Archive for May, 2008

Seeds, Survival, Stalin: The Bloggingheads Edition

By Carl Zimmer | May 31, 2008 3:00 pm

In case you couldn’t make it to my World Science Festival panel this afternoon, check out my conversation with co-panelist/journalist/book author Peter Pringle on bloggingheads.



Reminder: Seeds, Survival, Stalin–today

By Carl Zimmer | May 31, 2008 8:00 am

I’m heading to the New York Botanical Gardens to moderate a World Science Festival panel on crops, biodiversity, seed banks, and the amazing life of the Soviet scientist Nikolai Vavilov. (For some background, see this New Yorker article from last year.)

If you come to the panel, stick around for the Cafe Scientifique afterwards. And check out the “Darwin’s Garden” exhibit. You’ll find me snooping around the cycads and ferns.

MORE ABOUT: Upcoming Talks

All Things E. coli

By Carl Zimmer | May 30, 2008 3:24 pm

ecolihub.jpgE. coli is, arguably, the one species that scientists know best. If you type the name “Escherichia coli” into PubMed, the database of the National Library of Medicine, you’ll get over a quarter of a million titles of scientific papers. Scientists have sequenced about 30 genomes of different strains of E. coli. It’s the microbe of choice for those who want to figure out how to tinker with life. There’s one problem with all this attention–how are scientists supposed to make sense of all this data? Scientists have created sites to aggregate E. coli data in one place. The newest and broadest site is now up: E. coli Hub. To put the site in historical context, the scientists who set it up asked me to write an essay. It’s now online here.


Colbert, Microbes: A Love Affair

By Carl Zimmer | May 30, 2008 12:44 pm

I would love to introduce him to a certain resident of his gut. (Hat tip: Tree of Life)

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Microbe Beat!
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor Economy

It’s Come to This: I’m Outsourcing Blogging to Australia

By Carl Zimmer | May 29, 2008 11:43 am

I have been meaning for some days now to point your attention to my new article in the June issue of Scientific American called, “What Is A Species?” The hard copy is worth tracking down because it’s got a lot of excellent illustrations and sidebars. SciAm has the full article online for subscribers, and I’ve posted the text over at

There’s so much I could say on the topic–pointing out how the recent news on polar bear extinction raises the question of how distinct polar bears are, for example–but I am scurrying in the shadow of a rising wave. (Attention people of Portland, San Francisco, and Seattle: please look at my book tour schedule!)

So let me direct your attention to a typically insightful blog post by John Wilkins about my article. John helped me enormously in understanding the nature of the species problem–especially its long tortured history.

After things settle down, I will take charge of my own blogging…

MORE ABOUT: Evolution

Warning: Explosive

By Carl Zimmer | May 28, 2008 4:24 am

Jaana writes, “I am a chemist and work on the legislative side of science. I also have a bit of a temper, so when choosing this tattoo, the choice was obvious. Its a modified version of the chemical hazard sign for ‘explosive’ and while hidden under a lab coat most of the time, depicts my personality quite well.”

Click here to go to the full Science Tattoo Emporium.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Science Tattoo Emporium
MORE ABOUT: chemistry tattoos

Origin of an Epidemic

By Carl Zimmer | May 27, 2008 3:31 pm

Lea writes:

“I am an evolutionary biology graduate student working with some of the world’s earliest known HIV samples, trying to clarify the early evolutionary history of the virus. I was inspired by an elegant circle tree phylogeny my PI put together for a publication submission and I decided I had finally found something I connected with enough to get permanently put on my body.”

Click here to go to the full Science Tattoo Emporium.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Science Tattoo Emporium

Bioart in the Age of Terrorism: Details At Last

By Carl Zimmer | May 26, 2008 11:05 pm

As I mentioned previously, I’ll be moderating a panel at the World Science Festival in New York on Thursday. It will be about art, science, and homeland security.

In 2004 artist Steven Kurtz was accused of terrorism when police came across bacteria and biological equipment in his house. After the terrorism charges were dropped, Kurtz still faced charges of mail and wire fraud until last month.

Kurtz will be speaking for the first time in public about the case since the charges were dropped, and he’ll also be joined by critic Eugene Thacker and bioethicist George Annas. Here are the specifics on the time and place…

MORE ABOUT: Upcoming Talks

The Genetic Staircase

By Carl Zimmer | May 25, 2008 12:33 am

genetic staircaseMike writes, “I know that I’m supposed to provide some sort of explanation, but I feel like everyone can probably tell that this is DNA. Every once in awhile someone will ask what’s on my arm, in which case I respond that it’s a futuristic staircase. Then they stare quizzically and I laugh.”

Click here to go to the full Science Tattoo Emporium.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Science Tattoo Emporium

Does The Golden Ratio Look Less Beautiful As Numbers?

By Carl Zimmer | May 23, 2008 7:37 pm

golden ratioMilad writes:

“I am a Mechanical Engineering undergrad at UC Berkeley and I got this tattoo about a month ago. It’s the golden ratio in the shape of a rectangle, with the ratio of the sides of the rectangle actually being the golden ratio! I have been obsessed with this number since I heard about it in high school, and it is the reason why I became so fascinated with mathematics. The golden ratio is known to be the closest mathematical explanation of beauty. It has been used a lot in architecture, art, and music around the world, and has some amazing mathematical and geometrical properties.” Carl: Like DNA and atoms, the golden ratio is a favorite at the emporium. See these geometrical version.

Click here to go to the full Science Tattoo Emporium.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Science Tattoo Emporium
MORE ABOUT: math tattoos

Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

The Loom

A blog about life, past and future. Written by DISCOVER contributing editor and columnist Carl Zimmer.

See More

Collapse bottom bar