Claire L. Evans

The Canals of Mars

The space-heads among you have undoubtedly heard about the Curiosity rover’s first significant discovery: the remnants of an ancient streambed on Mars, which would seem to indicate the presence of water in the planet’s history. This jagged pile of alluvial rock and dust may not look like much, but it brings to mind one of my…

The Best Science Writing Online 2012

I’ve been practicing little idiosyncratic rituals on this corner of the web for years: learn something new, obsessively research, get lost in the idea, scribble, converse endlessly, then write. This blog, Universe, has never been about garnering hits or materializing an audience because, for me, thinking and writing about science is a personal tic. I…

Footprints on the Moon

Yesterday we lost Neil Armstrong, an accidental hero, thrust by fate onto a rock in the sky. Many dreamt of walking on the moon before he did, and a few men did after him. He happened to be the first. Hopefully many more men, and women too, will echo his iconic footsteps in the future.…

On Curiosity and its Shadows

The NASA Mars rover Curiosity just landed on Mars. Those of us who tuned in vicariously via NASA’s live coverage watched as a roomful of tense engineers exploded, and heard their disembodied voices whispering and booming through the control room. Holy shit. We did it. Their headsets fell askew, they glad-handed one another, criss-crossing the…

To scientists, “experimental” is a technical word, one with a precise meaning: that which relates to a procedure of methodical trial and error, to a systematic test for determining the nature of reality. I got in trouble on this blog once, with commenters, for using the word “experimental” too flippantly. But artists experiment too, of course.…

William Gibson, first in his novel Burning Chrome and then later in the seminal Neuromancer, both coined and defined “cyberspace” as “a consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators.” His novels predate the universal adoption of  the World Wide Web as a communication matrix, and his psychedelic fantasy of cyberspace–a kind of semantic…

Interview: Andrew Olney

Last week, I wrote a piece for Motherboard about an android version of the science fiction writer Philip K. Dick. The story of the android is truly surreal, stranger than even Dick’s flipped-out fiction, and I recommend you pop over to Motherboard and mainline it for yourselves. For the piece, I interviewed the lead programmer on…

I Want To Live In A Bathysphere

Is poetry a driving force of Oceanography? Read Rimbaud! – Phillipe Diolé   I’ve written many times, although not recently, about the ocean. When I first began Universe in 2005, it was practically a ship’s log: meandering pieces on narwhal tusks, the accidental poetics of my hero, Rachel Carson, and adolescent screeds on the perils…

In 1977, NASA sent a pair of unmanned probes named Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 into space. Among the infrared spectrometers and radio receivers included on each probe were identical copies of the same non-scientific object: the Voyager Golden Record. Sheathed in a protective aluminum jacket, the Record is a 12-inch gold-plated copper disk containing…

NA/SA: New Art/Science Affinities

“I read this book. It’s pretty good even if they made it in a week. Worth the fifty bucks, easy.” Bruce Sterling   In February of this year, I had the distinct pleasure of being invited to the STUDIO for Creative Inquiry, a zygote of an institution nestled between departments at Carnegie Mellon University, to…