Students at the Johns Hopkins University program have launched a new science writing blog called The Sieve. The blog explores recently published studies, how science mixes with culture, and the many things known to science that you might not have heard of. Students are already posting regularly on a rich assortment of topics:
Sara Bloom Leeds is a jack-of-all-trades who worked in various science fields before discovering a love of writing about it all, though she has a particular interest in animals and medicine. She recently wrote about Caesarean sections for pets, and used her experience as a vet tech to explain why doctors have to toss newborn puppies through the air to their assistants:
If the catchers get too close, they could run the risk of contaminating the doctor, as well as the surgical table and equipment if they were to accidentally touch anything. This could lead to the mother developing a dangerous infection. The doctor gently tosses the newborns one by one, which is only the distance of a few feet at most, in order to avoid this.
Jay R. Thompson (@AstroJaybird) spent four years as a news reporter before joining the program. Jay is remarkably well-organized, quirky and harbors a childlike awe for nature. His contributions include an explanation of why you can often spot birds of prey perched alongside major highways:
For the next few hours, we saw these same birds every five to 30 minutes. On I-94, the birds perched on street lamps near Michigan City and Gary. On I-65, we saw them perched atop billboards. At least twice, we saw two together on a tree. They were brown, with white breast-feathers.
Sean Treacy (@SeanWTreacy) was a journalist at several newspapers and fell in love with science news stories, leading him to Hopkins to develop and sharpen his science writing. He has written about the trouble with the medical term “blood thinners” and the science of the 19th-century removal of a 100-mile-long log jam called The Great Raft:
It’s unknown how old it was, but it was almost certainly caused by the natural migration of the river. Rivers are not the motionless, changeless squiggly lines that you see on maps. They shift across their floodplains, gradually, like a giant worm that takes millennia to squirm. Often, they even sever some of their curves and bends, leaving behind small lakes that look like a loop snipped off a length of ribbon.
Emily Underwood (@em_underwood) has years of writing and editing experience and is interested in an unruly assortment of topics, including the environment, education, and neuroscience. She’s written on the blog about the effect of psychological drugs on fish and the stories told by California river guides:
But it is also a time-honored tradition among river guides to exaggerate, brag, lie, and talk nonsense when telling stories — especially when talking to rafting customers. “How deep is the river?,” a curious guest might ask. “At least 1000 feet,” or, “chest high on a duck,” his guide will slyly answer. Based on the lies of river guides, I grew up half-believing that the white quartz veins in the river canyon’s granite boulders were actually fossilized pterodactyl poop.
I am looking forward to reading their future work!