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Category: Ed Yong

Just a week or two ago, in a Northern California Coast gallery, me and my babe while browsing along admired some polished artsy-fartsy carved wood pieces. They had not only beautiful grain but precisely-carved, curling tunnels bored in them big enough to slide a dime through. The clerk said oh, that's worm wood...

Just a week or two ago, in a Northern California Coast gallery, me and my babe while browsing along admired some polished artsy-fartsy carved wood pieces. They had not only beautiful grain but precisely-carved, curling tunnels bored in them big enough to slide a dime through. The clerk said oh, that's worm wood from sinker logs. Before she could go on I mumbled "Oh I know all about that." You know, logs sank from logging operations long ago in marine estuaries, shipworms (teredos) got into them, drilled holes, and eventually some specialty company got hold of them and milled them into this stuff. Turns out of course that was just the smug semi-informed science writer mouthing off (again). I didn't know squat. Nobody does.

    It turns out that some good recent science writing has gone into the topic, at least one from a fellow many tracker readers know, another from a scientist-blogger who also has a decent profile in the trade. Serendipity...

On Saturday, The New York Times published an obituary for Yvonne Brill, 88, a scientist famed as a pioneering woman in the United States' rocket system programs and as the inventor, in the 1970s, of a critical propulsion system to keep communications satellites from slipping out of their orbits.

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On Saturday, The New York Times published an obituary for Yvonne Brill, 88, a scientist famed as a pioneering woman in the United States' rocket system programs and as the inventor, in the 1970s, of a critical propulsion system to keep communications satellites from slipping out of their orbits.

The lead, however, didn't mention any of that. It read: "She made a mean beef stroganoff, followed her husband from job to job and took eight years off from work to raise children. 'The world's best mom,' her son Matthew said.' And in case you - like so many of us - found that wrong-headed in the extreme, that's also a lead that's disappeared. If you call up that obit today, you won't find that opening paragraph. The stroganoff bit has been replaced by a different description, that of 'brilliant...

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...

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A team of European researchers announced this week that they had determined that 16 percent of cancer cases worldwide (an estimated two million annually) are due to treatable infections, such as the human papilloma virus.

It won't surprise you to learn that this report, from the International Agency for Research...

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...

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I want to take a moment to call your attention to a fascinating discussion on what defines good science journalism resulting from a conference earlier this month at the Royal Institution in London.

The meeting, on March 13, was billed as a...

Robert Krulwich is brilliant. I am sure he gets told that all the time. If...

Robert Krulwich is brilliant. I am sure he gets told that all the time. If you don't know who he is, he's an ingenious and witty explainer of scientific principles, is a limpidly talented story teller, and is currently in the employ of NPR. There he is a lynchpin of the Radio Lab program. His blog, Krulwich Wonders, is one small platform for his knack of employing easy words for hard concepts. Ive never worked with him or even met him that I recall, but his love for and loyalty to journalism, including science journalism, is without bound.

Ed Yong, freelancer and freebie-par-excellence via that Not Exactly Rocket Science blog he writes for no pay (aside from ad money of...

Ksjtracker  cannot...

Ksjtracker  cannot let pass without mention that a quick, momentarily near-vicious, and now more or less amicably resolved kerfuffle has this week put a bright light on the co-dependent but often awkward relationship between press officers and journalists / science writing division.

In catching a plane for AAAS and surviving other distractions, I failed to get to it now. Thank You to Charles Q. Choi, of LiveScience and other outlets, for bugging me and relaying various other reactions to this episode.

The short version is that well-known blogger and science writer Ed Yong of the UK, a tweet machine of the first water with a zillion followers, hoped to get a jump in reporting...

A couple of our most thoughtful science bloggers have been involved in recent days in a discussion about where science journalism is headed. The discussion has already produced a fascinating example of what we might do to get away from the familiar but problematic practice of shaping our coverage around the...

A couple of our most thoughtful science bloggers have been involved in recent days in a discussion about where science journalism is headed. The discussion has already produced a fascinating example of what we might do to get away from the familiar but problematic practice of shaping our coverage around the convenience of scientific journals--a practice that might well do more for the journals and their financial bottom lines than it does for our readers.

The...

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This morning, as you can also see one post down in Paul Raeburn's take on a "science writing renaissance" discussion on line (to which I also plan to post a thought or two), finds a flurry of introspection among science writers re our craft. Here is more.

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First brightener for the day is a...