Friday Recommended Reads #10


This story was buried off the front page of my local paper, but did you hear about the discovery that when Yasser Arafat died in 2004 it was an assassination by Polonium radiation poisoning? The use of Polonium as a murder weapon wasn’t described publicly until a couple years later, when a KGB agent was killed this way in London.

Grandma got STEM. That’s what the site is called.

One hundred years ago this week, one of my heroes died: Alfred Russell Wallace. While science in the Victorian era was mostly the province of wealthy men, Wallace was a notable outlier. Whether you know the story of his remarkable life or not, I predict that any biologist will greatly enjoy this account told through superb paper puppetry. Nobody can go wrong picking up The Malay Archipelago and giving it thorough read.

Holy moly. The Australian government is seriously gutting its research labs.

You ever read a really cool science story in the news that sounds so awesome that it’s hard to believe? The latest one is about a fly with scary-looking critters patterned on its wings – believable but awesome. All kinds of people got duped but Morgan Jackson knows enough about flies that he looked at the same set of facts, got the story right, and then retold the story with high class.

Science never gets better than when you find out you’re wrong. Here’s a great story about that from Alan Townsend.

I’m loving this post by Chris Buddle about how he has his students do the teaching.

It’s wonderful to get to know undergraduates in my department. But boy howdy, it sure is crass when they try to buddy up with me with purpose of cultivating a letter of recommendation. Supporting students with letters is both my duty and my pleasure, but I want my relationships to be genuine. A recommendation letter should emerge as a natural by-product of a faculty-student relationship, rather than be the primary purpose of the relationship. Please do not regard your relations with people as mere tools for your own ends.

Do you know a young affluent person of privilege that is interested in using their position to facilitate positive social change? There are are a huge number of 1% kids that disdain the heritable inequity in their midst, but in their social realm might not feel empowered to realize all of the good things that they can do. In a comment on Wednesday’s post, Lirael shared a link to Resource Generation, which provides education and means for action. I spent some time on this site. it’s pretty cool.

By the way, if you’re looking for a fun read with or for your kid, check out the 2010 Newbery Winner When You Reach Me, which I read this summer. There are a number of elements of A Prayer for Owen Meany, if you’re a John Irving kind of person.

Have a great weekend – feel free to share more links in the comments.

5 thoughts on “Friday Recommended Reads #10

  1. That Alfred Russel Wallace video is incredible! There’s also a great homage to him here:

  2. I love When You Reach Me! Liar and Spy by the same author is also good. Have you read The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate? It is a great Newberry book about a budding young naturalist at the end of the 19th century who is inspired by Darwin and her Grandpa.

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