Yaba-daba – my “Social Life of Genomes” story won a AAAS award.

A good day (so far). The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) today announced that “The Social Life of Genes” (Pacific Standard, Sept/Oct 2013), my article on how the genome responds to social life, won the 2014 AAAS/Kavli Science Journalism Award for best magazine work in 2013 — a distinction I’m tickled to be honored with. […]

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Gay Genes, Death Papers, Parasites, Neanderthals, & Anja Niedringhaus. My Reads of the Week

The world has lost a truly splendid photographer — Anja Niedringhaus, murdered this week in Afghanistan. This was a determined, brave journalist and an unbelievably sensitive artist, finely attuned to both the technical demands and possibilities of every image and, even more exquisitely, the humanity of those in the frame. This is a terrible, terrible loss. […]

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Serotonin, the Zombie Chemical

  Neurotransmitters are highly important and mind-bendingly complex. That’s why now and then I hip-check writers who boil neurotransmitters down to simple stories. Neurotransmitters are multi-purpose messengers. They’re versatile enough, in fact, to get hijacked by parasitic worms who use them to enslave perfectly innocent shrimplike creatures called gammarids. As Carl Zimmer relates, in Parasites Use […]

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Naomi Wolf’s “Vagina” and the Perils of Neuro Self-Help, or How Dupe-amine Drove Me Into a Dark Dungeon

Someone should have warned Naomi Wolf what slippery material she’d get encounter by taking a neuro angle into Vagina: A New Biography. As Zoe Heller explains in her smart, raucous, ripping review in The New York Review of Books, [Wolf’s] original plan was to write a book surveying cultural representations of the vagina through the ages. […]

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Science Publishes “Arsenic is Life” Critiques. Game On.

Alert readers will remember the scuffle that broke out last summer December over the “arsenic-is-life” paper by Felisa Wolfe-Simon and colleagues that claimed to have found that a bacterium from Mono Lake had been coaxed into substituting arsenic for phosphorous in its DNA. Many, including me, criticized both the paper and its presentation: the paper […]

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