Vetting the Spleen: Is it a blood filter or something more?

[Ultrasound of a spleen by Nevit Dilmen via Wikimedia Commons & CC 2.0]  Blood moves fast.  It only takes about 20 seconds for a red blood cell  to make a full circuit through your entire body, and your blood makes that journey thousands of times each day. The speed of the blood stream is a …

Best Shortform Science Writing April-June 2016

(A Highly Subjective Round-up of Standout Science News) The online science news ecosystem teems with blog posts and videos about animals doing interesting things. And why not? Animals are fascinating, adorable, and beloved by the science nerds who frequent science news websites. Many of those stories are well-written. So when you’re sitting down to choose …

Why You Can Blame Your Metabolism on Liver Proteomics Instead of Your Genes

Blaming things on genetics–everything from lateness to diet quirks–is wildly popular these days. However, DNA’s role in your body’s overall destiny has been greatly exaggerated. Sure, DNA is the “master blueprint”, but any one gene from that blueprint can contain instructions for making hundreds or thousands of tiny cell parts. And even so, there are plenty …

How to Ace an Interview with a Science Journalist [Part 2]

[Illustration by Fredik Walloe via Flickr & CC 2.0]  A few days ago, I posted Part 1 of an informal guide to rocking interviews with journalists about your science. That post covers what to do before an interview; this post focuses on the During and the After. Step 5: Invite Co-Authors Along. [Photo via UBC …

How to Ace an Interview with a Science Journalist [Part 1]

[A woman interviewing a Lego Sculpture. Photo by Matt Brown via Flickr & Creative Commons 2.0]  Let’s say you’re a young lab leader or grad student and you’ve just gotten an email from a journalist asking if you can speak to them about your upcoming paper.  You haven’t heard of this reporter before. You ‘re …

Why DNA is like a phone cable (Recap of a Talk by Prof. Jacqueline Barton)

[Computer rendering of DNA. Via Caroline Davis2010 on Flickr & CC 2.0]  The Talk: “DNA-mediated Signaling with Metalloproteins” In Plain English: DNA can conduct electricity–like metal wire–and that helps the cell life The Speaker: Jacqueline Barton of Caltech The Sponsor: MIT Inorganic Chemistry (invited by the grad students) What It Covered: When Jacqueline Barton’s lab …

The Case of the Sugars that “Strike Back” Against HIV

[Electromicrograph of an HIV-infected T-cell via NIAID & CC2.0]  “Pitch Imperfect” is a series of blog posts where I highlight stories that I pitched but didn’t quite sell and discuss why it was tough to sell them. The goal is to share both interesting research stories and some of the obstacles in getting them into …

New Gig: Acting Editor of Science Philosophy & History at Lateral Mag!

[A screenshot of the webzine Lateral’s home page. The theme of June is Sport.] I am super-psyched to announce that I’m taking on a new part-time gig as editing stories on the history & philosophy of science at an up-and-coming webzine called Lateral. It’s based out of Australia, has monthly themes like Nautilus, and is …

Caltech grows miniature “river deltas” in a lab

About half a billion people live on fan-shaped floodplains that form where rivers meet the sea. Those plains, called river deltas, share the same fan-like shape the world over. Even after controlling for factors like the size of the river, the slope of the land its channel traverses, and the makeup of the local soil, …

4 Things Science Writers Can Learn from Screenwriters

[Image by Ozzy Delaney via Flickr & Creative Commons] Movies. They’re the stuff of fiction, and scientists love to make fun of those darn Hollywood writers. (The Core, anyone?)  How dare they abuse and twist the science to hit a plot point?  Journalism is supposed to be an emphatic move away from fiction. But I’d argue that …