The Loom

Archives for April, 2008

In my last post I wrote about how scientists are learning about the origin of animals by studying their genomes. One of the surprising findings of the latest research is that a group of animals called comb jellies (ctenophores) belong to the oldest lineage of living animals. Comb jellies look a bit like jellyfish–soft, tentacled…

Weird Animals, And Why They Matter

Today in the Boston Globe, I write about how scientists are revising their understanding of the evolution of animals, thanks to more DNA and more weird animals. My favorite quote comes from biologist Mark Pallen, who says that the human genome would have been worthless without understanding how humans are related to other animals. Unfortunately,…

I recorded a video for my Facebook page about the Microcosm book tour, which I’ve cloned below. Still fine-tuning my video interfaces…how does YouTube embed, compared to blip.tv?

E. coli Infects the New York Times

With two weeks to go till Microcosm‘s publication date, I’m happy to direct your attention to an adapted excerpt that’s running in tomorrow’s New York Times. In this passage, I discuss what I like to call E. coli’s fingerprints. We like to think that genes equal identity. If that were true, then a colony of…

Click here to watch it on blip.tv (you can even watch in full screen, if you dare…)

NOTE: I’VE SET UP A FLASH VERSION OF THIS TALK HERE. DON’T BOTHER TRYING TO DOWNLOAD THE QUICKTIME VERSION I DESCRIBED IN THIS POST. Recently I gave the Discovery Lecture at Carleton University in Ottawa, in which I talked about new developments in evolutionary biology. They sent me a DVD of the talk, and I…

In my new Dissection column over at Wired, I take a look at a remarkable new experiment on E. coli. Scientists randomly rewired the network of genes that control much of the microbe’s activity and found that it generally just kept humming along. One thing worth adding…in an accompanying commentary, Matthew Bennett and Jeff Hasty…

Library Journal Weighs In

Three weeks away from the publication of Microcosm, and another kind review has come out, this time from Library Journal: To display a broad swath of the people, scientific processes, and discoveries involved in biology, science writer Zimmer (Soul Made Flesh: The Discovery of the Brain-and How It Changed the World) describes a common, luxuriantly…

I’m heading to Colorado to give a talk at the University of Denver tomorrow. The subject of the talk is my book Soul Made Flesh, about the birth of neurology in the 1600s (see PZ Myer’s kind review here). I’ll also be talking about the experience of writing books about science. Of course, the first…

Frankenstein Freak-outs

Radiolab is a show about science that briliantly uses radio’s greatest strength–sound–to bring stories to life in ways we print goons can only dream about. I wrote a story about how animals sleep. The Radiolab folks played the sound of brain waves from a sleeping cat. And so on. I’m particularly fond of their latest…