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Pfeilstorch (wikipedia.org)
140 points by bloat 3 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 20 comments





I'm sure I've encountered several Pfeilstorchs working on software.

Finding out edge-cases in complex behavior by accident - while trying to fix bug A, indroducing bug B which then leads to discovering unrelated unexpected behavior C with then explains old mystery bug D.


Just a great demonstration of how much knowledge we used to not have, how much we still have to obtain, and the weird ways we'll get it!

The obvious realm is the deep seas -we know little about that. We only took plate tectonics seriously starting in the ‘60s.

The deep sea terrifies me enough [0] that I wouldn't be too surprised if a fish would return from down there with an arrow through its body.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deep_sea_creature


Not a fish, but whales with ancient harpoons lodged in them are found on a semi-regular basis.

http://awesomeocean.com/guest-columns/harpoon-bowhead-whale/


That’s common enough that it’s got a name: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thalassophobia


There's also a lot of knowledge we used to have and which we've lost. I believe past humans had a lot of knowledge about e.g. ecosystem dynamics before the agricultural revolution which we eventually stopped passing down to younger generations once our lifestyles became fully dependent on our own artificial ecosystems. Now we are slowly (re)learning things about natural systems that we sadly neglected to consider in our hubris during the industrial era. Sadly, since we may have destroyed too much at this point.

There's a strong argument to be made that the Amazon jungle is a past work of engineering. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1491%3A_New_Revelations_of_the...

Interesting, perhaps you wanted to link directly to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terra_preta ?

"Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away."

- Antoine de Saint-Exupéry



> In 1876, as a young student in Austria, Sigmund Freud dissected hundreds of eels in search of the male sex organs. He had to concede failure in his first major published research paper, and turned to other issues in frustration.

What a Freudian story, looking for male genitals. I wonder what would Freud say about that...


Whatever concept you can think of, it is likely that there is already a German word for it ;)

> Besides migration, some theories of the time held that they turned into other kinds of birds, mice

I'm guessing/hoping this was more folklore and not a serious theory :)


Always amusing and perplexing in equal measure to hear about some of the nonsense people used to believe about the natural world before the principles of scientific enquiry took root.

That said, the idea of animals transmuting into a different species is at least backed by apparent precedent (caterpillar-butterfly, tadpole-frog), and non-trivial to disprove. That maggots spontaneously generate from rotting meat, or some of the 'cryptids' described by Pliny (https://medium.com/exploring-history/meet-six-of-the-beasts-...), err less so.


Isn't it great that we've stopped creating incorrect hypotheses to explain phenomena we don't understand? /s

I look forward to seeing what we're completely, laughably wrong about today, if I live long enough. I hope it's one of the things I am right about --- but I'm not counting on it.


It's not clear to me these theories were outside scientific enquiry:

They had an observation: birds disappear in winter, that they were trying to explain.

As you say there is precedent with other animals transmuting of which they had observations of.

So it's not really unscientific to combine these two pieces of evidence into a theory.

Certainly happens often enough today that people do these things, but end up being quite wrong.


There's an interesting series called the Great Ptolemaic Smackdown that charts one of the more prominent examples (i.e., the Copernican/Galilean revolution): https://tofspot.blogspot.com/2013/08/the-great-ptolemaic-sma...

Migrating birds really know what's important in life.



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