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The lost Darwin notebook

  In a recent piece of news that may delight biologists and librarians, two of Darwin’s notebooks have suddenly returned to their place after being lost for 22 years.
  The two notebooks were used by Darwin after returning from an expedition to the Galapagos Islands in the eastern Pacific in the late 1830s. Darwin was there to examine the differences in the shape of bird pecks between different islands, jotting down his thought process in a notebook. He believes that because of the different types of food provided by each island, birds of the same species have evolved markedly different bird pecks on different islands. In one of the notebooks, there is also a sketch of the “Tree of Life” he drew in 1837, showing the process of biological evolution.
  After Darwin’s death, the two notebooks became part of the collection of the Cambridge University Library. During a routine inspection in 2001, administrators discovered that the two notebooks were missing. At first, the administrator also hoped that someone had put the notebook in the wrong place, but after many searches to no avail, he finally had to make the matter public and admit that the notebook was lost.
  However, in early April this year, the two notebooks were suddenly returned. According to the library, someone left a pink gift bag somewhere in the library’s office area with a large envelope with the words simply printed: “Happy Easter, librarian”, It is also followed by a capital X, which means sending a kiss. The two notebooks in the envelope have been identified as genuine and in perfect condition.
  The recovery of these two notebooks has left a huge space for imagination. Are they “stolen” or “borrowed” by thieves? Where have they been these 22 years? Who sent it back? Enough to write a suspense novel.
  What makes me sigh about this is that after watching a lot of treasure stealing films, we will feel that the collections in museums or libraries are safe, and stealing these treasures is a high-tech job. In fact, we have become accustomed to being able to appreciate treasures nearby, and it was not until an accident occurred that we realized that there were not so many safety measures.
  Once a tourist fell down the stairs in a museum in Cambridge because he “stepped on his loose shoelace” and smashed three Qing Dynasty porcelain vases displayed on the windowsill. In Scotland, there was also an incident in which a Leonardo da Vinci painting was stolen by thieves in broad daylight.
  The painting, titled “The Madonna of the Yarnwinder”, is owned by the Duke of Buckloo and has been on display in his home at Drumland Regal Castle. The castle is open to the outside world, and you can enter and enjoy this Leonardo da Vinci work with a £6 ticket. In 2003, two thieves posing as tourists, subdued a female staff member, took off the painting worth 30 million pounds, and swaggered out the door.
  Four years later, a lawyer contacted the Duke, claiming that arrangements could be made for the painting to be returned. Two undercover police officers approached the lawyer, claiming they were the Duke’s representative, and produced a letter of authorisation signed by the Duke himself, promising to pay £4.25 million. After negotiating the exchange of details, the police raided the lawyer’s office and recovered the painting.
  Later, the lawyer also tried to sue the duke for failing to pay the ransom. One of the details revealed in the trial was that in order to assist the police in solving the case, the Duke signed a blank letter and handed it over to the police for use. This is how the so-called authorization letter came. The judge ruled that the letter was part of a police operation and had no legal effect.
  Now, the oil painting has been loaned to the National Gallery of Scotland for long-term display, the broken porcelain vase in the Cambridge Museum has been restored, and Darwin’s notebook will be displayed in Cambridge in July this year. The public can appreciate these treasures up close, thanks to someone who is willing to take some risks and put them on public display. These opportunities are all we need to cherish.

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