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Get your votes in for this year’s science blogging Quark awards.

three-quarks-prizeYes, there is cash on offer.

Yes, you can nominate your own blog post.

They only take the first 200 nominations accepted, so get moving.

Please read the rules carefully! No excessively long posts, only from the last year, nominate one post only (note: post, not blog), etc.

This is a two-step process. Nominations are collected until midnight (NYC time) May 31st. Public voting follows.

I’ve listed my own more substantial posts below horizontal rule if readers feel any I’ve written are up to it.

Also worth reading are the thoughts of Professor Steven Pinker, who judged this prize last year, on selecting winning essays:

The best science essays give readers the blissful click, the satisfying aha!, of seeing a puzzling phenomenon explained. When I was a graduate student the antiquated plumbing in my apartment sprang a leak, and an articulate plumber (perhaps an underemployed PhD) explained what caused it. When you shut off a tap, a large incompressible mass moving at high speed has to decelerate very quickly. This imparts a big force to the pipes, like a car slamming into a wall, which eventually damages the threads and causes a leak. To deal with this problem, plumbers used to install a a closed vertical section of pipe, a ’pipe riser,’ near each faucet, . When the faucet is shut, the water compresses the column of air in the riser, which acts like a shock absorber. Unfortunately, gas under pressure is absorbed by a liquid. Over time, the air in the column dissolves into the water, which fills the pipe riser, rendering it useless. So every now and again a plumber has to bleed the system and let air back into the risers, a bit of preventive maintenance the landlord had neglected. It may not be the harmony of the spheres, but the plumber’s disquisition captures what I treasure most in science writing: the ability to show how a seemingly capricious occurrence falls out of laws of greater generality.

Struggling in a typical moment of self-doubt (I seem to live permanently in these), I don’t think my work is up to the high standards Pinker is looking for but I’ll let others be the judge. It’s not as if I have much choice on that!

Please do nominate my fellow scibloggers, too. You know where to find them.


Below are some of the more substantial post on Code for life over the past year. Looks like I’ve been busy!

Monkey business, or is my uncle also my Dad?

The inheritance of face recognition (should you blame your parents if you can’t recognise faces?)

Aww, crap.

Popularity does not mean effectiveness or sensibility

Deleting a gene can turn an ovary into a testis in adult mammals

GMOs and the plants we eat: neither are ’natural’

Testing common ancestry to all modern-day life

You can change the ideas, but not the data

Tracking disease and human migration through genetics

Rubella, not a benign disease if experienced during early pregnancy

All this talk about 3-D movies and TVs is depressing

Media thought: Ask what is known, not the expert’s opinion

Epigenetics, a confused muddle in the media

Retrospective–The mythology of bioinformatics