Field of Science

Botany enters the 20th century, and maybe the 21st, in 2012

This summer in Melbourne Australia the Phactor attended the XVIII international botanical congress, which are held every 6 years. One of the highlights of the meeting are the nomenclature sessions where the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature is discussed, debated, and amended. This is the official rule book for naming botanical organisms, a real page turner recommended to cure insomnia. However as of January 1, 2012, botanical naming is going to ditch Latin! Now before you faint, please rest assured that nothing is happening to Latinized binomial nomenclature. Scientific plant names will remain the same, but what has changed is the requirement that anyone proposing to name a new species supplies a detailed description of the species in Latin. Presumably when this requirement was initiated any well-educated person would have studied Latin in school (it was still available when the Phactor was in high school), and it provided a common language of science. However, de facto, English has become the language of science. In another startling move the Code will allow electronic publication. This is important because of the principle of priority by which the first validly published name is deemed the correct one in the case of multiple namings starting at Linnaeus. So don't forget the time/date stamp on that electronic publication; it'll be important. Somehow the Phactor missed all the nomenclature sessions in favor of seeing fern gully (Those are all tree ferns!) and other sights. HT to Culturing Science for reminding me to blog about this.

No comments: