And so it ends. I joined Discover on 26th March 2010, and it’s been a fantastic run. But tomorrow, I migrate over to my new habitat at National Geographic, to join Carl Zimmer, Virginia Hughes and Brian Switek in the new Phenomena collective.
Thanks to everyone at Discover for their support during a great run, and I’m sure that the new folks, and the new bloggers like Keith Kloor, will continue the magazine and website’s great legacy.
In the meantime, I hope that all of you will help me christen my new abode. The site has been built over the last week and the transition should be pretty seamless. All of my old posts have been ported over, as have all the comments bar those of the last few weeks. So, without further ado, here are the important details:
Both of these links are not currently working – they’ll go live on tomorrow, Tuesday, probably at 9am ET.
Blog transitions are always annoying things, and there’s always a proportion of readers who get lost in the jump. If you’ve enjoyed what I’ve written here, could you please help by drumming up some interest in these first days and weeks. Update bookmarks and feeds, tell your friends and family… anything you feel happy to do. It’s all appreciated.
See you there.
For the last 2.5 years, I have enjoyed a cosy symbiosis with Discover, providing bloggy sustenance in exchange for shelter, like many a gut bacterium. But in a week’s time, this happy relationship will come to an end.
Next week – most likely on Tuesday 18th December, but to be confirmed – Not Exactly Rocket Science will be moving to National Geographic, as part of a small and brand-new collective of science blogs called Phenomena.
Phenomena will include three of the most accomplished science writers working today: Carl Zimmer (The Loom), Brian Switek (Laelaps), and Virginia Hughes (starting a brand new blog, Only Human). I love these people and their work, and seeing this group come together behind the scenes has been like watching Nick Fury recruit the Avengers.
The good news: the blogs are back online, and speeds are back to normal. Thanks for your patience.
The bad news: the comment system has now changed so that you can only comment after you have created an account and signed in. This overwrites my old comment policy of being able to comment freely once your first comment is approved.
For the record, I found out about this change on Monday and I’m not happy about it. If you feel the same, just bear with me – I’ll have an update in a week or so. Or feel free to voice your views by… erm… registering and leaving a comment, or sending me an email.
In the meantime, plenty of cool science coming up…
Sometimes, when you have insomnia and you’ve read the entire internet and you idly check your blog stats, something nice pops up. Not Exactly Rocket Science has been with Discover since March 2010, and at some point today, it will hit it 10 millionth page view since being with the site. Hooray! I have the smile of a proud father.
Snf… they grow up so fast.
Anyway, I’m currently travelling so this is little more than a stick, hammered into cyberspace to mark the occasion. More science to come in a few hours. You’ll barely notice an interruption in service, although Missing Links is unlikely to make an appearance on Saturday.
An old friend of mine found and forwarded an email that I had written on 22nd August, 2006. I sent it to a group of close university mates, telling them about this new science blog that I had created.
It makes me almost embarrassingly sentimental to read this, but hopefully it might help those of you who are in the same situation. Here is me, six years ago, working at a cancer charity, miles away from being a professional science writer, looking for opportunities, and taking a step. Also, note that 6 years ago, I knew even less than the little I know now, so if anything in this seems even remotely prescient, it’s probably best to interpret it as naivety that looks good in hindsight.
The bit where I say “Hopefully, I’ll be able to write a new one every week” cracks me up.
Subject: Shameless self-publicity
Over the last three years, I’ve written three non-work science articles and all three have won runner-up prizes in the Daily Telegraph’s Young Science Writer competition. Which is cool, because it makes me think that I might be able to do this full-time.
So, following kind encouragement from Alice and various friends, I’ve decided to put more effort into this science writing malarkey, stop waiting for others to publish my stuff, and do it myself. To this end, I’ve set up my own blog – go mighty Interweb, go!
The plan is to fill it with feature-length science-related articles on whatever takes my fancy. It’s been live for a week and has three articles thus far, and hopefully, I’ll be able to write a new one every week. It’s an outlet for me to flex a couple of interests – science and writing – and get some good practice in combining the two. It’s also a chance for me to write without worrying about the usual constraints of accessibility, journalistic styles, finding stories that haven’t been covered yet etc. It’s just me, writing for the sake of it, about stuff wot I find fascinating, in the discursive narrative style that I feel most comfortable with.
So come on in, have a read, leave some comments if you wish. If you like it, come back often, or better yet, tell a friend. At best, you might find out something interesting. At worst, you’ll be terribly bored and curse me for wasting your time, but you’ll ramp up my hits and maybe WordPress will send me a muffin. Or some such.
Four years ago, I started a thread asking readers to identify themselves, say something about their background, and tell me a bit about why they were reading this blog. I’ve done one every year since and I always look forward to them. I spend the whole year telling stories so it’s great to hear everyone else’s for a change, especially given the diversity that typically crops up.
So without further ado, let’s go again.
What to do: Tell me who you are, your background, and what you do. What’s your interest in science and your involvement with it? How did you come to this blog, how long have you been reading, what do you think about it, and how could it be improved?
These questions are a rough guide. I’m working on the basis that what you have to say will be far more interesting than what I think you might say. Say as little or as much as you like, but do say something, even if you’ve never commented before and even if you commented on the previous ones.
If you’re a first-time commenter, there may be a small delay before your comment is approved. From that point, on, you can comment freely.
And one more really important thing: Every year at least one person says that they have no science background, and they feel intimidated by the folks on the thread who are researchers and professors and what not. Well, dear people, I want to remind you that I started writing because I wanted to be read by you. I still do. Come and have your say.
Photo by EvanForester
The Open Notebook has a series called Natural Habitat, which looks at the space in which science writers work. I, perhaps foolishly, agreed to take part in it. You can find the resulting video and photos here, featuring the local pub, treelancing (TM), and a cuddly giant squid.
As of this week, I’m starting a new column over at the BBC, as part of their new science and technology super-site. The goal, based on feedback from the BBC’s readership, was to create a space for deeper, richer sources of science writing to complement their typical news pieces. Regular readers of this blog will know that this is a goal that I have a lot of time for. There will be lots of features, and some regular columns. I’m providing one of the latter.
So the column is called “Will we ever…?” The goal is to take far-flung and possibly optimistic applications of basic scientific research and look at the steps and obstacles between now and then. You know that sentence in the fourth or fifth paragraph of most science news pieces? The fluffy one that says, “This discovery could eventually lead to [insert optimistic distant application here]”? This column will expand that sentence into a thousand words.