Other Free Encyclopedias » Online Encyclopedia » Encyclopedia - Featured Articles » Contributed Topics from F-J

Gould, Stephen Jay - MNEMONICS

sequence periods evolution memory

(1941–2002) US palaeontologist: developer of novel theories of evolution; prolific and skilful popularizer of evolutionary biology.

Educated at Antioch College, OH, and Columbia University, Gould taught and researched at Harvard from 1967. His early research on land snails was a precursor to his work, from 1972, in developing his theory of punctuated equilibria. This modifies theory of evolution by proposing that new species are created by evolutionary changes which occur in rapid bursts over periods as short as a few thousand years, separated by periods of stability in which there is little further change. This contrasts with Darwin’s classical theory, in which species develop slowly over millions of years at fairly constant rates.

Gould’s many books and essays on palaeontology and biological evolution have been remarkably effective in presenting these subjects with great clarity, accuracy and attractiveness to non-specialist audiences, as well as to biologists.

MNEMONICS

These are devices for aiding memory, in cases where a string of words (or symbols) needs to be recallable in a certain sequence, but is otherwise difficult to remember. They are usually constructed so that the components of the mnemonic are mutually suggestive; they may be rhymed or alliterative, and the imagery is often bizarre. Some are easily recalled nonsense-words. Mnemonics are of interest to psychologists in relation to the nature of memory, whose mechanism is still largely mysterious. Some examples follow.

In astronomy, My Very Efficient Memory Just Sums Up Nine Planets clues the sequence of the planets of the solar system, from the Sun outwards (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto).

In organic chemistry, the nonsense-word omsgap helps with the series of dicarboxylic acids of increasing chain length (oxalic, malonic, succinic, glutaric, adipic and pimelic acids).

Medical students are helped to recall the most common victims of gall bladder disease: female , fat , forty , fertile and flatulent , and have similar jingles (some obscene!) for a range of other conditions.

In geology, the student needs to be able to recall the order of rocks, in terms of age. This geological time scale is shown overleaf. The best-known mnemonic for the sequence of geological periods (starting with the Cambrian) is: Camels Often Sit Down CARefully . PERhaps Their Joints CREak . And within the two most recent periods, the order of epochs (starting with the oldest), Previous Early Oiling May Prove Positively Helpful .

Stephen Jay Gould in his Wonderful Life (1989) tells how he set an annual competition for his students to improve on this, the best attempt being the verse

Cheap Meat performs passably,

Quenching the celibate’s jejune thirst,

Portraiture, presented massably,

Drowning sorrow, oneness cursed.

This yields the geological time scale, from the most recent to the oldest, listing all the eras first, and then the periods (with a few omissions). Cheap Meat refers to a pornographic film of the time.

Equally politically incorrect is a mnemonic in astrophysics where a key sequence is that of the spectral class (or colour index) of stars of progressively lower temperature, as in the horizontal scale of the familiar Hertzsprung–Russell (‘H–R’) diagram. The sequence is OBAFGKMRNS, and the mnemonic Oh Be A Fine Girl, Kiss Me Right Now Sweetheart . The last three classes (RNS) are now seen as subdivisions of the M class.

The H–R diagram effectively plots the brightness of stars (strictly, their absolute magnitude) as vertical axis against their temperature. It is intimately related, in a variety of ways, to the paths of stellar evolution.

In physics, the colours of the visible spectrum are recalled either by the nonsense-word VIBGYOR, or by Richard of York gains battles in vain (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet).

Gourdin, Edward O.(1897–1966) - Athlete, soldier, judge, Chronology, Star Athlete, Life in the Legal Arena [next] [back] Gould, Jay - Overview, Personal Life, Career Details, Chronology: Jay Gould, Social and Economic Impact

User Comments

Your email address will be altered so spam harvesting bots can't read it easily.
Hide my email completely instead?

Cancel or

Vote down Vote up

about 6 years ago

And now for something completely different:Mnenomics, in particular:

"In geology, the student needs to be able to recall the order of rocks, in terms of age. This geological time scale is shown overleaf. The best-known mnemonic for the sequence of geological periods (starting with the Cambrian) is: Camels Often Sit Down CARefully . PERhaps Their Joints CREak . And within the two most recent periods, the order of epochs (starting with the oldest), Previous Early Oiling May Prove Positively Helpful ."







Read more: Gould, Stephen Jay - MNEMONICS - Periods, Sequence, Evolution, Scale, Geological, and Memory - JRank Articles http://encyclopedia.jrank.org/articles/pages/7223/Gould-Stephen-Jay.html#ixzz1Zyorpn9N