The Loom

Archives for January, 2008

Earlier today, I took a walk in the blustery winds of Washington DC with Drew Endy, a synthetic biologist from MIT. We had just been talking with Congressional staffers about the promise and perils of being able to manipulate life. There was too much to fit into the ninety minute session, and so our conversation…

Moving Target

I’ll be yammering this week. First stop on the yak fest, tomorrow morning, is over in New Haven, where I’ll be running the first session of a two-part science writing workshop for science graduate students at Yale. It’s my second year at this, so I’m hoping it goes smoothly. We’re going to record it and…

More of My Favorite Wastes of Time

I know you read every one of the Scienceblogs. But if you still have some extra free time to kill in an interesting way, check out my updated blogroll over to the left. It’s a selection of some of the blogs I check out semi-regularly. Here are details on a few of the additions. All…

"Here are my two Copernicus/scientific revolution homages. I teach science at a public school in eastern MA. It’s nice to see the size of the subculture of science geeks that are also tattoo geeks." –Chris They’re two of the newest contributions to the my flickr set of science tattoos, but they’re two of my personal…

So the news came out yesterday that Craig Venter’s crew has now synthesized an entire microbe’s genome from scratch. This does not send a chill down my spine. Does that mean I’m missing a piece of my brain? Judge for yourself, in my new commentary for Wired. (Also, check out Rob Carlson’s typically clear-eyed assessment.)

How do new kinds of bodies evolve? It’s a question that obsesses many scientists today, as it has for decades. Yesterday, Olivia Judson, an evolutionary biologist and book author, published a blog post entitled “The Monster is Back, and It’s Hopeful,” in which she declared that these transitions can happen in sudden steps. Even before…

Fish, syphilis, and love

Before I left for Rome earlier this month, I finished up a bunch of projects. They started trickling into public view while I was away. I was going to post them all in my article archive, but I just realized I need to update the format of my site to include stories from 2008. So,…

Wandering the Past in Rome

A few days ago, my family was wandering the ruins of the Roman Forum. I explained to my daughters that the fragments of pillars around us were very old. Veronica, who is four, wanted to know how old. They were made before she was born, I explained. Before her sister Charlotte was born. Before Charlotte…

Look! Over There! A Carnival!

I’m neglecting my blog at the moment, because I have to finish up a bunch of stories before I take off on a pretty long trip. Along the way, I’m giving a talk at the Rome Science Festival about mass extinctions. If, unlike me, you can read Italian, you can get the details here. I’m…

Bora and his hard-working crew have picked the entries for the next anthology of science blogging, Openlab 2007. My entry on how tapeworms evolved into parasites made the cut. See the full list here.