Sunday, July 09, 2006

Fiddling with Darwin

A few days ago I got the sad news saying that a good friend, David Yudilevich had passed away. It was in one of his frequent swallowtail trips to London on his way for a conference in Israel when his heart said it was enough. When I heard the news that night, I took my fiddle and a bagpipe, and I played singing an old farewell sea song shanty, Leave her Johnny, leave her....most probably played on similar circumstances on board of the ship associated to Charles Darwin's biography he studied so eagerly.... the HMS Beagle .

David Yudilevich was the major promoter of historical studies in Chile of naturalists like Charles Darwin and Alexander von Humboldt. Since we met in the 90's , it was through him that we discovered personal facts that linked naturalists like Darwin and Humboldt as persons, scientists and travelers to Chile. As a geologist I had done part of the Beagle's expedition trek, and I was amazed about what Darwin had done. Then, we started a collaboration whose outcome produced papers on the figures of Humboldt, Darwin and Fitzroy.

One of those facts I discovered and I discussed several times with David, it was the figure of Darwin's personal assistant on board of the HMS Beagle, Syms Covington, officially, "fiddler and boy to the poop cabin" of the ship, who even copying his master started a diary like him. Who was this person that recollected, prepared and shipped all the materials that Darwin and other scientists used later to describe the Nature that the Beagle expedition was discovering through its trek?.

David shared his enthusiasm and left his imprint in many of us who met him.... his work is still a working project that will continue producing answers to those questions and dreams that David discussed and outlined with us.
We will miss you David.....