I’m taking a holiday for the next two weeks and won’t have convenient Internet access, so Inspiring Science will be quiet for a little while. Thanks to everyone who’s been reading & commenting; it’s been fun writing for you and watching the blog grow! Enjoy August!
I’m thrilled to let you know that I’ve been interviewed on the Scientific American blog network! The SA Incubator posts interviews of “young and up-and-coming science, health and environmental writers and reporters”. I’ve read a couple of the interviews over the last year and was hoping to get interviewed one day, so I was very excited when I got an email last week from Khalil Cassimally inviting me for an interview. I really enjoyed answering the questions and I hope you’ll enjoy what I had to say. It’s also a great chance for me to get more exposure, so I’m very grateful for the opportunity.
On another subject, I tried something different in my most recent post on Accumulating Glitches and I’d love to hear what you think — what works for you, what doesn’t, how I could do better. The post is about ants which practice agriculture and what they might think of the way we farm…
Hauskaa Juhannusta to those of you in Finland! If anyone will be at the WCSJ 2013 meeting in Helsinki next week, let me know and we can try to meet up!
I mentioned a while ago that I’d been invited to write about evolution for Nature’s Scitable blog network. The network finally relaunched this week and my new group blog, Accumulating Glitches, went live earlier today! Together with Sarah Jane Alger, I’ll be writing about how evolution works and the amazing world it has created — “exploring the grandeur of evolution”. We’re planning to post every Monday and I hope you’ll join us there — we’ve got lots of exciting stories to share! For now, here’s a taste of the inaugural post:
Faced with the rich diversity of living beings around us, humans have proven unable to resist the temptation to try to organize and categorize them. We have a natural tendency to classify things, a habit that’s deeply rooted in our cognition and use of language. Our brain excels at recognizing patterns (and thus finding meaning where it doesn’t exist), an ability that allows us to interact with the world using names — like “chair” — that we might be hard-pressed to properly explain. In fact, it’s surprisingly difficult to define even a seemingly straightforward word like “chair” in a way that would let us recognize everything that should be included (from office chairs and recliners to stools and wheelchairs) but nothing that shouldn’t (like tables, tree stumps, or other things we might decide to sit on).
Despite these difficulties, we’ve been classifying organisms throughout the history of human thought, from Aristotle’s division between plants and animals to modern scientific nomenclature. The modern classification system is based on grouping organisms into units called ‘species’; species, in turn, group together into a larger units called genus, family, order, and so on through the nested hierarchy of life. What make a species, though? Why should a particular group of organisms be thought of as a unit and given a distinct name? How do we decide which organisms make up a species?
Read the rest over at Accumulating Glitches…
I’m thrilled to announce that I’ll soon be writing for a second blog in addition to Inspiring Science! The Scitable blog network, part of Nature Education’s online collaborative learning space, will be relaunching sometime soon and I’ve been asked to be one of the authors of the new blog about evolution. Joining me will be Sarah Jane Alger, who currently writes about animal behaviour on her excellent blog, The Scorpion and the Frog. Continue reading »
This morning I read a wonderful post on Alex Brown’s excellent blog, Do You Speak Science?, in which he addresses the questions that people search for before landing on his blog. I liked the idea so much that I decided to write a similar post over here at Inspiring Science. Let me know what you think of it — if you like the idea, I might make it a (semi-)regular feature! Continue reading »
Today officially marks the first anniversary of Inspiring Science, and it’s been a great year! I think I managed to make some progress towards the goals I outlined in my first post. Over the course of the past year, I’ve learned how to make my writing more accessible and become better at engaging with non-scientists, though unfortunately I haven’t managed to write as frequently as I would have liked. I hope I can rectify that and continue to improve those skills, but I’m also going to try to do a better job of fostering discussion over the next 12 months. I have a few ideas about how to do that; we’ll see how well they pan out. (If you have a suggestion, let me know!)
If you’re one of the newer readers, why not take a romp through the archives? There’s some good stuff buried on there that doesn’t often make it onto the “What’s popular now?” list in the sidebar. I’ve also picked five posts from the past year which I wish had received more attention and listed them below; I hope you’ll enjoy them.
- Natural selection: On fitness
- Social wasps are specialists at recognizing faces
- Of moss and micro-arthropods
- We still don’t know how birds navigate
- Gene expression: shape matters
With that said, I look forward to another year of writing about science; thanks for reading, commenting and generally keeping me company on this adventure! If you have any suggestions about what I could do differently or better (or what I’m doing well) please leave a comment so I can learn and improve.