We have not known a single great scientist who could not discourse freely and interestingly with a child.
—John Steinbeck, The Log from the Sea of Cortez (1951)
In March 2015, the MIT Alumni Association launched a variation on its popular Faculty Forum Online live webcast called Faculty Forum Online, Alumni Edition. The main differences are that the new show features MIT alumni rather than faculty, and uses Google Hangouts rather than more expensive and elaborate live webcasting technology. Creator Joe McGonegal, MITAA's director of alumni education, wanted to find a journalist to host the series, and he invited me in for a tryout. I've since hosted all but one of the sessions, which typically feature a panel of three researchers who did their undergraduate, graduate, or postdoctoral fellowship work at MIT and are now teaching and researching at other universities.
My one-year term as acting director of Knight Science Journalism at MIT—the world's leading fellowship program for science and technology journalists—ended last summer. In these parting thoughts, I tried to explain why I'm an optimist, not just about the future prospects for science and technology journalists and allied craftspeople, but about the future of our species.
I was thrilled to be the guest on the July 24, 2015 episode of the Inquiring Minds science podcast with Indre Viskontas and Kishore Hari. Inquiring Minds is a production of Climate Desk, and previous guests have included folks like Steven Pinker, William Gibson, Adam Savage, Mary Roach, and Neil DeGrasse Tyson. Indre asked me about all my favorite questions, such as how disasters (both natural and technological) shape public understanding of, and attitudes toward, science and technology, and why it's important to see climate change as a slowly unfolding disaster story.