Field of Science

The Large Picture Blog

Introducing The Large Picture Blog. Inspired by The Big Picture, the LPB is also an example of how an individual blog's unique design, theme, character, function, etc. can be incorporated into Field of Science.

In addition to the wider main section to accommodate large pictures, other hacks include a label cloud (which I've placed below the header and will come into its own over time) and a » More Pictures... link which allows for a featured picture to be displayed on the main blog with a full set of pictures to be displayed when the post is selected. I also added a unique favicon which replaces the default fos question mark favicon.

Another note regarding how an FOS blog could differ from a blog on blogspot is the url possibilities. was not available, so I created LPD at Clicking on that url, notice how the blogspot address automatically forwards you to the address (this is what happens when you forward an existing blogspot blog to, but also note that unlike, was available. This is the case for all possible (with the exception of the few already taken: labs., forum., ...). So if you're a science blogger who had to settle for second best in your choice of domain names, your first choice remains available at

My God, It's Full Of Scarlet A's

A popular bit of flare among science blogs is the Out Campaign's scarlet 'A'. I don't have a serious issue with advertising one's atheism. I can even imagine circumstances under which a scarlet A's presence on a blog might result in a positive outcome--such as disabusing someone of certain negative stereotypes... But as an atheist who blogs, my gut reaction to the campaign was thanks. I wondered why that was since I couldn't honestly say I knew what the Out Campaign was all about, and what that scarlet A--beyond identifying the blogger as an atheist--was supposed to accomplish. So off to the Out Campaign I went to read all about it.

What I found was a curious mix of silliness and exhortation anchored to a few otherwise harmless and worthwhile ideas. Those ideas were straightforward enough--that stuff about raising the level of awareness of atheism I alluded to above--but there's this bit about feeling liberated? Really? Then the part about emboldening people to not feel intimidated by religion... Um, if you are so spineless or dense that religion has you by the scruff of the neck, you're probably better off believing in a supernatural big brother whose got your back and who is keeping you honest and on the straight and narrow (not to mention we're all probably better off with you worrying about him too). And are there really any atheists out there who will honestly admit to being bullied?

So question answered. The Out Campaign's rhetoric reveals them to be guilty of failing to resist the temptation of creating a bogyman for the purpose of organizing to confront and defeat it. Ugh. How very unoriginal. How about instead we embrace our exclusivity. Not just anyone can be an atheist... If religion is getting the better of you, pray for strength, guidance, God's blessing. If you find you're laughing at religion and its minions, and not with them, congratulations, you're in on the joke. Full stop. End transmission.

There, I've staked out a position, dared an opinion. I won't be sporting a scarlet 'A' on my blog except in this post. Which puts me in a mind to run a little test. With this post I've complied with the Out Campaign's requirements to be added to their "list of websites that are displaying the Scarlet Letter, or have written something about The OUT Campaign." I'll be emailing them posthaste after I publish this post and I'll be watching to see if rational thinking governs their decision on whether to add Labs to their blogroll, or whether their agenda bullies them into dissing me back.

Update: 02/27/09 I received a response from the Out Campaign today notifying me that Labs has been added to their blogroll. Their email was thoughtful and reasoned and measured. So score one for the Out Campaign. While they may be treading a fine line with their rhetoric, they've yet to be enslaved by it.

Field of Science According To Wordle

"Word cloud" using Wordle.
I borrowed select text from the Wikipedia article for Fields of Science, added a bunch of Field of Science's to the mix as well as increased the number of instances of major categories of sciences. From there I pasted it into the Wordle text field and hit go. I also had to select Do Not Remove Common Words under the Language menu in order for "of" to show up, and having done the initial setup in a Word document, I knew the quantity of Maximum words...(418) under the Layout menu.

My two favored fonts were Steelfish and Superclarendon Black, and I ended up selecting between the two until I got a result I could live with. Trouble is, once you get going, it's hard to stop, thinking the perfect word cloud is always just one variable change away.

Anyway, too much fun, mildly addictive, and I recommend it to anyone. Should you need a reason, consider following my lead, only with your own unique spin and the aim of creating a header image for Field of Science.

The Science Blogospheric

Scenic points on my journey into and through the scientific blogosphere.

