I spend a lot of time on my computer; most of my day at work, a few hours when I get home, and every weekend writing this blog and working. Like everyone else, I have high hopes that I'll focus and power through the day without surfing the web, but I fail miserably every time. Besides my go-to fluffy news and fun sites (Slate, Not Always Working, Dooce), I try, at the very least, to stay on topic and look at science-related website. Often this means browsing the Table of Contents for hardcore science journals like Nature, Science or Cell, but more often lately, I'm looking at interesting general science websites with stories posted by my scientist friends on Facebook or Twitter. I realize that you, my readers, may not have hundreds of scientist friends regularly sharing science posts, links and websites with you over social media, so I'll share some today. Here are some fun websites that I think you might enjoy.
Some people wait all year to find out who gets nominated for the Academy Awards and they throw Oscar parties to see who won. As stereotypical as it may sound, I have that level of excitement for the Nobel Prize announcements. The Nobel website is great, but since I'm guessing you aren't as obsessed with this yearly event as I am, I'm going to suggest the Ig Nobel Award website instead! Modeled after the Noble Prizes, these awards highlight improbable research that also makes you think. For example, this year the Ig Nobel for Medicine went to researchers in India for treating "uncontrollable" nosebleeds, using the method of nasal-packing-with-strips-of-cured-pork (aka bacon). REALLY FUNNY!
Technically Radiolab is a podcast on NPR, but they do have a website with archives of their podcasts. The two hosts Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich are amazing storytellers who focus each of their episodes on a single topic like Sleep or Speed. What's so creative is how they use sound throughout their stories to bring the science to life. I saw them speak about science communication at a meeting, and they ended their presentation with a video that was created based on their episode about Death call Moments. Watch it. It's incredible.
Wired is a magazine for nerds, and since I'm a total nerd, I love it. What I like the most is that they weave an interesting story without forgoing the important details when dealing with complicated scientific topics, for example, the recent article on the genome editing system CRISPR. I know a lot about CRISPR and genome editing, and I didn't feel like they watered the topic down, but it was still accessible to a non-scientific audience.
One of a few popular science magazines, this is the only one that I look at regularly The articles are fun to read plus in every issue they have a profile of a scientist, which I think is a pretty great way to help people get to know who scientists are as people. Also, in honor of Jon Stewart leaving the "Daily Show" (*sigh*), they posted the Top 10 list of best Science Moments from the show. What's better than that for "Daily Show" withdrawal?
I love the science section of The New York Times. Matt Ridley (who wrote one of my book club choices Genome), Carl Zimmer and Gina Kolata are only three of many fabulous science journalists who take the time to research a story extraordinarily well providing a real depth and understanding in their pieces.
I know that I said that Nature and Science are hardcore science-for-scientists website, but their News sections hit on the top stories of the week and are more accessible than the science articles. They also compile in-depth special sections, like the recent "Ebola: Did we Learn?" that has articles about the new ebola vaccine, what we learned from this ebola pandemic, and how we might respond better next time.
Why did I choose these websites and not others? Mostly because they were the first that came to mind. There are thousands of others, and many are listed on the sidebar of this blog. I will also post lists like this every so often so you can get more info about some of these sites. And please share in the comments your favorite science websites!
Dr. Cathy Seiler is the Program Manager for the tissue biorepository at St. Joseph's Hospital and Barrow Neurological Institute. She has her BA in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Boston University and PhD in the Biological Sciences from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Her research and teaching focuses on genetics, cancer, and personalized medicine. Find her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/thingsitellmymom