Category Archives: books

Charles Darwin’s Barnacle and David Bowie’s Spider: a new title for my new book

I’ve mentioned this before: I’m terrible at titles.  That’s why there’s been a long series of title changes for my forthcoming book.  (Look for it in March 2020, from Yale University Press.  You can actually pre-order it now, but don’t worry, I’ll remind you as the publication date approaches.)  The book tells some of the fascinating stories behind eponymous scientific names (that is, species and genera that are named after people).  If that piques your interest, you can read a bit more about the book here.

I took at least four stabs at a title before settling on Charles Darwin’s Barnacle and David Bowie’s Spider: How Scientific Names Celebrate Adventurers, Heroes, and Even a Few Scoundrels. Continue reading

Advertisements

Some (more) great reads from the history of natural history

Image: Alexander von Humboldt and Aimé Bonpland in the Amazon jungle, via wikimedia.org. Painting by Eduard Ender, circa 1850; from the collection of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities.

Research for my new book has me reading a lot of books about the history of natural history. Some are well known, some are obscure; some are old; some are new. (Some were borrowed, although at least this time around, none were blue.)  Here are a few more minireviews (in no particular order), in case the pile of books you’ve been meaning to read isn’t big enough.

Naming Nature: The Clash Between Instinct and Science (Yoon 2009, Norton).  This book, Yoon tells us, started out as a history and explanation of taxonomy – the science of naming and describing species.  It grew into something else, something a little bit strange, and something a bit difficult to put one’s finger on.  Continue reading

I’ve submitted the manuscript for my new book!

Image: the David Bowie spider, Heteropoda davidbowie.  KS Seshadri, CC BY-SA 4.0 via wikimedia.org

Last week I hit a big milestone.  I hit submit not just on another journal paper, but on something much more fun: my new book.  I’m both relieved and excited!

The book will be called “Charles Darwin’s Barnacle and David Bowie’s Spider: How Scientific Names Celebrate Adventurers, Heroes, and Even a Few Scoundrels”*Continue reading

Turns out “The Scientist’s Guide to Writing” was not actually my first book!

Image: Max atop the tallest tree.  Detail from The Tallest Tree in the World.  Read on.

Warning: utterly trivial.

If you’ve been hanging around Scientist Sees Squirrel, you’ve no doubt noticed that I’ve written a book – The Scientist’s Guide to Writing.  I’ve been telling people it was my first book (and that I’m now working on a second one), and I even wrote a humongously long post about how I had no prior experience with book-writing.

But then I made a discovery.  Continue reading

I’m writing another book!

I got some great news recently that I’ve been itching to share.  I can tell you now – because just the other day signed, I signed the contract.  I’m writing another book! Continue reading

The Scientist’s Guide to Writing is a year old!

One year ago*, The Scientist’s Guide to Writing hit the world’s bookshelves. A year is very young for a human or a redwood tree; it’s very old for a butterfly.  I hope a year is still quite young for The Scientist’s Guide, although that depends entirely on whether people keep reading and using it.

People often ask me how the book is “doing”.  I’d love to know the answer to that!  Continue reading

Why so few novels about scientists?

Image: “Scientists” sensu Wikipedia, by Urcomunicacion CC BY 3.0.

Like most scientists, I live a life rich in other scientists.  That’s true because I work among them, but I also live in a university town with a couple of major government research labs.  That means there are often scientists at the movie theatre, scientists at the grocery store, and scientists at the next table when I go out for dinner.  There are nearly always scientists at the bookstore and at the local library, too.  But there’s one place there aren’t scientists (or at least, not very many): in the pages of the books shelved there. I find that peculiar. Continue reading