Darwin on a Disk By L. R. SHANNON Charles Darwin was one of the most influential scientifi

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FROM: New York Times, Science Section, Tuesday, Nov. 9th, 1992 Darwin on a Disk By L. R. SHANNON Charles Darwin was one of the most influential scientific thinkers of all time, and his life and work still repay study. Now several of his key writings have been brought together in a remarkable CD-ROM. Darwin, Multimedia CD-ROM for Macs and PC's, from Lightbinders of San Francisco, contains the complete texts and the original illustrations of the final editions of "The Voyage of the Beagle," "The Origin of Species" and "The Descent of Man." There are also the 1859 manuscript on the theory of evolution by Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace, a table of significant events in Darwin's life, study guides, maps, about 650 color and black-and-white images, natural sound recordings from Cornell University's Laboratory of Ornithology, a 1,000-item bibliography and more. The indexing and retrieval software for Darwin is Discpassage, included on the disk, which is becoming a sort of standard for CD-ROM applications. The menu bar across the top of the screen has four main headings: search, browse, contents and database. Search and browse have four submenus, word, author, subject and title, doing essentially the same things. The difference is that in the search mode you type in the words and can limit the search (asking only for works that include both Darwin and Wallace, for instance) while in the browse mode ready-made lists are provided. Contents lists the writings contained on the disk and the database, in this case, appears to do nothing at all. The goal of Darwin is to contain all the publications and writings of the scientist. With the vast storage capabilities of CD-ROM, that goal seems attainable. To further that end, readers are invited to participate in future editions. Peter Goldie, a biologist and the president of Lightbinders, writes in the disk's introduction: "Our goal in future releases of this disk is to have pictures of every important scene, sound, specimen or activity which Darwin discusses. If you have pictures (still or animated), sounds, or special material which you think would enhance this CD-ROM, please let us know. Students in particular are encouraged to help with the project, either as individuals or as part of organized studies in the natural sciences." P.C. requirements: DOS 3.1 or later, CD-ROM drive with appropriate software, Microsoft CD-ROM extensions 2.0 or later, 640 kilobytes of RAM with 500 kilobytes available, VGA or Super VGA, audio capability if you want to hear the sounds and, not strictly necessary but very desirable, a hard drive and 450 kilobytes of available space. Macintosh requirements: Mac Plus or later with a CD-ROM drive and software, System 6.0.5 or later, two megabytes of RAM (two and a half megabytes for System 7), 32-bit Quickdraw, 350 kilobytes of available space on, preferably, a hard drive. Darwin is $99.95. The address for information and orders is Lightbinders, 2325 Third Street, Suite 320, San Francisco, Calif., 94107; the phone number is (800) 432-3766 or, (415) 621-5746.


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