Archives‎ > ‎

2010

HTDYOC on io9 (November 17, 2010)
io9, the science fiction/futurist website just posted a small excerpt from HTDYOC. It's been less than a day and there's already tons of comments. Love it.


A Public Service Announcement (September 22, 2010)
This may be about three years too late, but it has been brought to my attention that some pretty moronic things were said on the Bill O'Reilly show back in 2007. While this does not necessarily surprise me, these moronic statements were in reference to biotechnology, so I feel obligated to comment. In an interview with O'Reilly in late 2007, Christine O'Donnell (currently a Republican Party senatorial candidate) decided to make bold statements about things she knows nothing about. Not to be outdone, O'Reilly takes the opportunity to make himself look equally silly. See for yourself:

Cloning, as explained by the uninformed

Let's recap, shall we?

1) O'Donnell claims that "American scientific companies are cross-breeding humans and animals and coming up with mice with fully functioning human brains." Nope. This is absolutely not happening. And if it was, those mice would have some ridiculously enormous heads.

2) O'Donell is also worried because she believes that "by their own admission, the group that clones the monkey, they proudly stated that this is what's going to lead them to human cloning." What? Who stated that? If anything, this was probably in the context of therapeutic cloning of embryonic stem cells, not complete "human cloning." And even if someone in one of these groups was talking about cloning an entire person, are we now taking every random crackpot statement at face value? Shall I go fashion a hat from aluminum foil because, by his own admission, the crazy guy outside the Starbucks proudly stated that Martians are bombarding us with mind-controlling gamma rays?

3) O'Reilly (apparently feeling left out) decides to join in on the let's-state-some-unsubstantiated-claims-as-fact party declaring, "Everybody knows that scientists have enough knowledge to clone a human being if they wanted to." Really? Everybody knows that? Based on what, exactly? I find it more than a little frightening that a reporter with so much influence is allowed to say whatever he feels like with apparently little or no fact checking.

4) And yet, O'Reilly almost redeems himself, admitting that "for those of us who aren't in the medical field, doctor, it is terribly confusing." Whoa... he's absolutely right. It can be really confusing. All the more reason to make sure you know what you're talking about before you start spewing wild fallacies, no? Except he immediately goes on to say, "There's no evidence that shows [successful stem cell therapies] will ever happen." Gah! Yes there is! Go read any number of peer reviewed bioscience journals from the past decade and you will find lots of evidence that stem cells have enormous therapeutic potential, and that researchers are constantly striving to make such therapies safe and effective for eventual clinical use. This is like arguing that the Wright brothers should have stuck to walking because there was no evidence that flight was possible... except for birds... and the laws of physics.

What really irks me is that the scientific expert barely says anything while the most egregious parts of this exchange are occurring. In response to O'Donnell's human-brained mouse comment, the doctor responds only with, "That's an exaggeration." I understand that O'Reilly is an expert at talking over his guests, but this was the good doctor's chance to shine.

The bottom line is (and I can't stress this enough) do not listen to Bill O'Reilly or Christine O'Donnell when it comes to anything scientific and especially when it comes to cloning.

Editor's note: if Bill O'Reilly can show me where the "Monkey Realm" is located, I would love to see it.


Imagine Magazine interview (September 21, 2010)
Johns Hopkins University publishes a semi-regular periodical, titled Imagine Magazine, with the goal of inspiring young adults in a wide array of academic fields. The newest issue is all about biotechnology, and there's a two-page spread featuring an interview with yours truly (and my co-author, Terry, of course). This was a fun one to put together and I hope it sparks a few young minds toward a biotech degree.


Discover Magazine review (September 7, 2010)
I just stumbled across a review of Clone in Discover Magazine's online blog and thought I'd share, if only because I take the following as an enormous compliment: "If you ever wanted to learn more about cloning and biotechnology without having to crack open a textbook or highbrow journal, you won’t find a more compact and enjoyable read." Thanks Jeremy, that's exactly what we were aiming for.


HTDYOC on NPR (July 14, 2010)
I wrote that title and immediately realized how odd it looks in acronym form. For the uninitiated, that's "How to Defeat Your Own Clone on National Public Radio." A new article on NPR.org has Clone listed as one of the five best books of the summer. Apart from a short blurb in Nature, this is easily the best recognition we've received so far, even if they did spell my name wrong... C'mon NPR, it's right there on the cover image. Anyway, my fingers are crossed that this will eventually lead to an interview on Fresh Air or Science Friday, but regardless, it's still very cool.

UPDATE: Just after the NPR article was published, my co-author noted that our Amazon sales rank briefly shot up to #1 in the sub-sub-sub category of Books > Entertainment > Humor > Science&Scientists, thus finally supplanting "How to Teach Physics to Your Dog" from the top spot. Take that, dog physics!


Win a free book! Again! (June 10, 2010)
My newly acquired cyber-friend and scientist extraordinaire, Joanne Manaster, is putting on a web contest to encourage youth science reading. The rules are simple: Read a non-fiction science book, make a video about what you've read, and post it online according to the contest rules (kids and teens are eligible in two different contests according to the links below). Not only can you win one of several fabulous prizes - including a signed copy of How to Defeat Your Own Clone - but you'll be encouraging science reading and education for youngsters everywhere. Enter the contest, or at the very least spread the word. Everyone deserves to read a good, fun science book, and summer is the perfect time.

