Good Science Writing Takes Clarity, Grace and Intrigue

i-991dfb0c70cf3d463709bcfea54b2687-Carl Zimmer Photo (1).jpgNifty Fifty Speaker Carl Zimmer is often called one of the nation's most astute, informed and lyrical science writers. Specializing in communicating about the wonders and mysteries of evolution, biology and neuroscience, Carl Zimmer - in such books as The Tangled Bank, Parasite Rex, and Soul Made Flesh - writes with such grace, skill and clarity that he makes even difficult subjects like natural selection and the brain understandable and exciting to readers who have little formal education in science.

"I like to write books about subjects that greatly intrigue me --subjects that I want to get more familiar with," says Carl who is also a contributing writer to the New York Times, Discover, Scientific American, Science, and Popular Science, and his award-winning blog, The Loom, keeps readers up to date on the state of research. "For example before writing Soul Made Flesh, I knew I wanted to learn more about the brain," says Carl, but I didn't want to write yet another book about new developments in neuroscience. It's not that there aren't some great books on that particular subject, but there are so many that I didn't want mine to get lost in the crowd. It later occurred to me that there hasn't been much written about the history of neuroscience in a way that's geared toward the public." As he researched the topic, he discovered a period of history, in the mid-1600s - a turbulent and innovative time when the science of neurology was launched and when people came to recognize the brain as we see it today, as the center of our existence. "Once I realized this, I knew I had to write the book," says Carl, the author of 10 science books. His latest work, Brain Cuttings: Fifteen Journeys Through the Mind, is a well-crafted electronic book that takes readers on a lucid journey inside the organ that makes us human.

What do you think it takes to be a good science writer?

Read more about Carl Zimmer here.

Watch this video and learn what Carl Zimmer has written about Charles Darwin and the study of evolution:

Learn more from Carl Zimmer about telling powerful stories about science here:

More like this

AT&T sponsored Nifty Fifty program speaker and widely acclaimed science writer Carl Zimmer just published this very interesting New York Times piece on "...a small but growing number of field biologists who study urban evolution -- not the rise and fall of skyscrapers and neighborhoods, but the…
Living the Scientific Life Categories: Biology, Academia GrrlScientist is an evolutionary molecular biologist with a BS in microbiology (specializing in virology), and a PhD in zoology (specializing in ornithology and hormone receptors). She blogs about evolution, the environment, birds, dinosaurs…
Carl Zimmer (one of the best general audience science writers) has a post on his blog on how the human immune system differs from that of other primates and even other apes. It's a good example of why biomedical researchers need to understand evolutionary biology (and why dumb shits like this…
Imagine a book I would write. On viruses (what else?). Now, instead of it sounding like it was written by a chimpanzee who learned English from watching 'Waynes World' and 'Waynes World 2' on a loop + 4chan, imagine it was written by an articulate, science-literate human. That is 'A Planet of…

I knew I wanted to learn more about the brain," says Carl, but I didn't want to write yet another book about new developments in neuroscience.

Nothing natural is "manicured". It's your choice, or at least the result of decisions you'd otherwise claim to have made. You're describing your normative existence, nothing more, nothing less. If you thought of yourself as an aspect of history you might ask how your social life became so denuded of variety; bounded by preconceptions -by others' ideas rather than by your own experience. It originates in a phobia of subjectivity I guess..