After almost seven decades at The San Francisco Chronicle, former CASW President David Perlman will finally close his reporter's notebook on August 4, retiring at the age of 98 after an accomplished career that made him a legend among science journalists. CASW colleagues took the occasion to recall some of their professional encounters over the years with the Dean of Science Journalism, who served as CASW's vice president 1973-76 and president 1976-80.
Jacob Roberts was inspired by Mark Riedl's talk on creativity and artificial intelligence at the 2016 edition of the New Horizons in Science briefing to create a lighthearted simulation of a freelancer's experience of a science writers' conference. Just for fun, we share Jacob's Science Writing Conference Simulator.
Sketch by Rob Frederick, @TheConjectural
by Jacob Roberts |
by Nancy Averett |
When LeeAnne Walters first brought samples of the brown water coming out of her tap to a public meeting in Flint, Mich., the city’s emergency manager, Jerry Ambrose, called her a liar.
“I went up to him with bottles from my tap, and I said ‘this is my water,’ and he said, ‘No it’s not. I don’t believe it’s your water,’” Walters recalls.
by Amy Mayer |
LeeAnne Walters had three words of advice when a science writer asked how to tell stories that will capture the audience’s attention: “Find a mom.”
Walters had struggled to get the attention of anyone in the media as she confronted Michigan state and federal officials with evidence of lead contamination in her family’s tap water over the summer of 2015. Eventually, though, she became a leading voice in the story of widespread water contamination in the city of Flint.
by Grace Lindsay |
When it comes to black holes, a change in perspective can make all the difference. Standing outside one of these massive objects in the universe, for instance, there's only darkness—the black hole's gravity is so strong that not even light escapes. But just inside the black hole, there may lie a blazing wall of fire, waiting to destroy whatever enters.
by Anahita Zare |
"Brain control" brings to mind an image of evil scientists hidden away in a dark lab preparing an army of zombies to do their bidding. In reality, Edward Boyden, associate professor of biological engineering and brain and cognitive sciences and head of the Synthetic Neurobiology Group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, hopes that controlling a mouse brain can reveal its biological circuitry.
by Steph Guerra |
Evolution—the change in heritable traits over successive generations—has long served as one of the central tenets of biology. But new research indicates much can be gained from studying regions of the genome that do not change. Termed “ultraconserved elements” or UCEs, these portions of the genome have remained unchanged for 300 to 500 million years, appearing in the same state across multiple animal species—from humans to dinosaurs to platypuses.
by Liz Droge-Young |
To solve a problem, sometimes you need to consider the exact opposite of what you think you know. Take trying to see the minute details of biological units, such as neurons in the brain. Instead of attempting to improve magnification on such a small scale, Massachusetts Institute of Technology engineer Edward Boyden asked, why not increase the size of the structure?
by Kelsey Ellis |
How do you make the outer space equivalent of a golf putt from New York City to a soup can in Los Angeles? For Alan Stern, it takes 11 years of lobbying, four years of planning and building, nine-plus years in transit, and roughly $700 million.
It also took “a labor of love, and an incredible commitment to meet this goal,” said Stern, the principal investigator for NASA’s New Horizons mission.