Marvin Goldberger, Always Called “Murph”: Part 2

Part 1 is here. While Murph was still at Princeton, in his first years there, he was spending summers consulting, sometimes for defense contractors, sometimes for the Los Alamos National Laboratory.  (A lot of physicists did this: academic scientists’ salaries run for nine months; they needed summer money.)  Then a little later, during the post-Sputnik years, […]

Marvin Goldberger, Always Called “Murph”: Part I

The day before Thanksgiving, Murph Goldberger died.  He was old, he’d been born in 1922; and in those nine decades, he’d collected an extraordinary amount of life.  He was drafted right out of college into the Manhattan Project’s brilliant and very young Special Engineering Detachment, where he met his wife, Mildred; and ever after if […]

Yay Philae! Yay Europe, Europe, Europe!

I’ve just about recovered from my trip to Darmstadt, just outside Frankfurt, which was home to mission control for the recent landing of the tiny and now ‘sleeping’ Philae lander onto the surface of Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko.  One of the joys of covering a European mission is the variety of accents and backgrounds involved; just as […]

Konrad Steffen’s Desk

Earlier this month, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change came out with an even firmer stance on current environmental affairs, including reams of new data from more scientists saying, basically, news is not good. The New York Times called it “the starkest warning yet.” Little new was revealed in the report, rather it deepened the […]

Gotta Have Faith

I’ve been traveling a lot recently. I spent the month of August in China and Vienam, I went to Sweden in October, and of course I’ve been bouncing between my home in Mexico City and the good ol’ US of A. And you know what all this travel has gotten me thinking about? Institutions. I assume […]

Those Who Emerged from the Earth

As we know by now, science is not the last word on anything. It is one story among many, and it alone doesn’t satisfy every inquiry. Over the last few years I’ve been visiting landscapes associated with the Bering land bridge in western Alaska. Most archaeologists believe this is where the first people crossed from […]

Facts? Sure. Truth? Hmm.

Richard:  A few months ago, Ann wrote a post about beauty and truth in science writing. I object to neither. But she seemed to take exception to a “literary nonfiction” approach to science, and I wondered what in particular her objections were. So I thought I’d ask her. Hey, Ann, what gives?  Ann:   Literary nonfiction […]

The Case for Tracking Outcomes

Earlier this year, I installed a little program on my computer that tracks how I spend my time. At the end of the day, it can tell me how many minutes I spent editing a specific document, how long it took me to write a blog post and how much time I spent surfing the internet or […]