Latest Book Reviews

The Power of Palindromes

The powerful new technology known as CRISPR lets researchers edit the book of life. Rhea Datta champions its medical and agricultural uses, but wonders if we can trust science and business to act in humanity’s best interests.

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Molecular Machinations

The new age of genetic testing is long on information, Evelyn Litwinoff finds, but still short on knowledge.

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That Special Feeling… Is More Complicated Than You Think

Aaron Katzman gets in touch with his (and everyone else's) emotions.

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When Planets Go Rogue

Criseyda Martinez goes on an intragalactic field trip.

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What We Talk About When We Talk About Death

What will your family do with you when you die? "Modern Death" gives Anastasia-Maria Zavitsanou a new perspective.

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When America Met Darwin

Darwin's "On the Origin of Species" arrived in an America poised for civil war. Angelika Manhart explores its impact.

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Wee Are Family

A microbial history of the world enchants Margret Veltman.

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Illustration by Angelika Manhart

This Scientific Life

Our contributors hail from all over the sciences — and all over the world. We’ll share what brought us to science, why we stay, and what makes us (occasionally) want to run away. There will be eureka moments, scientific screw-ups, advice to youngsters, peers, and elders, as well as whimsical stories about space exploration, fruit fly cognition, and how a neuron can live its best life.

I knew I wanted to be a scientist when…

Wrong Turn

By Amy Marshall-Colon

After a week of growing mold on bread and germinating grass seed in two-liter bottles, earth sciences week at my grade school in West Virginia culminated in a day of environmentally themed activities and lessons on how to “Give a Hoot and Not Pollute.” For the big finale, all us kids wrote Earth-friendly suggestions on […]

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I knew I wanted to be a scientist when…

Orgami in the Void

By Jennifer E. Padilla

There was a time when I had nothing left to lose in my scientific career. I had almost nothing to show for three years of postdoctoral research at Caltech, and I had lost my father, my inspiration in science, during that time. Without a good endorsement from my postdoctoral advisor, I had few options. It […]

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I knew I wanted to be a scientist when…

Red Shoes

By Xiangbin Teng

My red shoes cost me ninety dollars. I can’t afford more expensive shoes as a graduate student. My Chinese friend Shawn bought a pair of black shoes after he quit graduate school and found a job in Wall Street, four hundred dollars a pair. We used to take the train back to Newport after long […]

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I knew I wanted to be a scientist when…

Horseshoe Crabs and Clovers

By Sandra Schnakenberg

My parents didn’t believe in keeping up with the Jones’. We didn’t have the latest and greatest toys or gadgets. My parents insisted that my siblings and I play outdoors. I am much older than my brother and sister, which meant that I spent a lot of time outside, doing my own thing. My own […]

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I knew I wanted to be a scientist when…

Dropping Out

By Tim Currier

A waiting room. House plants in need of watering, stacks of two year-old magazines, water cooler in the corner. Clock ticking furiously on the wall. Why are waiting room clocks always so loud? A middle-aged woman with soft features and reddish-brown hair pokes her head out of an office door. “Tim?” she asks. “Yeah, that’s […]

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