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The Best Science Writing Online 2012 Paperback – September 18, 2012

ISBN-13: 978-0374533342 ISBN-10: 0374533342

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Product Details

  • Series: Best Science Writing Online
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Scientific American / Farrar, Straus and Giroux (September 18, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374533342
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374533342
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #164,766 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"[The Best Science Writing Online 2012] is full—stuffed—with excellent science writing, more than enough to keep you reading . . . Buy it. It is worth your time." —Wired Science Blogs

"A collection of fun and interesting science, from online writers around the world." —The Guardian (blog)

"[A] potent mix of critical analyses, witty personal reflections, absorbing feature profiles, illuminating commentary on the intersection of science and social policy, and even long-form investigative journalism, covering everything from the last space shuttle launch to fluid dynamics to gender politics." —Brain Pickings

"A collection of solid science writing celebrating a diversity of topics, writer credentials and styles. Proof that science writing online is healthy and growing. For naive surfers, an anthology like this will help separate the wheat from the chaff."—Kirkus

Praise for previous editions:

“[C]onsistently picks the best of the best blogs. Read it.” —Ivan Oransky, MD, Executive Editor, Reuters Health and Blogger, Embargo Watch and Retraction Watch 

“This is the best of the science blogosphere 2010, selected by experts, and features something for anyone and everyone curious about the natural world.” —Sheril Kirshenbaum, author of The Science of Kissing and Discover’s The Intersection blog 

“Some of the smartest, best informed, and—yes—most entertaining writing about science today can be found in the vibrant community of science bloggers. Each year [the] series performs an invaluable service by pulling together some of the highlights—proof that the best blog posts can and should be savored long after they’ve scrolled off the bottom of the screen.” —Scott Rosenberg, author of Say Everything and Dreaming in Code, and co-founder of

“In each post I found honesty, passion, imagination, curiosity and creativity shining through in a way that the disinterested ‘article mill’ of traditional journalism is rarely able to match.” —Al Dove, scientist and blogger

“A fun, enlightening read that’s bound to have a little something for everybody who loves science.” —Maggie Koerth-Baker, “If you are overwhelmed by the surge in science-related blogging and don’t know where to start, then this compilation may help you steer a course through the sea of perspectives on offer—or inspire you to start a blog yourself.” —Nature 

About the Author

Bora Zivkovic is the editor of the blog network at Scientific American and organizes the globally renowned Science-Online events. He lives in Pittsboro, North Carolina. Jennifer Ouellette is the author of The Calculus Diaries and other titles, and maintains the Cocktail Party Physics blog. She lives in Los Angeles, California.

More About the Author

I'm an English major turned science writer, through serendipitous accident. It's been a wild ride since I first dipped a toe into physics, and I wouldn't have it any other way. I've written articles about molecular mixology, eggshell physics, black holes, the game theory of poker, pseudoscience, fractal patterns in the paintings of Jackson Pollock, the science of yodeling, and the acoustics of Mayan pyramids, among other colorful topics, for places like The Washington Post, Smithsonian, Slate, Mental Floss, New Scientist, Discover, Salon, and Nature. I maintain a science-and-culture blog at Scientific American called Cocktail Party Physics. The latter is my "writers laboratory," where I explore new topics and ways to communicate science. That's also how I met my husband, Caltech cosmologist Sean M. Carroll, author of the fabulous "The Particle at the End of the Universe" and "From Eternity To Here: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time").

I've written four popular science books, aimed at readers like me (non-specialists who appreciate stories with their science). The most recent is "Me, Myself and Why: Searching for the Science of Self," detailing my quest to illuminate everything that goes into shaping the people we become. Other books: "The Calculus Diaries : How Math Can Help You Lose Weight, Win in Vegas, and Survive a Zombie Apocalypse;" "The Physics of the Buffyverse"; and "Black Bodies and Quantum Cats: Tales from the Annals of Physics." I also edited the 2012 anthology "The Best Online Science Writing."

