Monthly Archives: April 2011

New on the SciAm Guest Blog

Yesterday at the Scientific American Guest Blog:

Too Hard For Science? David Brin – Raising Animals to Human Levels of Intelligence By Charles Q. Choi

Read, comment, share….

New posts on the SciAm Guest Blog

There are two new posts on the Scientific American Guest Blog:

Animal emotion: When objectivity fails by Kristina Bjoran.

Superfetation: Pregnant while already pregnant by Khalil A. Cassimally.

Read, comment, share….

New posts on the SciAm Guest Blog

Two new posts on the Scientific American Guest Blog.

First, today, Man discovers a new life-form at a South African truck stop By Rob Dunn

And yesterday: Too Hard for Science? A digital panopticon By Charles Q. Choi.

Read, comment, share…

Open Laboratory 2011 – submissions so far

The submission form for the 2011 edition of Open Lab is now open. Any blog post written since December 1, 2010 is eligible for submission.

We accept essays, stories, poetry, cartoons/comics, original art.

Once you are done submitting your own posts, you can start looking at the others’, including on aggregators like ScienceSeeker.org, Scienceblogging.org and Researchblogging.org.

As I always do, I will keep posting the full list of submitted entries once a week until the deadline – see the listing under the fold.

You can buy the last five annual collections here. You can read Prefaces and Introductions to older editions here.

Help us spread the word by displaying these badges (designed by Doctor Zen:

Continue reading

Two new posts on the SciAm Guest Blog

As I was traveling, I did not have the time to post about this at the time, but there were two posts on the Scientific American Guest Blog on Friday:

Trains, nukes, marriage, and vaccines (and anything else): Why the facts don’t matter By David Ropeik.

Too Hard for Science? Philip Zimbardo–creating millions of heroes By Charles Q. Choi.

As always: read, comment, share…

A couple of Big Announcements about The Open Laboratory

First Big Announcement:

The first couple of reviews of the 2010 anthology are now out: by Dr. Alistair Dove at Deep Sea News and by Ariel Carpenter at USC News. Check them out. If you have read the book and have a place to publish a review, we’ll appreciate it – just send us the link.

Second Big Announcement:

I am very excited to announce the Guest Editor for the 2011 – a good friend, a marvelous writer, and a great blogger: Jennifer Ouellette (blog, Twitter). I am looking forward to working with Jennifer over the course of the year to produce the best anthology yet!

Third Big Announcement:

After five years of self-publishing the book with Lulu.com, the Open Laboratory now has a real publisher! Yes!

I am happy to announce that the sixth anthology will be published by Scientific American Books, an imprint of Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Both Scientific American and Farrar, Straus and Giroux are part of the same publishing empire – McMillan – so this is a natural marriage between the two.

Jennifer Ouellette and I will work closely with Amanda Moon, Book Editor at Scientific American and Senior Editor at Farrar, Straus and Giroux, on producing the next volume.

What does this mean, and what will change?

The first phase of the production of the book will remain the same. You will keep submitting your own and other bloggers’ work via the same submission form. I will keep posting the growing list of submissions every Monday morning.

At the end of the year, some time in December, we’ll close the submission form as we always do. Jennifer will devise the judging methodology and will ask a group of bloggers, writers and scientists to serves as judges, to help us go through hundreds of entries at a fast pace. Thus the crowdsourced, community aspects of the book will remain intact.

Once the final decisions have been made and 50 essays, one cartoon and one poem are chosen for the inclusion in the book, Jennifer, Amanda and I will work closely with the authors to edit, copyedit and proofread the entries until they are in a perfectly publishable form (but without losing the webby ‘feel’). Then the project will get turned over to the professionals for design, typesetting and marketing – the aspects of publishing that were always the hardest for us to do as amateurs until now. Also, though Open Laboratory is a brand in our small circles (and quite popular there – see #openlab hashtag on Twitter), we may need to change its name to something more broadly marketable – but that is far from final yet, more information to come later.

This process lasts a little bit longer when done professionally, so we expect the book not to get published early in the year as before, but rather in early Fall, perhaps September, just before people start shopping for the holidays.

It took five years to find the publisher for this project, and it has finally happened, mainly due to continuous and strong support of the community – yes, that’s you. And I should not forget to mention the help of people most closely involved in the project over the years – the past Guest Editors Reed Cartwright, Jenny Rohn, Scicurious and Jason G. Goldman, the LaTeX guru Blake Stacey and, person without whom this idea would not have even been hatched – Anton Zuiker.

