The Loom

Archives for October, 2007

Permit me a wee bit of nepotism. My brother Ben is on ABC News: World News tonight to celebrate National Dictionary Day. He talks about how language evolves in weird ways. It’s already on their web cast here

Warm Globally, Speak Locally

If you live anywhere near my home town of Guilford, Connecticut, I’d be delighted if you could join me Thursday at 7:30 at the Guilford Free Library for a talk, “Will Global Warming Redraw the Map of Life?” (flyer pdf) I’ll be discussing extinction projections, assisted migration, and more.

It is an approximation of the locus of connectedness for the Julia sets of the family of functions f(z) = z^2 + lambda/(z^2) (rotated by pi/2). This is analogous to the standard Mandelbrot set (which applies to the family f(z) = z^2 + c), but holds additional fascination because for lambda values which are in…

In Praise of Yeast

We do a pretty good job at appreciating the visible intricacies of nature: the antennae and legs and claws of a lobster, the geometrical order of the spots on a butterfly’s wings. But a lot of nature’s intricacies are hidden away inside single-celled creatures, such as the baker’s yeast that makes bread rise and beer…

Science writer Jessica Snyder Sachs has an interesting op-ed in today’s New York Times, explaining why you should get your flu shot and skip the chicken pox parties. It’s a taste of the material in her excellent new book, Good Germs, Bad Germs: Health and Survival in a Bacterial World (Full disclosure: I provided a…

Chris Sloan, a senior editor at National Geographic Magazine, points me to a cluster of new blogs he and others at NG have just launched. Sloan’s own blog includes a refreshingly frank discussion of the forged-fossil controversy NG was involved in a few years ago. Science Blogs meanwhile continued to absorb blogs in Borg-like fashion.…

Talking to Craig Venter

Last week I appeared on bloggingheads.tv, talking about life in all its weirdness with science writer John Horgan. The folks at bloggingheads.tv wondered if I’d come back, perhaps bringing along a scientist to talk to. I said, Of course. The scientist I’ve invited along is Craig Venter. In the 1990s Venter pioneered methods for sequencing…

Science Writing: A Workshop

In January I’ll be running a workshop for science graduate students at Yale about how to write about science for non-scientists. It’s going to be the second time around for me; last year’s trial run was a wonderful experience, which confirmed to me that scientists-in-training these days want very much to be engaged in the…

"Just wanted to jump on the bandwagon with my own tribute to my scientific style. This is a tattoo of the word for Body, Spirit, Person, People, and Life in Owens Valley Paiute, written in International Phonetic Alphabet. I am a Linguist that specializes in Endangered languages and thought I needed this tagged on me."–Russ…

New Banner, Little Bugs

I just installed a new banner from Carl Buell up top. Sort of 2001 meets parasitoid wasps. It’s making the rest of the blog act funny for reasons I cannot divine, so the tech gods have been appealed to.