In North Carolina, where I live, blueberries ripen between June and August. But I can buy blueberries throughout the year. That’s because most people only eat a few kinds of food, so farmers around the world grow the same crops, meeting the demand of consumers that live in another hemisphere. As Rob Dunn points out in his new book, that practice poses some significant risks. Continue reading “The Importance of Seeds: a Q&A with Rob Dunn”
I grew up during the Cold War. My memories of childhood include a constant anxiety that ran just beneath the surface; the fear that, at any minute, someone would push a button that unleashed nuclear war. Continue reading “Scared, But Resolute: Thoughts on the First Few Days of a Trump White House”
Lab Girl, by Hope Jahren, is one of the best books I’ve read in recent years. It’s a book about science. And about plants. And about people. As I wrote in a review earlier this year, Jahren manages to find a balance between entertaining popular science and compelling memoir. That’s a tough combination to pull off, and a hell of a read.
Recently Jahren – who has relocated her geobiology lab from Hawaii to the University of Oslo – let me pick her brain about writing, blogging and how she balances her writing with her work as a scientist. Continue reading “A Voice with an Audience: an Interview with Hope Jahren”
Ecosystems are complicated. They involve myriad organisms existing and interacting within a particular place at a particular time. These are dynamic habitats, with populations that are constantly shifting. Continue reading “Find the Stories: an Interview with Ed Yong”
From dragons and dire wolves to the arid Red Waste and the frozen lands beyond the Wall, Game of Thrones is teeming with exotic creatures and habitats. It’s also teeming with violence, disease and cultural practices that often swing from pseudo-historical to utterly bizarre.
And, in an impressive collection of blog posts, there are scientists and science writers who want to talk about Game of Thrones and the world in which it takes place. Continue reading “One Reason Scientists and Science Writers Want to Talk About Game of Thrones”
Parents, particularly first-time parents, get a lot of advice – whether they want it or not. Some of that advice comes from professionals, such as obstetricians, pediatricians and nurses. But a lot of advice comes from less reliable sources. Continue reading “Science for Parents: an Interview with Tara Haelle and Emily Willingham”
Neurotribes is an ambitious book. It is, as Oliver Sacks describes it in the foreword, “a sweeping and penetrating history of [autism, Asperger’s syndrome and how those diagnoses are understood]. Grappling with such a sweeping topic is a challenge, especially when it is subject to public controversy. How does a science writer deal with readers whose fears have led them to discount science (as is the case with those who claim vaccines have caused an autism “epidemic”)? Continue reading “Why It Was So Mysterious: an Interview with Steve Silberman”
In March of 2014, the Wellcome Trust launched Mosaic, an online science magazine devoted to publishing long-form science journalism. At the time, I interviewed Mark Henderson, the trust’s head of communications, about his expectations for the fledgling publication. Now, almost two years and about a hundred stories later, it’s time to check back in. Has Mosaic lived up to expectations? And how has it evolved over time? Continue reading “Checking in on Mosaic at the Two-Year Mark: an Interview with Editor Giles Newton”
I just finished reading Hope Jahren’s forthcoming book Lab Girl, due out April 5. It’s somewhere between a popular science book and a memoir – two tricky genres. Either one, done poorly, can feel like impenetrable jibberish or self-indulgent navel-gazing. Luckily (though I suspect luck has nothing to do with it), Jahren handles both styles well.
Since most people read a book review to decide whether they want to read the book in question, I’ll give you some idea of what to expect from Lab Girl. Continue reading “It’s True, Hope Jahren Sure Can Write”