As a youngster, I made a lot of mistakes, but one of the biggest ones was lumping science together with mathematics. Because I struggled with math as a kid, I always assumed that I wouldn’t like science either, so for years I devoted myself to reading and writing pursuits, never taking much of an interest in the science topics we studied for school or allowing myself to get into them.
I loved reading though, especially fantasy and science fiction, so one day when my sister brought home what looked like a thrilling post-apocalyptic science fiction book, I was interested enough to pick it up.
It was not fiction. It was Death From the Skies! by astronomer Philip Plait (of Bad Astronomy fame). Plait tells in thrilling detail about all the ways outer space can kill us: asteroids and comets, black holes, gamma rays, solar flares, and yes, aliens. Each chapter was filled with simple, yet fascinating scientific theories, predictions, and hypotheses. I had never known that science could be so interesting.
Soon I was reading Time-Life’s series about the universe: Stars, The Third Planet, and Galaxies. That led to A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking, Six Easy Pieces by Richard Feynman, Parasite Rex by Carl Zimmer, and even a biography: Rocket Girl by George D. Morgan. Did I understand everything I read? No! I certainly doubt a sixteen-year-old was Hawking’s or Feynman’s intended audience, but what I did understand I soaked up. When I started college and took English 101, my essays were about space exploration and nitrogen pollution; I loved researching scientific topics, and I did my best to write simply and clearly so that I was understood.
It was around the time that I became a college student that I started considering the idea of science journalism. I thought: I love writing, and I love science—why not combine those two? The idea of understanding and studying science as part of my career became exciting to me.
This blog is a place for me to practice the art of science writing and journalism. Comments and suggestions are welcome. Feel free to suggest this blog to science journalists or anyone considering that field.