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Andy Jackson

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The reports about this discovery on Radio 4 this morning made me mad. If +Ed Yong is right, then that paper is even worse than I thought!
I find this really very irritating. A new PLoS Biology paper titled "How Many Species Are There on Earth and in the Ocean?" estimates 8.7 million. The Guardian reports this as "the most accurate estimate yet of life on Earth" ( and a "landmark moment" that should "rival iconic numbers such as pi and the speed of light". (


That count is only eukaryotes. It doesn't include bacteria and archaea. It gets one out of three kingdoms of life. This is like trying to count all the music in the world by ignoring jazz and classical.

How did the authors write that paper title with a straight face? In fact, in the results, you'll see that they try to do something similar for prokaryotes but, er, it didn't really work. +Jonathan Eisen is displeased ( and so he should be.

And yes, before anyone says it, it is obviously very very hard to determine, or even define, prokaryotic species, but that is the point! Hard problem is hard. You don't get to make it less hard by artificially excluding the majority of it. It's like solving one of nine SuDoku squares and declaring yourself victorious.

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This wasn't a problem when the home computer (ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64 etc.) was king as you didn't just have a box which played games. Another reason why the PC will always win over consoles for me.

Well, it took me far too long to spot the sliding + in the top-right of the Mission Control view on OS X Lion. Finally, I can have multiple desktop spaces as well as full-screen apps!
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