Or maybe his copy editor reads this blog. Either way, there are changes afoot at the NY Times.
Three days ago I ragged on NY Times science reporter Nicholas Wade for using the word ‘decode’ when describing genome sequencing. In his latest article he has improved. Last time he wrote about cheap whole genome sequencing; this time he has written about sequencing of a Neanderthal nuclear genome. Now, Wade hasn’t entirely kicked the decoding habit:
The project is a collaboration between Dr. Svante Paabo of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, and 454 Life Sciences, a Connecticut company that has developed a new method of sequencing, or decoding, DNA.
454 is getting some sweet free advertising from one of the world’s largest newspapers. Wade’s also performing better. He’s started to refer to genome sequencing as what it is: sequencing, not decoding. But he still feels the need to qualify it by referring to it as decoding. He even slips back into his decoding ways later in the article:
The first goal of the project will be to sequence three billion units of Neanderthal DNA, corresponding to the full length of the Neanderthal genome. This will require decoding 20 times as much DNA, because so much of the DNA in the Neanderthal bones belongs to bacteria.
Genomes must usually be decoded several times over to get a complete and accurate sequence, but the first three billion bases of Neanderthal should “hit all the essential differences,” Dr. Egholm said.
The rest of the article is pretty good, and Nicholas Wade is a good science writer. If we could only get him to stop butchering the terminology.