Category Archives: SBC-NC’08

Lots of new stuff on the Scientific American blogs…

As you probably noticed, there was a flurry of activity on SciAm blogs these past few days, mostly covering the Japan earthquake and tsunami, and the related topic of nuclear power. For example, you could read, on Observations blog,
The spread of the tsunami from Japan across the Pacific by Phil Yam,
A “sixth sense” for earthquake prediction? Give me a break! by me, and Japan’s nuclear crisis and tsunami recovery via Twitter and other Web resources by Phil Yam. David Horgan on the Cross-Check blog had two posts – Japan earthquake demonstrates the limits—and power—of science and Averting a “Japan syndrome”: Reactor expert says Japan’s woes shouldn’t stop a nuclear renaissance. Jesse Bering looks at that from another angle: Signs, signs, everywhere signs: Seeing God in tsunamis and everyday events. And the Guest Blog covered several different angles: Nature: Earthquake dispatches from the correspondent in Japan [Updated] uploaded by me, 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, and The worst nuclear plant accident in history: Live from Chernobyl by Charles Choi.

There will be more on this topic later, but we are also going back to our ‘regular coverage’. Mary Karmelek on the ‘Anecdotes from the Archive’ blog has two new posts, Let the sun shine in…all day long and Frog briefly gets a leg up on entertainment industry.

And on the Guest Blog, David Manly offers Mirror Images: Twins and identity.

More to come soon on the Guest Blog, as well as a new expedition reporting from the field to out Explorations blog. Stay tuned…

ScienceOnline interviews

I have not “cleaned up” my files here yet, so all the internal links point to the posts over on So I decided to put together links to all the Q&As I did with the participants of the ScienceOnline conferences so far. Many people who came once try to keep coming back again and again, each year. And next year, I guess I can start doing some “repeats” as people’s lives and careers change quite a lot over a period of 3-4 years. I should have thought of doing this in 2007! And there will be (hopefully) more 2010 interviews posted soon.


Taylor Dobbs
Holly Tucker
Jason Priem
David Wescott
Jennifer Rohn
Jessica McCann
Dave Mosher
Alice Bell
Robin Lloyd
Thomas Peterson
Pascale Lane
Holy Bik
Seth Mnookin
Bonnie Swoger
John Hawks
Kaitlin Thaney
Kari Wouk
Michael Barton
Richard Grant
Kiyomi Deards


Ken Liu
Maria Droujkova
Hope Leman
Tara Richerson
Carl Zimmer
Marie-Claire Shanahan
John Timmer
Dorothea Salo
Jeff Ives
Fabiana Kubke
Andrea Novicki
Andrew Thaler
Mark MacAllister
Andrew Farke
Robin Ann Smith
Christine Ottery
DeLene Beeland
Russ Williams
Patty Gainer
John McKay
Mary Jane Gore
Ivan Oransky
Diana Gitig
Dennis Meredith
Ed Yong
Misha Angrist
Jonathan Eisen
Christie Wilcox
Maria-Jose Vinas
Sabine Vollmer
Beth Beck
Ernie Hood
Carmen Drahl
Joanne Manaster
Elia Ben-Ari
Leah D. Gordon
Kerstin Hoppenhaus
Hilary Maybaum
Jelka Crnobrnja
Alex, Staten Island Academy student
Scott Huler
Tyler Dukes
Tom Linden
Jason Hoyt
Amy Freitag
Emily Fisher
Antony Williams
Sonia Stephens
Karyn Hede
Jack, Staten Island Academy student
Jeremy Yoder
Fenella Saunders
Cassie Rodenberg
Travis Saunders
Julie Kelsey
Beatrice Lugger
Eric Roston
Anne Frances Johnson
William Saleu
Stephanie Willen Brown
Helene Andrews-Polymenis
Jennifer Williams
Morgan Giddings
Anne Jefferson
Marla Broadfoot
Kelly Rae Chi
Princess Ojiaku
Steve Koch


