The HMS Beagle set sail on December 27, 1831, carrying with it the man who would soon set the scientific world on its ear with his theories of how life on earth evolved, and continues to. Without having taken this somewhat dangerous four-year journey, Darwin would have likely become a "country parson," and On the Origin of the Species would never have been published, says zoologist Peter McGrath in the Guardian.
Now, a group of researchers, "inspired by the 2009 bicentenary of Darwin's birth," have launched the HMS Beagle Project to try to recreate the famous ship as "a 21st century icon to inspire a new generation to engage with science," McGrath, a joint founder of the project, says. The project has already organized workshops and conferences in South America, China, and Australia, but now plans to actually build its own Beagle. "A UK-wide search is underway for a home port where the modern Beagle will be built, and a funding campaign has begun to raise the estimated £5m necessary — rather more than the £7,803 it cost to build the original," he adds. "Once launched, the new Beagle will bring the adventure of science to life, retracing FitzRoy and Darwin's voyage, serving as an ambassador for British science, history, and industry, and taking scientists and sailors to sea."