Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Nabokov: butterfly evolution genius?

Check this article out (by Carl Zimmer), in the New York Times. Apparently, while not penning genius literary works, Nabokov was the curator of lepidoptera at Harvard's Museum of Comparative Zoology. And he didn't just dust the shelves.

In 1945, he wrote a paper on the Polyommatus blues.

Nabokov had done a bunch of careful work on these creatures, clarifying their differences and similarities, rearranging their family tree, making sense out of a group that had confounded many.

In that paper, "He envisioned them coming to the New World from Asia over millions of years in a series of waves."

Well, since then folks in lab coats who are good with DNA have been testing his theory.

"On Tuesday in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, they reported that Nabokov was absolutely right. 'It’s really quite a marvel,' said Naomi Pierce of Harvard, a co-author of the paper."

Vindicated 65 years later.

=) Awesome.

Incidentally, he was a SELF TAUGHT lepidopterist.


And motivated: "He used the proceeds of his second novel, 'King, Queen, Knave,' to finance an expedition to the Pyrenees, where he and his wife, Vera, netted over a hundred species."


Sounds like a cool guy.

And a serious smarty pants.

Nice work, Vladimir!


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Cool people write inside rectangles....