[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: Naming Things

G. Martinez said:

<< If you can do better than Carolus Lineus, then by all means, please do.  
Just make sure people know which sharks, cats, bumble bees, pencils, 
hatchets, swords, lions and tigers and bears (0h my!), you are referring to.
 Taxonomy, like all science, is an ongoing process of investigation, 
evaluation and re-revaluation, all the time using newer techniques such as 
DNA analysis and, oh yes, c-o-m-p-u-t-e-r-s.  If you can't handle the science 
behind the hobby, then leave it to those who can.  >>

Bill replies:

240 years ago Carl Linnaeaus introduced a system of identifying specific 
organisms.  It also showed their relationship to other organisms at the 
genera level.  I believe that he thought that the names, once assigned, would 
last forever.  But for the last 50 years, the rapid changes that you 
acknowledge require that long-standing, familiar names be changed to remain 
consistent with Carl's system.

This must be maddening to scientists who have to keep up with changes to the 
names of, say, the thousands of bacteria that they study. Just consider the 
problems in searching the literature for information on a  bacteria that has 
undergone several name changes.

In the old days one could tell the occupation of a person by his surname.
That changed when Mr. Miller's son decided that he wanted to become a tailor. 
 The whole system broke down, and they went to Social Security numbers. <g>

I think we'll see a new system of naming organisms, purely numeric but tied 
into DNA structures which are unchanging.  These non-significant identifiers 
will be linked by computers to historic, meaningful names with which people 
can identify.  Maybe something like the Dewey Decimal System, used in 
libraries to identify books, or the Library of Congress publication