Saturday, March 29, 2008

Physicists undertake stamp-collecting

John S. Wilkins (Evolving Thoughts) has a nice post about physicists and taxonomy and the role of classification systems in science:

"Ernst Rutherford, the "father" of nuclear physics, once airily declared "In science there is only physics. All the rest is stamp collecting". By this he meant that the theory of physics is the only significant thing in science. Such mundane activities as taxonomy in biology were just sampling contingent examples of physics.

So it is with some amusement that I note that in order to make sense of string theory, a group of physicists have been trying to do taxonomy over string theories. Why this is more than a "gotcha!" is that since the late nineteenth century, philosophers of science have ignored classification, although some of the more important advances in physics relied on it, such as Mendeleev's Table, which drove theoretical advances in both chemistry and physics (and led even more ironically to the understanding Rutherford had of radioactivity)...."

Read more at Evolving Thoughts

Thursday, March 27, 2008


Monday, March 17, 2008

Unraveling the Evolutionary History of the Hyperdiverse Ant Genus Pheidole

Myrmecos has a very nice review of Corrie Moreau’s Pheidole evolution paper, as well as a hilarious informal summary of the results (see image above). Read the review here and the paper here.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Some interesting links

NC State University Insect Museum blog
lots of interesting stuff here. I like the idea of a blog that several people post to -- I keep trying to get my labmates to give me stuff to post about what they're doing but they're all too busy working and stuff :)

Geometry explains the benefits of division of labour in a leafcutter ant
new paper in Proceedings of the Royal Society B by Heikki Helanterä and Francis L.W. Ratnieks

The 5th edition of Linnaeus' Legacy
It's a blog carnival focusing on taxonomy and biodiversity. I'm not sure what a blog carnival is but it appears to be a roving roundup of interesting news and papers.

Darwin Live and in Concert

Ask Jane

Sometimes I hear about something and I think -- gee, I should really right a blog entry about this -- and I make a little note to myself or save the link for later and then when I sit down to write the entry I think -- boy, I don't have anything interesting to say about this and I don't want to do something lame like just have a link to it so why don't I deal with this later -- and then of course I either never get to it or I just have a lame link to it. Sometimes while I'm procrastinating someone else decides to write something interesting about it. That's what happened today when Myrmecos commented on Jane: the Journal/Author Name Estimator. So go read it.

Friday, March 07, 2008

The Gigantiops Destructor Store gets a mention

Looks like my cafepress store got a mention on antbase. That's cool. Makes me feel bad for not updating it in so long, though. Just remember, it's called The Gigantiops Destructor Store, not The Gigantiops Destructor Shop (cause that doesn't rhyme!).

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Biodiversity Heritage Library

Biodiversity Heritage Library has launched. Looks like it will be a good resource for taxonomists.

"Ten major natural history museum libraries, botanical libraries, and research institutions have joined to form the Biodiversity Heritage Library Project. The group is developing a strategy and operational plan to digitize the published literature of biodiversity held in their respective collections. This literature will be available through a global "biodiversity commons."

Participating institutions:

* American Museum of Natural History (New York, NY)
* The Field Museum (Chicago, IL)
* Harvard University Botany Libraries (Cambridge, MA)
* Harvard University, Ernst Mayr Library of the Museum of Comparative Zoology (Cambridge, MA)
* Marine Biological Laboratory / Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (Woods Hole, MA)
* Missouri Botanical Garden (St. Louis, MO)
* Natural History Museum (London, UK)
* The New York Botanical Garden (New York, NY)
* Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (Richmond, UK)
* Smithsonian Institution Libraries (Washington, DC)