Monday, September 15, 2014

A Solved Problem in Ornithology

Marbled Murrelets are cute birds, for long time, with a mystery. This article starts with "The nest and nesting habits of the Marbled Murrelet remain unknown. This is the more remarkable when it is  remembered that the bird is common throughout the summer season from Alaska and Kodiak Islands south to Washington, and that many able field naturalists have sought to penetrate the mystery of its home life.''  and ends with, ``Which Ornithological detective will solve the Marbled Murrelet Mystery?"  It was discovered quite recently that they nested in Douglas Fir found in the Big Basin State Park. Here is a detailed note on the challenges leading to this discovery.

The nature of open problems is clear, be it in Ornithology, Math or CS. It should pass the test of time, repeated assaults by talented researchers and hopefully be relevant. Beyond the grand open problems (in Biology, Neuroscience or whatever), I like the art and culture of stating, attacking, solving, bite sized open problems, lining the way to the grand ones. 

1 Comments:

Blogger Jean Bolot said...

Very cool! This reminds me of another longstanding problem, namely the "moving rocks" of Racetrack Playa in Death Valley, also recently solved.

1:36 PM  

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