Those Invisible Lines of Connection

Invisible lines of connection run through all our lives, knitting them together. Those lines  burned brightly for me yesterday,  when I had the opportunity to meet John Buck’s daughter and his grand-daughter.

John Buck (1913-2005) was a towering figure in firefly science. He dedicated his life to deciphering how these luminous creatures manage to control their flashes, aided in his research by Elisabeth, his wife of 65 years. Deeply fascinated by firefly synchrony, they traveled to Southeast Asia to study how thousands of males manage to match up their rhythms.

As a teenager, I decorated my bedroom walls with front covers torn from our monthly subscription to Scientific American magazine, like this splendid May 1976 cover. So imagine my delight when Susan pulled out the original painting of these Pteroptyx fireflies that Buck had commissioned for this magazine cover! And it was wonderful to hear Cate’s memories about collecting fireflies in Woods Hole with her grandfather, then lining them up in vials to watch during the night.

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