“Nature is written in that great book whichever is before our eyes - I mean the universe - but we cannot understand it if we do not first learn the language and grasp the symbols in which it is written.”
The Cumulative Action of Creation
St. John's College, 2020
Upon my first reading of Origin, I was struck by Darwin’s late-stage mention of the rate of change of variation. The more I looked, the more I found an implicit calculus within. Consider Nature’s insensible series, cumulative action, and continuous summation. Of course, Darwin does not give us numbers or equations. Still, his often mathematical language made me wonder whether we could calculate rates of adaptation; whether we could sum each successive change and plot an organism's transformation; whether we could compare these quantities across time, space, and creature; whether we could ultimately reconstruct Darwin’s tree on a coordinate plane.