Writing Elsewhere

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Category archives for Writing Elsewhere

Fingerprints on Life

My latest Dissection column for Wired.com takes on the old tug-of-war between Nature and Artifice. As I write in my new book Microcosm: E. coli and the New Science of Life, scientists began to manufacture strange versions of the microbe in the early 1970s. In 1974, for example, scientists engineered E. coli carrying DNA from…

How old is the Grand Canyon? One answer is easy: a lot older than a few thousand years. A more precise answer is harder to get at, however. You have to climb into the caves of the Grand Canyon and read the geological clocks hidden there. For more, read my latest “Dissection” commentary at Wired.…

Wikipedia of Life?

My latest story for the New York Times is up: it’s a sneak peek at the Encyclopedia of Life–a web site that will ultimately contain detailed pages about all 1.8 million known species. Right now it’s just a demo site, but on Thursday, there will be thousands of pages up, each with details on a…

Man Meets Ape

The history of science is rife with fateful meetings. The astronomer Tycho Brahe hires a young assistant named Johannes Kepler, who will go on to discover in Brahe’s observations the law of planetary motion. A bright but aimless British physicist named Francis Crick is introduced to a boisterous young American biologist named James Watson. The…

The Natural History of the Only Child

Why are modern families so small? Could it have something in common with peacock tails? A fascinating essay in the new issue of Science is the basis of my newest column for Wired. And man oh man, are the commenters freaking out. Judge for yourself. The Natural History of the Only Child

Needed: Quotes

A quick favor from anyone who has read any of my books. If there’s a passage–sentence to paragraph range–that you’re fond of, can you let me know? I’m working on a project that requires a bunch of them. You can leave them in this post’s comment thread or over on a discussion thread I set…

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.)

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,…

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.

Wham, Bam, Thank You Solar System

Nobody wants to be hit on the head with a ten-mile asteroid. But what if giant impacts are actually good for life in the long-term? I contemplate that strange possibility over at Wired.com. Check it out. Meteorites May Have Fostered Life on Earth