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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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12706 clicks; posted to Geek » on 15 Nov 2012 at 10:04 PM (2 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-11-16 08:53:44 AM  
 
2012-11-16 08:58:03 AM  
Pvt. Joker seen sulking jealously.
 
2012-11-16 09:23:49 AM  

violentsalvation: The real article is better.


Thanks! The Fark linked article didn't even state the age of the tree. I don't know who the mods are but do they read the linked articles before approving them?
 
2012-11-16 09:36:34 AM  

KawaiiNot: The Fark linked article didn't even state the age of the tree


As old as its tongue, a little older than its teeth
 
2012-11-16 09:39:35 AM  

whatshisname: violentsalvation: The real article is better.

Yeah, it even tells you how old the tree was.


For anyone who doesn't want to bother reading an article: about 4900 years old.
 
2012-11-16 10:06:27 AM  

Quantum Apostrophe: That tree sure was lucky, picking the best atoms it could find to last that long...


They weren't lucky. Like you say, they picked the right atoms (genetically selected is more accurate) Despite what is commonly accepted, it is my assertion that trees, above all other forms, are sentient life. "If you cut me, do I not bleed?" Yes, they do, they also scream when being cut, and alert others of their clan as to dangers such as wild fires and lumberjacks. If you remove their skin they die a slow, painful death. To be clear, I'm not advocating Tree Rights, or some sort of hogwash, as that's simply retarded, but I am saying that those atoms were not taken by the tree out of dumb luck, but by the tree's genetic ability to select those atoms that suit it best.
 
2012-11-16 10:09:18 AM  
Lligeret: Long but hey I am a tree dork, you are not forced to read it.

Are you kidding? Posts like that are why I read Fark. I now have you favorited as "tree dork." Full point.
 
2012-11-16 10:36:04 AM  

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


Did you have to count the rings after you cut him down?
 
2012-11-16 10:46:41 AM  

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


If you have ADD and no qualms about misrepresenting a group of people, yes.

http://minnesota.publicradio.org/collections/special/columns/news_cut / archive/2012/10/5x8_-_102512.shtml
 
2012-11-16 10:53:30 AM  

SVenus: KawaiiNot: The Fark linked article didn't even state the age of the tree

As old as its tongue, a little older than its teeth


Santé Claws!
 
2012-11-16 11:53:54 AM  

Lligeret: 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 a ...


as a lumberman, i'm getting a kick

/trees are the answer
 
2012-11-16 12:06:19 PM  

snowshovel: 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.


Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

I know that tree. I've seen it with my own eyes. I had heard that it burned down, which was a shame in itself, but this is the first I heard it was from this.

/too tired to shake my angry fist at humanity
 
2012-11-16 12:59:05 PM  
That website is an abortion.

Why not just link to the real article?
 
2012-11-16 01:06:29 PM  
He would have been okay with killing it had it been a slightly younger tree. I mean, I think he knows perfectly well what happens when you take chainsaws and fell a tree.
 
2012-11-16 03:01:35 PM  

SacriliciousBeerSwiller: That website is an abortion.

Why not just link to the real article?


Boing probably pays Fark money for the space, so the mods just shiat out every Boing link they get.
 
2012-11-16 03:22:51 PM  

Lligeret: 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 a ...


Seriously, thanks for the post. Very interesting.
 
2012-11-16 07:31:26 PM  

Lligeret: I_Hate_Iowa: [Lots of words]


I'm 100% positive you know way more than me, but I'm still confused, and I might be too simple-minded about trees for you. Seriously.

What I meant by (A) was it's not like you're killing an old man before you get his life story on tape if you kill a tree. How much data that you can collect from a live tree is lost by killing it? It seems like a lot of the scenarios you mention would be possible either way.

As far as (B) goes, I'm saying that if you were planning on using Tree X for study and you accidentally kill it, it can't be that bad right? You'll still be able to get stuff from it. When you say

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 make it sound like a dead tree you've found. If you don't know when it died you can't date it. But in the case of the tree from this link, they know when it died, so they can date it exactly, no? Do you lose data by having a dead tree? Do you potentially gain data by being able to do more if you're no longer worried about harming it?

Seriously wasn't trying to be trolly, but realize I was being sort of glib. Might have been slightly (read: completely) high last time. Might be slightly more sober but still confused this time.
 
2012-11-16 09:34:00 PM  

I_Hate_Iowa: Lligeret: I_Hate_Iowa: [Lots of words]

I'm 100% positive you know way more than me, but I'm still confused, and I might be too simple-minded about trees for you. Seriously.

What I meant by (A) was it's not like you're killing an old man before you get his life story on tape if you kill a tree. How much data that you can collect from a live tree is lost by killing it? It seems like a lot of the scenarios you mention would be possible either way.

