Give a Science Writer a Stage

The Devil had two tattooed women in tight skirts holding a rope taut on stage. One he told to stand on her toes while the other crouched slightly. The rope between them showed a slight angle downward, which the Devil said expressed global mean temperature decreasing slightly from 1998 till now. The Devil’s data was cherry picked […]

Guest Post: A Mathematical Mastermind Gets His Head Examined

On a December day a few years ago, John Horton Conway settled in for an interview at the office of neuroscientist Sandra Witelson. Conway wasn’t there for an appointment proper, but rather to provide fodder for Witelson’s ongoing research on scientifically minded brains. All the same, he’d braced himself for an arsenal of standard neuropsychological […]

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 […]