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17 January 2023

Life’s Edge, by Carl Zimmer

Carl Zimmer is a veteran science writer, a journalist who has been pumping out terrific popular natural history explorations for decades now. His latest explores the marginal zone between living and nonliving: Life’s Edge. I found it to be an interesting and enjoyable volume, entirely as I’ve come to expect from Zimmer. Biology is a science with an interesting conundrum at its heart – it’s not totally clear what qualifies …


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13 December 2016

The Gene, by Siddhartha Mukherjee

Over the weekend, I finished an excellent popular summary of genetics, The Gene: An Intimate History, by Siddhartha Mukherjee. It’s an excellent, thoughtful, current tome, that covers everything from Mendel to Darwin to Lysenko to Rosalind Franklin to CRISPR, written in a personal, accessible way. He begins and ends with a trip to India, examining the genetic roots of madness in his own family. There is a constant attention to …


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31 October 2011

My Halloween costume

Here’s what I did for my Halloween costume this year. I decided to be a frog egg mass, with spawning frogs spewing gametes all over in a big orgiastic mess. Start with one ‘normal’ Callan: Switch to frog-egg colored clothing: Don a pair of foam packing bubble wrap “trousers: Add a “tunic” of bubble wrap, hot-glued into a blobby mass: Add a spawning frog in back, and another in front: …


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25 April 2010

Larry Wiseman is my hero

I have many heroes, but the one I would like to pay tribute to today is Larry Wiseman, my mentor through my undergraduate years at William & Mary and beyond. Now, Larry is a biologist, not a geologist — but he probably did more to frame my life’s work than any other individual. At William & Mary, Larry was chair of the biology department, and taught the first semester intro …


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