What do cats and rats and elephants – and for all we know, the unicorn – have that human males don’t?
The answer is a baculum, also known as a penis bone. Yes, while most other male mammals have an actual bone in their, ah, members, Discover Magazine’s Discoblog tells us that human males “must rely on fluid hydraulics.”
Why do I bring this up, so to speak?
Write About Whatever Intrigues You
To prove that science writing can be cool. If you’re good, you can write about damned near anything you want — especially if you’re a blogger.
DiscoBlog, for instance, is Discover’s collection of “quirky, funny, and surprising science news from the edge of the known universe.” It includes a daily feature called NCBI ROFL in which two grad students post real scientific articles on subjects like the above mentioned “What Did God Do With Adam’s Penis Bone?”
(“NCBI” appears to be the National Center for Biotechnology Information, though the blogsite doesn’t spell it out.)
If you’re a scientist and master of journalistic style as well, you can write not only for your peers; you can explain your field to people who either don’t know anything about it or are misinformed. (Think creationists or evolution deniers.)
Super Science Bloggers
Who are some scientist/bloggers?
Science Blogging lists hundreds of them, both individuals and groups, by subject.
If you’re not a scientist but are both a first-rate writer/researcher and compulsively curious, you can learn enough about whatever intrigues you to write fine stuff – even prize-winning stuff.
One writer who did just that is Rebecca Skloot , who got so intrigued with the story of the poor black woman from whom doctors took cancer cells now used for research around the world that she wrote “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks”.
Skloot, who has a B.S. in biological sciences and an MFA in creative nonfiction, financed her degrees by working in emergency rooms, neurology labs, veterinary morgues and martini bars. Researching and writing “Henrietta Lacks” took her 10 years – and a boatload of determination.
Another star science writer is Carl Zimmer, author of ten books, too many articles to count, and a blog called The Loom. Zimmer, who has written about everything from evolution to neurology, is a PhD student in neuroscience at Stanford.
Then there’s Ed Yong of “Not Exactly Rocket Science,” another Discover blogger, who writes about anything he pleases, always winningly. He’s funny too.
It’s Fine To Take Positions
Unlike journalists, science bloggers they can legitimately take positions on issues provided they support them. In one Wired post, “Does Marijuana Make You Stupid?” freelancer Jonah Lehrer argued that it doesn’t – but only after citing reliable studies and making a thoughtful argument to support his position.
Probably the best reason to be a science writer is that it’s fun. You have a legitimate reason to explore things like dinosaurs. The human brain. The cosmos. Even why men don’t have bacula.
One teacher wrote an essay suggesting kids in high school biology classes might like science better if the first lesson of the year were about the baculum.
“Thy Rod and Thy Staff.”