resprouting seaside alder  A QUIET STAND OF ALDERS   resprouting seaside alder
"The alder, whose fat shadow nourisheth

                                    All set neere to him long flourisheth." -- William Browne, c. 1613
Welcome to the web page of Stanley Rice, author and botanist.
Welcome to A Quiet Stand of Alders, a website that invites you to experience the scientific importance, and the beauty and peace, of trees and other plants.  This is the message to which I have dedicated my life: plants are essential to the survival of the world, and they deserve much more appreciation than they receive from most people, especially from the political and business leaders in the United States.  Plants are much more than a mechanism for the survival of the planet; they create worlds of beauty and peace.  The world depends not only on plants in general, but on the diversity of plants—the millions of species that make up the forests, fields, and deserts of the world.  This diversity of plants, as well as of all other organisms, has been produced over billions of years by the process of evolution.  In the United States, wild plants are being destroyed, their diversity is being reduced, and teaching the process of evolution is under religious attack.  Watch this website for links to sources of information about plants and evolution, including my books and those of other authors, as well as essays about plants, evolution, and religion.  Keep checking for occasional updates. 

The Inspiration of Science
Jan. 3, 2009

     Some people think science is the amassing of facts about the natural world, and that it takes something else, such as religion, to tie the facts of life together into a meaningful story.  But this is misleading.  Scientific investigation is a grand adventure and reveals deep meaning in life.  I realized this as I was looking through the August 29, 2008 issue of the journal Science.
     Scientific research allows us to reconstruct the history of the Earth, and human history, from evidence that is so subtle as to be almost invisible.  One article examined how, by studying charcoal in geological deposits hundreds of millions of years old, we can determine how much oxygen was in the air at those times.  Another article examined how protein analysis of hairs found on the leather clothing of Otzi the Iceman revealed that the people of his culture were herdsmen rather than primarily hunters.  Yet another article revealed that scientists have discovered earthworks of ancient urban centers spread across thousands of miles of what is now Amazon rainforest—revealing that the rainforest now filled with “primitive tribes” was once filled with civilization.  These discoveries alter our understanding of Earth and human history.
     In the past, much scientific research was based on correlation.  For example, in wild tobacco plants, a greater amount of the attractant benzyl acetone in the flowers was correlated with more visits from pollinating hummingbirds and moths.  But scientists are always seeking new was to transform correlational studies into experimental ones.  In this issue of Science, some scientists had produced genetically engineered lines of wild tobacco which did not produce the benzyl acetone attractant.  They grew these plants, left them outside, and monitored pollinator visits.  The pollinators were not very interested in the plants without the attractant.  This has raised the experimental study of ecology to a new level.
     Nearly every week brings some breakthrough in human health.  In this issue of Science, there was a news item about a scientist who was able to get regular pancreatic cells to change into islet cells, which are the cells that make insulin.  This means it is possible to get diabetics, whose islet cells have died, to grow new ones from their remaining pancreatic cells.  This may lead to a cure for certain kinds of diabetes. One of the research articles was about a researcher who took cells from an elderly victim of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) and manipulated them to become a form of stem cell.  He then got these stem cells to develop into nerve cells, the very kind destroyed by ALS.  Once again, this may lead to a cure for a major degenerative illness.  Another news item told about a researcher who has discovered that the debilitating side effects of chemotherapy might be avoided by something as simple as fasting.
     Scientists are very active in society and policy.  This issue of Science had an article about science diplomacy—how scientists in the U.S. can work with scientists in other countries, and thus promote international cooperation.  Even back during the Cold War, American and Soviet scientists were working together on non-military research, such as how plants grow and how to get agricultural plants to grow more.
     Science is an international collaboration.  The articles have authors from many different countries.  This issue had a significant new step in this direction.  In the past, scientists have gotten information from native peoples and then written the articles themselves.  In this issue, the member of the Kuikuro tribe that helped the scientists investigate the ancient Amazonian earthworks was included as an author of the paper.
     For all of the above reasons—compressed into just one issue of the world’s major scientific journal—I feel inspired to the a participant in the scientific community.  The above examples are not mere piles of facts, but revelations into the way the world works, and ways in which major problems can be solved.  Scientists are not cold calculators of information but passionate explorers of truth and equally passionate servants of the good of the human and natural world.



Encyclopedia of Evolution
Rice, Stanley A. Encyclopedia of Evolution. New York: Facts on File, 2007.

Upcoming Books:

Green Planet Green Planet  [update!]
Encyclopedia of Science and Technology
Encyclopedia of Biodiversity


Stanley A. Rice writes books about plants, evolution, and the environment which are informative and authorative, while remaining easy to understand and fun to read.  He also writes fiction.  He teaches courses in biology and botany at Southeastern Oklahoma State University
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Recently Published

Encyclopedia of Evolution     [summary]
Facts On File, 2007
ISBN: 0-8160-5515-7
(paperback edition
Checkmark Books, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-8160-7121-0)

Awards & Reviews

Short Fiction

January-March 2008
  Green Peace
  Listen to the forest
  As interesting as watching grass grow
April-June 2008
  South with the spring
  Somebody oughtta invent a machine…
  The Quiet Stand of Alders
  Saving the Environment—For Whom?
July-Sept. 2008
  Welcome to the Republican climate!
  Goodbye, from the world’s biggest polluter!
  Yes, Virginia...
  Consider the lilies
  Small acts
  America the glutton
  Looking for a few good conservatives
October-December 2008
  A Good Time to be a Vulture
  A State of Embarrassment
  Just for Money?
  Shoot Something Furry
  Conservatives Are Nature-worshippers
  The Real World
  On the Brink of Collapse
  Winter Sleep
Suggested Reading & Links

USDA research facility at Lane, Oklahoma
Citizens for the Protection of the Arbuckle Simpson Aquifer
Botanical Society of America
Project Kaleidoscope
National Association of Biology Teachers
Oklahoma Academy of Science
Oklahoma Native Plant Society
Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education

Lighter Reading

The Onion: Evolutionists Flock To Darwin-Shaped Wall Stain


  Represented by Jodie Rhodes Literary Agency

Legal info., Disclaimers, etc.

All content not otherwise attributed copyright by Stanley A. Rice, 2008.