Thursday, January 5, 2017

Cost effective, Part III

Frequent commentor and first-rate blogger Old NFO noted:

That would be an interesting approach to sampling, but then you'd have to try to backtrack the beetle...

Forward looking or backward looking?
Cape Kinappers Golf Course
I agree that Old NFO's comments are spot-on if the sampling is being used for diagnostics or as evidence.  Diagnostics and evidence are "backward looking".  The method is of little use in addressing questions like, "What happened?"  or "Where did the dead body come to rest?" or "Exactly where did Fly-By-Night Wastehauling dump that toxic waste?"

Entropy is a bitch! 

Forward looking The method is useful if researcher is looking for a non-intrusive way to sample every tussock and every low spot to the square meter.  Even property that is walled or otherwise inaccessible.

If any unique samples are found, then the possibility exists to isolate and reproduce them.

Source of graphic

 Populations are subject to the effects of compound interest.

Assume there are two separate strains of a bacteria and one strain is just a wee-bit more "fit" than the other.  Perhaps its toxin is just a wee bit more toxic and it can exploit a carcass-maggot cycle, or maybe it can reproduce just a little bit more quickly.  For the sake of argument, let's say that the more competitive strain is one-half a percent per year more competitive.

In one hundred years the more competitive strain would be 64% more common than the less competitive strain.  Not a big deal, right?

In a thousand years the more competitive strain would be 147 times more common.  In five thousand years it would be 68 billion  times more common.

The less competitive strains will smolder in disjunct, atypical environments:  Sedgy tussocks in bogs, cracks in sidewalks, roots of orchids, hanging valleys, hot springs and the like.  That makes finding them a challenge.

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