Warning: navel-gazing AND trivial, all in one tidy package
I spent a fish-out-of-water hour last Friday, hanging an art exhibit. Nothing in my career made me suspect I’d ever do that – and given my complete lack of artistic ability*, you’ll be relieved to know that it’s not my art. Instead, I was hanging an exhibit of the illustrations from my book, Charles Darwin’s Barnacle and David Bowie’s Spider. They’re gorgeous, thanks to the expert work of science illustrator Emily Damstra, and if aren’t in Fredericton to see the exhibit, then you can come close via this post and the online exhibit it links to.
I did feel like a fish out of water Continue reading
Charles Darwin’s Barnacle is a year old! Not the species – that’s probably a few million years old, or at least that’s a guess given the average lifespan of a species. And not the name “Charles Darwin’s Barnacle”, which is 138 years old (the deep-sea barnacle species Regioscalpellum darwini was originally described by Hoek in 1883 as Trianguloscalpellum darwini). It’s my book: my book Charles Darwin’s Barnacle and David Bowie’s Spider is a year old.* It’s a little hard to believe.
People often ask me how the book has sold. I don’t really know (because other than Amazon sales rankings, I have no data), although I can tell you that it spent exactly zero weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. Continue reading
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
Well, OK, I answered a lot more questions this week, but what I mean is that I’m the week’s featured interview on 46 Questions. 46 Questions is a great idea. Every week they feature a scientist giving quick, short answers to 46 questions – questions that emphasize the scientist as a person with hobbies and personality and guilty pleasures, rather than the science they do. I think that’s important. There’s a stereotype out there that scientists are something apart – often, emotionless and personality-deficient automatons in lab coats behind a laboratory bench. That’s dangerous: it makes it easy for the general public to reject science, because it’s separate and other, not part of our shared society. Far better for folks to understand that scientists are people just like everyone else; that there might be a scientist in line behind you at the grocery store, in the next pew at church, or on the opposing team in the curling bonspiel. Scientists have all the same virtues, vices, and personality quirks as everyone else (and that’s a major theme of my new book, by the way).
46 Questions has done a nice job of highlighting the humanity of scientists, and also the many axes of diversity among scientists that we can and should celebrate. I’m happy to be part of it.
You can read my 46 answers here – but even better, browse around a bit. There are all kinds of interesting people there!
© Stephen Heard November 14, 2019
Image: 46 Questions logo
Photo: Squirrel in the Bergdorf Goodman Shoes window; © Katie Hinde, by permission.
Today is Scientist Sees Squirrel’s fourth birthday. When I pounded out my first post, I had no real concept of what I was doing. I’m a little surprised and a little bemused that after four years, I’m still pounding out posts. (It remains true that I have no real concept of what I’m doing, but at least I’ve established that I enjoy doing it.) Along the way, I appear to have written over 300 posts – and nobody can be more surprised by that than I am.
Occasions like this sometimes get celebrated with greatest-hits lists, but that would be boring. It’s tempting to do a greatest-duds list instead (starting with this one), but why would I inflict that on you? So, for some middle ground: five posts that I think were actually pretty good – but that you probably didn’t read, because almost nobody did. I’ve written about my most undercited paper; I guess these are some of my most underread blog posts. Perhaps you’ll enjoy making the acquaintance of a piece you missed the first time around. Continue reading
Photo: Eurasian red squirrel © Peter Trimming CC BY-SA 2.0
Today, Scientist Sees Squirrel is three years old. This is somewhat startling to me, as is the fact that I’ve written about 240 posts on the blog. In honour of this blogoversary, I went back and re-read my very first post: Does an academic need an attention span? I was relieved to discover that, while it’s a little clunky, it doesn’t hold up too badly. Continue reading
Image: arguing Northern Mockingbird (© Chiltepinster CC BY-SA 3.0). I’m the one on the left. And also the one on the right.
It was bound to happen sooner or later. I’ve written about 240 posts for Scientist Sees Squirrel, and the other day I busted myself: I discovered that I’ve written two contradictory ones. They’re both about originality (and yes, I can smell the irony in having written two posts on originality). The first one (“We praise originality, but we don’t value it”) argued that we undervalue originality in research. The second (“Originality is over-rated – even by me”) argued that we overrate originality in research. Nice job, Heard.
Now, I’ve re-read both posts carefully*, and I can just barely build an argument that they’re not quite as contradictory as that. Continue reading
Warning: mostly navel-gazing, albeit with some thoughts about SciComm and the openness of science.
I didn’t know much about the blogosphere before Scientist Sees Squirrel was born. Turns out maybe I still don’t, since I’m asking the rather obvious question in the title of this post.
So is Scientist Sees Squirrel a “science blog”? Well, it’s about science (inasmuch as it’s about anything), so in that sense, surely the answer should be “yes”. But I’ve just read Science Blogging: The Essential Guide, and according to that book, the answer is pretty clearly “no”. This surprised me a little, but it also crystallized something I’d been wondering rather vaguely about anyway: what is, and what should be, my audience here? Continue reading