About Me

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Did Socrates say "Know Thyself", or was he misunderstood, as all are. Show Thyself is all we can do. The knowing is unknowable.  

I am filled with joy.  It can't be helped.  

Became a Farmer, Builder, Musician, Tank Commander, Librarian, Lawyer and Minister. I have failed at many things. And now retired.  Filled, just filled, with Joy. 

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Scale of the Living

I was thinking about things I thought I knew something about...and realized that I really cannot even comprehend the huge scale of the smallest things!

For example, I know a lot about mosquitoes. I grew up with them, not exactly as pets, but I could identify ten different species, with special attention to Anopheles oswaldoi, which carried the malaria in our area. But of course, there are over 3,500 species of mosquitoes! And many of them look alike, and in my forgetting, I don't think I could distinguish fruitarians from blood-suckers now.

I got to thinking that this SCALE of life forms is wildly beyond the comprehension of any of us. I checked the Smithsonian collections -- over 30 million insects, 7 million fish, 5 million plant specimens. These numbers are wild.

No one can keep track of the way life has expanded and diversified. I was pleased to see that the Smithsonian has bar coded the collections, although most field ecologists are not out there with portable barcorders. None of these forms of life are labeled or coded....

Except, what about their DNA? We bar code DNA, and all living creatures have DNA. You don't have to kill the creature to collect its sample. DNA could even distinguish species that look identical, such as some of the mosquitoes.