World’s Strangest

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National Geographic’s New Phenomena

National Geographic has opened a new science blog section of their extensive website called Phenomena, with four blogs by science writers you probably already know. Not Exactly Rocket Science by Ed Yong, formerly of Discover magazine. Here’s his welcome post. Laelaps by Brian Switek, formerly of ScienceBlogs. Here’s his first Phenomena post. The Loom by Carl Zimmer, [...]

Archaeopteryx and its Feathers

Ryan Carney and his colleagues at Brown University released a scientific paper on the feathers of the Archaeopteryx today. Carney celebrated by having an Archaeopteryx feather tattooed on his arm, thereby gaining himself an entry in Carl Zimmer’s science tattoo collection. But what about the Archaeopteryx? The first fossil of Archaeopteryx was a single feather–the one [...]

Who Owns the Rights to Our Germs?

Each of us have more microbes on and in our bodies than we have cells of our own. Some are beneficial; others we’d like to do without. Then there are millions that are neither, but may be profitable someday. Sound ridiculous? Consider this scenario: IMAGINE a scientist gently swabs your left nostril with a Q-tip and [...]

A Gallery Of Tattoos Inspired By Science

Tattoos have gone from subculture badge to trendy enough to be considered a societal norm. Geeks who were once afraid of their bodies, and getting tattoos on them, are now some of the most enthusiastic sporters of embedded ink. Scientists are no exception, and they’ve joined the geek nation in adorning themselves with symbols of their [...]

Science Ink

In 2007, science writer Carl Zimmer wondered how common science tattoos were. He said this on his blog, and the response was massive and ongoing. That grew into a completely new blog, and Zimmer became known as the guy who collected science tattoos. Now he has a book of science tattoos called Science Ink: Tattoos [...]

Is It Time to Destroy the Last Smallpox Stores?

Scientists and health officials are pretty certain that the smallpox virus exists in only two places in the world: at the CDC in Atlanta and in a government laboratory in Russia. The World Health Organization declared the disease eradicated in 1979, and the two remaining supplies are for research only. This week, the 64th World [...]

Scientists and Their Belly Button Biomes

Who has more bacteria in their navel -Carl Zimmer of The Loom or Peter Aldhous of NewScientist? The swabs have been taken, and the cultures were grown. You can see the results in petri dishes. It’s part of the Belly Button Biodiversity Project led by Jiri Hulcr of North Carolina State University. The project was conceived [...]

The Royal or Editorial "We"

Ben Zimmer has an article at The New York Times addressing a person using the word “we”, sometimes referred to as “the royal we”, when speaking or writing. When it’s not clear who the person is speaking for, it can sound downright pompous. A New York senator, Roscoe Conkling, once said, “Yes, I have noticed [...]

A Sampling of Niche Blogs

Setting up a new blog is simple and free if you use public platforms like Blogger or Wordpress or Twitter. A few years after ordinary people discovered the joys of blogging, experienced bloggers are branching out into multiple blogs. This led to the rise of niche blogs, blogs devoted to a very narrow subject. The [...]

Inside a Dog’s Mind

One of my favorite scientists Carl Zimmer has an extensive article in Time Magazine that looks at recent research on how your dog thinks. Trying to plumb the canine mind is a favorite pastime of dog owners. “Everyone feels like an expert on their dog,” says Alexandra Horowitz, a cognitive scientist at Barnard College and author [...]