Inspired by similar exercises from Small Pond Science and The Lab and Field, I present once more a few of the more interesting search terms by which Scientist Sees Squirrel has been found. I swear, I don’t make these up – I’m pretty sure I couldn’t.
rejected assistant professor
Well, we’ve all been, many times, although it sounds a bit depressing when put so baldly. This finds my post Universities That Did Not Hire Me. Perhaps I can consider it a career success to have failed often enough to be the #5 Google search result for “rejected assistant professor”. Yes, let’s think about it that way.
i hate my department chair Continue reading
Everyone likes a world record, right? Meet the newly described myxobacterium Myxococcus llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogochensis. That’s right: 73 letters (68 if you count by Welsh orthography, treating ‘ch’ and ‘ll’ as digraphs). The previous (probable*) record holder, the soldier fly Parastratiosphecomyia stratiosphecomyioides, is only 42 letters, so I think we have a winner by somewhat more than a nose. (The record for shortest name, by the way, is held by Yi qi among others. Because genus and species names must have at least 2 letters each, this record can never be broken.)
So, authorship team**, achievement unlocked.
Is this a good Latin name or a terrible, horrible, very bad, no good Latin name? Continue reading
Time now for the sixth installment of #AYearInBooks, in which I track the non-academic reading I do. Here’s why I’m doing this.
Who Fears Death (Nnedi Okorafor, 2010). Wow, this book is terrific. I guess I’d call it magical-realism-meets-urban-fantasy, set in (approximately) Sudan in an undefined but near future. It follows a young sorceress, Onyesonwu, who comes into her power while seeking revenge for her mother’s rape and resolution to a genocidal conflict (content warning, the scenes of rape and genocide can be difficult to read). Onyesonwu is a terrific character, both impressive and relatedly human, and the story is fascinating both for its plot and its setting. This is one of those books that takes you somewhere absolutely new, and gives you a bit of a shaking along the way. Continue reading
Sometimes important matters keep me up at night: how we’ll end the pandemic, how I can best contribute to the fight against climate change, what I should cook for dinner tomorrow. Other times, it’s the little mysteries.
The beautiful dragonfly above, the lined hooktail, is a member of the dragonfly family Gomphidae. Or, if I were to phrase that differently, the lined hooktail is a beautiful gomphid dragonfly. Did you notice the peculiarity there? “Gomphidae” (noun), but “gomphid” (adjective). Why? Continue reading
There’s a lot to dislike about the way we write scientific papers. They’re often tedious and impenetrable, and they get that way at least in part because we make poor decisions as we write. We overuse big fancy words when short simple ones are available (“utilize”, anyone?), we just can’t let go of our fetish for the passive voice, and we apparently love nothing more than replacing some actual English words with an acronym. And so on. Continue reading