2009 Magazine


Gary Wolf, a contributing editor for Wired, took readers into the arcane field of taxonomy to follow an evolutionary biologist who is convinced that he can build a simple, universal identification system for all animals. If barcodes work for cans of soup on the grocer’s shelf, he asked, why not for bugs? “In this fresh and engaging tale, Gary Wolf doggedly pursues the trail of a scientist in pursuit of a theory,” said Mary Knudson, a freelance who teaches science writing at The Johns Hopkins University. “This story has it all—a compelling narrative, illuminating profiles of key players, and a deft explanation of why this all matters to readers of a magazine not known for its coverage of biology,” said freelancer Guy Gugliotta. Lauran Neergaard of the Associated Press called it a “riveting look at taxonomy that highlights the passion behind a field” unknown to many general readers. “When I write a piece for Wired, I’m always aware that scientists are going to be among the readers,” Wolf said. “And of course, they are some of the most critical readers. That sense of exposure to their skeptical intelligence is one of the things I love best about my work.”