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All Aboard The Science Bandwagon

The crime rate may be down, but there are still plenty of villains to catch. Fortunately, science is on the case. That’s true in real life, where physicists devise more accurate ways to interpret blood spatter, and mathematicians analyze the patterns in gang violence to help solve old crimes and suppress future criminal activity. And it’s true on television, where forensic science has developed a vast and squeeing fandom.

Predictably, that fandom overlaps speculative fiction fandom quite a bit, but sadly, television science appears to have eclipsed science in sci-fi altogether. While it’s wonderful that scientists and Hollywood are forging new alliances for the sake of conjuring realism and as a canny method of reminding the masses that science is relevant to their interests, it’s disheartening to watch literature surrender that influence one sparkly vampire at a time.

No, it’s worse than disheartening. It’s uninteresting. And it’s unhealthy for speculative fiction to eschew – even disdain – science. Reading science-less sci-fi is like eating a junk food diet. How can the genre with science in its name be taken seriously if it’s about as intellectually nutritive as a Twinkie? Was it inevitable that television would eventually surpass literature as inspiration as well as entertainment?

Wonder of wonders, TV viewers like a little science in their fiction! Given the overlap between television audiences and people who read books, it’s probably safe to assume that readers also like a little science in their fiction. We should get back on that bandwagon.

Lazarus taxa: not quite dead as a dodo

A taxon (plural taxa) is a group of like organisms; a species or genus would be a taxon. Lazarus refers to the Gospel of John in the New Testament, in which Jesus Christ raises Lazarus of Bethany from the dead (John 11:1-46).

Hence, Lazarus Taxa: taxa from the dead. A Lazarus taxon is an animal which disappears from the earth (or at least from the fossil record), only to be rediscovered later.

One of the most famous Lazarus taxa is the coelacanth. The coelacanth is an odd-looking fish, considered an important stage in the evolutionary chain. Thought to have been extinct since the Cretaceous period, a live coelacanth was caught by fishermen off the coast of South Africa in 1938.

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