Jun 27th 2017 by Carl_Zimmer • 16 Questions • 4885 Points
I am a science columnist for The New York Times and author of 13 books about science, including Parasite Rex, Evolution: Making Sense of Life, and the forthcoming She Has Her Mother’s Laugh. (http://carlzimmer.com ) I’ve written for National Geographic, Wired,and The Atlantic and was a senior editor at Discover. I appear regularly on “Radiolab,” is an adjunct professor in Yale’s Department of Biophysics and Biochemistry, and have earned awards from the National Academies of Science, the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences, and the Society for the Study of Evolution. I’m speaking at the 2017 Aspen Ideas Festival about genomes, Neanderthals, viruses inside of us, and the future of making babies, . Comment your questions below! Proof: https://i.redd.it/dkh0ft6iw16z.jpg
EDIT: Thanks everyone for your questions! I am going to close out this conversation, but look forward to doing another AMA soon. FYI, here's a blog post I just wrote for the Aspen Ideas Festival about the genetics revolution we're living through. https://www.aspeninstitute.org/blog-posts/understanding-genetics-revolution/ Also, I'm giving a few different talks at the Aspen Ideas Festivalm and you will be able to find video and audio for them soon, at this link: https://www.aspenideas.org/speaker/carl-zimmer
EDIT: Whoa--a bunch of new questions showed up. I have some free time again, so I'll try to respond to some of them. Thanks!
EDIT: Got to go!
What books would you recommend to an almost 40 year old who enjoys science/learning but isn't very smart? Asking for a friend.
Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything is something of a miracle of a book about science--incredibly accessible but also sweeping in scope.
Glancing at the contract for the story I'm working on and thinking about how I won't get paid if I don't turn in something!
given the struggles and results of biosphere 2, and ignoring logistics of transporting materials and such. do you think permament/long term mission on mars is possible with current knowledge and technology?
Biosphere 2 certainly showed how badly things could go, and sometimes for unexpected reasons. (Concrete was a bad choice! http://biology.kenyon.edu/slonc/bio3/2000projects/carroll_d_walker_e/whatwentwrong.html ) But technology has advanced so much since the 1990s that I'd be guardedly optimistic that a human settlement on Mars would escape such troubles. I'm just skeptical that we'll marshall the collective will and money to launch such a mission.
what are some future projects you are targeting and would like to work on?
Having just finished my next book, on heredity, I'm taking some time to relax and regroup. But podcasting is certainly intriguing me more and more.
suppose you froze to death somewhere and were revived in 1.3 million years, humanity have not visited much of the galaxy but we have filled this solar system and some others with small ring worlds to deal with living space. would you be satisfied with that future?
If we're not extinct and if we have a decent standard of living as a species, I'll be satisfied. Everything else will be a bonus.