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Who said: “I have no satisfaction in formulas unless I feel their arithmetical magnitude.”
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Thumbnail of Jack Longino (source)
Jack Longino
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entomologist and ecologist who studies ants (neotropical myrmecology) in particular, and has discovered over 130 new species of animals in his career.

Jack Longino - Home entertainment … a good dissecting microscope

Illustrated Quote - Large (800 x 600 px)

“If you're shopping for a home entertainment system you can't do better than a good dissecting microscope.”
— Jack Longino
From NPR radio interview on Morning Edition, (1 Aug 2013).

More Jack Longino quotes on science >>

Context of Jack Longino's quote “Home entertainment … a good dissecting microscope”

In an interview broadcast on National Public Radio's Morning Edition on 1 Aug 2013, Jack Longino was introduced as someone whose childhood hobby of stamp collecting became boring. Instead, Longino said, “If you're shoppong for a home entertainment system, you can't do better than a good dissecting microscope.” So, even in school years, he was putting insects under a dissecting microscope and looking at, for example, amazing jaws:

“With insects, I kept finding things that I could never have imagined. … These strange sideways mandibles with all the teeth on them, and these shield-like faces. These are really scary looking things, and you know, they made me think of Hollywood monsters, the creature in ‘Alien’ and Predator.’”

In his adult life as a biology professor at the University of Utah, Longino has spent more time searching for new such monsters in the leaf litter of Central American rainforests, finding new species, reporting them, and naming them. One of his graduate students, a self-described metal-head, urged him to be creative and name them after demons.

“So Xipacna is one of these Mayan lords of the underworld. And there was this word in the dictionary that was Mabuya that was a demon, so I named one Eurhopalythrix Mabuya, which I think just sounds great.”

Longino is proud to know his work is helping make a snapshot of a world as it is ravaged by human development. His observations, at least, will preserve the knowledge of the variety of even tiny ants for future generations.

As one hears the broadcast, listening to Jack Longino gush about the excitement he finds looking through the dissecting microscope, one can reflect on how the earliest microscopists would have become so enchanted and excited by their work. Since Antonie van Leeuwenhoek drew the animalcules he saw through his early version of a microscope, researchers have continued to find entrancing details revealed that are too small for the human eye to discern.

An aside note: Dr. Longino kindly pointed out a suitable photo of an actual dissecting microscope. The Webmaster had at first found what turned out to be a compound microscope (which uses transmitted light through the slide-mounted sample. A dissecting microscope uses reflected light, and has a platform to work on the sample.) The provided picture, seen above in the illustrated quote, has an interesting story. It replaced a 1976 scope which had for 35 years “served in the humid rain-forest and dusty savannah. Its mechanical parts are still looking very fine, but the optics suffered from heavy fungal infections.” Although of the same age, the replacement WILD M5 scope had “clean optics for very little money.” The website from which it comes also shows Kalip, no doubt thrilled by the new clarity, examining Simulium flies for filarial infections, which cause an infectious tropical disease. The photo above shows the actual dissecting microscope that is now being used to combat riverblindness in Cameroon.

Quotes by pioneer microscopist Antonie van Leeuwenhoek

More quotes on | Microscope | Microbiology | Ant | Ecology | Monster


Context by Webmaster with reference to the NPR transcript. (source)


See also:
  • Science Quotes by Jack Longino.
  • Jack Longino - context of quote “Home entertainment … a good dissecting microscope” - Medium image (500 x 350 px).

Nature bears long with those who wrong her. She is patient under abuse. But when abuse has gone too far, when the time of reckoning finally comes, she is equally slow to be appeased and to turn away her wrath. (1882) -- Nathaniel Egleston, who was writing then about deforestation, but speaks equally well about the danger of climate change today.
Carl Sagan Thumbnail Carl Sagan: In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) ...(more by Sagan)

Albert Einstein: I used to wonder how it comes about that the electron is negative. Negative-positive—these are perfectly symmetric in physics. There is no reason whatever to prefer one to the other. Then why is the electron negative? I thought about this for a long time and at last all I could think was “It won the fight!” ...(more by Einstein)

Richard Feynman: It is the facts that matter, not the proofs. Physics can progress without the proofs, but we can't go on without the facts ... if the facts are right, then the proofs are a matter of playing around with the algebra correctly. ...(more by Feynman)
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