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Four million views, a personal look at the year, and many thanks

I just wanted to mark this moment – Not Exactly Rocket Science has just received its four millionth page view. It’s a pretty sweet New Year’s present and gives me a nice hook to reflect on the last year.

I wrote 275 pieces for the blog, and I started doing a weekly roundup of links. In March, I moved the blog to Discover, a decision I’ve been immensely happy with. For reference, two of the four million views so far have been in the last 10 months (it took 42 to get the first two million). The first set of heartfelt thanks go to Amos Zeeberg for recruting me; Eliza Strickland, Gemma Shusterman, Andrew Moseman, Joe Calamia, and Jennifer Welsh for helping to promote and debug the blog; Sheril, Carl, Phil, Razib, Sean, Chris and my other fellow Discover bloggers for their camaraderie; my entire network of friends and colleagues in the blogosphere, Twitter and the UK science community for their support; and everyone who reads, comments on, and passes on these posts for taking NERS out of the echo-chamber and into the world.

Outside of the blog, I wrote six feature pieces: on memory molecules and a 40-million-year dry spell for the Times’s Eureka magazine, on the mislabelled ‘warrior gene’ and the magnetovision of birds for New Scientist, on surprisingly sophisticated slime moulds for the Guardian, and a couple of items for WIRED’s Ideas Special. My thanks go out to my editors Kate Douglas, Michael LePage, Alok Jha, Antonia Senior and David Rowan for commissioning those pieces and knocking them into shape.

I started doing lots of speaking engagements on journalism, blogging and writing: at the US and London editions of ScienceOnline 2010; for science communication/journalism students at City University, Imperial College, NYU and Macquarie University; at the ABSW science journalism conference; and at several  debates/panels at the Royal Institution, City University and more. Hearty thanks to Bora Zivkovic, Alice Bell, Mark Henderson, Lucy Harper, Ivan Oransky, David Dobbs, Henry Scowcroft, Fiona Fox, Mun-Keat Looi and Steve Pratt for inviting me to those events.

Best of all, I won the online category in the National Academies Keck 2010 Science Communication Awards, the Three Quarks Daily Science Prize 2010, and three prizes at the inaugural Research Blogging Awards 2009. Thanks to the judging panels, Richard Dawkins and my fellow bloggers respectively. (In return, I also helped to judge the resurrected ABSW Science Writing awards and OpenLab 2010) I somehow ended up in Eureka’s 100 important people in science supplement, in a list of ten people under 40 to watch. Presumably not in the voyeuristic sense, or the Government blacklist sense. Thanks to Mark Henderson and Alice Bell for graciously accepting my bribes.

In November, I had a nap. Next year, I might do more of that.

But probably not.

And last but not least, a final massive burst of gratitude to my wife, Alice, for her unerring encouragment and belief, in these endeavours and in everything else.

Happy New Year everyone. See you in 2011.