I am very, very happy with these developments and am looking forward to working on it over the next year, and hopefully into the future.

New post on the SciAm Guest Blog

You should read Should everyone have access to lifesaving medicines? by David Ng on the SciAm Guest Blog today. Important stuff.

New posts on the SciAm blogs

On the Guest Blog, today, see Seafood At Risk: Dispersed Oil Poses a Long-Term Threat by Allie Wilkinson.

Yesterday – Too Hard for Science? Creating naked singularities by Charles Q. Choi

On the Expeditions blog, Victoria Hill continues liveblogging her field research – two new posts this week: The Catlin Arctic Survey: Thermohaline circulation and The Catlin Arctic Survey: A melting ocean.

Read, comment, share….

Open Laboratory 2011 – submissions so far

The submission form for the 2011 edition of Open Lab is now open. Any blog post written since December 1, 2010 is eligible for submission.

We accept essays, stories, poetry, cartoons/comics, original art.

Once you are done submitting your own posts, you can start looking at the others’, including on aggregators like ScienceSeeker.org, Scienceblogging.org and Researchblogging.org.

As I always do, I will keep posting the full list of submitted entries once a week until the deadline – see the listing under the fold.

You can buy the last five annual collections here. You can read Prefaces and Introductions to older editions here.

Help us spread the word by displaying these badges (designed by Doctor Zen:

Continue reading

Fun in New York City last week, a new blog post, and more.

This past week I was in New York City (again – my monthly trip), trying, as always, to couple business with pleasure. Apart from coming into SA office for work and meetings, I also got to attend a couple of nifty events.

On Tuesday evening, I finally got to meet Mary Roach in person. I learned on Twitter she was going to be in town and doing a reading from her latest book ‘Packing For Mars’, but I thought (and tweeted) it was too late as I already had other things planned. Well, she tweeted right back at me and politely suggested I better show up or else….so I changed my plans and showed up and it was great fun – she is such an amazing person and a great public speaker (there is a video of her in this post in which I review her previous book ‘Bonk’).

And of course, the topic is fascinating – how do astronauts and cosmonauts deal with various aspects of life we take for granted here on solid ground and gravity: how they eat, sleep, go to bathroom, take care of hygiene, take care of mental hygiene, and more.

On Wednesday night I went to see The Story Collider, a science-themed storytelling show (sorta like Moth in NYC or The Monti here in the Triangle). This time, the topic was the intersection of science and art – The Cambrian Explosion, an art exhibit and storytelling performance with six wonderful personal stories by artist who draw inspiration from science and nature and math. It was also wonderful to see some of their art in the gallery right after the show to connect what they said to what they do as artists.

But the biggest deal of the week was on Wednesday morning, when I went along with Katherine Harmon and Eric Olson to the American Museum of Natural History for the press preview of the ‘Giant Dino’ exhibit. You can see their video embedded into the article: New exhibit reconstructs the very biggest dinosaurs–inside and out. And you can read my take on it (with lots of pictures) in: Giant Dino exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History, or, why I should not be a photojournalist.

It was also great to be able to meet a bunch of people – despite not having an organized #NYCscitweetup – during these two days at various times: Lena Groeger, Steve Silberman, Nancy Parmalee, Ivan Oransky, Robin Lloyd, Steve Mirsky, Cassie Rodenberg and Hannah Waters among others.

Next week – DCSWA Professional Development Day 2011 on Saturday in Washington D.C. – come by if you can.

Giant Dino exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History, or why I should not be a photojournalist

 

As the Blog Editor at Scientific American, I come to New York City about once a month to work in the office, attend editorial meetings, and prepare the blog network for launch some time in the near future.

This week, I was in town at just the right time to join our intrepid team of reporters on assignment: the press event leading to the opening of the new Giant Dino exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History.

Now that I work in a media organization, it is time for me to stop just criticizing from the outside and actually learn how the media works – from the inside. So, on Wednesday, Katherine Harmon, Eric Olson (picture right) and I met at the office early in the morning, packed all the necessary equipment and made a trek uptown to the Museum for the event. We decided to go by metro as likely faster than the cab at that time of day (though I wonder if there is any time of day on any day of the week when metro is NOT faster than the cab in this town).

