Dolphin Brains, Greener Pastures, & David Bowie Chemistry

The latest:

  • Gosh but you people really love hearing about dolphins and dolphin brains. Thanks to you humans and your weird obsession, I’ve gotten to speak all over town (here, here, and here) about dolphins, dolphin brains, and humans’ weird obsession with dolphins and dolphin brains. Next stop: MPR’s “A Beautiful World”. Subject: Consciousness. You see where this is going.
  • New posts on chemistry, David Bowie, and the science of hands in my Science+Art column for the Walker Art Center’s MNartist’s blog. Because, you know, it is a beautiful world.
tupac dolphin

Science+Art: Dolphin+Tupac


The Latest: Science+Art & Doing Science About Science

Whether you like science or not, read on. What I’m up to lately has everything to do with getting people to fall in love with science by realizing they loved science all along. (Is that creepy? Happy Halloween!)

Science+Art Column for the Walker Art Center

It’s just what it sounds like. Click here to read about the science and art of dark matter, cuttlefish, convergent evolution, the human brain, and many more wonders of the known (and unknown) universe…

Screen Shot 2013-10-22 at 6.42.34 PM

Research & Evaluation for the Science Museum of Minnesota

I’m proud to announce that I now work as a researcher and museum evaluator in the evaluation department of the Science Museum of Minnesota. What does that mean? I get to prototype, run, and assess educational programs, exhibits, and communication techniques on science education projects funded by places like the National Science Foundation, the National Institute for Health, and NASA. I basically do science about science. It’s just one of many dreams come true, friends. And yes, most of my dreams are science-related.


Three Great Things Happened

1. Mediander with me

Over two years ago, I was sworn to secrecy as I started writing for a crazysexycool new website, the likes of which the world had never seen.

This month, it finally launched, and the world got to fall in love with…

MEDIANDER DOT COM (com, com, com…)

I’ve linked you to the place where most of my “Culture Maps” live––nine and counting. What makes Mediander different is that the research connects disparate topics:  Charlie Chaplin to The Atomic Cafe to books by dictators, Nabokov to synesthesia and lepidopterology, and much! Much! More!

Got off to a good start when researchers at the International Space Station liked my map on the Space Race:

ISS tweet

2. That Smithsonian magazine

A childhood dream came true this month when I had an article published in Smithsonian. The piece allowed me to explore science+art at its best, in the form of Guillermo Bert’s 2D-coded traditional indigenous tapestries––one of the coolest artistic concepts I’ve seen in a long time.

Read it here! 

3. WRITE FIGHT

The night before my birthday, I sat down at an old, malfunctioning Olivetti typewriter, on the train tracks.

write fight! typewriters alone

The purpose? To battle it out in Revolver magazine‘s WRITE FIGHT, a single-elimination showdown with some of my favorite writers in town. It was both humbling and harrowing.

write fight over shoulder

Competitors got the first line of the story, ten minutes to think for the first two rounds, no time to think for the last round, AND there were insane, orchestrated distractions at every turn. First round, I wrote as audience members came up and whispered suggestions in my ear. Second round, I had to put the typewriter on the lap of a stranger, who smack-talked me all the while.

write fight round 2 whole shebang

Third round, at the center of a dancing mob, I wrote the story behind what improvisors would call the cruelest possible set-up:

“Even as it happened, I realized this was the most hilarious death ever.”

write fight final round

See what happened in the last three paragraphs of this article! [Spoiler alert, I won.] It was one of the most difficult feats of art I’ve ever undertaken, and my comrades in arms are my heroes more than ever. The… End…?


A Bunch of Stuff I Neglected to Mention…

It’s been awhile. Here’s a the haps:


Ed Zed Omega: The Future of Education/Documentaries

Alright, enough being coy:  Here’s a little piece WIRED magazine ran on EdZedOmega, the interactive multimedia documentary on which I am thrilled to be serving as Writer/Producer. The project was the brainchild of Ken Eklund, the man behind the grand internet experiment World Without Oil, and was made possible by a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, with help from Twin Cities Public Television and the Association of Independents in Radio.

Ed Zed Omega is designed to run on audience participation, so let’s get to talking, eh? Did you like high school? Hate it? What’s your story?

[UPDATE: 3/28/2013] The project has run its semester-long course, and we learned so much along the way. Here, the Zed Omega teens explain the project from the other side of the curtain:


So Long & Thanks for All the Fish

New commentary on All Things Considered,

this week, discussing dolphins in captivity.


Flossin’

It’s been a while since I’ve written for mental_floss magazine, but now we’re reunited, and feels so good.

11 Insane Features of the Normal Human Anatomy 

6 Extremely Rare National Animals

12 Violinists Known for Something Else

Three from the future*:

11 Notes on Alfred W. Lawson, Founder of the Weirdest University Ever

Thomas Edison’s Eccentric Job Interview Questions — A Cheat Sheet 

12 Underappreciated (But Equally Precious) Bodily Fluids

And one from the vault:

When Propaganda Backfires (reprinted on neatorama)

Look for my commissioned piece on the Berenstain Bears in next month’s paper issue. And more blogs like these *EVERY. SINGLE. WEEK.


Why Dolphins Are Badass: A Semi-Academic Talk

Give & Take is a community experiment that breaks down barriers among disciplines, people, and ignorance vs. knowledge. …The perfect platform for a scientifically minded humorist (or comically minded scientist) to talk about their super-weird niche expertise.

My topic of choice: The Noble Dolphin. More specifically:  Why the dolphin deserves better than the corny, new age symbol of playful peacenickery it has come to represent, and is actually a complex, highly intelligent, and utterly badass beast.

The presentation was a success, and reinvigorated my belief that people both love learning about dolphins (as well as other big-brained mammals and cetaceans) and know relatively little about them. Look out, World. You’re about to learn way more about dolphin behavior than you even though you knew you wanted to but DID.

In a “Badass Dolphin” headdress, I explain the latest theories in dolphin evolution.

I explain “cetaceans,” just as Herman Melville did, before me.

The audience of “cetaceans” uses color-coordinated note cards to indicate how many of them are “dolphin species.”

I quiz the audience on their knowledge of dolphin behavior, aided by “Blue Dolphin,” ninja warrior/top scholar.


Up with People, Down with Mosquitoes.

Here’s a post I wrote on the subject of World Malaria Day, as a partnership between the United Nations Foundation, Nothing But Nets, and Comedy Central. I don’t mind telling you, the United Nations* was quoted as saying, “This is a fantastic post!”

Read more by clicking that link, above, or the picture below.

Malaria lurks.

It is serious, yet funny. Like life. Which is precious.

*Or more specifically, someone who works at the UN Foundation.