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HyAM News Nº 12 -2003

CIENTIFICOS BUSCAN EL BEAGLE, BARCO DE DARWIN

Mayo 30, 2003 15:02 GMT 16:02 UK

El lugar de descanso final del HMS Beagle, el barco donde Charles Darwin hizo sus primeros descubrimientos sobre la evolución, podría ser encontrado pronto.

El Dr. Robert Prescott de la Universidad de St. Andrew´s, que ha dirigido el grupo que reconstruyó la historia final del barco, dijo que se utilizarán equipo de sensores en un sitio no informado de los pantanos de Sussex este verano

"Una vez que tengamos una idea más completa de esa búsqueda, el siguiente paso será una excavación completa, donde esperamos encontrar restos substanciales de la parte inferior del casco", dijo.

Darwin, que publicó "Sobre el origen de las especies por medio de una selección natural" en 1859, estuvo en el Beagle cuando hizo la circunvalacion del globo bajo el mando del Capitán Roibert Fitzroy entre 1831 y 1836.

'Un barco muy importante" 

El Dr Prescott dijo: "Las experiencias de Darwin durante esa expedición influyeron críticamente en el desarrollo de sus ideas sobre la evolución, revolucionando finalmente el modo como la ciencia mira la historia de la vida.

"El Beagle seguramente califica como uno de los barcos más importantes en la historia científica. Pero aún así fué olvidado por casi un siglo".  Botado en 1820 en el astillero real de Woolwich on the Thames, el barco de 235 toneladas fué modificado tres años más tarde como un buque de investigación oceanográfico.

Se embarcó luego en su famosa carrera como buque de investigacion y exploracion, haciendo dos veces la vuelta al globo.

El sloop de 90 pies (27 metros) eventualmente fué radiado de servicio en Woolwich en 1840. Fué luego utilizado en el servicio de guardacostas en tareas anti contrabando hasta que fué rematado por  £525 en 1870. Luego de ello su destino no está claro.

El Dr Prescott organizó su Beagle Ship Research Group en el  2000 luego de ser interesado por el Professor Colin Pillinger , quien está liderando el proyecto espacial del Beagle 2.

Luego de examinar evidencia documental, el grupo desecho las sugerencias previas de que había operado desde Southend o el cercano Havengore Creek.

El Dr Prescott dijo que creía que el buque había sido desguazado donde se había dejado o en un lugar cercano, pero que la parte inferior del casco no debería haber sido movida muy lejos.

"Parece que un par de jóvenes locales pueden haber comprado el buque, desguazandolo donde estaba o posiblemente remolcándolo a un sitio cercano", dijo.

Essex marsh may be last resting place of HMS Beagle
By Roger Highfield, Science Editor

(Filed: 31/05/2003)
The final resting place of Beagle, the ship in which Charles Darwin sailed around the world and formed his ideas on evolution, might have been found, experts said yesterday.
Darwin said "the most important event in my life" was the voyage, which paved the way for his On the Origin of Species, the most important scientific book of the past millennium because of its revolutionary picture of how life evolved.
Consequently, the wreck of HMS Beagle is of crucial historic significance. 
Dr Robert Prescott of the University of St Andrews, who has led the team retracing the final days of the ship's working life, said yesterday that a range of remote sensing equipment is to be used to investigate a key site in the Essex marshes this summer. He does not want to reveal the exact location until his investigation is complete, though he has a range of documentary evidence to back his suspicions.
"Once we get a clearer picture from that, the next step would be a full excavation, where we are expecting to find substantial remains of the lower part of the vessel's hull," he said.
Darwin, who published On the Origin of Species in 1859, was in Beagle as it circumnavigated the globe under Captain Robert Fitzroy between 1831 and 1836. 
Dr Prescott said: "The Beagle surely qualifies as one of the most significant ships in scientific history. Yet she has been forgotten for almost a century."
The only known relic of the vessel is a box, fashioned from its wood, which will be used to confirm the find.
Launched in 1820 at Woolwich Royal Dockyard on the Thames, the 235-ton, 10-gun brig was refitted three years later as a hydrographic survey vessel before embarking on its famous career as a survey and scientific exploration ship.
The 90ft sloop was laid up at Woolwich in 1840, and used later for anti-smuggling duties along the south-east coast until it was auctioned for £525 in 1870 - from when its fate has remained unclear.
Dr Prescott, who founded the Scottish Institute of Maritime Studies at St Andrews, set up the Beagle Ship Research Group three years with Prof Colin Pillinger and others, with the intention of clearing up the uncertainty surrounding the vessel.
Prof Pillinger of the Open University is the head of the UK-based project to land on Mars and seek alien life with the Beagle 2 probe, to be launched next week.
After examining documentary evidence, the team ruled out previous suggestions that Beagle had operated from Southend. A location further north was identified and parts of the ship, as well as a dense scatter of Victorian pottery, have
already been uncovered.
Dr Prescott said he believed the ship had been broken up either where she lay or nearby, but the lower part of the hull was unlikely to have been moved far.
"After the marvels of Patagonia and the Galapagos Islands, it seems the ship that helped spark a scientific revolution led a humdrum life in a backwater of England before falling asleep on a muddy riverbank," he said. 
The National Maritime Museum in Greenwich is hosting an exhibition, The Beagle Voyages - from Earth to Mars, linking the Beagle 2 mission to Darwin's.
Although separated by more than 150 years, the voyages of the two Beagles are surprisingly similar, said curator Rob Warren.
Regardless of advances in navigation technology, surveying methods and timekeeping, many of the principles that underlie these have changed very little, said Mr Warren, though the materials and technologies in Beagle 2 would
be unrecognisable to a 19th-century sailor.
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