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(Boing Boing)   "In 1964, a geologist in the Nevada wilderness discovered the oldest living thing on earth, after he killed it"   (boingboing.net) divider line 70
    More: Sad, oldest living, living thing on earth, Nevada, Nevada wilderness, living things, wilderness discovered, core sample, geologists  
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12705 clicks; posted to Geek » on 15 Nov 2012 at 10:04 PM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-11-15 09:09:43 PM
Join the army, travel the world, meet interesting people, and kill them.
 
2012-11-15 09:26:52 PM
Talk about a monumental f*ck up

/those are really interesting trees. It's amazing they survive at all in the environment they inhabit
//if you ever get the chance, check them out
 
2012-11-15 09:48:35 PM
 
2012-11-15 10:10:01 PM
I had that happen once with the oldest living human. Boy, was I surprised.
 
2012-11-15 10:14:26 PM

violentsalvation: The real article is better.


Yeah, it even tells you how old the tree was.
 
2012-11-15 10:18:06 PM

JoeJitsu: I had that happen once with the oldest living human. Boy, was I surprised.


Snapped your bit off inside of them? Ouch.
 
2012-11-15 10:21:25 PM
www.abevigoda.com
 
2012-11-15 10:22:06 PM
Well, your mother did have a long and fruitful life.
 
2012-11-15 10:40:46 PM

Sgygus: Join the army, travel the world, meet interesting people, and kill them.


Let me see your war face.
 
2012-11-15 10:45:49 PM
The "Radiolab" episode "Oops!" does a fantastic job telling the story: Podcast on NPR It's the best damned show on radio.
 
2012-11-15 10:46:36 PM
Do we now passively link to articles here? Here's a snippet, find the rest of it for your goddamned self.
 
2012-11-15 10:49:16 PM

violentsalvation: The real article is better.


Thank you.

Found this interesting:
But Tom Harlan knows of a tree somewhere in the White Mountains that might be even older. "There is one that Schulman cored, but he died before he could count the rings," says Harlan. "It's the oldest thing he ever collected, older than Methuselah and probably older than Prometheus. But I won't show anybody which one it is."

Good for him not to show it to the public, but he ought to at least tell us how many rings it had. I also hope someone else knows where it is and checks on it from time to time to see if it is still alive.
 
2012-11-15 10:49:44 PM
There is solace though. It's not like we'll ever run out of "oldest living things", even if we keep killing the current one.
 
2012-11-15 10:50:14 PM
This is why we can't have nice things. Even our smart guys are one step above being a bunch of knuckle-dragging farking gorillapigs.
 
2012-11-15 10:50:15 PM
Listen, you can't really complain about geologists only studying things after they've died. I spent 5 years getting a geology/paleontology degree, and that was pretty much all we did.
 
2012-11-15 10:56:20 PM
Velocity, location. Location, velocity. Just leave the damn thing alone.
 
2012-11-15 11:19:56 PM
Something something Joan Rivers.
 
2012-11-15 11:20:57 PM

Benevolent Misanthrope: This is why we can't have nice things. Even our smart guys are one step above being a bunch of knuckle-dragging farking gorillapigs.


scientist =/= smart

There are smart scientists, but they're by and large not much brighter that anyone else. They just know more about science. The scientific method can, and is, be followed with by robots. Do X ad nauseum, record data, check for paterns in the data.

James Randi has a great video on youtube where he demonstrates one of the tricks a charlatan used to fool an entire physics department. It was pinching your skin into a matchbox and flexing your hand. Rookie level party tricks fooled PhDs. It's actually easy to fool them because they're so singleminded. Feynman would go crazy with minor variations in the same magic tricks.
 
2012-11-15 11:29:18 PM

doglover: The scientific method can, and is, be followed with by robots.


Indeed. Are you by chance a scientist?

And despite his monumental f*ck-up as a grad student, Donald Rusk Currey was a smart guy. Really.
 
2012-11-15 11:31:13 PM
It's a pretty apt metaphor for man's relationship with nature.
 
2012-11-15 11:35:19 PM
Can we just start horsewhipping people who submit links to links? I mean, the actual story is linked right there in the BoingBoing blurb. Is there some kind of ad agreement? Am I going insane?

Is it a lot of effort for one person (eg. me) to click one link deeper? No, of course not. Is it sensible and not quite so asinine to just copy and paste the correct link and save 2000+ people from having to click? I should think so.
 
2012-11-15 11:36:33 PM
Once he killed it, it was no longer the oldest living thing, right?
 
2012-11-15 11:40:50 PM
Except it wasn't the oldest thing. There's some kind of seagrass that's a couple of hundred thousand years old. We haven't killed that yet, although, because it lives in the sea, it had better be getting its affairs in order.
 
2012-11-15 11:42:41 PM
BoingBoing is useless and its editors are insufferable twatbombs.
 
