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Desert Diary
Biology/So Little Time


Ah, so much to learn and so little time! So runs the plaint of the curious individual and even of science itself. No matter the number of scientists attacking the unknown, there never is enough time, and society's priorities insure that most areas will remain an unknown no-man's-land.

The botanist, for example, knows that each species of plant is unique, a gathering of characters peculiar to it alone. Yet who has the time—and yes, monetary support—to trace for each species the value of every feature? Look at the so-called hairs that festoon the leaves and stems of so many. We know of all sorts of uses for these structures: defense, shading, air-flow control, camouflage, and more. But which of these functions do they serve for THIS particular plant? And is it important to know? Of course, as is so often the case in science, we won't know if it's important or not until it's studied. There's so many things potentially vital that we'll never know—thanks to so much to learn and so little time!
pen and ink

Listen to the Audio (mp3 format) as recorded by KTEP, Public Radio for the Southwest.


Contributor: Arthur H. Harris, Laboratory for Environmental Biology, Centennial Museum, University of Texas at El Paso.

Desert Diary is a joint production of the Centennial Museum and KTEP National Public Radio at the University of Texas at El Paso.