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Category: carl zimmer

A strange kind of time shifting is going on at The New York Times, which I guess I'm not complaining about, because the result is more coverage of science.

Last week, the science writer Carl Zimmer began a weekly column in the Times, but not...

A strange kind of time shifting is going on at The New York Times, which I guess I'm not complaining about, because the result is more coverage of science.

Last week, the science writer Carl Zimmer began a weekly column in the Times, but not in Tuesday's Science Times. Instead, it appears on Thursdays, when it is less likely to be seen, I would wager. Last week's debut column concerned the 17-year cicadas, now appearing on fence posts and in trees in the Northeast and as far south as North Carolina. Today's is on some of the genes that were crucial in the transformation from wolves to dogs. The column leads the science page on the...

A handful of pieces that ran last week describing the first proof of “reverse evolution” were so confusing and odd that I had to send them to some biologists I know for a reality check.

What I found weird was that the pieces described the loss of a previously adaptive trait as some sort of...

A handful of pieces that ran last week describing the first proof of “reverse evolution” were so confusing and odd that I had to send them to some biologists I know for a reality check.

What I found weird was that the pieces described the loss of a previously adaptive trait as some sort of shocker. In this latest case, scientists from the University of Michigan found that dust mites had gone from being parasitic to free-living, the change allegedly being surprising because the parasitic mites were thought to have evolved from a free-living ancestor.

The loss of a trait didn’t seems surprising to me, but maybe it was to biologists. It wasn't to the ones I consulted.    

Scientists have understood since Darwin that evolution is not an ascent up a ladder – it’s a process of adaptation to local environments (and some random drift.) The notion of “devolution” doesn’t make much sense in light of our...

This week, the journal BioScience made available an upcoming paper with the rather unassuming title "Journalism and Social Media as Means of Observing the Contexts of Science".  On first glance, you might...

This week, the journal BioScience made available an upcoming paper with the rather unassuming title "Journalism and Social Media as Means of Observing the Contexts of Science".  On first glance, you might think this an unlikely study to generate an angry response.

You have to read a little farther to get to the explosive potential. The paper, published by communications researchers in Germany and the United States, results from a survey of neuroscientists in both countries who were asked to weight the relative value and influence of traditional news outlets versus blogs. Or as the researchers put it in the abstract, to assess "the influence of various types of 'old' and 'new" media on public opinion and political decision making.

Based on the response of some 250 scientists (fairly evenly divided between the countries), the researchers found...

It's been about three months since National Geographic announced that it was starting a new blog network called Phenomena, and so it seemed like a good time to drop in and...

It's been about three months since National Geographic announced that it was starting a new blog network called Phenomena, and so it seemed like a good time to drop in and see how things are going

The design is a little different from the usual blog setup, in which each new post rests on the shoulders of those that came before, as with the Tracker. The posts are in reverse chronological order--with the newest at the top--but each page contains a horizontal space at the top with a teaser for a post, and then eight vertical tiled teasers below that, each with a photograph. I can't decide whether this design is an improvement on the usual design, or a minor distraction. In either case, the design is secondary to the quality of the posts--which is superb.

One could hardly have...

National Geographic announced today that it will be launching a new science blog network, titled Phenomena, featuring four high-octane science bloggers  - Virginia Hughes (Only Human), Brian Switek (Laelaps), Ed Yong (Not...

National Geographic announced today that it will be launching a new science blog network, titled Phenomena, featuring four high-octane science bloggers  - Virginia Hughes (Only Human), Brian Switek (Laelaps), Ed Yong (Not Exactly Rocket Science) and Carl Zimmer (The Loom).

The new network, assembled by the magazine's executive editor for science, Jamie Shreeve, is scheduled to debut on Tuesday, December 18.  It represents National Geographic's first serious move into the increasingly high-profile world of science blogging. (Although National Geographic acquired the old Scienceblogs network in 2011, it never showed any real enthusiasm for it).

But thanks to the quality of its debut bloggers, this new network, although small,  represents a...

Ed Yong, ...

Ed Yong,  prolific science journalist and almost certainly the most active tweeting science-oriented blogger in this or most any other solar system, has some admiring things to say about another tower of science writing power. He provided an analysis of Carl Zimmer's style in the Guardian yesterday. His aim- which includes a nod to the monumental Tim Radford -  is to give some hints to amateurs how a pro does it. The occasion is the annual Wellcome Trust science writing...

Carl Zimmer has published at least two ebooks, although I don't know where...

Carl Zimmer has published at least two ebooks, although I don't know where he found the time. That's because he seems to have made a full-time career out of studying the ebook market, the apps, the publishers, and anything else possibly related to publishing ebooks. If you are at all interested in collecting and publishing those pieces that you rescued from a defunct magazine or website, you should see what he, and co-organizer Tammy Powledge, had to say.

Their list of resources can be found here. It amounts to a semester-long course in epublishing, and you couldn't find better teachers.

If you'd like a little lighter reading, on a very...