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by freelance science writer Davide Castelvecchi
My Top 10 Science Stories of 2006
Why nature is ambidextrous, love knows no laws of physics, and a Nobel laureate keeps an empty box of a discontinued laundry detergent in his basement. The second annual list of my favorite science stories of the year.
Go to my Top 10 of 2006
Peter Woit’s Anti-String Theory Tirade
Is string theory pseudoscience, and has it been overhyped by physicists and the media? No, and yes, I argue in my review of “Not Even Wrong,” a much-discussed book by the theory’s most vocal critic.
The Man Who Put the ‘Big’ in ‘Big Bang’
Twenty-five years after Alan Guth turned cosmology on its head with his idea of inflationary expansion, I interviewed him for my Symmetry magazine article, The Growth of Inflation. Exclusively on sciencewriter.org, here is the extended interview.
An Interview with New York Times Science Writer 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 writer and the author of seven books.
My Top 10 Science Stories of 2005
These are not necessarily the most important stories of the year, just the ones I found exciting and I wanted to tell people about when I first heard of them. In some cases, they may even be old news (in one case, 100 years old). They are the stories I did not cover during 2005, though I wish I did.
Go to my Top 10
A starchy fluid can do rather surprising things when subjected to vibrations, due perhaps to the “quicksand” effect called shear thickening. You’ve got to see the movie to believe it.
Image credit: Physical Review Letters
Catching the Cosmic Waves
They call them the “cowboys” of cosmology: this small bunch of Berkeley scientists is designing a revolutionary telescope to truck it to the top of California’s most arid mountain, with one goal in mind — read the big bang’s fingerprints. June 2004.
(This story is actually published — it came out in the summer 2004 issue of Science Notes, the magazine of the UC Santa Cruz science communication program.)
Science Notes illustration by Amadeo Bachar.
A New Game of Life
Gene sequencing guru J. Craig Venter recently announced plans to redesign the complete genome of a bacterium, trying to find out what is the minimum possible set of genes that make life work. If you think Venter is ambitious, how about creating an entire artificial, self-reproducing system — from scratch? read more
Image credit: Science
Gravity Probe B Drags On
The most expensive experiment in history suffers another in a long series of setbacks. But the science, the technology, and the human tenacity behind NASA’s GP-B are as astronomical as its $700 million price tag.
Also see A 1960’s Dream Comes True, From June 4, 2004.
New genetic protection from malaria found in mice
A number of genetic factors are known that give immunity — or at least a higher chance of survival – from malaria. A new one has been identified in mice, and may yield new insights in the fight against a disease that kills more people every day than have died in the entire SARS epidemic. read more
December 2003. Another New Scientist style assignment.
Things can be in two places at once: That is one of the bizarre facts of life in the world of atoms and tinier particles. Now mathematical physics’ controversial demi-god Roger Penrose — author of The Emperor’s New Mind — and his collaborators say it could soon be found to happen at much larger scales. read more
November 2003. This was my first real science reporting job. The assignment was to generate a story idea and write a short news story, New Scientist style.