From November 2008 through October 2010, I was director of the National Academy of Sciences' program, The Science & Entertainment Exchange, founded to foster creative collaborations between scientists and the entertainment industry: I like to think I made a difference, but I also got to meet Ridley Scott. So that's a win-win in my book.

You can read more about me at my Website:, and at my blog:

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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See all 10 customer reviews
I buy the current issue of this book every year.
T. Fraley
Vast collection of amazing topics distilled and digested so a layperson can understand it.
K from Baltimore
This collection offers variety and excellent writing.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By John Kwok HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on September 18, 2012
Format: Paperback
The scientific blogosphere has died. The scientific blogosphere lives. "The Best Science Writing Online 2012 (Open Laboratory)" is an amazing, quite eclectic, collection of science writing, covering everything from our current understanding of genomic data in molecular biology, to the intricacies of human behavior, and even the likelihood that there are some elementary particles in physics capable of exceeding the speed of light. Series editor Bora Zivkovic, Scientific American's blog editor, and editor Jennifer Ouellette have done a masterful job, along with their assorted collaborators, in sifting through some of the best science writing that's available now on the scientific blogosphere, from new bloggers to notable ones like P Z Myers, Chad Orzel and Brian Switek and highly regarded science journalists John Rennie (former Scientific American publisher), Carl Zimmer and Ed Yong. There's a fine introductory essay on the current state of the scientific blogosphere from Jennifer Ouellette, who notes that reports of its demise are quite premature to say the least. Former vertebrate paleontologist - now science writer and blogger - Brian Switek - well known for his Laelaps blog and his book "Written in Stone: Evolution, the Fossil Record and Our Place in Nature" - delves through fact and mythology regarding the Dodo, the "poster child of extinction", in a memorable essay ("The Dodo is Dead, Long Live The Dodo!") possessed of superb literary quality comparable with anything written by Richard Dawkins and Stephen Jay Gould.Read more ›
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By C. M. Stahl on October 20, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Best Science Writing Online 2012 edited by Bora Zivkovic and Jennifer Ouellette. New York, Scientific American/FSG, 2012 328 pp. ISBN: 978-0-374-53334-2

Any compilation of independent stories is going to have some unevenness in terms of style and substance. Except this one. In this case the editors deserve kudus for extracting such a high level of writing. The individual authors likewise merit praise for their own writing. Out of the fifty one articles there was not a lousy one amongst them.

Fortunately for the reader not one of the articles was written by Malcolm Gladwell or Oliver Sachs. These were written for the most part writing for smallish audiences. There are a few bigger names including Carl Zimmer, Ann Finkbeiner or PZ Myers but most were authors that were not recognizable to me...until now.
The book has an interesting history. It was born out of an effort to gather blogs, review and select the best ones and publish a book of them. In a time when there are ever advancing technologies used in place of simple paper books that one opens and holds on their lap while they read downloaded books, this effort is the reverse. It takes the blogosphere to print. It is the sixth time they have done it and the first time I was aware of it. Of course my recognition of it came from reading a blog.

Most anyone who is reading this recognizes that the internet is loaded with lies, folklore and nonsense. They also realize that it can be a very fruitful place to get information. There is a lot of personal time spent on this computer searching for information and the results are typically science pages that link to blogs. Blogs link to other blogs and so on it goes.

Recently I went to Google to find out about Oxbow Lake in Maryland.
Read more ›
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By K from Baltimore on December 4, 2012
Format: Paperback
Excellent collection of the works of great minds, selected carefully.
Vast collection of amazing topics distilled and digested so a layperson can understand it.
One gets quite a bit of cerebral euphoria reading these pieces... like cocaine in print form. Addictive.
Cannot wait for 2013.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A. Corbin on November 4, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The best & most interesting writing on science. Most stories are written for anyone with an interest in science or scientific methodology.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Something for everyone. The stories are short enough that you get a quick survey of the subject matter. And, I did not feel guilty about skipping those that "just were not doing it for me". Great material for reading on a plane!
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