The Best Science Writing Online 2012

Overview

Showcasing more than fifty of the most provocative, original, and significant online essays from 2011, The Best Science Writing Online 2012 will change the way we think about science— from fluids to fungi, poisons to pirates. Featuring noted authors and journalists as well as the brightest up-and-comers writing today, this collection provides a comprehensive look at the fascinating, innovative, and trailblazing scientific achievements and breakthroughs of 2011, along with elegant and thoughtprovoking new takes on...

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Overview

Showcasing more than fifty of the most provocative, original, and significant online essays from 2011, The Best Science Writing Online 2012 will change the way we think about science— from fluids to fungi, poisons to pirates. Featuring noted authors and journalists as well as the brightest up-and-comers writing today, this collection provides a comprehensive look at the fascinating, innovative, and trailblazing scientific achievements and breakthroughs of 2011, along with elegant and thoughtprovoking new takes on favorite topics. This is the sixth anthology of online essays edited by Bora Zivkovic, the blogs editor at Scientific American, and with each new edition, Zivkovic expands his fan base and creates a surge of excitement about upcoming compilations. Now everyone’s favorite collection will reach new horizons and even more readers. Guest-edited and with an introduction by the renowned science author and blogger Jennifer Ouellette, The Best Science Writing Online 2012 marries cutting-edge science with dynamic writing that will inspire us all.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The 51 pieces collected here are wide-ranging in both form and subject: there’s poetry, short reflections, and in-depth scientific investigations; human and physical sciences, including anthropology, cognition, ecology, epidemiology, neuroscience, physics, and much more. The contributors, too, are a mix, from relatively new voices to veteran writers. Equally variable is the quality. The good are very good. Carl Zimmer, for example, in one of the book’s longer pieces, takes an ecological approach to the microbiota present in humans and argues that such an analysis could dramatically help in treating a host of diseases. Andrea Kuszewski explores how the new sport of chess-boxing, where contestants alternate between playing chess and boxing, might help us understand how to control aggression and thus limit bullying. Maryn McKenn investigates reports that the CIA used a fake flu vaccination program to collect DNA in hopes of finding Osama bin Laden. The semiotics of pirate flags, the evolutionary reasons for menstruation, the surprising discovery by a 13-year-old Tanzanian student that hot water freezes faster than cold water, and possible ways to manipulate the environment to halt hurricanes are among the gems culled by Scientific American blogger Zivkovic from Web sites Boing Boing, Empirical Zeal, the Guardian Science Blog, and dozens of others. (Sept.)
From the Publisher
"[The Best Science Writing Online 2012] is full—stuffed—with excellent science writing, more than enough to keep you reading . . . Buy it. It is worth your time." —Wired Science Blogs

"A collection of fun and interesting science, from online writers around the world." —The Guardian (blog)

"[A] potent mix of critical analyses, witty personal reflections, absorbing feature profiles, illuminating commentary on the intersection of science and social policy, and even long-form investigative journalism, covering everything from the last space shuttle launch to fluid dynamics to gender politics." —Brain Pickings

"A collection of solid science writing celebrating a diversity of topics, writer credentials and styles. Proof that science writing online is healthy and growing. For naive surfers, an anthology like this will help separate the wheat from the chaff."—Kirkus

Praise for previous editions:

“[C]onsistently picks the best of the best blogs. Read it.” —Ivan Oransky, MD, Executive Editor, Reuters Health and Blogger, Embargo Watch and Retraction Watch 

“This is the best of the science blogosphere 2010, selected by experts, and features something for anyone and everyone curious about the natural world.” —Sheril Kirshenbaum, author of The Science of Kissing and Discover’s The Intersection blog 

“Some of the smartest, best informed, and—yes—most entertaining writing about science today can be found in the vibrant community of science bloggers. Each year [the] series performs an invaluable service by pulling together some of the highlights—proof that the best blog posts can and should be savored long after they’ve scrolled off the bottom of the screen.” —Scott Rosenberg, author of Say Everything and Dreaming in Code, and co-founder of Salon.com

“In each post I found honesty, passion, imagination, curiosity and creativity shining through in a way that the disinterested ‘article mill’ of traditional journalism is rarely able to match.” —Al Dove, scientist and blogger

“A fun, enlightening read that’s bound to have a little something for everybody who loves science.” —Maggie Koerth-Baker, BoingBoing.net “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.” —Nature 

Kirkus Reviews
A collection of solid science writing celebrating a diversity of topics, writer credentials and styles. Among other topics, readers will discover that the Dutch East India Company colonized South Africa with farmers to supply their ships with scurvy-preventing produce on their way to Asia. Editor Ouellette (The Calculus Diaries: How Math Can Help You Lose Weight, Win in Vegas, and Survive a Zombie Apocalypse, 2010, etc.) also includes entries on ecology (including gems by Deborah Blum and Carl Zimmer); genetics (e.g., a wonderful essay explaining gene sequencing by molecular biologist Richard Winkle); Ethiopian "church forests," virtual Edens that surround churches in an otherwise bleak landscape; how sperm corkscrew their way to their targets; how to finance star travel; and an essay on what constitutes a scientist's "greatness." The editor draws many of the pieces from the blogging network of the Scientific American, and often the contributor's background and academic and/or publishing history provide assurance of factual accuracy--but not always peerless editing. With the independence and free spirit that characterizes blogging, the role of the editor may be lost, and some of the pieces are overwritten. In a provocative piece, journalist David Dobbs argues for an end to the delays of peer review, as well as the exclusivity and costs of publishing papers in revered science journals. He opts instead for open access online, and he blames researchers for hewing to the outdated print journal model. Proof that science writing online is healthy and growing. For naive surfers, an anthology like this will help separate the wheat from the chaff.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780374533342
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 9/18/2012
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 1,382,169
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Bora Zivkovic is the editor of the blog network at Scientific American and organizes the globally renowned Science-Online events. He lives in Pittsboro, North Carolina. Jennifer Ouellette is the author of The Calculus Diaries and other titles, and maintains the Cocktail Party Physics blog. She lives in Los Angeles, California.

