11 October 2012

Fire, flood, pestilence and war

Statisticians, despite popular perceptions to the contrary, are as fond of play as the next person – and for a statistician there is no bigger playground than ecology. It starts off at the same size as the planet, layers dimensionally upwards downwards from human scale, has multiple expression in uncountably many scientific study domains, extends backwards and forwards in time. And throughout all of that, it is intrinsically statistical.
The surge of public environmental attention in the 1960s and 1970s after publication of Rachel Carson's Silent spring was a key factor in making me a statistician, and many others of my generation make the same admission. Hippy illusions gave way to irresistible glimpses into endless unexplored vistas of complexly related data ... and then came scientific computing to make the adventure feasible.
Ecology is, in conceptual essence, a statistical study of chreodic systems in perpetual flux with dynamic equilibrium frequently rearranged by catastrophic sheer planes.

  • Rachel Carson, Silent spring. 1962, Boston, Mass.: Houghton Mifflin.

1 comment:

Dr. C said...

Nice, Felix.