A Blog by Carl Zimmer

2014: A Storyful Year

Thanks to everyone for sharing a year of science with me over the course of 2014. It was a year of frantic writing, as I tried (and failed) to keep up with all of the new research that expanded my appreciation of the natural world. In addition to blogging here, I wrote my weekly “Matter” columns for the New York Times, published a few longer pieces, and spent time in Second Edition World, revising a couple of my books. (Details to come in a few months.)

Looking over the year, I put together a list of the pieces I was most fond of (plus some radio work). If you’re looking for some reading (or listening) to fill the languorous spaces between gift-opening and holiday-meal-snarfing, check these out…

From the Loom:

What Slipped Disks Tell Us About 700 Million Years of Evolution

Evolution’s Baby Steps

The Old Old Earth

The Zoo in the Mouth

Parasite Cuisine: Eating the Eaters

The Mystery of the Sea Unicorn

The Erotic Endurance of Whale Hips

Your Inner Feather

How A Dog Has Lived For Eleven Thousand Years–In Other Dogs


From the New York Times:

White? Black? A Murky Distinction Grows Still Murkier

The Strange Tale of a New Species of Lizard

Scientists Rein In Fears of Ebola, a Virus Whose Mysteries Tend to Invite Speculation

How Caffeine Evolved to Help Plants Survive and Help People Wake Up

Our Microbiome May Be Looking Out for Itself

Putting a Price Tag on Nature’s Defenses

In a First, Test of DNA Finds Root of Illness

Young Blood May Hold Key to Reversing Aging

The Continuing Evolution of Genes (See also this TED-Ed video for which I wrote the script, based on some the research in this article.)

Seeing X Chromosomes in a New Light

From around the longform universe:

Secrets of the Brain (National Geographic, February)

Mindsuckers (National Geographic, November)

Why Do We Have Blood Types? (Mosaic, July 15)

The New Science of Evolutionary Forecasting (Quanta, July 14)

How Lives Became Long (the introduction to Rachel Sussman’s photography book, The Oldest Things in the World)


The spoken word:

Worth (Radiolab–I talked about putting a price tag on nature)

The Black Box (Radiolab–I talked about anesthesia and the mysteries of consciousness)

Translation (Radiolab–I talked about how we translate the messages in our genes into our biology)

Safety Carl Versus Gamera (Story Collider)

Darwin in the City (Harvard lecture)

My Guide to the Giant Sandworms of Dune (Studio 360)

Ebola and a Planet of Viruses (Radio Times on WHYY)

A Blog by Carl Zimmer

Translation: A New Episode of Radiolab

The good folks at Radiolab have a new episode out. It’s on the many different senses of the word translation. The show ranges from vision-sensing tongue vibrators to high-level diplomatic misunderstandings. At the end of the show, I talk to Jad Abumrad about the most fundamental translation of all: the process by which our cells turn information in our DNA into proteins. Here’s the embedded episode. And for more, see my recent story for Nautilus.

A Blog by Carl Zimmer

Talking With Sam Kean This Evening

From samkean.com
Sam Kean, the author of a couple delightful books about science (The Disappearing Spoon and The Violinist’s Thumb), has a third book out now on one of my favorite topics, the brain. In The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons, Kean finds stories about kings, assassins, and other interesting people that illuminate how scientists have come to understand how the brain works.

This evening at 7 pm ET, I’ll be talking to Sam about the book on Booktalk Nation, an online show. You can register to see the conversation here.

A Blog by Carl Zimmer

Attack of the Monster Turtles

My family and I were trapped once in our house by a terrorizing turtle. Last week, I told the saga of that day–and of my lifelong obsession with strange animals–at Story Collider, an evening of live story-telling about science. The recording is now online, and so you can listen to it here. May you have many peaceful encounters with turtles in your life.

A Blog by Carl Zimmer

On Smallpox and Killer Robots

I had a fun half hour yesterday evening chatting with the folks on Nerd’s Forum on Huffington Post Live. We reviewed some of the science news of the past week, from the eradication of smallpox to the threat of super-intelligent machines. You can watch the recording here.

A Blog by Carl Zimmer

From Microbiomes to Neanderthals

I’ll be taking the week off from blogging. Let me leave you with an hour-long interview on public radio in Charlotte, NC, which was recorded on Friday when I was in town to give a lecture for the North Carolina State Science Festival. We ranged over a lot of material, from de-extinctions to science literacy to personalized medicine and more. See you next week!