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Mahes Visvalingam
Post-retirement postings

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Scientists tend to dismiss anecdotal evidence and believe that observations should be theory-driven.  The format of the scientific experiments we conducted in chemistry classes at school, for instance, is theory-driven.   However, such laboratory classes are designed to verify the theory and to demonstrate the repeatable nature of scientific experiments. 

Not all observations have to be theory-driven to have value.  Knowledgeable and insightful minds see novel patterns in all sorts of data, collected for some other purpose.  Serendipity and chance observations have played a very significant role in the advancement of science. 

The World Wide Web enables everyone to contribute data.  In this subweb, I would like to note some of my observations.  My first post on plants which were still active during the winter solstice of 2006 (when they should have been dormant) was prompted by current concerns over global warming.  If people all over Britain posted similar observations about fauna and flora, we would be able to map the changing geographical patterns of biological zones and all sorts of other phenomena.

Our friend Eva Crackles and her friends spent over 40 years noting the flora of the East Riding of Yorkshire for the love of it.  They never imagined that her scientific records will one day be used in new applications, such as forensic botany in murder investigations.

Even primary school children, under the supervision of a teacher, could make valuable contributions.  Enjoy your observations and have fun telling the world about it.

Some plants we have grown and loved - and sometimes used.

Mahes Visvalingam
Last updated on 21/10/12