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Happy Birthday, Phenomena!

Today marks the first anniversary of Phenomena, the blog network that I started with Carl Zimmer, Virginia Hughes and Brian Switek a year ago. It’s been a privilege and a delight to be part of National Geographic. Our benevolent overlords—special thanks to Jamie Shreeve and Brian Howard—have treated us very well, given us a lot of exposure, and (as is important with blog networks) relaxed and let us do our thing without any impositions. And my esteemed co-bloggers, Carl, Ginny and Brian, continue to set the bar for what good science writing should look like; they inspire me to do better.

I’ve felt under much less pressure here, so I’ve felt able to devote more care and attention to each individual post. Excluding the Saturday link-fests, the occasional personal posts, and brief pointers to other work, I have written 191 pieces since joining Phenomena. That’s less than the previous year’s total of 231, but I’ve tried to chuck in a lot more depth and reporting into each post, so hopefully the trade-off is a positive one.

Thanks to everyone who read my work this year, and I hope to see you all again next year.

Below, you’ll find a list of my 20 most popular posts, by traffic, since joining Phenomena. A few things of note:

As per usual, even though I have covered stories of more scientific import, discoveries with more obvious practical implications, and studies with potential for affecting people’s lives, they are largely unrepresented here. Instead, we have a motley collection of sex, violence, and quirkiness. I love my readers.

Also, I’d say that my average post is around 1,000 words long, but several were much longer. The one about the frog resurrection (#6) is around 1,900 words long. The one about Lilly Grossman (#14) is 3,100 words long. Remind me again how long content doesn’t work online and how blog posts need to be pithy and short?

  1. Here’s What Happens Inside You When a Mosquito Bites
  2. 3-D Scans Reveal Caterpillars Turning Into Butterflies
  3. What Bit This Great White Shark? A Cookie-Cutter
  4. Why A Little Mammal Has So Much Sex That It Disintegrates
  5. How The Platypus And A Quarter Of Fishes Lost Their Stomachs
  6. Resurrecting the Extinct Frog with a Stomach for a Womb
  7. The Invisible Hand Illusion
  8. Thresher Sharks Hunt with Huge Weaponised Tails
  9. How Chickens Lost Their Penises (And Ducks Kept Theirs)
  10. The Global Kraken
  11. The Alligator Has a Permanently Erect, Bungee Penis [Video]
  12. How a quarter of the cow genome came from snakes
  13. The Myth of the Komodo Dragon’s Dirty Mouth
  14. “We Gained Hope.” The Story of Lilly Grossman’s Genome
  15. Shark Dads Lose Babies to Unborn Cannibal Siblings
  16. Here’s What Happens When A Tick Bites You
  17. This Insect Has Gears In Its Legs
  18. Meet the Ancestor of Every Human, Bat, Cat, Whale and Mouse
  19. Bees Can Sense the Electric Fields of Flowers
  20. Prehistoric Plaque and the Gentrification of Europe’s Mouth

And finally, if you want to sing Happy Birthday to Phenomena, I recommend playing the video below, and saying the word “Phenomena” at the obvious moments.

3 thoughts on “Happy Birthday, Phenomena!

  1. Hi Ed, just wanted to say how much I’ve appreciated your thoroughly researched articles all these years. Coming from a totally unscientific background (if one can say as much for any profession), I treasure your posts for the latest in science that I can trust.. Thank you!.. 🙂

  2. Thank you Ed, Carl, Brian and Virginia for all your work. I try to read at least one post from your network everyday. Reading long form science articles is my antidote to the generally depressing news of natural disasters and man-made disaster and other random idiocies from some part of the world or other that we all get bombarded with every day.

    Oh, and thank you for finally enabling full article RSS feed. Now I get to read your content in my feed reader on my mobile phone.

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