Exploring the science blogosphere comes with the territory when founding and editing a science website whose aim is to elevate the profile of science bloggers. My initial suspicion that the search for good science blogs might become a not-so-looked-forward-to ritual chore has instead turned into what I can honestly describe as a regular pleasure. Simply put, the science blogosphere is proving to be the antithesis of the rest of blogosphere in that where you would expect to sift through mountains of dreck in order to find the occasional gem; you instead find mountains of riches with only the occasional vein of intellectual sloth trying to worm its way in. As an experienced blog surfer, I've actually had to retrain myself to assume the unexpected and reorient myself to the atypical, parallel blogosphere science bloggers have made for themselves. The bad news is there's precious little time in the day to devote to the never-ending procession of science blog that are thoughtful, smart, honest and above all, interesting. But then that's the good news too.

Darwin Day Excerpts

Participating bloggers around the world are celebrating the bicentenary of Charles Darwin's birth (February 12th, 1809) with a BLOG SWARM through February 15th. Participants' posts (submitted via are being aggregated here (in fits and starts) throughout this 4-day event. After the 15th, they will be categorized for easier reference, and BLOG FOR DARWIN will remain a resource for educators, students, and others. CLICK HERE to learn how you can participate!
Now, what was I doing? thinks young Darwin is way more interesting (and other quibbles).

Google recognizes Charles Darwin 09 with this image. Another reason for some Christians to boycott Google? Speaking of Google, you can use it to put into some context the following two memorable (to me), quasi-anonymous quotes on Darwin and evolution.

The reaction to Darwinism is no less a puzzle. Of course it contradicts the literal account of Genesis, but we have long abandoned Biblical literalism in law and social mores, and it would be impossible anyway due to the internal contradictions generated by a literal reading. Darwinism is eminently compatible with a deistic conception of God. Indeed, a creator operating through a Darwinian mechanism to infuse complex life forms into the universe seems more glorious. He possesses the aesthetic virtue of parsimony, and the elegant avoidance of micro-management. Once again, one is led to the conclusion that Darwin pricked a hole in our ego, not God's.
In any event, a fun perspective for you: I don't know whether you've ever thought enough to encounter it, but abstract truth excites the human sense of beauty very strongly. It's a phenomenon that is most pronounced in mathematics, but evolution is probably the most beautiful truth that I know. It is an astonishing and wonderful thing that such a work of art (I mean all the intellectual labors that expand on the meaning of "evolution") should be more accessible to you than most (say, pure math). If you believe in God, this would be a gift from him to you - the fullest use of your mind to understand his work. Your behavior is sacrilege. (In fairness, I'll state the obvious that I'm an atheist, but I'm not being manipulative here - few things make me empathize more with a religious sense of wonder than contemplation of evolution).

If You Build It,...

Field of Science is a science blog network.

FoS is so named because Field of Science is a good, practical name for a website about science, but also--thanks to a certain movie--said name evokes illusions that are, more or less, analogous to what FoS is all about . . .

FoS is home to bloggers who are doing actual science and whose blogging is clearly informed by their work.

If you are a science blogger and your blog is powered by Blogger (or you wouldn't mind switching over to Blogger), and you are interested in joining FoS, complete an application and I'll get back to you as soon as possible. If you want to know more about the nuts, bolts and actuals, watch this presentation.

The Evolution of Field of Science: Circa January 2009 - Humble Beginnings Era

The first in a series of posts that will chronicle the development of Field of Science.


General: Home Page, Forum

Blog Count (2): Microarray Macrodisarray, Labs

Further explanation: Field of Science is evolving. From the number of blogs and their individual designs, to the various features and tools, to the overall look, functionality and organization, nothing is off limits, and everything is subject to review, revision, upgrade, downgrade, revamp, retirement, etc. For that reason, big redesigns won't be announced, undertaken, tested and unveiled on some arbitrary basis. Instead, Field of Science will be nimble, flexible, attuned to the constantly changing internet, the changing needs, wants and desires of its community and the demands of its own growth. Field of Science will mix a deliberate, thoughtful, realistic approach with a healthy perspective that's not afraid to change, to experiment, to fail...

p.s. If you're curious about how to get those website thumbnails, see: