The Loom

Archives for April, 2007

Kinkiness, Thy Name Is Duck

When you find yourself, as I did a few days ago, spending a morning watching the absurdly long phalluses of ducks being coaxed from their nether regions, you can find yourself wondering how your life ended up this way. Fortunately, there is a higher goal to such weirdness. The phalluses of ducks are just the…

Here’s a story that should be getting lots of press but apparently isn’t: a new study indicates that plants don’t release lots of methane gas. You may perhaps recall a lot of attention paid to methane from plants back in January 2006. A team of scientists (mostly from the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics)reported…

Among the many obligations keeping me away from the blog is the nearly-completed overhaul of my web site, carlzimmer.com. Along with information on my books and talks, the site also has an archive of the past few years of my articles. I’ve made my way back to 2001, and I am continuing to push back…

When Scientists Go All Bloggy

It’s getting harder and harder to remember what it was like to write about science in the pre-Web 2.0 days. Back then (i.e., 2004), I’d come across an intriguing paper, I’d interview the authors, I’d get comments–supportive or nasty–from other experts in the field, and then publish an article distilling everything I’d learned. It would…

Meet the Monkey Cousins

Trace your genealogy back 25 million years, and you’ll meet long-tailed monkey-like primates living in trees. Those primates were not just the ancestors of ourselves, but of all the other apes–chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, orangutans, and gibbons–along with the monkeys of the Eastern Hemisphere, such as baboons and langurs. By comparing ourselves to these other primates,…

At the end of February I joined John Rennie, editor in chief of Scientific American, to talk to students at the New York University journalism program about blogging about science. There’s a post about the talk now up, including some podcast excerpts, on the the Scienceline blog from the NYU Science Health and Environmental Reporting…

Looking For A Gloomy Read?

Check this out. An international team of climate experts has been looking into the impact of climate on ecosystems, food production, and other aspects of the natural and human-controlled world. They’ve just come out with the executive summary of their contribution to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change‘s fourth assessment report. Heavy rains likely in…

Scientists Armed With Frames

I’ve just spent part of this evening pondering a commentary in the new issue of the journal Science by fellow Sciencebloggers Chris Mooney and Matt Nisbet called “Framing Science.” (The paper is behind a firewall–yeck–but Matt has expounded on similar notes here.) They argue that scientists make a mistake of just trying to dump technical…

Parasites as Neuropharmacologists

Reports are coming out this morning on a new study on one of the Loom’s favorite organisms: Toxoplasma gondii, the single-celled parasite that lives in roughly half of all people on Earth and has the ability to alter the behavior of its host. I reported on the research last June in the New York Times,…

Animal Time Travelers

You may have read not long ago about birds that can plan for the future. The occasion was a paper that came out in the journal Nature detailing some experiments on scrub jays. I found the paper fascinating, not just for the results themselves, but for the many other studies on mental time travel that…