Of coral and common sense: Why it's important to test our theories


18 Responses to “Of coral and common sense: Why it's important to test our theories”

  1. mr_bloo_sky says:

    “Because, frequently, ‘common sense’ isn’t really all that sensical.”

    This would have been a fine entry if it had left out all references to common sense. The practice in question has nothing to do with common sense and everything to do with bad assumptions, which were entirely sensical, in that they weren’t nonsense, but perhaps not the best practice.

  2. Paul Renault says:

    “Because, frequently, ‘common sense’ isn’t really all that sensical.”

    ..or common.

    /my ethics prof in HS used to make a point of calling it ‘horse sense’.

  3. Lobster says:

     Looks like a showdown over the not-OK coral.

  4. beforewepost says:

    I’m really having trouble understanding why the adjective “unsustainable” is being implied here. 

    The corals still reproduce. So the amount of polyps the pruned versus unpruned corals produce doesn’t matter – new coral is still born.

     Sure, we may be selecting for smaller offspring but absent some criteria that demonstrates bigger is better, I fail to see the problem. 

    • Paul Renault says:

      By harvesting from the larger corals, they
      i) reduce the number of their offspring – so smaller, slower-growing corals’ relative numbers increase;
      ii) select for smaller corals – smaller, slower-growing corals’ relative numbers increase.

      Eventually, you end up with mostly/only smaller slower-growing corals. Awkward.

  5. 10xor01 says:

    Many corals for aquarium hobbyists are maricultured.  Seems like the same could be done for this species.  Doing so might even reduce costs and add stability to the supply.

    • fuzzyfuzzyfungus says:

      Once the Little Sister’s Orphanage opens, we should have enough hosts for viable production.

    • David Aked says:

      Not always that simple.  Aquaculture can be a difficult industry to get license for (Especially in Australia.  Extremely arduous to get the license.  You’d think that they don’t want to have sustainability).

      Further, corals require specific lighting and water requirements.  This can be very VERY expensive.  When you consider how much coral you’d need, the amount of lighting and water and care, it’d become very cost prohibitive.  (As a rough indicator for you, I know to maintain health coral in my tank, I need about 100W of focused LED lighting which covers a tank 50cm x 50cm x 50cm.  I need to do a water change of 10 – 20% every week to maintain stable water chemistry as things like calcium/magnesium etc deplete.  I have a lightly stocked tank)

      The only logical way I can think of doing it cheaply would be to do it like oyster farming.  Get your prunings and culture them on racks in a nominated farming area.

      • 10xor01 says:

        Get your prunings and culture them on racks in a nominated farming area.

        Agreed. That’s how mariculture is generally done. Either in the ocean itself, or outdoors using ocean water. Light is provided by the sun, and water quality just matches the ocean.

  6. noah django says:

    second P as in “pterodactyl” or is it a hard P absorbed by the O in pseudo?
    instinct says the first, but wiki was no help.

    • Lobster says:

      I think the only reasonable solution is to never bring up psuedopterosin in casual conversation. A good rule of thumb even if you do know how to pronounce it.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      You’re assuming that every word has a pronunciation.

      • noah django says:

         c’mon, man.  quit jiving me.  somebody speaks this word, either to students or to their scientist colleagues.  [shakes fist at the sky] THESE THINGS MATTER!!!!!

        • fuzzyfuzzyfungus says:

          Pseudopterosin is really on the very low end of what can happen when scientific systematic naming rules collide with actual compounds. People don’t generally bother to actually use those results; because they are barely words in any useful sense; but you don’t really have many good choices in a world inhabited by hundreds of thousands, at least, of molecules with several thousand or more component atoms(sometimes with multiple structural variations!). 

    • knappa says:

      I would guess that it is the former: pseudo-pterosin. Pterosin is itself a chemical http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/pterosin and this is presumably a similar, but distinct chemical. (Hence “false”)

      • chenille says:

        Not actually similar – compare pterosin and pseudopterosin structures. Here pseudo- is part of the name of the coral, which is apparently a lot like Pterogorgia. Pterosins come from Pteridium, a fern.

        As far as saying it goes, the P is usually pronounced in names like hymenopteran and archaeopteryx, so I would go with that here. But I wouldn’t presume to correct someone who said it some other way.

  7. SomeGuyNamedMark says:

    Nothing messes up assumptions more than putting a dollar sign into the equation.

  8. Daen de Leon says:

    Which is why, in spite of prevailing trends, total synthesis of organic compounds should still be taught to budding chemists.


Leave a Reply