2012-11-15 11:45:46 PM
Geologist? Tree? Does not compute.
 
2012-11-15 11:45:56 PM
It's not even close to being the oldest living thing...

"Pando" is older than Cro-Magnon man, at least 80,000 years old.
 
2012-11-15 11:47:12 PM

red5ish: Geologist? Tree? Does not compute.


They use the tree to determine the age of the rocks, then they use the age of the rocks to determine the age of the trees.

Cyclical, but that's how scientists 'measure' how old things are.

That, and carbon dating.
 
2012-11-15 11:58:24 PM

Cubicle Jockey: It's not even close to being the oldest living thing...

"Pando" is older than Cro-Magnon man, at least 80,000 years old.


"We now know that the Great Basin bristlecones are the oldest surviving species of non-clonal organisms in the world. Technically, the eldest of all trees are actually clonal plants, or those which continually replicate themselves through layering (where a limb sprouts new roots) and vegetative cloning (where the root system expands underground and sends up new trunks). Though some clonal organisms have been estimated to be around 80,000 years old, no individual part of the organism is actually alive for more than a few hundred years." 

Addressed in the article. The actual article, that is, which is linked via the link.
 
2012-11-16 12:16:41 AM

r1niceboy: Except it wasn't the oldest thing. There's some kind of seagrass that's a couple of hundred thousand years old. We haven't killed that yet, although, because it lives in the sea, it had better be getting its affairs in order.


Kind of, but not really. The actual article discusses clonal plants vs non-clonal. It comes down to definitions as much as anything else.

I believe the most commonly accepted oldest clonal plant colony is a tree colony in Utah at 80,000 plus years. That seagrass estimates range wildly from as young as 10,000 to 200,000 and is probably in the lower end of that

However, there are a few other trees that are believed to have achieved similar ages to the Bristlecone pines, but it is not verifiable.
 
2012-11-16 12:23:24 AM

Sgygus: Join the army, travel the world, meet interesting people, and kill them.


I'd rather be sailing!
 
2012-11-16 01:12:54 AM
1) How do we know this is the oldest living thing? If there are other trees like it, might not they be older? Or some other thing we haven't discovered could be older still. If cutting down this tree led us to discover the age these trees as a species can reach, wasn't it a scientific boon to discover this, even if it was at the loss of one tree?
2) Who cares if it's the oldest living thing? It's a tree. It's not like it's going to tell us secrets. And if scientists can learn things about the distant past from it, can't they learn the same things or more from a dead tree that they can do more tests on in a lab than they can in the field while being ever-so-careful not to harm... a tree?
 
2012-11-16 01:43:14 AM
Never send a geologist to do a man's botanist's job
 
2012-11-16 02:03:15 AM
Chop it into commemorative wooden nickels.
 
2012-11-16 02:18:41 AM

I_Hate_Iowa:
2) Who cares if it's the oldest living thing? It's a tree. (A) It's not like it's going to tell us secrets. (B) And if scientists can learn things about the distant past from it, can't they learn the same things or more from a dead tree that they can do more tests on in a lab than they can in the field while being ever-so-careful not to harm... a tree?


The trolling aspect of your post aside.

A. You would be surprised. They have been used in a couple murder cases, to date when bodies have been buried. Best example with trees and murders is Ted Bundy. They have been used to settle boundary disputes between states. They provide a rather accurate assessment of atmospheric phenomena such as the Tunguska Event. They have been used to confirm whether instruments are made by who people claim they are (example the Messiah violin (violin made by Stradivari, worth $20 million). They have been to date and verify structures that we have long since lost track of, like say Lincoln's childhood cabin.

More commonly they are used to tell us about the past that we have no record of.
-They can be used to track and reconstruct insect outbreaks and invasions of invasive species (Forest managers like these).

-They can be used to for drought reconstructions for stream and hydrologic purposes (Water managers like these, best example remains the Colorado River compact, which is based on 16-20 years of stream flow data (all that they had at the time), they set the legal amount each state (and Mexico) would receive, turns out after 80 or so years (now) there have been water issues related to it because the Colorado River water shed has consistently received less water, as it turns out using tree rings you can get an idea of the historical flow record of rivers and streams, and the period they measured was one of the wettest on record.

-They can be used again for stream flow but rather than drought, but instead for floods (insurance companies love these). Trees that are flooded during the year when they are not usually have different ring anatomy. This has been more commonly done in the Upper Midwest. The Red River is a good example, we have a record of about 100 years for flooding. Recent flooding has caused the river to reach points where it is several miles across, flooding neighborhoods that people "never knew flooding was an issue" because they had never flooded in recorded history. Reality is it is more common than is thought.

-Hurricane Sandy is recent news. Trees can tell us of hurricane history in locations where you can still find old trees (we did a pretty damn good job of cutting them down out east, but you can still find 400-600 year old trees, and in the case of yellow pines in the south east their stumps stick around for a long time, so you can get pretty far back. They give you storm frequency and intensity, even the months that they occur. Through isotope analysis.