My job was really just to tag along, help carry the camera and stuff, watch what they do, and try to take some photos with my tiny little Pentax – a great camera for tourist-y travel, but not good enough for taking pictures in a dark hall – my caffeinated hands cannot hold still long enough for the long exposure such pictures require. But I was going to give it my best shot anyway.

So, while Katie was interviewing people and Eric was shooting video, I was wondering around taking pictures. A few of them are below – you can find the rest of them nicely organized (with running commentary) on Facebook, and also on Flickr where you can download them in a variety of sizes (just link here and credit me if you decide to re-use them on your site, please).

Eric’s video and Katie’s text can be found on the Observations blog – New exhibit reconstructs the very biggest dinosaurs–inside and out – check it out.

I was hoping there would be out-takes and bloopers left over for me to use, but nothing funny happened – everything went smoothly, and the footage was all fine, including the interview with Brian Switek (left), blogger at Laelaps and Dinosaur Tracking, and author of Written in Stone: Evolution, the Fossil Record, and Our Place in Nature. Brian has just signed up with Scientific American/Farrar, Straus and Giroux to write his second book, A Date With a Dinosaur. I interviewed Brian twice on my blog – in January of this year, as well as back in 2008 before he became famous.

I wish I knew that Lance Mannion, an old blog friend, was going to be there as we have never met in person before – next time, I promise.

The event started with a press conference in the Hall of Dinosaurs at the Museum – see how nice and docile the dinosaurs are to the members of the press, just standing there politely instead of stomping them all into the floor:

Even T.rex turned away and did not eat anyone:

Here are Eric and Katie again, at the end of the press conference, ready to go and see the new exhibit:

Entering the very, very dark hall where the exhibit is located (on the fourth floor of the Museum), worrying that exposure times would be far too long for taking pictures without a tripod:

We were first greeted at the door by the head of Argentinosaurus, the largest sauropod:

Once inside of the exhibit hall, the panorama is dominated by a life-size replica of Mamenchisaurus, a sauropod with an incredibly long neck:

If you go to any natural history museum, be it the Hall of Dinosaurs at AMNH, or at the Smithsonian in D.C., Field Museum in Chicago, Carnegie in Pittsburgh, or any other, there are usually many mounted dinosaur skeletons. There will be a plate with a little bit of text explaining something about the animal, but most people do not read those signs. The focus is on diversity, large size, and taxonomic relationships of dinosaurs.

But this exhibit is completely different. While several sauropod species are mentioned here and there, the focus is on their biology, not identification. Even the Mamenchisaurus is there not so much as itself but more as a representative of the entire group, used to tell us what we know (and how we know it) about the sauropod ecology, physiology, development and behavior.

See that neck again – underneath the peeled-away skin, you can see neck vertebrae, muscles, an arthery, a vein, the esophagus and the trachea:

The central part of the exhibit is the body of the Mamenchisaurus – it was made somewhat transparent and it showed a projection – with voice-over – of a variety of internal processes occuring there: digestion, respiration and reproduction:

It takes a long time to build such a model. It was unfortunately already too late to make any changes in the Mamenchisaurus when a new study came out a couple of weeks ago showing that there is an entire new muscle along the back side of the hind leg – or, as Brian Switek said in the interview, the beast had much more “junk in the trunk” than it was shown here:

Most of the other parts of the exhibit were very interactive. For example, by pushing on the bellows, one could send air down the long plastic trachea into the large model of the dinosaur lungs (this is probably also the most controversial statement of the exhibit – the evidence that their respiration was exactly like that of modern birds – a flow-through, counter-current system – is not as strong as for all the other biology explained in the exhibit):

Here is our team in action: Katie interviewing Martin Sander, Mark Norell and Brian Switek (scientists, when excitedly talking about science, cannot stand still – thus fuzzy pictures, sorry):

Of course, every good museum exhibit has a part where kids can do something hands-on, here digging the fossils in the sand:

This was clever and sneaky! They included weight-lifting exercises into the exhibit! Good for everyone’s health… on the left is the giraffe neck vertebra and on the right is the equivalent from a sauropod. The dino one is somewhat lighter than the mammalian one due to numerous holes and caverns in it:

Sliders! I love sliders! Measure your femur, slide a slider to that number, and the other number tells you how much you’d weigh if you were a sauropod:

Or you measure some real dinosaur femurs before you go to the slider…

…and then see how much the real dino used to weigh (this is in pounds, but you can choose kilograms as well):

