Great praise for categories, and seeing beyond them | Science News


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Editor's Note

Great praise for categories, and seeing beyond them

12:13pm, November 1, 2017

Classification is inevitable. It’s a widespread human tendency and a bedrock of scientific study. From rocks to stars to the stinkbug buzzing against my window, from parts of speech to diseases to the fundamental forces of nature, if an object or phenomenon can be described, it will be grouped with others like it and distinguished from those that differ.

One of the best-known scientific classifiers was, of course, Carl Linnaeus, the father of taxonomy. In his Systema Naturae, published in the 18th century, Linnaeus attempted to develop a scheme that could reveal the divine order in creation. Though he was not the first to label organisms by species and genus, Linnaeus consistently used binomial nomenclature and grouped genera into higher taxa according to shared features. Scientists still use some of the basics of this system

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