The year’s best science writing for 2012

Get this  book for a peek at the best online science writing going on right now.  It is a selection of science articles from 2011, but even if a few years have passed, the writing is still excellent and the articles are still important.


Nomenclature Rule

In Life: An Unauthorized Biography, Richard Fortey documented a biologists’ rule:

The most primitive of  bacteria are known by the most wondrous jargon, mastery of which is guaranteed to cause jaws to drop at social functions, for the correct designation of many of them is ‘chemolithoautotrophic hyperthermophiles.’ Since these bacteria are only a thousandth of a millimetre long — minute rods, discs, or cocci (spheres), this affords an example of a rule well known to biologists: that the length of the description is inversely proportional to the size of the organism.

No doubt Fortey is an accomplished raconteur, but I find his written work almost unbearably wordy and have to take it in small doses.

More science blogs: Scientopia

Many bloggers who left Scienceblogs have gathered together at a new site. Check out Scientopia blogs to see what these science bloggers are up to.

Hat tip: The Dread Tomato Addiction.

“Stephen Hawking’s Universe” web site and books

Stephen Hawking's Universe, PBS science series

A Brief History of Time by  Stephen Hawking explained, in the great physicist’s own words, the theory of the Big Bang and its implications. The book Stephen Hawking’s Universe by John Boslough (1989) was written as an introduction to A Brief History of Time and its ideas. There was tremendous popular interest in Hawking’s book and the revolutionary progress that Hawking brought to theoretical physics and cosmology. That encouraged PBS Television to create a series of six programs about those ideas. The project spawned a Stephen Hawking’s Universe web site to complement the programs. And that led to a spin-off book, Stephen Hawking’s Universe by David Filkin. Also, Hawking wisely teamed up with a writer who created a more readable version of his famous book.

A Briefer History of Time, with Leonard Mlodinow

Stephen Hawking’s popular science books:

George's Secret of the Universe, French edition

Books for children, with his daughter, Lucy Hawking:


He has provided forwards for these books:

On the Shoulders of Giants

He has edited and provided commentary for the works of other scientists:

Technical books:

“…This is a collection of survey lectures and reprints of some important lectures on the Euclidean approach to quantum gravity in which one expresses the Feynman path integral as a sum over Riemannian metrics. As well as papers on the basic formalism there are sections on black holes, quantum cosmology, wormholes and gravitational instantons.”

“This volume contains papers presented at the Nuffield Workshop of supersymmetry and its applications held at Cambridge in the summer of 1985 and attended by many of the leading experts in the field. In physical terms, supersymmetry is a symmetry or gauge invariance which connects bosons (particles with integer spin) with fermions (particles with half integer spin). The study of supersymmetry has led to the construction of Yang-Mills theories, which are the first field theories to be free of the divergences that usually occur in quantum theories, with an infinite number of degrees of freedom. It has also led to the construction of supergravity and superstring theories…”


Soul Made Flesh by Carl Zimmer. It’s a history of medical and scientific thought about the brain and consciousness.

funny pictures of cats with captions
more funny cats

Tangled Bank #118 at Submitted to a Candid World

The Tangled Bank is a fortnightly collection of science writing by bloggers. Tangled Bank 118 is at Submitted to a Candid World. It’s the Yes We Did edition.

Tangled Bank #117 at the Neural Gourmet

The Tangled Bank is a fortnightly collection of science writing by bloggers. Tangled Bank 117 is at the Neural Gourmet.

Neural Gourmet--does that mean they eat brains?


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