A Moore’s Law Mystery

You know those things that people say as an aside? Things that aren’t their main point, but just kind of come out of their mouths. Fun facts, little anecdotes, steam of consciousness blips. I find that when I’m looking back at my notes from conferences, the things that pop out to me are, largely, those […]

So Hard Core

Many years ago, before I was a science writer, but after I tried being a scientist, I spent some time in the outdoor industry. It’s a weird phrase, I know, but it covers anything related to activities like skiing, backpacking, kayaking and generally avoiding getting a real job. We did a lot of guiding and working at summer camps while […]

Ethical Quandaries

Last weekend, nerds from across the US and the world gathered in Cambridge Massachusetts to discuss the media coverage of other, often bigger nerds. It is known as the National Association of Science Writers annual meeting and it’s one of the highlights of my year. This year I thought it might be fun to participate […]

Survey Says

On a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being “not at all” and 10 being “very much”, how much has the sight of this question made you die inside? You’re not alone. Surveys are dreadful; often badly-worded, usually tedious, always demanding more of your time than they deserve. Yet they’re a pillar on which a […]

Manifesto of a Wasp Scientist

The following was inspired by my recent purchase of the clever and entertaining book, The Bees, by Laline Paull. All characters are fictional and should not be confused with real scientists. I especially ask that no bee researcher take offense, as 80 percent of science writers would shrivel up and die if you stopped talking […]

Science Needs Cool Kids

I was not cool in high school. I think it would be a stretch to say I was a nerd, but I wasn’t cool and I certainly wasn’t getting laid. No, like so many scientists and science writers in the world, I mostly kept my head down and waited for college. You see, it’s in […]

Ye Olde Scientific Writing

A few weeks ago, biologist Stephen Heard blogged about beauty in scientific writing. Among his examples, he cited an elegant explanation of quantum mechanics research and a playful description of a snake surveying a “disconsolate line” of frogs. More details can be found in Heard’s paper on the subject, which calls for scientists to strive […]

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, […]