Council for the Advancement of Science Writing

CASW Articles

October 21, 2015

by Vivian Hemmelder | 

Unlike the early explorers who sailed vast oceans to reach faraway shores, planetary scientist Sara Seager will never set foot on new lands she may discover. Her goal is to find habitable exoplanets, worlds that are not merely outside our solar system but many light-years away.

October 20, 2015

by Sanjay Yengul | 

On Jan. 19, 2006, a powerful Atlas V rocket thundered off from Florida carrying NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft. It got relatively little public attention. But its acceleration was singularly brutal: the destination of its payload was Pluto, over 3 billion miles away. The nuclear-powered New Horizons craft, carrying a mere 1,000 pounds of instruments, went on to set NASA interplanetary speed records the whole way.

October 17, 2015

by Andrew Tomes | 

For Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Penny Chisholm, the most exciting apps will not download to your phone. Only bacteria can run them. 

Chisholm studies a group of photosynthesizing bacteria that developed what she describes as their own “app store”—a set of genes shared and swapped between individual cells that enable them to thrive in a range of environmental conditions wider than what their competitors can tolerate.

October 17, 2015

by Jeff Bessen | 

The federal government has assembled a fast-track committee to encourage research into microorganisms, reflecting their increasingly important role in human health and the Earth’s climate. 

October 17, 2015

by Casey Gilman | 

The new big thing in space is small—cubesats. A miniature satellite or cubesat is a box a few inches on a side, around a liter in volume and weighing about as much as a medium-sized pumpkin. Cubesats have been on the space scene for about 15 years, with hundreds launched, but many still regard them as little more than toys.

October 17, 2015

by Ambika Kamath | 

Many Americans live one paycheck away from street homelessness, and those most at risk may be older, according to new research presented at Massachusetts Institute of Technology Oct. 11 by Margot Kushel, professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. 

October 15, 2015

by Megan Litwhiler | 

A mysterious discovery has stumped scientists who study genetics at the cellular level for over a decade. Our genome, or collection of genes, has undergone many evolutionary changes since humankind first emerged millions of years ago, including parts of it that play a critical role in development and survival. Yet hundreds of small segments of our DNA have remained virtually unchanged not only among human beings, but across many other animal species whose lineages diverged before the time of the dinosaurs.

October 15, 2015

by Christina Sauer | 

Imagine a planet where the surface temperature is so hot that rocks melt into lava—or another where two suns dip below the horizon at dusk. Settings for a science fiction plot? Not to Massachusetts Institute of Technology astrophysicist and planetary scientist Sara Seager.

October 15, 2015

by Carla Bezold | 

Homelessness is like other chronic medical problems: in need of a cure. That realization came to Margot Kushel as she was working as a resident physician at San Francisco General Hospital in the 1990s, and it has shaped her work ever since. More than a third of the patients in the inpatient wards were homeless, seeking medical care for issues that were often exacerbated by life on the streets. The patients rotating in and out of the hospital faced complex health problems. They had just one thing on their side: youth.

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