As far as (B) goes, I'm saying that if you were planning on using Tree X for study and you accidentally kill it, it can't be that bad right? You'll still be able to get stuff from it. When you say

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 make it sound like a dead tree you've found. If you don't know when it died you can't date it. But in the case of the tree from this link, they know when it died, so they can date it exactly, no? Do you lose data by having a dead tree? Do you potentially gain data by being able to do more if you're no longer worried about harming it?

Seriously wasn't trying to be trolly, but realize I was being sort of glib. Might have been slightly (read: completely) high last time. Might be slightly more sober but still confused this time.



Yeah a lot of it comes from different perspectives really. From a data perspective it doesn't matter if the tree dies, from a personal perspective when you have something that you can put a label on like "oldest (known) non-colonal organism" it sucks though. The best description of this work is, "We are tree huggers that use a chainsaw."

Trees are an interesting thing the trees people most commonly think of are the big ones, like in this thread the Senator (the tree burned down by the meth addict). It was very old and it was huge. People in the area recognized it and it made a lot of news as a result because people feel connected to it. The same thing goes for big old trees else where that occasionally pop up in the news because they died or lightning hit it, or wind blew it down.

It is a pretty fair assessment to say that certain trees are valued more than other trees. However these trees are "normal" it is when you can assign a label like "Worlds oldest" or "worlds biggest" or "biggest in this area" or whatever that you start really running into problems.


When you end up with a tree that is hundreds or thousands of years old, it gives you a lot of time to think about that tree, in the case of a bristlecone pine like this, if you start counting from the outside your entire life is boiled down to fractions of an inch. The history of the U.S. is in maybe a couple inches. You would have something that spans the entirety of human written history in front of you, and that can give you a sense of insignificance, and that is before you realize that you just killed it and have now opened yourself up for mockery for the rest of your career.

People like old things, it is why we preserve old buildings, old artifacts, old people, and old trees. Let's face it the majority of people if they found out they had just killed the oldest (known) living thing on the planet they would probably not exactly be jumping up and down with excitement.

So the answer is yes if you kill Tree X in the process, from a data perspective no it is not bad, from a personal perspective it may not be as fun. Just usually Tree X doesn't turn out to be the oldest known individual.

About finding a dead tree, finding a dead tree is perfectly fine and usable as long as you can link it to the present. Using the bristlecone pines as an example, the oldest known individuals are approaching 5000 years old, but the chronology built from individuals in the area goes back 8000 years, due to dead trees that were just laying around. Generally speaking trees growing in the same location will grow similarly (in a drought they will have narrow rings, wet years they have wide rings, so you can match up these patterns giving you a date of a tree that has been dead thousands of years).


As far as gaining more data from a tree if you are not worried about harming it. Yes and no. A lot of the time the answer is no, most the time a core (usually 2 from a tree) is enough to get everything you want. It is more than enough to run the chemical/isotope tests on, and you can still get ring counts and measurements on it. The two paths will give you enough to track missing rings in a sample often times, if not other trees around it likely will have caught the missing ring (missing ring indicates growing conditions were farked for a year so the tree simply did not grow, this could be lack of water, too cold, too hot, insects ate off all of your leaves, etc.) Some times a core will not give you everything you want.

For instance sometimes killing the tree is the only option when you are attempting to attain the data. It is extremely hard to take a core from a small tree, the data can still be useful though so sometimes you just cut down the tree (usually a lot of them in this case), it is often times surprising how old some of these small trees can be (200-300 years old for spruce trees that are 2-5" in diameter that grew in some arctic and sub-arctic environments is not uncommon).

Another instance for these spruce trees is where ring growth is not consistent around a tree, if you GIS "drunken trees" you will get a bunch of trees growing at crazy angles because they grow on permafrost (or glaciers, and the ground thaws below them causing them to lean in some direction. Trees like growing straight up, so they alter their growth for a couple years (Conifers try to "push" the tree back straight, hardwoods try to pull the tree back straight), they straighten out and the ground thaws and they fall a different way. In this case you would need a cross section if you wan to get all of the data possible from the tree.


For the most part though you do not usually gain or lose anything by worry about the tree health. Coring a tree the vast majority of the time gives you as much data and it is just easier in almost every aspect. It is easier carry an increment bore (or multiple, because they can break or get stuck) than a hand saw (and both of those are far easier than a chainsaw/oil/gas), and it is far easier to take an increment core than to cut a cross section with a hand saw. It is far easier to carry out/transport/work with/store a core from a tree compared to a cross section. So no loss of data in the majority of instances, it is easier to do, and you don't kill the tree. It is why for already dead trees you will often times just core them rather than cut them, because it is easier and you get most of the data you would anyways (again with some exceptions).

I was not trying to attack you either, a lot of people just look at a tree and don't think about what they are capable of telling us, but I find it enjoyable to talk about. LIKE WHAT I LIKE DAMN IT!.
 
2012-11-16 11:01:55 PM  
I'll bet he feels like a complete sap.

/try the veal
 
2012-11-18 03:53:07 PM  

snowshovel: 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.


Does it make me a bad person to want to burn down the meth-head?
 
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