-Climate, in the case of bristlecone pines, when you can build a 6000 year tree-ring chronology from a species that grows at high altitudes, you are able to reconstruct climate (temperature specifically at high elevations, although at the lower forest margins for bristlecone pines you can build drought/precipitation reconstructions).

-You can reconstruct fire (again forest managers like this, that affect productivity and regeneration, often time fire is a good thing for both depending on the species).


B. A dead tree is nice, you can take a cross section with out harming a tree, however on its own it is worthless because you cannot date it. You can try radio carbon dating, but that will give you +/- 50 to 100 years, in the event that you lack either pith or bark that uncertainty expands. This completely eliminates the worth of a tree which is capable of telling you what happened on an annual basis, if you do not know the year it can't tell you nearly enough to be worth collecting. So you need a living tree to connect the dead tree to the present. Dead trees can be pretty well preserved in a lot of places. In areas like where the birstlecone pines are dead wood on the ground can be +1000 years old and just laying there perfectly intact. In the bogs of Ireland and anerobic lakes of Sweden there are continuous records going back +5000 years. Archeological records in areas such the SW U.S. extend back a couple thousand years, same thing in central Europe.

A cross section is always nice initially but the cores are actually far easier to work with and provide you with far more than what you actually need, if you take 2 or 3 from a tree you don't even need a cross section, and there is no reason to cut down the tree. Chemical and isotope work requires tiny fragments of wood. The other reason to leave the tree is because of the weakness in our instrumental record. For instance we only have decent climate records that go back to about the 1900's. When you use trees to reconstruct climate you use the instrumental record to calibrate the tree rings, however 50-60 years is not a very large window for calibration. Now there is a continual push to update these, because in the case of some Bristlecone pine chronologies you have another 40-50 years of climate data to compare it to increasing the accuracy of the reconstructions.

It also takes multiple trees to get ensure accuracy (statistics is a dick like that), often times the trees you want to sample are not in the most convenient places and it involves back packing in and multiple. Meaning you have to carry anything you sample out. A tree core is like a pencil, you can easily carry +1000 pencils, each is a tree sampled, can you carry 1000 tree cross sections? I don't think so. Plus cross sections take up a lot of room compared to a core when you get it back to wherever you work.

Long but hey I am a tree dork, you are not forced to read it.
 
2012-11-16 02:19:09 AM

tallen702: The "Radiolab" episode "Oops!" does a fantastic job telling the story: Podcast on NPR It's the best damned show on radio.


agreed.
 
2012-11-16 02:25:52 AM

AspectRatio: BoingBoing is useless and its editors are insufferable twatbombs.

 
2012-11-16 02:28:49 AM
Is Bristlecone Pine a tonewood? Make me a ukulele from it!
 
2012-11-16 02:59:38 AM

Benevolent Misanthrope: doglover: The scientific method can, and is, be followed with by robots.

Indeed. Are you by chance a scientist?

And despite his monumental f*ck-up as a grad student, Donald Rusk Currey was a smart guy. Really.


I think it's fairly clear that doglover's a grammartician, not a scientist.
 
2012-11-16 03:02:37 AM
Awesome, tree dork. Thanks!
 
2012-11-16 03:28:20 AM
intelligence does not eliminate stupidity
 
2012-11-16 04:57:28 AM

rogue49: intelligence does not eliminate stupidity


Max out your INT, WIS is the dump stat.

That's how you get things like the "Demon Core"
 
2012-11-16 05:44:14 AM
That tree sure was lucky, picking the best atoms it could find to last that long...
 
2012-11-16 06:17:25 AM
This fungus is probably older. Definitely bigger.
http://www.nytimes.com/1992/04/02/us/twin-crowns-for-30-acre-fungus-w o rld-s-biggest-oldest-organism.html

But not as big as the clonal trees.

/thankfully not colonal.
 
2012-11-16 06:32:40 AM
 
2012-11-16 06:41:21 AM
www.teachingchildrenphilosophy.org 

I always hated that entitled little snot.
 
2012-11-16 07:04:15 AM
No Far Side cartoon posted yet?
 
2012-11-16 07:42:57 AM
AspectRatio
2012-11-15 11:42:41 PM

BoingBoing is useless and its editors are insufferable twatbombs.
Who's a more insufferable twatbomb, the insufferable twatbomb or the insufferable twatbomb that greenlights to them?
 
2012-11-16 08:26:29 AM
i.imgur.com

IS NOT IMPRESSED
 
2012-11-16 08:27:35 AM
The story linked in the original article is even "better".

Meth head burns down 5th oldest tree in the world so she could see her drugs.
 
2012-11-16 08:52:28 AM
Oh, the dendrology!
 
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