Sol Lederman
Greg Laden
Peter Lipson
Glendon Mellow
Betul Kacar Arslan
Eva Amsen
Miriam Goldstein
Katherine Haxton
Stephanie Zvan
Stacy Baker
Bob O’Hara
Djordje Jeremic
Erica Tsai
Elissa Hoffman
Henry Gee
Sam Dupuis
Russ Campbell
Danica Radovanovic
John Hogenesch
Bjoern Brembs
Erin Cline Davis
Carlos Hotta
Danielle Lee
Victor Henning
John Wilbanks
Kevin Emamy
Arikia Millikan
Tatjana Jovanovic-Grove
Blake Stacey
Daniel Brown
Christian Casper
Cameron Neylon


Karen James
James Hrynyshyn
Talia Page
Deepak Singh
Sheril Kirshenbaum
Graham Steel
Jennifer Ouelette
Anna Kushnir
Dave Munger
Vanessa Woods
Moshe Pritsker
Hemai Parthasarathy
Vedran Vucic
Patricia Campbell
Virginia Hughes
Brian Switek
Jennifer Jacquet
Bill Hooker
Gabrielle Lyon
Aaron Rowe
Christina Pikas
Tom Levenson
Liz Allen
Kevin Zelnio
Anne-Marie Hodge
John Dupuis
Ryan Somma
Janet Stemwedel
Shelley Batts
Tara Smith
Karl Leif Bates
Xan Gregg
Suzanne Franks
Rick MacPherson
Karen Ventii
Rose Reis
Elisabeth Montegna
Kendall Morgan
David Warlick
Jean-Claude Bradley

Open Laboratory – old Prefaces and Introductions

One difference between reading Open Laboratory anthologies and reading the original posts included in them is that the printed versions are slightly edited and polished. Another difference is that the Prefaces and Introductions can be found only in the books. They have never been placed online.
But now that four books are out and we are halfway through collecting entries for the fifth one, when only the 2009 book is still selling, I think it is perfectly OK to place Prefaces and Introductions that I wrote myself online. I wrote Prefaces for the 2006, 2007 and 2008 book, as well as the Introduction for the 2006 one. The introductions for the subsequent editions were written by the year’s guest editor, i.e., Reed Cartwright in 2007, Jennifer Rohn in 2008, and SciCurious in 2009.
So, under the fold are my three Prefaces and one Introduction. See how the world (and my understanding of it) of the online science communication has changed over the last few years:

Continue reading

So, shall we see you again next year?

Of course! Anton and I met earlier today and started planning the third Science Blogging Conference. We analyzed the responses we got so far from you, in person, by e-mail, on your blogs, on the interviews and via the feedback form (if you have not done it yet, please give us your feedback here, it’s not too late) and made the first steps to make the next meeting even better.
So, watch this space! There will be news revealed, one item at a time, over the next few days and weeks. First, in a couple of days, we will announce the date and the venue for the third meeting. The other news about it (and about the Anthology) – later, be patient.

Open Notebook Science – session transcript

On top of screencasts, podcasts and PPT files that are already available, you can now also read the full transcript of the session on Public Scientific Data from the Science Blogging Conference. And much more here….

Thank you! All of you who helped Science Blogging Conference be a success!

2008NCSBClogo200.pngThe second annual North Carolina Science Blogging Conference, held January 18 and 19, 2008, was an unqualified success. Find a comprehensive listing of links to the many blog entries and video clips posted before, during and after the conference to learn about the conversations and networking at the conference.
Like our inaugural event, this second conference was a collective activity — many, many organizations, companies and individuals pitched in, in ways large and small, to keep this conference free, attendees fed and the discussion lively.

Please join us in thanking them. (We thanked the sponsors of the first event here.)

