from Jake Buehler's blog:
Today’s wonder nugget, 10/20/14:
Think of this, when you are lugging your small suitcase of darkness behind you, how in 1746, a naturalist named John Ellis wrote to Carl Linnaeus numerous letters about light. In his study in Sweden, Linnaeus writes to ask Ellis if, in his many travels, he has seen the mollusca that shine in the dark. He wants to know why fishes are luminous, why water glows like milk around them, translucent as stars, gathering near each arcing body, each silvery shell. Ellis and Linnaeus’s letters sail back and forth across vast continents and oceans. Is it the fervent breath of insects, minute and hungry, winnowing round their host that makes each solid body gleam? Linnaeus wants to know, needs to know all things, despite his disappointments and unhappy marriage, his constant fears of never having enough money, enough fame. And when Ellis asks Linnaeus how he is getting on, what wonders he has seen of late, Linnaeus writes in his elegant hand, My garden is full, my house is a carpet of petals. Even the horse chestnut grows in these hard winds of change. Think of this: It only takes one fish to stir up light in the dark, relentless sea, and after death, a herring glows for days. Think how the darkness defines the light.