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About the blog

Who writes this stuff?

This page is about the blog; for information about the blogger, click here.

What can I expect to read here?

Science stories from a Canadian perspective. Most of what you’ll find here relates to new discoveries in chemistry, biology, astronomy, geology,  psychology and more. Occasionally, I will depart from straight news to give my thoughts on various issues, such as the roles that science and scientists can/should play in society. But mostly it’s a place where I try to spread the word about stuff I find interesting, and that I think others will find interesting too.

Who is this blog aimed at?

I consider a ‘Scientific Canadian’ to be someone who is interested in learning about science, but who might or might not have any formal training or expertise. A recent report on science culture in Canada found that 93 per cent of us are “either very or moderately interested in new scientific discoveries,” the highest percentage recorded for any country. I think that’s a pretty good indication that there’s an audience for this kind of thing.

In terms of tone, I follow the philosophy outlined by Bill Bryson in my favourite book, A Short History of Nearly Everything: “The idea was to see if it isn’t possible to understand and appreciate — marvel at, enjoy even — the wonder and accomplishments of science at a level that isn’t too technical or demanding, but isn’t entirely superficial either.”  That means that while I try to avoid jargon wherever I can, I will use some scientific terms when appropriate. If I do that, I’ll always include a definition or a link to more information.

Some of your stories have also been covered by the media. Why should I read your version?

There are lots of very good science journalists out there. For what it’s worth, here are a few things that I think distinguish my voice:

a) I try to provide insight into HOW we know what we know. That means focusing on the methods and techniques that scientists use. Whether it’s ultra-fast lasers, mobile critter-cams or new ways to analyze DNA, I find that the techniques used to get the answers are often just as interesting as the results themselves.

b) Having worked (briefly) in a lab myself, I feel a personal connection to the scientists who spend untold hours collecting and analyzing data in order to move just one tiny step closer to an answer. I try to provide a sense of what motivates people to do science, and in the process remind readers that all scientists are people, and all people scientists.

c) As a recovering high school teacher, I find that the news often provides ‘teachable moments’ which are splendid excuses to review some fundamental concepts that some of us may be a bit rusty on. Whether you’re a current student or just someone who could use a refresher, I aim to highlight ways in which the science you learned in school relate to the everyday world.

d) I freely admit that I pick stories based on my own personal interests, which among other things include cool animal behaviour, the role of chemistry in everyday life and ancient creatures. If these things excite you too, we’ll have a good time together.

I like your stuff. Where can I see more?

I have written for many publications and even won some awards. I keep a list of recent projects here.

Are you available for hire?

Very yes.

I don’t like one of your posts/your website’s design/the cut of your jib. To whom do I complain?

If you have genuine, constructive criticism, you can contact me here.