Image via wikicommons

The introduction of goats and non- endemic trees has severely limited Scalesia growth on all islands, and they grow only sparsely now.

After class, I, Megan and Forrest went to what we've been calling the Scottish shop, but it has a different name. While Forrest got a scarf, I and Megan examined the hats.

For dinner, we went out to the Castle pub.

Tomato soup and baguettes 

After dinner, we went out to see Much Ado About Nothing in the St. John's College Gardens. No pictures from that, other than this poster:

Image via

Suffice it to say that it was an enjoyable evening. The actors were quite strong, and the play was staged outside, adding to the feeling of authenticity that pervaded the night. The actor who played Benedick had an excellent sense of comedic timing, interacting with the audience on occasion. We enjoyed mulled wine at intermission, and returned home, satisfied by an amusing performance. 

Cambridge day 5: The Sedgewick, The Whipple, and Castle Mound

We opened up the Origin of Species today, and began to note the arguments that Darwin used, as he began to build his argument by displaying domesticated animals and the variation which one sees.

After moring class, we headed to the Museum of Archeology and Anthropology.

Specimens from medival Cambridge
Comic Fuji mask
Decorative clubs

Then to the Sedgewick!

It was named after one of Darwin's friends and mentors. Darwin studied under Sedgewick in Wales for a month before leaving on the HMS Beagle.


The impression of 200 million old raindrops

Ancient vicious hippo

This exhibit on Darwin as geologist contained much of his fossil and rocks. 

Field notebook

Megathruim (ancient sloth)

After the Sedgewick, we visited the Whipple.

Darwin's microscope

A working orrery, or model of the solar system

Testing the telescope

We ate at a restaurant overlooking the river

My ragu

Looking at the punts

Later at seven, we went up to Castle Mound, all that remains of a Norman fortress.

The highest point in Cambridge

We stayed to watch the sunset