A sciencewriter.org Exclusive: George Johnson on Science, Writing, and Science Writing

George Johnson
Read the complete Q&A with George Johnson

Science versus religion, science versus the postmodernist movement, and the joys and perils of writing about science and math are some of the topics I discussed with George Johnson, a New York Times science writer and the author of seven books.

The interview has lain in the vaults sciencewriter.org for more than two years, and is now published here for the first time. Some of the issues that came up in it, however, are just as critical now as they were back then. In particular, the issue of balancing story-telling and accuracy in science writing is being highlighted by the growing controversy on string theory (see my post on Peter Woit’s Anti-String Theory Book). As I will discuss in an upcoming post, the controversy is raising the question of whether the media have contributed to exaggerating the hype and underplaying the technical challenges that are still in the way of string theory’s success.

I also asked Johnson about his investigative work to uncover the fabrications that led the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to announce it had created of element 118 in 1999, a claim the lab retracted two years later. A different national lab, Lawrence Livermore, now says it has created element 118 together with the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JINR) in Dubna, Russia.

Read the complete Q&A with George Johnson

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