Science writing I'd pay to read – February 2012

By Ed Yong | March 2, 2012 10:17 am

It’s time for February’s Science Writer Tip-Jar picks. For those new to this, here’s the low-down:

Throughout the blogosphere, people produce fantastic writing for free. That’s great, but I believe that good writers should get paid for good work. To set an example, I choose ten pieces every month that were written for free and I donate £3 to the author. There are no formal criteria other than I found them unusually interesting, enjoyable and/or important.

I also encourage readers to support these writers through two buttons on the sidebar. There are two ways to help. Any donations via “Support Science Writers” are evenly distributed to chosen ten at the end of the month. Donations via the “Support NERS” button go to me; I match a third of the total figure and send that to the chosen writers too.

So without further ado, and in no particular order, here are the picks (there are only 8 this month, because I’ve been travelling and haven’t been able to read as much as usual):

  • Rachel Sussman for a thoughtful post on the world’s longest-lived creatures, and what the death of a 3,500-year-old tree teaches us about impermanence.
  • Lali for her moving #Iamscience post on being a science teacher: “I accept their dissonance and scepticism, and I repay them with evidence and data”
  • Rob Dunn for a fresh look at symbiosis with a list of five fungi that farm animals.
  • Sally Adee for a funny and electrifying illuminating look at what jolts of electricity does to the brain: “Everything in my head finally shut the f**k up.”
  • Jeffrey Marlow for a great story about how a piece of Mars ended up in London, thanks to Moroccan nomads, a meteorite curator and a mystery donor.
  • Brian Switek for narrating the growth of an elephant. “Every elephant that has ever lived started off as a single cell.”
  • Carl Zimmer for one of the best-reported pieces yet on the mutant bird flu controversy. “When it comes to viruses can we really calculate ratios of costs to benefits?”
  • Alex Wild for two great photo essays of incredible mimicking spiders.

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