Finally, here is a cute little sauropod hatching out of an egg:

The way exhibit is done and set up is really refreshing, but it also reflects the way the dinosaur paleontology has evolved recently. The rush to discover, describe and mount as many species, or as strange species, or as large species as possible, is a thing of the past. Today, new techniques are available that changed the approach – the focus now is much more on the biology of dinosaurs: how they evolved, how they lived and behaved, and how their bodies functioned. Studying not just bones, but also soft tissues, skin imprints, embryos in eggs (sometimes still inside their mothers), tracks they left in the soft ground, the microscopic bone morphology, chemical traces, the positioning of fossils at the time of death, the environments in which they died… it is a much more mature science today, and this exhibit reflects this very well. If you can make it to NYC between tomorrow’s opening and January, go to the Museum and see it.

Two new posts on the SciAm Guest Blog

There are two new posts on the Scientific American Guest Blog.

In Too Hard For Science? The Adventures of a Biomolecule in a Cell, Charles Q. Choi interviews Jeanne Garbarino.

That was last night. But this morning, Justine Larson published Blaming parents: what I’ve learned and unlearned as a child psychiatrist.

Enjoy, comment, share…

ScienceOnline2011 – interview with Alice Bell

Continuing with the tradition from last three years, I will occasionally post interviews with some of the participants of the ScienceOnline2011 conference that was held in the Research Triangle Park, NC back in January 2011. See all the interviews in this series here.

Today we chat with Alice Bell (Twitter):

Welcome to A Blog Around The Clock. Would you, please, tell my readers a little bit more about yourself? Where are you coming from (both geographically and philosophically)? What is your (scientific) background?

Geographically, I’m a Londoner. In terms of my scientific background, I don’t really have one other than a tiny bit of 1st year undergrad chemistry. I make no pretense to be a scientist. However, I do see myself as part of the scientific community, as long as you define scientific community quite broadly (which I think you should). I’m a sociologist and social historian, so I’m interested in people, it just happens that the particular thing about people I find the most fascinating is when they try to talk to each other about science.

I teach science communication at Imperial College most of the week, and do a bit of freelance science writing, science communication consultancy and research with the rest of my time. In the future, I may go back to academia fulltime, or back to focus exclusively on more practical work, but I quite like the mix (I’ve find doing a bit of one helps with the other) even if it can be hard to juggle at times.

Tell us a little more about your career trajectory so far: interesting projects past and present?

I got into science communication when I was 16, though I didn’t realise this until I was a bit older. I did some press work in tech policy and some theatre in education work on mental health issues, and then I got a full time job as an Explainer at the Science Museum (I basically got paid to stand around and chat to kids about physics, sometimes I’d make paper planes or do a show where I had to set fire to bubbles or get kids to sit on a chair of nails… it was a fun job!).

I ended up doing a degree on the history of science, and then another on the sociology of education, and then a PhD on children’s science books. I kept working throughout this: part-time at the museum, but also some freelance writing. I had a job working for the UK’s National Year of Science website, which I guess was my first real work in online science (c.2001-3). After my PhD, I was lucky enough to get a lectureship at Imperial, and I developed courses for their MSc in Science Communication on science’s interactions with fiction, children and online media, as well as bringing some more sociology and policy into the core course. I went part-time last year, taking a post which involves working with scientists more, and has allowed more time to write professionally.

What is taking up the most of your time and passion these days?

I’m about to spend two months in North America – mainly DC, but some time in Ottawa, Toronto, Philadelphia, Chicago and New York. I want to spend most of my time focusing on writing up some research, but I hope to learn more about the similarities and differences between UK science communication and the cultures in the US and Canada while I’m there.

Back home in London, I seem to keep getting pulled into a whole load of science-themed scrapes and japes like running events or producing charity calendars… (generally agreeing to stuff late at night in the pub and then later crying over the length of my to do lists).

I have an idea for a book, but I think I’m going to come back to that in the summer and see if I still like the idea before taking it further. I have a couple of ideas for academic research projects too, but I’m keeping quiet about them for now.

What aspect of science communication and/or particular use of the Web in science interests you the most?

Um… All of it? Or at least a load of different bits of it. When I characterise my research interests for my CV I tend to say I’m interested in science writers, with a particular focus on those who write for children, and those who write online. In reality, my interests stretch a lot further. As a teacher, I cover a fair bit of public engagement and other ideas about the rights and wrongs of science communication, as well as some science policy and things like the use of fiction or humour in science communicaiton.

