The Victorian period saw a huge change in people's understanding of science. The chemist Humphrey Davy (1778-1829) made mining safer by inventing a lamp which prevented the gas explosions which bare candles had sometimes caused. Advances were made in the theories of gases, spectrum analysis, astronomy and the cosmos, geology, the age of the earth and the discovery of the ice ages, as well as in the most controversial area of all, evolution.
Charles Darwin (1809-1822)
Charles Darwin travelled on a government expedition to the Galapagos Islands to observe the wildlife there. He noticed that each different island had slightly different species of turtles and finches, and he developed a theory of evolution to explain how species developed and changed. This was very controversial because it seemed to contradict the Biblical of creation. Darwin waited a long time before telling other people his theories, but one day his friend Alfred Russell Wallace came to him suggesting his own similar theory so Darwin decided that the time had come to publish. He published his book On the Origin of
Species in 1859 and it caused an outcry. The Town Library has a copy of the book published in 1862 and many other contemporary and modern works about evolution and the relationship between science and religion.
Charles Darwin. From Portraits of Men of Eminence, Vol 5 p49