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Archive for the ‘Spiders’ Category

Information is important. With information each of us as individuals, and our society as a whole, can learn about the world. With information, we can all make decisions that make sense. With information, we can all discuss ideas.

Without information none of that is possible. Without information, we are, at best, at the mercy of our current, limited knowledge, and our base instincts. Without information we are, at worst, at the mercy of the limited knowledge and instincts of someone else.

This is why the gag order, and insistence that all reports and data be pre-screened before release to the public, issued by the President to the EPA are so concerning to me, and I think should be so concerning everyone else. This is exactly the kind of action that limits access to, and spread of, information. It will only hamper all of our abilities to operate as rational, critically thinking individuals. It is the kind of action that is put in place to control what we, as citizens, know and when we know it. This is censorship and it has no place in science or a free society.

#thisisnotnormal

pansy-white-blue

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A few days ago, I went into my boss’s office to go over an extra credit assignment he is creating for a class I am helping with.  As we looked at the tree of life and talked a bit, he showed me something amazing.  From a desk drawer, he pulled out a small test tube with a bit of cotton blocking the open end.  walking around inside the test tube was a small spider, only about half a centimeter long.  My boss has done a lot of work studying spiders all around the world, and in particular has focused his work on spiders hat live in caves.  This was just such a spider.  Completely blind having no eyes at all due to having evolved in the total darkness of a cave, my boss was keeping it cool in his desk and feeding it fruit flies.  Some people exploring a cave near Sonora, CA had found this spider, collected it, and had then brought it to my boss for identification.  And here is the amazing part.  It could not be identified because it was a species that had never been described before!  This was s first for me; to hold an undescribed species!  It reminded me just how little we really know about the biodiversity of the world around us, including the world in our backyards.  So, there I was holding a small piece of the unknown, staring into tone of the white regions of the map.  Really exciting!

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