How does (if it does) blogging figure in your work? Do you find all this online activity to be a necessity in what you do?

In a similar interview to this, I once said that I blog to play around with an idea and/or keep a record of things I’ve done, in the hope that doing so in public will be useful in some way. I’d stick with that.

I was thinking more about why I blog after ScienceOnline2011, and I think it’s because I like conversing with people. It’s the possibility for interaction and mutual learning. I know that sounds cheesy, but it’s true. I also love the possibility for serendipitous discovery online. I take all the talk of echochambers, etc, and I think it’s important to think about Balkanisation of online niche communities, but digital communication does also allow for an awful lot of accidental stumbling upon awesomeness (and awesomeness accidentally stumbling upon you).

… and yes, it’s a necessity because it’s what I work in. Blogging is a research object for me, by which I mean it’s something I look at, as well as something I do for myself.

When and how did you first discover science blogs? What are some of your favourites? Have you discovered any cool science blogs by the participants at the Conference?

You know, I don’t remember? Um… I guess I first discovered blogs a bit over a decade ago, and kept an eye out for science ones. I remember writing an essay as an undergrad about online communities of fossil enthusiasts c.2001 but I don’t think I looked at any blogs. I suppose I started reading more of them as there were more, and then engaging with the online science writing community a bit more actively when I had to develop a course on science online about two years ago. It was developing that course that pulled me into the community properly, for sure.

What was the best aspect of ScienceOnline2011 for you?

Meeting people! Even the embarrassment of realising that I’d just greeted Brian Switek with ‘OMG you’re Brian the Dino Man’ (it’s always so hard to know what to say when you ‘meet’ someone you actually know already).

Thank you so much for the interview. It was great to finally meet you in person. I hope you will come again next January!

New post on the SciAm Guest Blog

Today on the Scientific American Guest Blog, David Manly is back with a new amazing story – Regeneration: The axolotl story.

Enjoy, comment, share….

New post on the SciAm Guest Blog – who is happier: domestic or wild animals?

Today on the Scientific American Guest Blog, an intriguing question: Bambi or Bessie: Are wild animals happier? by By Christie Wilcox.

Your thoughts? Post in the comments. Share on social networks…

Two new posts on the SciAm Guest Blog

There are two new posts today on the Scientific American Guest Blog:

Dear Chemists by David Ropeik.

Too Hard For Science? The Sense of Meaning in Dreams by Charles Q. Choi.

As always: read, comment, share…

Open Laboratory 2011 – submissions so far

The submission form for the 2011 edition of Open Lab is now open. Any blog post written since December 1, 2010 is eligible for submission.

We accept essays, stories, poetry, cartoons/comics, original art.

Once you are done submitting your own posts, you can start looking at the others’, including on aggregators like ScienceSeeker.org, Scienceblogging.org and Researchblogging.org.

As I always do, I will keep posting the full list of submitted entries once a week until the deadline – see the listing under the fold.

You can buy the last five annual collections here. You can read Prefaces and Introductions to older editions here.

Help us spread the word by displaying these badges (designed by Doctor Zen:

Continue reading

Tentative calendar

I am really bad with using my various Google and other calendars, so this is mostly a Note To Self, so have it handy if/when I get invitations etc. to know when I am actually free….

April 12-13 – NYC monthly trip

April 16 – NCWC (BIO101 lab)

April 18-19 – Passover

April 23rd – Washington DC – D.C. Science Writers Association

May 3rd – Boston – annual meeting of the advisory group for PRI/BBC/NOVA/SigmaXi Science.

May 7th – an important wedding

May 12-13th – Wake Forest University workshop on science writing in the Biology department

June 2nd – World Science Festival, New York City

June 25-28th – Doha, Qatar – World Conference of Science Journalists

September 2-3rd – London, UK – Science Online London

October 14-18th – Flagstaff AZ – CASW/NASW Science Writers 2011

November 5 – an important wedding

Great infographic on the SciAm Guest Blog today

Today on the Scientific American Guest Blog we have a very cool infographic, designed by Lena Groeger as part of her work at Studio 20, trying to build better Explainers. It is Radiation levels explained: An exposure infographic.

Check it out, read, comment, share with friends….

Two new posts on the SciAm Guest Blog

Today was World Health Day dedicated to antibiotic resistance. So we had two posts on the Scientific American Guest Blog on this topic today.

