Monday, December 24, 2012

A Story of the Season

It’s a moving Christmas story (of sorts) that Giles Miller, Curator of Micropalaeontology at the Natural History Museum, London, tells on his blog.  The occasion for the telling of this tale is the 100th anniversary of a wonderful microscope slide presented by Arthur Earland to Edward Heron-Allen for Christmas in 1912.  A real treat in this fascinating post are the photographs of some of Earland’s slides (Christmas or otherwise).  Reportedly, there was once a slide on which Earland mounted 1,500 foraminifera shells!  (I’ve written previously on my blog about Earland’s Christmas slides on which he painstakingly affixed foraminifera shells in elaborate designs, replete with the year, the season, and his initials.)

Miller recounts how the two men, amateur micropaleontologists working out of the British Museum, had a long collaboration which produced many seminal works on foraminifera, a collaboration which lasted until they had a mysterious and irreconcilable falling out in the early 1930s.  Heightening the intrigue of the rupture between the two men is Earland's reference to “that final woman.”  For some reason (perhaps the two men just look the part), I am reminded of Irene Adler, who was to Sherlock Holmes “always the woman.”

Miller’s blog post is very enjoyable reading in this Christmas season.  Happy New Year.


  1. Very cool post! This information is really useful and makes for a great 2012 Christmas posting.
    Here is a link to The Independent listing some of the story about these two researchers: The shell-loving scientists torn apart by a mystery woman
    The Science Focus web site have Microfossil Christmas Cards images related to this posting.

  2. Thanks so much for providing the links to The Independent story and the Science Focus website. I agree, it's a great story for this season, even though it lacks a happy ending.


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