Re: Bird banding contributes to Little Tern carnage

Subject: Re: Bird banding contributes to Little Tern carnage
From: Andrew Taylor <>
Date: Mon, 14 Jan 2002 13:00:58 +1100 (EST)
On Mon, 7 Jan 2002, Scott O'Keeffe wrote:
> Quite so....
> If we wanted to be really silly, we could argue, that on numbers, NOT
> banding a bird is likely to get it killed in a hail storm.
> What was it that was obvious again????

My experience of maths & physics lectures was "it is obvious that ..."
usually meant the lecturer couldn't work out how to complete this part
of the proof and, in fact, the claim was far from obvious to everyone
in the room.  Half the time, the reason was that the claim was untrue.

There is famous story of a great mathematician giving a lecture who
says "it is obvious that ...".  A student dares to interrupt saying
"Professor I don't think that is obvious".  For the next 15 minutes the
great mathematician paces backwards and forwards pondering the question.
Finally he says, "yes, it is obvious" and continues the lecture.

Some tellings have the great mathematician as G.W. Hardy.  He was
certainly eccentric enough for it to be true.  Hardy does have a tenuous
link to birds - he is the co-discover of the Hardy-Weinberg equation,
important in population genetics.  Its a fundamental part of understanding
why traits occur at particular frequencies in bird (and other organisms')

Andrew Taylor

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