Wednesday, March 30, 2011

On Beetles

Jack Haldane 
...for Margadant:
There are over 400,000 named beetles, probably two or three times that number unclassified.

Asked by a prominent preacher what he had learned about God from his study of evolutionary biology, J. B. S. Haldane replied, "If one could conclude as to the nature of the Creator from a study of his creation it would appear that God has a special fondness for stars and beetles."

"Cancer’s a Funny Thing
I wish I had the voice of Homer
To sing of rectal carcinoma,
This kills a lot more chaps, in fact,
Than were bumped off when Troy was sacked..."

Haldane died on 1 December 1964. He willed that his body be used for study at the Rangaraya Medical College.
"My body has been used for both purposes during my lifetime and after my death, whether I continue to exist or not, I shall have no further use for it, and desire that it shall be used by others. Its refrigeration, if this is possible, should be a first charge on my estate."
"... used for both purposes ..." ???


Oldfool said...

My carcass is going to LSU Medical Center. All I've used it for was to have fun. Maybe in my death I'll be of some use.

Mimbres Man said...

Had stream ecology course at NM Tech where we sampled NM rivers. Aquatic insects tell a lot about the health a river. Some are common and others are not. I found a tiny aquatic beetle a few millimeters across in my sample jar. The prof was confident he knew what it was and wanted me to key it out. Took me nearly 3 hours with the dissecting scope but I got it into the right family and genus he said that's good enough. He said I did it pretty fast actually...faster than most of his students, but he also said it'd probably take another hour or two to go farther. He said genus was good enough for our studies.
It was probably my favorite class I took in that degree program.

George A said...

Oddly enough, today I read a genetics journal article which referenced a 1932 publication by Haldane. Serendipity! Along with being well known as a biochemist, JBS was perhaps better known as a population geneticist.

Margadant said...

A population geneticist -- that helps explain his opinion about God.

Gunnar Berg said...

I assume he being sarcastic when addressing the preacher:
"My practice as a scientist is atheistic. That is to say, when I set up an experiment I assume no god, angel or devil is going to interfere with its course... I should therefore be intellectually dishonest if I were not also atheistic in the affairs of the world."