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Inspiring & Thought Provoking

8 Essential Books Every Young Biologist Should Read

It is incredibly important for aspiring young scientists to keep up to date with the scientific literature. We all know that some journal articles are a slog, and critiquing other’s research is often an onerous task. Sometimes it’s good to have a break. What follows is a list of popular science books I have found…

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Kick Start Your Research With Crowdfunding!

Like most scientists, you rely on grant monies to fund your research. Sustaining it depends on your ability to devise promising new ideas, collect new data and show proof-of-concept before writing another proposal to keep the cycle going. Only the best-of-the-best pilot projects seem to make the cut for experimentation when scarce lab funds are…

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How Irish Scientists Changed the World by Seán Duke

I have to be honest, I am Irish and I am a Scientist, so I guess I am a bit biased in reviewing this book. Biases notwithstanding, this is a fascinating book. How Irish Scientists Changed the World appeals to a broad audience, whether the reader is a scientist or someone who has never studied…

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Beneath the Lab Coat – Why do Scientists get Inked?

In 2007, award winning science writer Carl Zimmer asked a seemingly marginal question on his blog – how common is it for scientists to tattoo themselves with images of their science? Over the next few weeks, hundreds of scientists sent in pictures of their science inspired tattoos. In fact, so many images were submitted that…

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Book Review: “The Best American Science Writing 2012,” edited by Jesse Cohen and Michio Kaku

From cutting-edge medicine to disastrous climate change to quantum mechanics, the 2012 installment of The Best American Science Writing (http://www.amazon.com/dp/0062117912) offers some of the best science journalism and essays from the previous year.  The range of topics and quality of writing make this book a satisfying and accessible read for anyone interested in current science.…

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How to win a Nobel Prize for Biology

In 1895, Alfred Nobel wrote in his Last Will and Testament that he wished the bulk of his sizable estate to “constitute a fund, the interest on which shall be annually distributed in the form of prizes to those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit to mankind.” Nobel made his…

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Book Review: “Like a Virgin”, by Aarathi Prasad

While modern humans have a broad selection of contraception options, reproducing is still limited to the “egg + sperm = baby” theme whether in the bedroom or in a test-tube.  The Amazon review of Aarathi Prasad’s book, which my husband keeps calling “A lucky virgin”, promises the book “delivers an astonishing exploration of the mysteries…

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One Part Science, Two Parts Murder: A Book Review of “The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York” by Deborah Blum

The canonical motto in Toxicology is ‘the dose makes the poison.’ That is, enough of anything can kill you. But, as Deborah Blum notes in the end of her book, “poison by water doesn’t unnerve us. The real scare comes from those elements and compounds whose toxicity is measured in drips and drops.” In The…

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Book Review: “Coalescent”, by Stephen Baxter

This is not just one book, but loosely interconnected, two and a bit – a historical novel, a biological thriller and a science fiction short story – under one cover. The historical novel is about a girl growing up in Britain in the 5th century A.D., while the Roman rule disintegrates. Now, I am not…

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Book Review: ‘The Selfish Gene’, by Richard Dawkins

A few popular science books rise above the genre and become pop-stars of the book world – bestsellers. Even fewer among them change public discourse and, finally, culture. The Selfish Gene (TSG) by Richard Dawkins is one of these rare books. Published in 1976, TSG is not only still in print, but according to the…

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Book Review: “The Social Conquest of Earth”, by E.O. Wilson

E.O. Wilson is a biologist who has authored many titles, ranging from accounts of his personal field research on ant colonies to general titles on evolutionary biology and biodiversity. I picked up the “The Social Conquest of Earth” because I had enjoyed several chapters from his book “The Diversity of Life”, a poetic and informative…

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Book Review: “The Double Helix”, by James Watson

Is it just me, or are there not many well-written scientific memoirs around? Even the words “scientific memoir” brings up an image of a long and boring book. There are a lot of good books written about scientists, but not by scientists. Maybe it’s because the scientists are trained to write logically, objectively and dispassionately:…

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Science: Why Do We Do it?

Five months ago, I pranced into the office of a renowned research institution wide-eyed and full of hope. I was about to begin my MSc project, and nothing could bring me down. I no longer considered myself a scientist in the making, but a fully formed academic. It was with great pride that I labelled…

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