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Read an Excerpt

1

SOMATA

AUBREY J. SANDERS

 

I was born a body of worlds

a carnal web of cosmic pearl

billions of stars that hold me to my bones,

and when one day their cores collapse

I will shed my skin in ash

and sleep among the mosses and the stone.

I’ll grow into the vine that licks the ruin

writhe beneath the savage moon

my scattered cinders eaten at the roots,

and when the ravaged willow moans again

she will take me in her veins

and shake me from her hair an astral fruit.

For we forgot a fact that we once knew,

the only ancient truth,

the knowledge of our primal origin:

That from the feral night we came as dust

born from stellar wanderlust

and unto the stars we will return again.

AUBREY SANDERS will graduate from the George Washington University in May 2012 with a B.A. in English and creative writing. She currently interns at the Grosvenor Literary Agency in Bethesda, Maryland, and is working on her first novel. She believes in the poetry of the cosmos and will be an astronomer in her next life.

 

Copyright © 2012 by Bora Zivkovic

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Table of Contents

Preface Bora Zivkovic ix

Introduction Jennifer Ouellette xiii

1 Somata Aubrey J. Sanders 3

2 Make History, Not Vitamin C Eva Amsen 4

3 Saving Ethiopia's "Church Forests," T. DeLene Beeland 8

4 What It Feels Like for a Sperm Aatish Bhatia 15

5 Incredible Journey Lee Billings 25

6 In the Shadows of Greatness Biochem Belle 32

7 A View to a Kill in the Morning Deborah Blum 37

8 It's Sedimentary, My Dear Watson David Bressan 42

9 Menstruation Is Just Blood and Tissue You Ended Up Not Using Kate Clancy 48

10 Joule's Jewel Stephen Curry 53

11 Unraveling the Fear o' the Jolly Roger Krystal D'Costa 60

12 Free Science, One Paper at a Time David Dobbs 66

13 Tinea Speaks Up: A Fairy Tale Cindy M. Doran 81

14 Man Discovers a New Life-Form at a South African Truck Stop Rob Dunn 89

15 Moon Arts: Fallen Astronaut Claire L. Evans 95

16 Science Metaphors: Resonance Ann Finkbeiner 99

17 Bombardier Beetles, Bee Purple, and the Sirens of the Night Jennifer Frazer 101

18 Mpemba's Baffling Discovery Greg Gbur 108

19 Romeo: A Lone Wolf's Tragedy in Three Acts Kimberly Gerson 117

20 Rats, Bees, and Brains: The Death of the "Cognitive Map," Jason G. Goldman 124

21 Don't Panic: Sustainable Seafood and the American Outlaw Miriam C. Goldstein 131

22 On Beards, Biology, and Being a Real American Joe Hanson 139

23 . I Love Gin and Tonics Matthew Hartings 143

24 Adorers of the Good Science of Rock-Breaking Dana Hunter 148

25 "I Feel the Percussive Roar on the Skin of My Face," Karen James 154

26 Freedom to Riot Eric Michael Johnson 157

27 Inside the "Black Box" of Nuclear Power Plants Maggie Koerth-Baker 168

28 This Ain't Yo Mommas Muktuk Rebecca Kreston 173

29 Chessboxing Is Fighting for Good Behavior Andrea Kuszewski 180

30 Mirror Images: Twins and Identity David Manly 187

31 Did the CIA Fake a Vaccination Campaign? Maryn McKenna 194

32 Free Will and Quantum Clones George Musser Jr. 202

33 Dear Emma B PZ Myers 207

34 Faster Than a Speeding Photon Chad Orzel 211

35 Sunrise in the Garden of Dreams Puff the Mutant Dragon 218

36 Volts and Vespa: Buzzing About Photoelectric Wasps John Rennie 227

37 How to Stop a Hurricane Casey Rentz 231

38 Shakes on a Plane: Can Turbulence Kill You? Alex Reshanov 235

39 How Addiction Feels: The Honest Truth Cassie Rodenberg 239

40 Ten Million Feet upon the Stair Chris Rowan 244

41 Woof! Living Boldly as a "Free-Range Aspergian," Steve Silberman 247

42 The Dodo Is Dead, Long Live the Dodo! Brian Switek 255

43 Sex and the Married Neurotic Melanie Tannenbaum 262

44 Why Do Women Cry? Obviously It's So They Don't Get Laid Christie Wilcox 267

45 How to Take the Real Measure of a Man Allie Wilkinson 272

46 The Origin and Extinction of Species David Winter 276

47 Genome Sequencing and Assembly, Shakespeare Style Richard F. Wintle 281

48 The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide to Natural Selection Jeremy Yoder 288

49 The Renaissance Man Ed Yong 300

50 Fragmented Intimacies Shara Yurkiewicz 310

51 The Human Lake Carl Zimmer 313

Acknowledgments 323

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