Official contest details
Kids - ages 8-12: www.kidsreadscience.org
Teens - ages 13-18: www.teensreadscience.org


Win a free book! (June 10, 2010)
Grasping for the Wind has a couple new Clone-related features, including a review by John Ottinger III and a subsequent interview with me and Terry. At the end of the interview, we've proposed a question to you, the readers. Submit the best answer, and you'll win a shiny new autographed copy of How to Defeat Your Own Clone. Good luck!

UPDATE (July 1, 2010): And the winner is [drum roll...] Mariam for her excellent answer (scroll down to the comments) including a not-so-subtle Simpson's reference and choice use of the word "symbiotic." Congratulations Mariam! Your signed book is on its way.


Radio interview on America's Morning News (May 14, 2010)
We finally got our first radio interview! Okay, so "we" just means me, because they could only interview one of us over the phone. And yeah, it was recorded live at 3:30 in the morning. But hey, everyone's gotta start somewhere.

HTDYOC - "America's Morning News" Interview


Keep in mind that that I had to set my alarm for 3:20 am just to wake up for this interview, and I gave it in my pajamas over a cell phone, so if I don't seem like my usual chipper self, well, you can probably understand why.


One of the strangest "How-To" books? Of course it is. (May 10, 2010)
Okay, so "Clone" didn't actually make the list as written, but if you scroll all the way down to the bottom, it's a suggested addition by one of the readers. Can't say I disagree. I mean, is "being Pope" really stranger than defeating your own clone?


I think not. Besides, as my co-author says, the answer to the above book is simple: clone the current Pope. We've got this one covered.


How to collaborate with a co-writer (Apr. 19, 2010)
Writing with a partner can be an interesting task, particularly when it comes to meshing creative styles or working through disagreements. Having just completed a co-authored book, Terry and I were asked to share some of our experiences. If you're considering writing with a partner, this article may provide some useful insights.


Amazon.com recommends you buy this completely random thing (Apr. 14, 2010)
I'm an avid online shopper, so I'm used to seeing a visual barrage of recommended products littering my Amazon homepage ("We noticed that you recently purchased a cheese grater. Wouldn't you also like some wine glasses? Or a new set of oyster forks? Or another, more expensive cheese grater?"). I had hoped that a purchase of How to Defeat Your Clone might result in recommendations such as Richard Dawkins' The Selfish Gene, a home chemistry kit, or perhaps a hovercraft. Instead, we got this:


Which begs the obvious question, "What does this say about our readership?" I can only respond, "They clearly enjoy the finer things in life. Or maybe our book made them sleepy." I seriously, seriously hope it's the former.


"Also Notable" (Apr. 14, 2010)
It's not every day that Scientific American reviews the book you just wrote. In fact, it's so not every day, that for me, it's not any day at all. But they did consider How to Defeat Your Own Clone to be "Also Notable" in the March 2010 issue.


You'll hear no complaints from me.


Book reading video (Apr. 12, 2010)
If you didn't catch it before, the video of the book reading event at Diesel is now up on Hulu as well. The phenomenon spreads...


"Published" in Nature (Apr. 6, 2010)
For the those who don't follow the peer-reviewed scientific literature, Nature is one of the most prestigious academic journals in existence, particularly for those of us working in the Life Sciences. To have an article published in said journal is considered to be one of the more impressive accomplishments a scientist such as myself can achieve; so impressive that it can often define a career. Sadly, this is not one of those occasions, but April's issue of Nature does include a short snippet about How to Defeat Your Own Clone, and frankly, that's probably as close as I'll ever get. So I'll take it.


Book reading/signing
 (Mar. 12, 2010)
For those in the San Francisco area, we'll be holding a second book reading/signing for Clone. The event will be at Booksmith on Wed., April 7 at 7:30 pm.


Book reading video
 (Mar. 12, 2010)
If you missed the book reading/signing event at Diesel bookstore, you can now watch the entire thing online. Thanks to FORA.tv for providing the excellent video!


WonderCon
 (Mar. 8, 2010)
Terry and I will be appearing at this year's WonderCon (a movie and comic book convention) in San Francisco on Friday, April 2 from 4:30-5:30 pm, where we'll be discussing "Real Science in SciFi." If you're in the bay area, come check us out.


Interview (Mar. 3, 2010)
How to Defeat Your Own Clone has been on bookstore shelves for a little over a week now, and it's starting to get some buzz on the web. Most notably, Anneli Rufus of the East Bay Express just interviewed me to get the inside scoop on this scary thing we call "biotechnology." Check out the full story.


Book reading/signing (Jan. 21, 2010)
The first official book signing event for How to Defeat Your Own Clone has been scheduled! Terry and I will be at Diesel Bookstore in Oakland, CA on Sunday, March 7 at 3:00 pm. Come support us, get a signed copy of the book, or just get out of your house for a few hours. Full details here.