Today is the birthday of Steve Jobs. Definitely someone worth a write-up, but he’s probably been the subject of this blog before.
Instead, our subject for the day is insects. Actually, entomology, to be exact. Two big names in entomology share a birthday today.
Firstly, we have Asa Fitch (24 Feb 1809 – 8 Apr 1879), an American entomologist who originally trained as a medical doctor, but committed his life to insect studies, specifically the relationship (beneficial or damaging) between insects and agricultural crops.
Then there’s John Henry Comstock (24 Feb 1849 – 20 Mar 1931), another entomologist from America, who made a pioneering contribution to the classification of scale insects, moths and butterflies. One of the factors that caught readers’ attention in Comstock’s early books was the insect illustrations drawn by his wife, Anna Botsford, underlining the importance of good visuals in science communication. Comstock’s insect studies included research into the arrangement of the veigns in insect wings (also called ‘venation’) – an area where he made many fundamental contributions.
Entomology – the scientific study of insects. Definitely not an area where I can claim any special knowledge. But an area, I am sure, that must be fascinating when it’s your domain of expertise. What I find quite amusing, though, is how entomologists are lately becoming quite the celebrities in popular culture. Along with coroners, medical doctors and detectives, entomologists are more and more being displayed as part of teams of scientific geniuses who solve seemingly unsolvable cases. Think about the character Jack Hodgins in the TV series Bones, or Gill Grissom in CSI. Brilliant, driven and committed scientists who can practically solve a case by merely investigating the bugs found in or near the victim’s decomposing body.
Judging by characters such as these, I would not be surprised if there’s an increased number of bright young people inclined to pursue a career in entomology. It may not yet have the superstar status that IT enjoys (thanks in no small part to people like our other birthday star Steve Jobs) but it’s definitely got star potential!