I look at a lot of bones. I’m a zooarchaeologist by training—a scientist who uses the animal bones found in archaeological sites to interpret how people interacted with those animals hundreds or thousands of years ago. This means that not only do I need to know what most animals’ skeletons look like, I need to be able to pick up a small, battered fragment of bone and be able to identify the animal to which it once belonged. It’s work that I enjoy—a puzzle that I have to put together to fill in the story of how people once lived.
In a way, my work with bones is a metaphor for how I see my role as a writer. I’ll learn about new and ongoing scientific research, strip away the jargon, and build the pieces back up into a story that is accessible to an audience ranging from fellow scientists to readers with little to no science background. I want to infuse some warmth and humor into a field that I think is often perceived as sterile and serious to the point of pretentious.
Science should be for everyone. Just about any scientific research boils down to an effort to understand and benefit our species and our world. I want to bridge the barrier between academic science and the general public. The better the average person understands how the world works, the less likely we are to encounter situations in which, for example, a staggering number of people insist that global climate change is only a hoax. Help.
Welcome to The Bare Bones, where I’ll look into interesting topics from all over the world of scientific research. I’ll reduce the science to its skeleton, and build the story from there.