First was Short Story Science: Lenina Versus the Pneumococcus by Cindy Doran.

And then, World Health Day: Combat Drug Resistance by Gozde Zorlu.

Read, comment, share….

ScienceOnline2011 – interview with Dave Mosher

Continuing with the tradition from last three years, I will occasionally post interviews with some of the participants of the ScienceOnline2011 conference that was held in the Research Triangle Park, NC back in January 2011. See all the interviews in this series here.

Today we chat with Dave Mosher.

Welcome to A Blog Around The Clock. Would you, please, tell my readers a little bit more about yourself? Where are you coming from (both geographically and philosophically)? What is your (scientific) background?

I’m a freelance science journalist who somehow carves out his existence in New York City. My roots are back in Ohio, however, where my first teachers injected me with science as a wee lad. I’ve been foaming at the mouth for it ever since, so much that I thought I wanted to do biological research as a career. Until I actually did some of it in college. The monotony got to me fairly quickly.

Having an unofficial license to ask dumb questions about science all day — and then write about it — seemed like a good career path for me, so I added a journalism degree. The rest is history.

Tell us a little more about your career trajectory so far: interesting projects past and present?

Right now, I’m a contributor to Wired.com/Wired Science and an editor (out of love) for The Time Hack — an ambitious exploration of time perception by Matthew Danzico, an amazing/intelligent/talented friend and BBC journalist.

Before all of that, I worked for Discovery.com and Space.com/LiveScience.com. Those jobs combined with a potpourri of internships prior to them took me to some interesting places in space and time. For example: Flying into the shadow of a total solar eclipse near the North Pole, living in a house full of Russian physicists for three months, chasing space shuttles and astronauts across the country, etc.

What is taking up the most of your time and passion these days? What are your goals?

I’ve been working extremely hard for Wired Science since I joined the team in October 2010, but I’m now splitting my time in half between that and freelancing. Needless to say, there are a lot of rabbits out there I now have time to chase! Other than world domination, my goals are pretty simple: Do what I love, do it the best I can, and somehow make a living in the process.

What aspect of science communication and/or particular use of the Web in science interests you the most?

Science has the unique ability to provide the most current, thorough and valid conclusions about the universe we live in. No other discipline, belief, philosophy, manner or being — or whatever you want to call it — can claim that. Meanwhile, the Internet is a vast and evolving communications organism.

When you pair science with the web, some truly astonishing shit happens. Notwithstanding the phenomenally improved scientific collaboration, data sharing, publication speed, etc. you have a prime medium to satiate the public’s interest in science. Sharing tales of this knowledge with people, using one of the greatest inventions our species has produced, is something that’s difficult to describe in words. You can tell stories unlike any other medium can, with a barrage of text, video, audio, and — budget permitting — a healthy dose of interactivity.

How does (if it does) blogging figure in your work? How about social networks, e.g., Twitter, FriendFeed, Facebook and others? How do you integrate all of your online activity into a coherent whole? Do you find all this online activity to be a net positive (or even a necessity) in what you do?

It’s funny to me, as I write for a living, but my personal blog is often the first thing I neglect in pursuit of other passions/hobbies, e.g. photography, reading, movies, travel, tickle fights, etc. Pounding out a news story or blog post for pay is easy enough, but my personal space transforms me into a strange, inefficient and over-thinking writer. I’m not sure why, so someone’s welcome to tell me. Anyway, I’m trying to overcome this hurdle and develop my blog into a place for asides that emerge during my news reporting. You know, the stuff you can’t write or explore in the mainstream (e.g. what do penis spines look like?).

Social networks, especially Twitter, are crucial to my work in so many ways. Once I get over the initial time investment of understanding how they work, I learn to make them work for me . An example with Twitter: Without it, I wouldn’t be as up-to-date on the latest science news, find as many exclusive story ideas, gain familiarity with topics that I can eventually cover, or stay on top of trending/emerging themes in science. There was a post I read about how some people are extraordinary filters of information (I can’t recall where). Well, it’s true. Just look at Steve Silberman, a friend of mine and a fantastic science writer. He’s one of my top sources of information because he’s an extraordinary filter of what’s out there on the web. He almost always shares items that are interesting and relevant to me. Build a diverse network of these people from many disciplines, and you can save yourself oodles of time, not to mention self-loathing for not being an omniscient Internet-scanning robot.

