Though it's harder to justify the use of a cadaver for practicing nose jobs than it is for practicing coronary bypasses, it is justifiable nonetheless. Cosmetic surgery exists, for better or for worse, and it's important, for the sake of those who undergo it, that the surgeons who do it are able to do it well.

The Internet is a boon for hypochondriacs like me.

They say that women's sexual peaks are in their 30s or 40s, and I think that it happens because they're more comfortable. It's not some hormonal change that happens at that age. Of course, it would be nice to have more physiological insight on that.

I'm not a quick wit. I'm only funny on paper. I mean, I'm not totally humorless! It's just that in person, I'm not quite the way I am on paper.

Saliva has antibacterial properties. It also has things called nerve growth factor, skin growth factor, histatins which help with wound closure. So when you see an animal licking a wound or even a mom kissing a child's boo-boo, there's some, there's some good science behind why one might do this.

When I'm done with a book, I always give it to someone with expertise in the topic and tell them to flag all of my stupid mistakes.

If ergonomists have their way, future products won't be built for some hypothetical average person but will conform to the biomechanical needs of whatever particular human body happens to come into contact with them.

Bodily fluids and solids are universally the most disgusting things we as human beings can come upon, but as long as they are inside us, it's part of you.

I have a nice little office, with a nice little window in it, but I do basically spend huge amounts of time in what you could consider solitary confinement.

For the scientists, they're kind of puzzled and pleased that somebody finds their work interesting. It makes it fun for me. I feel like I've sort of turned over a stone that hasn't been turned over.

Meteorite hunting is not for wimps. The best places to look are also the coldest and windiest. You need very old ice, and you need wind, lots of it, strong and unrelenting. Antarctica fits the bill.

I used to do my best thinking while staring out airplane windows. The seat-back video system put a stop to that. Now I sit and watch old' Friends' and 'Everybody Loves Raymond' episodes. Walking is good, but here again, technology has interfered. I like to listen to iTunes while I walk home. I guess I don't think anymore.

I spend a lot of my time on the phone, pestering people. 'What's new in your lab? Can I come visit your lab? When can I come visit your lab?' I'm basically a professional pesterer.

It is interesting to come across people who feel that a ghost communicating via a spell-checker is less far-fetched than a software glitch.

Editors are more concerned with the first chapters of a book; that's what everyone reads first in the bookstore or in the online sample.

Mushy food is a form of sensory deprivation. In the same way that a dark, silent room will eventually drive you to hallucinate, the mind rebels against bland, single-texture foods, edibles that do not engage the oral device.

You won't see me writing about particle physics, or even planetary geology, or chemistry. I practically failed chemistry, and if I had to write a book in any of those areas, I don't think it would go well.

I have not eaten a lot of insects. I ate a termite in Africa, but it was on a bet. It was a soldier termite. It was alive, and I don't really recommend the live soldier termite as something you want to start with if you're going to start exploring eating insects.

Literally thousands of e-mails over the course of a book go out to people I've never met, people who might end up being the focus of a chapter.

Because there are now online databases of federally funded research, and these databases are searchable by keyword, sex researchers have to be careful how they title their projects. It's become a simple matter, for those who are so inclined, to find and target researchers whose work they object to on religious grounds.

When someone tells me, 'Oh, we have so many problems on Earth; space exploration costs too much money,' I say, 'I absolutely agree with you. But I still hope we do it.'

Most of the people who are engaged in the subjects that I look into are pretty interesting. Whether its sex researchers or someone who's devoted their career to saliva or somebody who does research with cadavers, there's an inherent fascination in the subject matter of their work.

Everybody is going to die, so people are enthralled by the possibility that they don't have to completely die, that there is something that comes afterward. It's like if you're going to France for the summer, you're going to read up on it. Everyone just wants to know where they're going, or if they're going anywhere.

Dead people never seem to address the obvious - the things you'd think they'd be bursting to talk about, and the things all of us not-yet-dead are madly curious about. Such as: 'Hey, where are you now? What do you do all day? What's it feel like being dead? Can you see me? Even when I'm on the toilet? Would you cut that out?'

Animals' taste systems are specialized for the niche they occupy in the environment. That includes us. As hunters and foragers of the dry savannah, our earliest forebears evolved a taste for important but scarce nutrients: salt and high-energy fats and sugars. That, in a nutshell, explains the widespread popularity of junk food.

Will I switch to E-reading? I won't, mainly because I love the look and feel of books - particularly hardbacks. I love them enough to put up with the minor hassles of lugging them around and maneuvering them in my lap and having to set them aside while I eat my cheeseburger.

Ultimately, the problem is that sex is perceived as a personal, intimate thing, not in the realm of science. But that's not true. It's physiology; it's anatomy. It deserves to be studied.

Follow your instincts. Do the kind of writing you love to do and do best. 'Stiff' was an oddball book - I mean, a funny book about cadavers? - and I worried that it would be too unconventional. In the end, that's what has made it a success, I think.

I'm a science goober.

Picking my topics is sort of a process of elimination for me. Most things don't work for me. I like to cover science and unexpected things happening in labs. Also, theoretical research doesn't work for my style. I need scenes and interactions. Then, humor. I'm having the most fun when I can have fun with my work.

People are surprisingly off put just by saliva, the substance that you carry around in your mouth. You swallow it. You have no objection to it. But then it leaves your body, and you're just revolted. So it - that - just that right there to me is a fascinating thing.

I write with a sense of my future readers being ever on the verge of setting down the book and pronouncing it a bore. Fear and insecurity are great motivators.

Pet foods come in a variety of flavors because that's what humans like, and we assume our pets like what we like. We're wrong.

Day by day, I'm kind of a bore.

Science is you! It's your head, it's your dog, it's your iPhone - it's the world. How do you see that as boring? If it's boring, it's because you're learning it from a textbook.

Spacewalking is a little like rock climbing in that everything, including and especially oneself, must be tethered or docked at all times. If you forget to tether a tool, it's gone. Ditto yourself.

I rarely listen to music while writing. I wish I could, but it distracts me.

My books are not really books; they're endless chains of distraction shoved inside a cover. Many of them begin at the search box of Pub Med, an Internet database of medical journal articles.

I make lists to keep my anxiety level down. If I write down 15 things to be done, I lose that vague, nagging sense that there are an overwhelming number of things to be done, all of which are on the brink of being forgotten.

I've read plenty of amazing science pieces where the writers don't hang out in labs. I just have fun doing it. And I get rewarded for it; I get gushy, especially when kids tell me they expected to be bored by my books, but weren't.

I don't know of many people who've done sex research with an eye toward people saying sex is bad for you, except for the promiscuity and cervical cancer link - which is actually a valid discovery.

I think that the women's magazines and a lot of those quick tips for better sex, I think that they do people a disservice, sometimes, because they become very focused on - they're thinking, 'Okay, I read that I should do this, and am I doing it right?'

When I was a kid, I hated everything. I was really skinny, and I'd have a milkshake with an egg in it. Growing up, I ate, like, five different foods. I was not an adventurous eater. But as soon as I left home, that all changed and from that point on, I've been a pretty enthusiastic eater of new and strange food.

I don't fear death so much as I fear its prologues: loneliness, decrepitude, pain, debilitation, depression, senility. After a few years of those, I imagine death presents like a holiday at the beach.

A space station is a rangy monstrosity, a giant erector set built by a madman.

Eighty percent of flavor comes from your nose, including a set of internal nostrils. When you chew food and hold it in your mouth, the gases that are released goes into these nostrils. People who wolf their food are missing some of the flavor.

I believe that not everything we humans encounter in our lives can be neatly and convincingly tucked away inside the orderly cabinetry of science.

My husband recently made me try on a bikini. A bikini is not so much a garment as a cloth-based reminder that your parts have been migrating all these years. My waist, I realized that day in the dressing room, has completely disappeared beneath my rib cage, which now rests directly on my hips. I'm exhibiting continental drift in reverse.

A fine book, in the perfect setting, when there's all the time in the world to read it: Life holds greater joys, but none come to mind just now.