September 08, 2007


Sometimes, I think that the words that describe things in science are unnecessarily obscure, a jargon that gets in the way of common understanding. For example, I was looking at spores from the gilled polypore Lenzites betulina the other day. It's a very common fungus that anyone who has been in an area in which birch grows has seen. It looks like a fuzzy turkey tail from the top but has gills instead of a pore surface underneath. In Ryvarden's The Polypores of Europe, the spores are described as "cylindrical, sometimes bent." To me, they simply look like tiny sausages. I believe that my colloquial description is more immediately understandable by everyday people than is Ryvarden's or the many descriptions that have since been based on his work.

Because my week has been so filled with meetings and TA duties and seminars, I haven't yet had the chance to finish looking over all of the non-agaric specimens I gathered on Wednesday. I'm heading into the lab today to do so; it being Saturday, I anticipate few interruptions.

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