“Integrate … into a coherent whole” isn’t the right phrase for how I treat social networking; it’s more like compartmentalization. I say this because I don’t have the cognitive capacity to handle a firehouse of tweets from hundreds of people everyday, let alone my RSS reader. So I break things up into groups that make sense. On Twitter: writers, scientists, publications, PIOs, etc. On Facebook: friends, family, professional colleagues, etc. In this way, social networking becomes manageable — ignore what you don’t have time for/aren’t interested in at the moment, and focus on what’s important. This style makes my online activity a positive and powerful element in my daily routine.

When and how did you first discover science blogs? What are some of your favorites?

I encountered them in college and started my first (now-defunct) science blog in 2005, but it wasn’t until 2006 that I was fully conscious of how many were out there, their depth and their promise. That was thanks to an internship at Discover magazine under Amos Zeeberg, an amazing web editor who’s still kicking butt there today.

A few favorites are Not Exactly Rocket Science, Technology Review’s arXiv blog, and the Knight Science Journalism Tracker. A sort of related and guilty pleasure of mine is Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, which posts original pee-your-pants-funny comics — many of which are about science.

What was the best aspect of ScienceOnline2011 for you? Any suggestions for next year?

The best part, plain and simple, was meeting people I knew only over the internet. The event allowed me to get a real feel for who these strangers are, and foster some true human-to-human connections with them. It was also fun to see how much people distort their actual physical appearance online (e.g. silly avatars, pics outdated by 10 years, MySpace’d mugshots, etc.).

Suggestions? Sure. Science writer David Harris, on his own accord, hosted a great Twitter-based networking game at NASW in 2010. It forced me to meet new people that I still speak with today, and I think a social networking-powered activity like that would be phenomenally appropriate at ScienceOnline2012. Note that great prizes to motivate people really helps.

Is there anything that happened at this Conference – a session, something someone said or did or wrote – that will change the way you think about science communication, or something that you will take with you to your job, or to your science reading and writing?

All of the sessions stick with me to this day, but I found the most value in those on creating/maintaining online journalism standards and what makes online science writing better/different/worse. These both cemented concerns I’ve encountered during my work, as well as introduced me to new ways of seeing things. I certainly feel more cognizant of problems I could cause (and avoid) as a writer.

Thank you so much for the interview. I hope to see you again soon, and at ScienceOnline2012 in January.

Two new posts on the SciAm Guest Blog

We are starting the week with two posts on the Scientific American Guest Blog:

What’s the deal with male circumcision and female cervical cancer? by Michelle Clement.

and

Too Hard for Science?: Making astronauts with printers by Charles Q. Choi.

Check them out, post comments, share on social networks, enjoy…

Open Laboratory 2011 – submissions so far

The submission form for the 2011 edition of Open Lab is now open. Any blog post written since December 1, 2010 is eligible for submission.

We accept essays, stories, poetry, cartoons/comics, original art.

Once you are done submitting your own posts, you can start looking at the others’, including on aggregators like ScienceSeeker.org, Scienceblogging.org and Researchblogging.org.

As I always do, I will keep posting the full list of submitted entries once a week until the deadline – see the listing under the fold.

You can buy the last five annual collections here. You can read Prefaces and Introductions to older editions here.

Help us spread the word by displaying these badges (designed by Doctor Zen:

Continue reading

New post on the SciAm Guest Blog

There is a new post on the Scientific American Guest Blog today and it is not an April Fool’s prank – it is serious and for real.

Danielle Lee wrote Under-represented and under-served: Why minority role models matter in STEM and you should read, post comments and share with your friends on social networks.

The Evolution of Darwin’s Finches

Hear the amazing story of Darwin’s finches when legendary evolutionary biologists Peter and Rosemary Grant present highlights of their life’s work on Monday, April 11 at 7pm in the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences auditorium, downtown Raleigh. Free.

Peter Grant is professor emeritus of zoology, and Rosemary Grant is a retired senior research scholar, both in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton. In their dogged study of a population of birds popularly known as “Darwin’s finches,” the Grants have won renown for detecting and recording evolution in action, and proving and extending the theories of pioneering evolutionist Charles Darwin, work for which they were recently awarded the prestigious Kyoto Prize.

