Carl Zimmer’s New Book

A Science Writer worth reading – Case

Note from Carl Zimmer;

I just wanted to let everyone know that at long last my sixth book publishes today. It’s called Microcosm: E. coli and the New Science of Life. You’ll recognize it at your local bookstore by the eerie glowing Petri dish on the cover. (And if you prefer Amazon, here’s the link: )
Microcosm is about what it means to be alive. Are there rules that all living things must obey? Is death inevitable? If we rewound the tape of life and let evolution run a second time, would it end up like the original? To explore these questions, I’ve written an (un)natural history of E. coli. Scientists have been earning Nobel Prizes for decades now by poking and prodding this microbe, and their work is coalescing into an extraordinary portrait of a living thing. And today, with engineered E. coli spewing out everything from insulin to jet fuel, the microbe is redefining the boundaries of life itself.
Publisher’s Weekly praises MIcrocosm for its “elegant, even poetic prose,” calling it “essential reading.”
You can find an excerpt at my web site:
Also, if you live around Boston, Chicago, LA, Madison CT, New York, Portland OR, Seattle, or San Francisco, I hope you can come to one of my Microcosm talks. The details of my book tour are here:
Thanks for putting up with a mass mailing. I hope you enjoy the book. (And please pass on the word to anyone who might be interested in it.)
Best wishes,
Carl Zimmer

Public Lecture: In Search of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker

Public Lecture: Vanishing Habitat, Vanishing Species: In Search of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker

Scott Curtis & Eric Ward, Reference librarians Friday, April 18, 2008 3 p.m.  Linda Hall Library Auditorium

What do you get when two reference librarians travel to the Big Woods of Arkansas in search of a lost bird? Come to Linda Hall Library’s Auditorium on Friday, April 18 and find out! From January 23-27, 2008, Eric Ward and Scott Curtis traveled to one of the few remaining hardwood bottomland swamp environments in the United States in a quest to make a verifiable sighting of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker. The Ivory-billed, known as the “Lord God Bird,” was the largest woodpecker in North America – however, it was presumed extinct due to its last confirmed sightings being six decades ago. Then, in 2004, the birding community was shaken by accounts of an Ivory-billed sighting in Bayou de View, Arkansas. Every year since then, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology has sponsored efforts in the Big Woods to bring back conclusive evidence of the continued survival of this great bird. No undisputable evidence has surfaced….yet. Were Eric and Scott successful? How many different bird species can you see in an Arkansas swamp in January? Enjoy an afternoon of discussion on bird watching, wild habitat, and the quality of Mexican food in a small Arkansas town. 

The event is free and open to the public. To RSVP, call (816) 926-8753.

Linda Hall Library Discussion of “At the Water’s Edge

Hello to all with an interest in attending the Periodic Round Table Book
discussion on April 7th. We will be discussing the book, At the Water’s
Edge: fish with fingers, whales with legs, and how life came ashore and
then went back to the sea by Carl Zimmer. It is a fascinating
explanation of two of the most dramatic evolutionary transitions in the
history of life on Earth. I hope that you are enjoying the book as much
as I am.

If you’d like to learn about what has been discovered since the book was
published, check out Carl Zimmer’s suggested articles from his blog.
Some relevant articles are listed, along with additional links, on a web
page that we’ve prepared about the book.

I am developing a list of potential discussion questions. If this list
will be sent to those who’ve registered a few days before the
discussion. If you have some questions that you’d like added to this
list, let me know.

Most of Zimmer’s chapters are quite readable individually. For those
without time to read the whole book, I recommend reading chapters 1 and
2 to learn more about how land animals evolved from fish or chapters 5,
6 and 7 for an introduction to the return of mammals to the sea.

For more information:

Jenny Bruenger
Reference Librarian
Linda Hall Library of Science, Engineering & Technology
5109 Cherry St., Kansas City, MO 64110
816.926.8725 –
fax: (816) 926-8782

Here’s direct link to the Linda Hall library web page on the round table: 

Podcast on the Evolution of Morality

Podcast on the Evolution of Morality

Podcast_2 While moral judgment is a trait found in all cultures, there is wide variation among moral systems. In this podcast segment, Science correspondent John Bohannon moderates a panel discussion on evolutionary and psychological perspectives on moral judgment. The panelists were Marc Hauser from Harvard University, David Wilson from Binghamton University, Samuel Bowles from the Sante Fe Institute, and Judith Smetana from the University of Rochester.

Listen to the discussion here.

Kansas Winter Bird Feeder Survey 2008

The Kansas Winter Bird Feeder Survey period for January 2008 is from Thursday, January 10th, through Sunday, January 10th. You may want to start your feeding birds in December or as soon as possible.  This is a great project for OWLS school sites or it can be done by students and their parents at home.  The school based project can be assessed through the Internet at: Citizens wanting to participate from home can access information at The Winter Bird Feeder Survey began as a cooperative effort between the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks and the Kansas Ornithological Society, to census birds at feeders throughout Kansas. The survey started in Kansas, January of 1988. During the 2002 survey the project expanded to anyone in the United States who would like to participate. Data is gathered by hundreds of volunteers, who watch their feeders and count birds on two, of four designated days, that visit their backyards or school feeders, in January of each year. The Online Winter Bird Feeder Survey is collaboration between the PathFinder Science and the Kansas Wildlife and Parks and collaborative network of students, teachers, volunteers and researchers dedicated to the study of the birds. The data collected on this project is invaluable to wildlife planners and researchers. The data and maps are also available to anyone who is just interested in the natural world. To begin, take a look at the information on bird watching. How to count the birds during the survey can be found at; Use the data form available at the site to record your birds then after the survey submit your data online at: All project information can be found on the site at  including a suggestion for a feed preference research study.Suggestions – it is really great if you are counting birds at school, to try to get a local Audubon member (perhaps a parent or retired person) to work with the student observers on their identification.This is also a great activity to have students and parents to do at home on Saturday and Sunday.  If you do this then each student should enter their home address information for the feeder location.We are currently working on the maps and old data with bird survey data that goes back to 1988!