Selected Writings

Scientists Discover Exposed Bacteria Can Survive in Space for Years

SMITHSONIAN An experiment conducted outside the International Space Station leads to a controversial theory about how life might travel between planets Framed by an infinite backdrop of dark, lifeless space, a robotic arm on the International Space Station in 2015 mounted a box of exposed microbes on a handrail 250 miles above Earth. The hearty…

To Make Oxygen on Mars, NASA’s Perseverance Rover Needs MOXIE

SMITHSONIAN A new tool from the space agency may produce the gas, completing the next step for planning a round trip voyage Putting boots on Mars isn’t easy, but it’s a lot easier than bringing them back. This week, NASA launches its Perseverance rover on a one-way trip to the surface of Mars. Among many…

Were Women The True Artisans Behind Ancient Greek Ceramics

SAPIENS A new paper makes the case that scholars have ignored the role of female ceramicists in Greece going back some 3,000 years—and that this failing could speak to a more consequential blind spot involving gender. Painted over the enormous midsection of the Dipylon amphora—a nearly 2,800-year-old clay vase from Greece—silhouetted figures surround a corpse…

Cicadas Are Delightful Weirdos You Should Learn To Love

SMITHSONIAN As Brood IX takes flight for the first time in 17 years, cicada lovers have their ears open. Around this time of year, Marianne Alleyne hosts dozens of houseguests in her basement. Far from using camping equipment or cots, they sleep upside-down, clinging to a curtain. The entomologist at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign…

Decoding the chemistry behind cicada’s bacteria-killing wings

CHEMISTRY WORLD Meticulously organised fatty acids are responsible for the bacteria-killing, superhydrophobic nanostructures on cicada wings. The team behind the discovery hopes that its work will inspire antimicrobial surfaces that mimic cicada wings for use in settings such as hospitals. When in contact with dust, pollen and – importantly – water, the cicadas’ superhydrophobic wings…

Bioethics experts call on GoFundMe to ban unproven medical treatments

THE VERGE The authors worry about the spread of medical misinformation A bioethics study published on December 8th calls on crowdfunding platform GoFundMe to ditch campaigns for unproven and unsafe medical procedures. People turn to GoFundMe for help paying for all sorts of medical interventions. These campaigns have brought in over $650 million since 2010.…

Snow Strokers Provides Hope on the Slopes for Stroke Survivors

5280 After experiencing his seventh stroke, Rick Herrmann realized he could help survivors learn (or relearn) how to ski—potentially reducing the risk of future strokes. After his first stroke, Rick Herrmann’s world changed. After his fourth, his doctor referred him to a psychologist to assist him in pondering death. But after his seventh stroke, Herrmann…

How Scientists Use Climate Models to Predict Mosquito-Borne Disease Outbreaks

SMITHSONIAN The ebb and flow of rainy seasons corresponds with the hatching of millions of mosquitoes—and the spread of diseases they carry Few natural phenomena pose a greater threat to humans than a swarm of mosquitoes erupting from a cluster of soil-lodged eggs. These bloodthirsty menaces can carry a host of diseases, such as Zika,…

Mosquito-borne diseases get a boost from climate change

MASSIVE SCIENCE Bugs like it hot, and evolve faster when there’s lots of carbon dioxide We often think of climate change in terms of extreme weather, but the impacts of global warming will extend far beyond natural disasters. Scientists suggest climate change will also make more of the world hospitable to mosquitoes—and the diseases they…

Writing at Massive Science

I write, edit, produce, and fact check for Massive Science. My writing there ranges from fast-turn blogs, and service pieces to profiles and reported news stories. Select works here: Q&A with an expert on farting in zoology. A smart ‘second skin’ shape-shifts to block chemical weapons. Are Forever Chemicals Harming Ocean Wildlife?Scientists Discover Exposed Bacteria…

Mosquito control could slow the spread of disease in a warming world

THE VERGE Diseases and disasters The recently announced Green New Deal, a resolution to help address the threats of climate change, gives public health advocates a chance to confront an overlooked consequence of climate change: worsening mosquito-borne illnesses. The resolution, which outlines projects designed to boost renewables, reduce emissions, and climate-proof the country’s infrastructure, was…

The FDA is going after stem cell clinics that peddle unproven treatments

VOX The clinics claim they can treat serious diseases with stem cells from fat. The FDA doesn’t buy it. Inside Mark Berman’s clinic in Rancho Mirage, California, is a sign he’s obliged by law to post. It reads “Not FDA Approved.” Patients who come here to the California Stem Cell Treatment Center can get treatments…

Futuristic organ-on-a-chip technology now seems more realistic than ever

Massive Science Researchers have pioneered what may be the most accurate simulation of kidney function to-date The future of medical research may fit on a clear chip not much bigger than a quarter. In theory, organ-on-a-chip devices are aptly named. The engineered silicone modules contain small “organs,” represented by specific types of human cells. Fluid…