The Loom

Archives for December, 2006

Up and Down Life’s Staircase

One reason I love writing about biology is that it has so many levels. Down at the molecular scale, proteins flop and twist. Higher up, cells crawl and feed and divide. They organize into animals and plants and other big organisms, which must obey their own rules in order to survive. For some organisms, a…

Fellow scienceblogger Coturnix is assembling some posts about science for an anthology. He’s been asking for people to contribute suggestions. I’ve been meaning to thumb through my old posts in order to send one over, but it’s been more of a challenge than I thought. Part of the problem is that pieces of writing are…

All I want for Christmas is a lying frog and a bubble-sniffing mole. For those who want to head for the original papers, check out: 1. “Why Animals Lie: How Dishonesty and Belief Can Coexist in a Signaling System” (free full text) 2. “Underwater ‘sniffing’ by semi-aquatic mammals” Happy Holidays! UPDATE 12/26: Forgot to mention…

A Natural Factory

The manuscript clock is still ticking, and so, in lieu of true blogging, let me direct your attention to another article of mine. This time it’s the cover story in the December issue of Discover. Discover chose Jay Keasling as their scientist of the year and asked me to interview him. Keasling, who directs the…

Flying Princesses and Sportive Octopuses

My radio silence is the result of a perfect storm–reporting trips, upcoming holidays, and the minor matter of my deadline for turning in my book at the end of the year. Any free moment gets gobbled up before I can even think about blogging. But I can point you to some pieces of mine that…

Thanks to PZ Myers for calling attention to this superb video of Corydceps, a parasitic fungus that drives its insect host up a plant before growing a spike out of its head. Leave it to David Attenborough, master of the nature documentary, to bring the beauty of this parasite to video. I’ve seen photographs of…