#BookClub

The Soul of an Octopus - Chapters 7 & 8 Summary

December 02, 2020

Montgomery and Wilson mourn the loss of Kali, but with Octavia’s health still declining they order a new octopus. Together Sy and jellyfish researchers at the aquarium go to the airport to pick up the new octopus Karma around New Years. This octopus was caught in the wild and kept at a British Columbia facility until it was ready to be shipped. Upon arrival, the dirty water and shedded suckers are a dismal sight, but the team must go through a slow tank transfer process to avoid sending the new octopus into shock.

The Soul of an Octopus - Chapters 5 & 6 Summary

November 17, 2020

To kick off chapter 5, Montgomery details the struggles of her scuba certification. She notes that her joy of being underwater is detrimental because she can’t stop smiling and allowing water into her regulator. She overcomes several challenges (eardrum pressure, trouble with the regulator, becoming certified in the New England cold) in order to make it to her first official dive in Cozumel. Their first dive is a drift dive and Montgomery actualizes her dream. She and her fellow divers come face to face with an octopus in its natural habitat for the first time, rather than in an aquarium.

The Soul of an Octopus - Chapters 3 & 4 Summary

November 04, 2020

In chapter three, we are introduced to a new baby octopus at the New England Aquarium named Kali. Kali is one of the first octopuses at the aquarium to maintain specific coloring, in her case a white spot on her head. The coloring of an octopus is thought to be used for not only camouflage, but also potentially to express the emotional state of an octopus. As the author engages with Kali, we are introduced to some of the history of how the interactions between humans and sea creatures have changed at the New England Aquarium over time.

The Soul of an Octopus - Chapters 1 & 2 Summary

October 20, 2020

In chapter one of the Soul of an Octopus, we are introduced to the world of the octopus through the author’s first meeting with Athena the giant Pacific octopus. The author’s encounter with Athena provides context for how humans have historically viewed octopuses as sometimes frightening but mainly fascinating creatures. As invertebrates, octopuses are not necessarily some of the first creatures that people think of when they imagine animal intelligence. However, there are many instances of octopuses exhibiting behaviors that portray them as intelligent.

The War on Science Part 4 - Chapters 11-13 Summary

September 30, 2020

In the fourth and final part of The War on Science, Otto shifts his attention to the goal: winning the war. He first makes it clear that he believes the economy and the greater well-being of humanity and the planet are in direct opposition to each other, individualism vs collectivism. His analogy of the farmer’s adding to their herds only benefiting them but depleting the greater resources lends itself to the assumption that selfishness pays the individual but steals from the world.

The War on Science Part 3 - Chapter 10 Summary

September 09, 2020

Otto begins chapter 10 by reiterating one of his main points so far — science is not independent of politics. He then gives some background on past efforts to shape public opinion in the U.S., focusing on Sigmund Freud’s nephew, Edward Bernays. Bernays is known as the “father of public relations”; he originally served on the Creel Committee, which sought to sway public opinion in favor of joining WWI. He continued afterward to help companies shape public opinion, advocating a “third party technique” in which the company itself is not the one seen promoting its viewpoint.

The War on Science Part 3 - Chapters 8 & 9 Summary

August 19, 2020

Shawn Otto begins the 8th chapter “The Identity Politics War on Science” by introducing the notion that truth as a construct is fundamentally different from scientific claims. Truth may very well be subjective and unique to the perspective of the observer but scientific claims are considered truly objective, meaning that the same conclusion will be reached regardless of who is measuring/observing/determining the claim.

The War on Science Part 2 - Chapters 3, 4 & 5 Summary

July 08, 2020

Otto begins Part 2 by describing the founding of the United States, specifically that the US was founded not as a Christian nation, but rather one based on the ideals of freedom — including freedom of exploration and religion. The founders of the US, as well as European and other scholars, believed that science was to be used to assist in the study of God’s creations and that its purpose was to shed light on the wonders of the world created by God. They felt that Nature, unlike divinity, was knowable and understandable and humans could understand God’s will by studying nature.

Storytelling Tips from Don't Be Such A Scientist

June 17, 2020
Storytelling is vital to successful science communication. However, our inner scientist can often get in the way of telling a good science story. I read Don’t Be Such a Scientist by Randy Olson to learn more about what I can do to improve my storytelling.

Part V: The Sun Chariot - Reader's Summary

December 04, 2019

In the final section of the book, Zimmer wraps up his narrative but leaves us with many of our own questions. The development of the genetic technology CRISPR and the implications of the technology are revisited. One of the first applied uses of CRISPR was to enhance and alter crops quickly. From there, the use of CRISPR expanded to multiple cell types and species, raising many ethical questions along the way.