My fellow Hive Overmind blogger Carl Zimmer just won the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Kavli Science Journalism Award for writing in large newspaper, specifically the New York Times.
Carl Zimmer won in the large newspaper category for a trio of articles he wrote for The New York Times on aspects of genetics and evolution. “I sometimes feel a little embarrassed that I like to write articles about the kinds of basic questions my kids ask me,” Zimmer said. “For the three stories I submitted, the questions were, “What’s a virus?” “What’s a gene?” and “Why do fireflies flash?” I had a marvelous time talking with scientists about the complex answers to those simple questions, and now, thanks to this award, I don’t have to feel at all embarrassed.” Zimmer previously won in the online category in 2004.
And he shouldn’t be embarrassed, because it’s exactly those kinds of questions that should be written about! Engaging the public is what more scientists should do, and if they did it as well as Carl the world would be a better place.
This is great news. Carl is one of the journalists who is not only a great writer but does an extremely good job connecting the world of science with the world the average person inhabits.
However, he has another trait that is even rarer. He makes science interesting to scientists.
Science writing can be very hard. Not only must one be able to synthesize work that one is not necessarily proficient in, one must also make it all worth reading. But what Carl so often does is to also capture why the science is interesting. He presents the excitement of the work in ways that can resonate well with other scientists. He does a wonderful job of exposing the human behind the science.
That is why Carl’s blog, The Loom, has been on my RSS aggregator since we were both writing blogs at Corante. (You can see some of my blogposts at my old Corante blog, Living Code, in the categories at the left)