What do you collect?

A big, warm, and welcoming ‘Hello’ to all of my new TASIS science students!

I have a question for you: Do you collect things?  Rare coins?  Postage stamps?  Books?  Comic books?  Music?  Movies?

If so, in some ways, you are following in the footsteps of many great male and female scientists before you.  In fact, much of the energy of past, present and future scientists was, is and will be devoted to making collections of things found on Earth (and beyond).  In the weeks ahead, you too will learn how to become a scientific collector during our TASIS Insect Survey project, but more about that project later…

Alfred Wallace

Alfred Russel Wallace Photo credit: British Natural History Museum

One of my favorite earthly scientist collectors was Alfred Russel Wallace, a British explorer, collector, naturalist, geographer and anthropologist (among other talents) who lived from 1823-1913.

A.R. Wallace is perhaps most famous for his contributions to the theory of evolution by natural selection, a theory that he co-authored with Charles Darwin, but these days it is a piece of his furniture that is receiving a good deal of attention.  A couple of years ago, one of Wallace’s specimen cabinets was put on display at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH).

A.R. Wallace specimen cabinet

The rosewood cabinet of specimens that belonged to Alfred Russel Wallace. Photo credit: D. Finnin/AMNH

It is a beautiful piece of furniture made from finely crafted rosewood and it contains nearly two thousand sorted and labeled beetles, moths, and plants.  A photo of the cabinet can be seen at right (if you click on the cabinet you can see a larger version), but if you want to see some of the specimens housed inside of the drawers you’ll have to click HERE and read a 2009 article by Jennifer Viegas on DiscoveryNews.com.  Enjoy!

About DocBretto

DocBretto has a PhD in science education and specializes in radicalizing student curiosity, performing intellectual sorcery, and inventing alternative futures for science education via the Dark Arts.
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