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A Wellcome resource on evolution


The January 2007 issue of Big Picture -- a publication of the Wellcome Trust in the United Kingdom that seeks to provide high-school students with "up-to-date information on research findings in biomedicine, and the social and ethical implications of this research" -- is devoted to evolution. The first page of the lively and colorful sixteen-page issue (PDF) explains the plan: "Why does Darwinian evolution raise controversy when, say, quantum mechanics scarcely registers on the public consciousness? This issue of Big Picture looks at the theory of evolution, the evidence that supports it, unanswered questions and the history of public reaction."

Included are discussions of the history of the development of evolutionary theory, the tree of life, evolution in action (including pathogen evolution), current unanswered questions (including the origin of life and the relevance of evolutionary explanations to human behavior), and the social and religious impact of evolution in Darwin's day and in our own. Creationism is discussed in the latter section, with a discussion of the varying religious reactions to evolution, a brief treatment of creationism (singling out the 1925 Scopes trial and the 2005 trial in Kitzmiller v. Dover as the landmark events), and a discussion of the nature of science. The Wellcome Trust is an independent charity funding research to improve human and animal health.