As I stated several times before, the Conference would never have happened without the vision, know-how and persistance of my friend Anton Zuiker. Brian Russell was behind the scenes all year, providing us important support and technical advice. Wayne Sutton, newly appointed to his job as online community organizer for NBC-17, crisscrossed the Triangle, all the while trying out every new online networking tool that came to his attention. Wayne and Brian streamed or recorded many of the conference sessions, broadening the audience of the conference. Tola Oguntoyinbo set up the Conference Commons that aggregated blogs posts, Flickr pics and other content tagged

Paul Jones was our institutional contact, offering support; with his help, UNC-CH School of Journalism and Mass Communication once again provided a home base for our finances and accounting, and the UNC Health Sciences Library allowed us the use of its fantastic computer lab for the blogging skills session.

Even before our 2007 event was over, Russ Campbell of Burroughs Wellcome Fund was urging us to think bigger, and helping us win the funds to do so. The substantial grant from Burroughs Wellcome anchored the rest of our fundraising.

Roger Harris, Chris Brodie and Rosalind Reid of Sigma Xi also pledged their support at the first conference, and that led to Sigma Xi offering its beautiful building for the event. Interim Executive Director Linda Meadows gave us a nice welcome (and sent a touching congratulations note). Meg Murphy worked with us over many months to plan the best use of the space, and she calmly took in our mercurial program changes.

JMP Software, was another repeat sponsor and cash donor. New donors this years were the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, The Hamner Institute for Health Sciences, CrossRef and WNCN NBC-17 — their generous gifts allowed us to guarantee an ample supply of coffee, good food throughout the day (including vegetarian options) and travel grants to many of our discussion leaders.

Science lab tours
This year, we introduced pre-conference activities including visits to local science labs. Karl Bates at Duke University (he’s just unveiled a cool new site, Research at Duke) helped to line up three popular lab tours. Erin Knight at the Hamner Institutes, Cyndy Yu Robinson of the EPA, and Roy Campbell at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences also set up and facilitated tours of labs at their organizations.

Grab bag of science swag
Once again, we worked hard to put together a grab bag filled with useful, interesting and fun resources — not just stuff, but science-related materials that could inform conference attendees and then be shared with the libraries, schools and newsrooms in the communities of the attendees. The Museum of Life and Science (cool new website) and American Association for the Advancement of Science, at the instigation of Troy Livingston, VP for innovation & learning, stepped up to provide awesome canvas tote bags.

And into those bags we stuffed materials from ACD Labs, American Scientist, The HMS Beagle Project, Campbell-Kibler Associates, Columbia University Press, Coral Reef Alliance, Discover, HarperCollins, Michigan State University, MSNBC, National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, National Geographic Society, Nature, OpenHelix, Oregon Public Broadcasting, PLoS-One, Project Exploration, Science News, Scienceblogs, Scientific American, Seed Publishing, Shifting Baselines Ocean Media Project, The Scientist, Wired and Wired Science.

Discussion Leaders
The conference offered 14 sessions in all, and each session was led by one or more individuals. See the program page to see who did what. Special thanks to Adnaan Wasey and Abel Pharmboy for very ably filling in as discussion moderators at the last moment. The rest: Dr.Hemai Parthasarathy, Janet Stemwedel, Adnaan Wasey, Kevin Zelnio, Karen James, Rick MacPherson, Peter Etnoyer, Jason Robertshaw, Vedran Vucic, Suzanne Franks, Karen Ventii, Patricia B. Campbell, ScienceWoman , David Warlick, Martin Rundkvist, Shelley Batts, Sarah Wallace, Anne-Marie Hodge, Anna Kushnir, Brian Switek, Xan Gregg, Jean-Claude Bradley, Tara Smith, Becky Oskin, Dave Munger, Chris Mooney, Jennifer Jacquet, Sheril Kirshenbaum and Jennifer Ouellette.

Anton’s mother, Cheryl Zuiker, wanted to see her son in action, so she volunteered to work the registration table at the conference. Elle Cayabyab Gitlin and Abel Pharmboy also helped greet people, and Brian Switek and Martin Rundkvist passed out T-shirts and grab bags. Rob Zelt picked up the morning pastries and got them to the hall on time. Rob and Wayne and Brian (and myself) assisted Anton during the Friday skills session.

