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Science writing I’d pay to read – September 2011

It’s time for September’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:

  • Alice Bell for beautifully telling the story of how the fridge got its hum, and what it means for the history of technology. Also for this post on why worrying whether people like science or not is probably the wrong concern.
  • Martin Robbins for his analysis of Nautilus, the software that apparently predicted where Osama bin Laden was, but, like Nostradamus, proves to only really be successful in hindsight.
  • Frank Swain for a witty and important post on five iconic science images, and why they’re wrong.
  • Anne Casselman for her wonderful account of Patrick Keeling, who teaches his students to make their own DIY microscopes.
  • Kate Clancy for her eye-opening post on “menotoxins” and how culture biased science towards the acceptance of “menstrual toxins”.
  • Sean Carroll for his mind-expanding list of ten things that everyone should know about time
  • Eric Michael Johnson for a tour de force essay on the evolution of collective violence.
  • Arvind Pillai for his epic primer on Jawless fish and the birth of back-boned animals.
  • Jen Gunter for a personal and touching story about her own son Victor, and his struggles with cerebral palsy. A stunning closing line.
  • John Hawks, for using his blog to launch a new open-science project where he and colleagues will try and reconstruct 2-million-year-old hominin skin in public view.

5 thoughts on “Science writing I’d pay to read – September 2011

  1. I covered this in my first tip-jar post:

    “This excludes pieces written for paying mainstream institutions. This is for rewarding people who give content freely. I include bloggers who belong to paying networks like Discover, Scienceblogs and Wired, on the grounds that their rewards are fairly small and are typically based on traffic not, say, word count. So a great, long post may get no views (and earn no money) because it doesn’t have Lady Gaga in the URL.”

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