Magazine Articles Abound

We are so used to printing our own business cards, letterhead, and other personal business communications on our home printers that we forget that just a generation ago it was normal to take those sorts of things to a local print shop.

Now, there is a growing movement numbering in the thousands that print simple replacement parts, devices, and even some increasing complicated machines at home rather than buying them at a hardware store. This sort of decentralized manufacturing on demand could change everything. No more shipping goods from China.

Look in the October issue of the Communications of the Association for Computing Machinery for my article about 3D printing.

And, October also brought to print a completely different type of article published in a radically different publication.

Many churches have experienced either good or bad media coverage from time to time, but how do you build a really strong and lasting relationship? That’s the question I set out to answer for an article in the United Church Observer.

The article had me talking to ministers and editors across the country about the give and take between reporter and reportee. One of my favorite stories involved a church about a 30 minute drive from my home that decided to publicize the fact that they hadn’t raised enough money for a Habitat for Humanity build. By being open and honest about their challenges, another local group actually agreed to contribute the remainder needed and the build went ahead.

Unfortunately you won’t find a copy of my article online, but if you sneak into any United Church they will likely have a copy of the October issues still sitting out.


Dinosaurs and Video Games

Although they have been gone millions of years, kids and adults alike still love dinosaurs. They are one of the most popular science topics alongside the planets and volcanoes.

Recently for I got to interview someone who brings dinosaurs back to life…sort of. This isn’t Jurassic Park, but it is the next best thing: dinosaur drawings.

Michael Skrepnick is a dino-artist based in Alberta who has been the guy to imagine for the first time what dozens of dinosaurs look like. He was even the guy to draw the feathered dinosaurs into the popular imagination. You can check out the article here.

I also got a kick out of hearing one of my stories turned into a BBC radio segment on Digital Planet, a regular podcast favorite of mine. The story was for the Foundational Questions Institute online community about Gaurav Khanna’s research using over a dozen PlayStation 3 consoles in series to make a super computer that can do some heavy duty cosmology questioning. You can check out my story on the FQXI website and the Digital Planet’s story too.

Makes My Head Split…I guess literally

An article I wrote for the Foundational Questions Institute has been online for a couple weeks, but I’ve been so busy moving to my summer office near Algonquin Park that I haven’t had a chance to post a link to it yet. Well, no more.

The story focuses on the life and research of Hugh Everett who was the originator behind the multiple universe theory that you probably hear mentioned in science fiction novels every now and then. For the story, I interviewed Peter Byrne, an investigative journalist in California who usually covers corporate and government cover-ups but also has a journalist crush on theoretical physics.

I think my favorite moment in the story and in the interview was when Byrne discussed how Everett was literally a Dr. Strangelove type working for the CIA during the Cold War designing nuclear bombing algorithms. Yet, because of his work with multiple universes, he had to find it appalling because in some of them (which he believed all truly did exist) the bombs were really dropped and millions really did die. 

Think of that next time you hear someone say theoretical physics is an irrelevant waste of research dollars.

A Digest of Reader’s Digest

I’ve done a lot of articles for Reader’s Digest Canada Online recently, so I thought it about time to post the links to those articles.

It beats over 7.5 billion times in your life, so if you want to understand what not to do to your heart check out my article on risky behavior for your heart health. And, if you want to improve another part of your body, go for your brain. I wrote a brainy article that describes a few ways that you can keep all the lights on upstairs.

I’ve also written about a growing number of green communities in Canada. It seems that right across Canada, individual citizens and neighborhoods are finding unique ways to address the myriad of environmental challenges we are facing. Of course, with such nice whether in my part of Canada recently, one of the most popular ways to save the world has been to get out your trusty bicycle. Check out my article on how to pick a good bicycle and all the right accessories to make reducing your carbon footprint a little easier. Maybe even less sweaty, which is always appreciated if you are commuting to work.

Reducing Your Greenhouse Gases one Burger at a Time

You probably know that California is leading North America on its quest to reduce its greenhouse gases. Their plan is to cut back emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, a 15% cut. To do so, they are establishing a cap and trade system for carbon dioxide, which hopefully will fit in nicely with whatever Obama has planned for the nation.

I wrote about their 2020 goals for Environmental Health Perspectives’ most recent issue, and I found it interesting to consider that not only are they a giant in North America, but on a worldwide perspective their economy is around the 8th largest. What they do has big implications.

And, how you eat has big implications too. At the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Chicago, I attended and wrote about a great session all about eating a low carbon diet. The article was recently published by Green Living Online, and it really was in stark contrast with a lot that we’ve been hearing about eating locally.

Instead the researchers showed that for meat, the travel emissions for trucking something from California are relatively minor compared to the emissions incurred from producing the meat, especially true for beef where a lot of the emissions come from the actual cow (eg. farts and burps).

And, if you’re wondering how to eat a low carbon diet check out, a website designed to help consumers pick the most climate change friendly foods when they eat out.

Let the Darwin Show Begin

Darwin’s birthday was yesterday, so to commemorate the big day I wrote a couple articles. I wrote about what modern day environmentalists can learn from Darwin’s life and evolution for Green Living Online. I also did an interview piece for with the President of the Canadian Society for Ecology and Evolution.

Plus, I will add that at the annual meeting for American Association for the Advancement of Science the Annals of Improbable Research will be awarding the 1000 Steve Award tonight. It is an award given out to Steve or Stephanie (which apparently make up 1% of the American general public) scientists that support evolution to combat the anti-evolution campaign “Scientists that Doubt Darwin.” Of course, I believe the original inspiration for the award was the great evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould.

Tonight the award (a stuffed panda – not sure if it comes with or without thumbs) is being given out by Steve Mirsky, science humor writer for Scientific American, to *Drum roll please* you guessed it: Steve Darwin.

Busy New Year

PHEW! It’s been a very busy new year for me, and it’s only been what? 26 days!!

So, to anticipate the large number of new articles that I will have to be posting on here in the coming weeks and months, I will mention an article I did a while ago for FQXi about getting kids interested in science and physics.

For the article, I got to speak with Brian Greene about his latest book, which is a kids book. It’s a very pretty book, and I enjoyed reading it. My daughter (2) was sort of lukewarm to it, but maybe I better try it again in a few months.

Also, I had two articles I wrote a while ago for Popular Science Magazine finally hit the newsstands. The first was about three very cool laser projects in the December issue, and the other was about using old newspapers to extract gold and other precious metals from old cell phone batteries in the January issue. Both were pretty cool if I do say so myself.