All those heavy grab bags of science swag? It took a crew to pack those: Ernie Hood, John Rees, Wayne Sutton, Anton Zuiker, Andrea Novicki, Troy Livingston, Brian Russell and Jonathan Tarr.

The Food
Meals were catered or ordered from Fetzko Coffees (Brian and Ruby suggested this), Weaver Street Market, Saladelia Cafe, Locopops and Bullocks Barbecue. The Friday dinner was held at Town Hall Grill (whose owner is very grateful for the blog coverage of the excellent food and service they provided).

So, thanks again to all the individuals and organizations supporting our free, public-understanding-of-science conference. If I’ve missed you, please tell me so that I can acknowledge your role in making this event so successful.

Open Lab 2007 – soon in a bookstore near you!

OpenLab07-cover-adj.jpgThe day before yesterday, my copy of The Open Laboratory 2007, the second annual science blogging anthology, arrived in the mail.
So yesterday, Reed and I met at a coffee shop and looked it over. It looks great! Reed knows what he’s doing and is a perfectionist, so of course the book looks perfect.
So, I went back online to and approved the book to be sold in various online and offline bookstores. The book information will be sent to Bowker’s Books In Print and once approved by Bowker, Lulu will upload the title to their distribution network. This process is generally completed within 2-3 weeks. You can expect to see the book listed on and other online retailers within the next 6 to 8 weeks.
As for brick stores, let’s hope they pick the book out from the catalogue. But you can help in this department. Each one of you, no matter where you live, probably have a favourite local independent bookstore. Next time you visit there, tell them you’d like to see them carry this item:
The Open Laboratory: The Best Science Writing on Blogs 2007 (, 2008; ISBN: 978-1-4357-0832-7).
I know I’ll be calling Nancy at Quail Ridge Books and Katharine at Market Street Books around here.
The book will always be available online on – just go here and place your order (you can save money by buying a downloadable PDF, but then you will miss the feel of holding a pretty book in your hands and it does make a difference). Buy an extra copy and donate it to your local library. Use it in the classroom (or suggest it to a teacher you know). Buy a few and save them for next year’s Christmas presents.
The proceeds will go to and will be used for the organization of the next Science Blogging Conference and the editing of the next edition of the anthology next year. If this is something you want to support, keep in mind that the royalties are greater if you buy directly from than from any other source.
If you work for MSM and want a review copy of the PDF, contact Reed about it. I will also try to see if will print a few review copies of the book for me to distribute to science magazines and journals that are interested in reviewing it. Note to authors: I am still working on getting the free copy for each one of you like did for last year’s anthology authors.
The first review is already out! You can read it in today’s issue of Nature:

The editor of this second anthology of the best scientific communiques from the blogosphere thinks blogs offer new ways to discuss science. The Open Laboratory 2007: the Best Science Writing on Blogs (, 2008) takes the curious approach of using dead tree format to highlight the diversity of scientific ideas, opinions and voices flowing across the Internet. Every year a different guest editor — here Reed Cartwright, a blogger and genetics and bioinformatics postdoc from North Carolina State University — picks the best posts to coincide with the Science Blogging Conference (in North Carolina on 19 January). First-hand accounts bring to life the stresses of a graduate student, a mother returning to the bench and an archaeologist’s joy at unearthing mammoth fossils. Topics tackled are as varied as the writers, from Viagra and tapeworms to trepanning. Explanations are often offered with a personal twist, such as a father’s tale of his child’s Asperger’s syndrome. The measured voices of trustworthy academics make medical research easy to swallow. If you are overwhelmed by the surge in science-related blogging and don’t know where to start, then this compilation may help you steer a course through the sea of perspectives on offer — or inspire you to start a blog yourself.

Now, buy The Book!