Friday, March 06, 2009

Apocrypha

In the world of science one of the signal honours is to have a new species of something or other named after you. It's a bit like being mentioned in dispatches.

Coprolites are the petrified faeces of long-extinct animals. As they cannot be ascribed to a particular animal they're given a scientific name of their own for the purposes of description and study.

Back in the dark ages when I was a student there was an urban myth about the young research palaeontologist at one of our newer universities whose life had been made a misery by an overwheening boor of a departmental head. The story was that he got his revenge by describing a newly-discovered coprolite in an august periodical and naming the new species after the head of his department. The idea of this bloke having to accept the honour with all good grace while everyone and his dog knew that his subordinate had called him a fossilised shit in a peer-reviewed article tickled us no end.

6 comments:

Red Squirrel said...

I so hope that is true :)

We name certain functions/procedures in the code we right depending on how we feel.

A On error: goto StopEatingSoLoudlyYouBastard

is not uncommon....

scarlet-blue said...

Oh, I'd love to be asked to make up names for things... I fancy doing a paint chart...
I'm being too girly aren't I?
Time for bed I think...
Sx

savannah said...

i'm with red, i hope it's true, sugar! now, i wish i could figure out a way to burst the balloon of a local snob i know... xoxox

(did i mention, he and his child bride are coming to dinner here soon...sigh)

Daphne Wayne-Bough said...

I often wonder who was Ena Harkness?

Gadjo Dilo said...

But I think most people in that job he's in welcome fame at any price.

And Doris Tysterman.

Kevin Musgrove said...

Red Squirrel: so do I. Love the coding.

Scarlet: Can that be a near-future post? I want to know the Pantone code for "Dyson."

Savannah: Ooh... perhaps glacial politeness is the only escape?

Daphne: I actually know about this: the Harkness family were famous rose-growers back in the day. I think Ena was one of the older daughters.

Gadjo: palaeontologists tend to be a bit more earthy than that. World travel and strong drink tend to be the priorities.

You've got me on Doris, though.