Wit and wisdom for wordsmiths

Category Archives: science writing

Alan Alda’s guide to reaching kids and other smart people

  Actor Alan Alda, who’s also a science nut, once used a walk with his 5-year-old grandson to explain evolution. Later, he heard the boy asking his older sister about something he didn’t understand. “Why don’t you ask Grandpa?” she said. Answered the boy, “I’ll never make that mistake again.” Find out below what AldaContinue Reading

Hey – ever do mushrooms? C’mon, confess

Discover Magazine’s 80Beats Science blog has a recent piece  that should cheer anybody who ever did mushrooms back in college. It seems a recent study done at the Johns Hopkins Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences showed that the classic hallucinogen psilocybin caused “personally and spiritually significant mystical experiences that predict long-term changes in behaviors,Continue Reading

Warming Earth a hoax? “Sell crazy someplace else”

Have you noticed that this year’s Presidential candidates aren’t talking about abortion? Maybe because the subject seems  so yesterday. Instead, they’re bashing evolution and climate change. Who could resist a nice down and dirty fight about climate change? One could hardly call it a “debate” when one of the charges being bandied about is thatContinue Reading

The Pig From Hell: Why Science Writing Is Fun

“Tetrapod Zoology” sounds like a weird thing to read with a glass of wine, doesn’t  it? But how about if it had a story about a truly ugly, scary-looking prehistoric beast called The Pig From Hell, aka the Terminator Pig? Something you could tell people about at your next party? (Or your kids if theyContinue Reading

Bar Room Dare Becomes Weather Science

The Taino people of the Caribbean called them hurucanes, meaning “evil spirit of the wind.” Aussies sometimes call them willy-willies But did you ever wonder who the intrepid dudes are who fly into the eye of those willy willies? And why they do it? It seems it started in a bar room in 1943, whenContinue Reading

Today’s Science Question: What Did God Do With Adam’s Penis Bone?

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 “mustContinue Reading

How Science Writers Should Handle Animal Research

  Recently, a team of scientists from Wake Forest University discovered that when Nazca boobies of the Galapagos Islands leave their nests to find food, “the babies are often visited by sexually and physically abusive non-breeding adults.” We can guess what happens next: When those abused chicks grow up, they’re likely to pass on theirContinue Reading

Loved Sagan’s “Cosmos”? New Version Coming

  Astronomer Carl Sagan — astronomer, astrophysicists,  author, science popularizer – died in 1996. But in a sense, he’s coming back. Thirty years after Sagan’s “Cosmos” aired on PBS, Fox TV will sponsor a new 13-episode “Cosmos” series starring Neil deGrasse Tyson, host of “Nova” and director of New York’s Hayden Planetarium. The not-so-good newsContinue Reading

Swim with Sharks, Save Them From Soup

Last post, I wrote about Sir Richard Branson’s building a gazillion- £ deep sea diving vessel to explore what’s at the bottom of the Pacific’s Mariana Trench. Eat your heart out if you can’t afford that.  And no, I don’t have a thing about Sir Richard, just a touch of envy for his lifestyle. GetContinue Reading

Three Ways to Tell a Deep Sea Story

Today, three ways to tell the same science story. Here’s another reason to be sorry you’re not sinking rich: You can’t afford to explore the Western Pacific’s Mariana Trench in your own deep sea sub.   The Mariana Trench – aka “Challenger Deep” – is seven miles down. Though there no light there, robots haveContinue Reading