Spec Tech: In Darwin’s Footsteps

Over the years, I have contributed to several anthologies that ape the form of a scientific compendium. The first of these, and one that undoubtedly influenced subsequent anthologies of a similar nature, was THE THACKERY T. LAMBSHEAD POCKET GUIDE TO ECCENTRIC AND DISCREDITED DISEASES, edited by Jeff VanderMeer and Mark Roberts. More recently I contributed…… Continue reading Spec Tech: In Darwin’s Footsteps

Spec Tech: Talking to Insects

I enjoyed Chris Doty’s August 26 blog on Linguistic Quirkiness. In that spirit, and coming from my own biological bent, I’d like to consider some zoological approaches to communication. No, I’m not going to interrogate the whole animal world here, but restrict myself to just a couple of insects. I want to consider how insects…… Continue reading Spec Tech: Talking to Insects

Spec Tech: Your Protagonist Wants Sleeves: Fashion in F&SF

Most clothes are uncomfortable, cumbersome, and dangerous, and can really make your characters’ lives miserable.  As a writer, this is an underused resource for inflicting pain and suffering upon your poor, hapless protagonists. Unless manufactured on machines by cotton produced on industrial farms and sewn en masse by underpaid illegal laborers, clothing is expensive. For…… Continue reading Spec Tech: Your Protagonist Wants Sleeves: Fashion in F&SF

Spec Tech: Why Wolves are Like Chocolate Chip Cookies

Short answer: Because they’re both awesome. Long answer: When I was a teenager, I read a lot of books about wolves, which invariably started out, “Wolves are not the monstrous beasts of legend, but interesting and misunderstood social animals.”  These pro-wolf books would go on about how wolves really don’t kill people, and they’re not…… Continue reading Spec Tech: Why Wolves are Like Chocolate Chip Cookies

Spec Tech: The Lone Scientist (Not)

Last month I discovered this old paperback on a bookshelf in my parents’ house: SCIENCE AND THE MORAL LIFE by Max Otto, a posthumous collection of his philosophical works published in 1949. I skimmed through the book and latched onto a verbal nugget that helped inspire this week’s blog. In the essay, “The Scientific Method…… Continue reading Spec Tech: The Lone Scientist (Not)

Spec Tech: The Bleeding Edge

There’s the cutting edge, as in cutting edge research or cutting edge technology. That always sounds pretty cool. But there’s also the bleeding edge. I think I first heard this term about fifteen years ago, from my friend Todd Richmond, who at the time was engaged in post-doctoral research using DNA microarrays. Microarrays, for you…… Continue reading Spec Tech: The Bleeding Edge