Step one

The hardest part about gaining any new idea is sweeping out the false idea occupying that niche. As long as that niche is occupied, evidence and proof and logical demonstration get nowhere. But once the niche is emptied of the wrong idea that has been filling it — once you can honestly say, “I don’t know,” then it becomes possible to get at the truth.

Heinlein, R. A. 1985. The Cat Who Walks Through Walls: A Comedy of Manners, p. 230. G.P. Putnam’s Sons, New York. In: Gaither, C.C. and Cavazos-Gaither, A.E., 2008, Gaither’s Dictionary of Scientific Quotations, Springer.


5 thoughts on “Step one

  1. this reminded me of J. Harlan Bretz and the Missoula floods. I presume most folks know the story but for those that don’t:

    The plaque honoring Bretz at the Dry Falls Visitor Center, shown at the bottom of the linked webpage, has a quote very similar to the one from Heinlein. On an unrelated note, there is a rare and very beautiful wildflower, Phemeranthus spinescens, found only in cracks in basalt pavement at the bottom of scabland channels. Its closest relatives are found far away. Some mysteries will never be solved.

    • Some mysteries will never be solved.
      Like why WordPress fails to auto-approve some comments like this one for no apparent reason!

      Anyway, that is a really cool looking site Matt, thanks. I have never heard of the genus Phemeranthus, and I’ve been doing botany for a while now.

    • Phemeranthus is the new genus name for Talinum, courtesy of cladistics of course. Talinum was a perfectly lovely name, but I suppose the new one could be worse than it is. We are graced with two in Washington state, both are edaphic specialists and rock garden gems.

    • I kind of like the new name actually. Must have a very short-lived flower eh?

      I’d never heard of Talinum either, and I’ve got no idea as to family. Some botanist I am.

  2. All the species I am familiar with are uncommon or rare edaphic specialists. Each flower blooms for one day but they produce clusters of flowers. Last time I visited the Ozarks I was surprised to learn that there is a species of “fameflower” there that looks almost identical to P. spinescens (but lacks the spines). I think the fameflowers are much better known to rock gardeners than ecologists. I have a couple lovely P. spinescens in my garden, but since they come from the steppes of eastern Washington I put a clear plastic tub over them in the winter to avoid rot over here on the western side.

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