Wednesday, June 19, 2013


The invasion of the cicadas will soon be over, and those that survived this trip to the surface will head back underground for another seventeen years, until 2030.

Far be it from me not to find some way to mark this occasion for Inner Toob......


From Wikipedia:
Stephen Jay Gould (September 10, 1941 – May 20, 2002) was an American paleontologist, evolutionary biologist, and historian of science. He was also one of the most influential and widely read writers of popular science of his generation. Gould spent most of his career teaching at Harvard University and working at theAmerican Museum of Natural History in New York. In the later years of his life, Gould also taught biology and evolution at New York University.

Gould's most significant contribution to evolutionary biology was the theory of punctuated equilibrium, which he developed with Niles Eldredge in 1972. The theory proposes that most evolution is marked by long periods of evolutionary stability, which is punctuated by rare instances of branching evolution. The theory was contrasted against phyletic gradualism, the popular idea that evolutionary change is marked by a pattern of smooth and continuous change in the fossil record.

Most of Gould's empirical research was based on the land snail genera Poecilozonites and Cerion. He also contributed to evolutionary developmental biology, and has received wide praise for his book Ontogeny and Phylogeny. In evolutionary theory he opposed strict selectionism, sociobiology as applied to humans, andevolutionary psychology. He campaigned against creationism and proposed that science and religion should be considered two distinct fields (or "magisteria") whose authorities do not overlap.

Gould was known by the general public mainly from his 300 popular essays in the magazine Natural History,and his books written for a non-specialist audience. In April 2000, the US Library of Congress named him a "Living Legend".


'The Simpsons'
"Lisa The Skeptic"

The Tooniverse

And why did I choose him in connection to the cicadas?

From Stephen J. Gould:
Many potential predators have 2-5-year life cycles. Such cycles are not set by the availability of cicadas (for they peak too often in years of nonemergence), but cicadas might be eagerly harvested when the cycles coincide. Consider a predator with a life-cycle of five years: if cicadas emerged every 15 years, each bloom would be hit by the predator. By cycling at a large prime number, cicadas minimize the number of coincidences (every 5 x 17, or 85 years, in this case). Thirteen- and 17-year cycles cannot be tracked by any smaller number.

1 comment:

William Mercado said...

I had the pleasure of attending a lecture on evolution back in the mid 90s given by Gould and helped me better understand evolution.