Happenings

Category archives for Happenings

Is There Life on Maaaars?

You certainly didn’t hear it here first: today NASA, at a press briefing, announced that minerals analyzed by the Curiosity rover indicate that life might, in the galactic past, have survived on Mars. The rover’s been poking around an ancient network of stream channels descending from the rim of Gale crater since September of last year; now,…

My New Book: High Frontiers!

Writing for the Internet is like yelling into the void: freeing, probably more than a little cathartic, but ultimately lonely. That’s not to say that I haven’t made profound connections out here, but like most writers I long for a little thing with my name on it that fits in the hand, that can be…

I probably don’t need to introduce Oliver Sacks to you. You’ve undoubtedly already delighted over his wobbly affectation and tales of neurological strangeness on RadioLab or NPR. You might have read his lovely first-person account, in the New Yorker, of his early experiments with hallucinogens of all stripes, from the “pharmacological launch pad” of amphetamines…

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…

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.…

Ed: This is an essay I wrote for my friends at the World Science Festival, riffing on the central themes of this years’ event. If you prefer, you can also read this piece on the World Science Festival site. And, if you’re in New York between the first and fifth of June, you could do…

Science Poem Manifesto

Earlier this year, I received a charming email from a pair of Helsinki-based artists and designers who work under the name of OK DO. OK DO is a socially-minded design think tank and online publication; they dug Universe and wanted to know if I’d contribute to a new publication and exhibition project they were working…

Meeting an Astronaut

Last week, fresh off the fourth-to-last Shuttle mission, STS-131, NASA astronaut Jim Dutton came to speak at OMSI, my local science museum. When I got the email about this event, I RSVPed immediately — after all, an astronaut in my town? How urbane. Surely the intelligentsia of Oregon would come in droves to discuss the…

Send Your Face to Space

If it has always been your fantasy to send your physical likeness out into the cosmos, now is your time! To commemorate the final two Shuttle missions, NASA has created a bonkers “Face in Space” initiative, which allows you to upload a picture of yourself to send to the International Space Station. What this actually…

Terrifying Science News Roundup

A large part of my affection for science comes from the thrill of terror I get when a particularly insane piece of science news hits the presses. When an article begins with a sentence like, “there is something strange in the cosmic neighborhood,” or “all the black holes found so far in our universe may…