Tuesday, January 31, 2023

The Americas

TL;DR -- As we noted early last year, we have technology as a focus similar to another group's concentration on honoring research in biomedical fields. This post is about a biological thrust which has a couple of themes. One is that technology cuts across the board. We can use IEEE as an example of touching everything. Too, the post recognizes the life work of a Thomas Gardner descendant. 


We have mentioned New Spain several times, in the context of the United States. But, considering the extent of the U.S., there were other cultures, such as France, the Netherlands, Sweden and others. This will be a recurring theme due to perseverance of families through time until now. 

And, New Spain also is associated with most of the Americas outside of the U.S. and Canada. That might be the result of the usage of the Spanish language in much of the Americas. According to one source, there are 280-million English speakers in the American Continents compared to 418-million Spanish speakers. This is attributed to Spain being the first conqueror. New England did not conquer so much as slide into the area. 

Our last post mentioned the NEHGS which had a history and genealogy focus. These two utilize technology which is one of our interests. Of late, DNA studies have become more used. These types of results are becoming more frequently used in proving heritage. 

That is a biological focus which then leads to the use of technology, for supporting disciplines of the various sciences, and its mathematical understructure. And, so, we get back to computing and its contributions and plagues. We do this for several reasons which ought to become apparent through time. 

Natural History Museums (say Smithsonian, New York, London, and others) provide information about our world the study of which involves many disciplines, as we see with the Departments at Universities. Curators play a key role. Some in computing have brought this function to bear, say handling knowledge in terms of what a website might present. As with everything, interpretations differ as to what a curator does. The need seems to be recognized according to the rhetoric of the time. 

This post deals with the study of wildlife biology as it has grown over the past 150 years or so. We wanted to point to an example via the journal of the Mexican Association of Mammalogist. The first issue of Therya, Vol. 14 honors a New Englander who descends from many families, including that of Thomas Gardner, of Cape Ann and Salem. We had a post about him, earlier: Alfred L. Gardner, Ph.D.  

Note: Before going on, a technical aside is necessary. We, in the U.S., have benefited from awareness that can contribute to security and such. The 'wild west' start of the internet was a little perturbing to many. The marshals that came to town to clean up were varied, but they have helped. The below article is available via the DOAJ's website: https://doaj.org/about/. However, we point directly to the organization's site for convenience, though it does not use HTTPS. This blog (and its main site) put that into place a while ago for several reasons including Google's nudging. But, mostly, the push came from issues of FTP's security.  

The image shows part of the table of contents from the journal. There is the declaration of the Special Issue. Then, we have a listing of several of the articles, many of which have to do with Dr. Gardner's work. Not all are listed, but this quarterly publication is over 180 pages in length. 

The abstract (Special Issue in Honor of Dr. Alfred L. Gardner) provides links to 'full text' versions of the article (PDF or HTML) and gives references for the material in the article. One of the many publications of Dr. Gardner was Mammals of South America (2008) which is the first of three volumes. Our title suggests the integral aspect of the Americas, north and south. This is a subject needing more attention in terms of the long reach of New England. 

It might be helpful to point to information about Mammalogy (Wikipedia, Journal of Mammalogy, Encyclopedia of Life) which is part of Zoology, the study of animals. "Theria" is a subclass of the mammals. 

Incidentally, this post continues a major theme. An analog can be found via IEEE.org which involves the ubiquitous type of technology that which enables computing and everything else, in part. We need material sciences, as well. 


Forgive our focus on the 'artificial' when the subject of the post is nature and life. One curating task deals with establishing and preserving knowledge of provenance, through time and situations. Just now, I asked Google to give me something like this (asking ChatGPT about the provenance of its content). Got one interesting bit from The Atlantic: ChatGPT Is Dumber Than You Think (it's a toy, not a tool). Well, this type of thing will be a continuing theme (AIn't and more). 

Oh yes, Roots Tech is right around the corner. We have not paid much attention to that, except for using the various tools (love Family Search). But, it has been on the table for a while to address issues related to this type of thing. And, re-evaluating DNA (let's cut the hype) will arise at some point; for this topic, I am going back 100 some years to describe how computing in its current form came about; DNA work is heavily reliant upon computing; there is no theory for this (just practice); do we need a theory? Chemistry and its theory? Again, look around. Everyone is chasing a "theoretical" basis. Guess what? They all eventually get to computing. So, there it is. Computer science has no basis, at all. Of course, other computing labels have come up, like computer engineering. But, we're talking more than mere labels. Wait, ChatGPT appears to be shallow due to something similar? Stay tuned.  

Remarks: Modified: 02/10/2023

02/10/2023 -- There are lots of links with regard to Alfred. We'll start with these two: Special Report (Localities of Mexican Land Mammals), Tech Tech, 2020; Species he named

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