I’ve always felt a bit weird about scientific writing. I certainly see the point, and I understand why it’s important. Scientific writing has an objective precision that you need when presenting research and experimental techniques to a peer-reviewing audience. It’s just dreadfully boring to read, is all. It’s fun in exactly the same way reading your cell phone manual is fun: you slog through it so that afterwards you can come up to your buddy and go “Hey, look what I just found out I can do!” as you make the phone play Outkast’s “Hey Ya” or you explosively ignite a thermite reaction.
There are plenty of good popular science and technology writers out there. The entire journalistic collective of Wired magazine is a particular favorite of mine, for example, and the annual The Best American Science Writing [insert year here] collections are great places to start. Maybe I’m not looking in the right places (and maybe someone can point me in the right places?), but it seems to me that the catch is that there are precious few popular science writers these days who are still actively engaged in research. There’s a certain reluctance to sit down and write things for pleasure when you could instead be playing with big lasers and impressive glassware in a laboratory like Dr. No’s, I imagine.
“So what’s the deal with this oh-so-cleverly named blog?” those who have not yet figured it out may be asking. I’m starting up my MS/PhD studies in the coming weeks, and already I’m a bit terrified at the prospect of having to solely write things with titles like “Synthetic Strategies Employing Moth Flatulence in the Assembly of Chiral Moieties” for at least the next, oh, five years or so. I envision this as being both an outlet for telling stories about today’s scientific research world and as an opportunity to practice my accessible “popular” science writing. And for anyone wanting to read it, I promise not to say things like “the extrinsic factors of oxidative work-up.” Not much anyway.