For much of the public, the work of the Grants first came to light in Jonathan Weiner’s Pulitzer Prize-winning account of their efforts, “The Beak of the Finch.” Published in 1994, the book detailed the couple’s arduous, yearly six-month stay in tents on Daphne Major, a desolate volcanic island 600 miles west of Ecuador. There, since 1973, they have undertaken what was described in Weiner’s book as one of the most intensive and valuable animal studies ever conducted in the wild.

“We choose a single group of related species for close scrutiny,” the Grants wrote, “and attempt to answer the following questions: Where did they come from, how did they diversify, what caused them to diversify as much as they did (and no more) and over what period of time did this happen?” What the Grants have shown through their relentless study and cataloging of 14 varieties of island finches is how beak size and shape evolve through natural selection within a dramatically changing environment, according to certain mechanisms and conditions.

This presentation is made possible through a partnership between the Museum, North Carolina State University’s WM Keck Center for Behavioral Biology, and the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent).

Best of March at A Blog Around The Clock

I posted 35 times in March.

The most important event in March – The Open Laboratory 2010 is now up for sale!

I posted again on the SA Observations blog, twice: Book review: Pink Boots and the Machete by Mireya Mayor and A “sixth sense” for earthquake prediction? Give me a break!

I was interviewed for Peer Review Radio and a blog Jekyll in Italian (but you can listen in English).

I have re-started the annual tradition of interviewing attendees of ScienceOnline – so this month I posted the first few of those – with Taylor Dobbs, Holly Tucker, Jason Priem, David Wescott, Jennifer Rohn and Jessica McCann.

Our franchise is spreading – Announcing Science Online NYC!

Also, ScienceOnline2011 videos are now all available online

I made sure that the Scientific American Guest Blog was busy all month as well, full of great posts on a diversity of topics – check them all out:

Cheerleader for science: A chat with Mireya Mayor, author of Pink Boots and the Machete By Darlene Cavalier

A pill to remember By R. Douglas Fields

You can increase your intelligence: 5 ways to maximize your cognitive potential By Andrea Kuszewski

Science in the neighborhood: How to make really good coffee By Summer Ash

From fuel to film: The story of energy and movies By David Wogan

Nature: Earthquake dispatches from the correspondent in Japan [Updated] By Bora Zivkovic

The essential lesson from the Japan earthquake for the U.S. By Richard Allen

Beware the fear of nuclear….FEAR! By David Ropeik

Failure of imagination can be deadly: Fukushima is a warning By Rita J. King

Japan earthquake: The explainer By Chris Rowan

The worst nuclear plant accident in history: Live from Chernobyl By Charles Choi

Deja vu: What does the Gulf oil spill tell us about the Japanese nuclear crisis? By David Wogan

Mirror images: Twins and identity By David Manly

Smaller, cheaper, faster: Does Moore’s law apply to solar cells? By Ramez Naam

Art in the service of science: You get what you pay for By Kalliopi Monoyios

Social media for science: The geologic perspective By Kea Giles

The Asian long-horned beetle: Hopefully not coming to a neighborhood near you By Beth Jones

Learning from Tinka: Able-bodied chimps cop a back-scratching technique from a handicapped friend By Matt Soniak

Poor risk communication in Japan is making the risk much worse By David Ropeik

Impact of the Japan earthquake and tsunami on animals and environment By Jason G. Goldman

Stealth percussionists of the animal world By Nadia Drake

Dressing the meat of tomorrow By James King

Serotonin and sexual preference: Is it really that simple? By SciCurious

Digitizing Jane Goodall’s legacy at Duke By Jason G. Goldman

Why we live in dangerous places By Tim De Chant

Amber Waves of…ah…ah…achoo! What you need to know about allergies by Kiyomi Deards

Can we declare victory in the participation of women in science? Not yet. by Marie-Claire Shanahan.

Barberry, Bambi and bugs: The link between Japanese barberry and Lyme disease By Beth Jones

Earthquake triggering, and why we don’t know where the next big one will strike By Christie Rowe

Museum brings citizens and scientists together through a blogging project: Experimonth By Beck Tench

Too Hard for Science?: Asking scientists about questions they would love the answers to that might be impossible to investigate By Charles Q. Choi

Can we capture all of the world’s carbon emissions? By Ramez Naam

Walking the Line Between Good and Evil: The Common Thread of Heroes and Villains By Andrea Kuszewski

And we started a new series on the Expeditions blog: Destination: Arctic!, The Catlin Arctic Survey: Arrival at ice camp, and The Catlin Arctic Survey: Challenges by Victoria Hill.