Under The Hood of The Science Writing Sedan

By Carl Zimmer | July 23, 2008 8:20 pm

John Horgan, science writer and director of the Center for Science Writing at Stevens Institute of Technology, has set up a very interesting site. In the 1990s he interviewed a series of leading scientists and philosophers, publishing a string of profiles in Scientific American that ultimately became his provocative 1998 book, The End of Science. Horgan must be quite the pack rat, because he still has all the tapes of his lengthy interviews, and he’s now putting them on line. His latest: the philosopher Thomas Kuhn, who championed the idea that science goes through revolutions as paradigms shift.

Horgan’s interviews have matured now into historical material–Kuhn died in 1996. You can listen to the full interview, in which Kuhn describes going from being a kid building ham radios into a philosopher. Horgan has also posted the full transcript, as well as a chapter from The End of Science (pdf) in which he distilled the interview.

I find the site particularly revealing–or maybe I should say painfully revealing–of the process of writing about science. It’s like making sausage, except that you need five tons of pork to make a single link. People who are contemplating a career in science writing might want to take a look (or a listen) before they leap…


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The Loom

A blog about life, past and future. Written by DISCOVER contributing editor and columnist Carl Zimmer.

About Carl Zimmer

Carl Zimmer writes about science regularly for The New York Times and magazines such as DISCOVER, which also hosts his blog, The LoomHe is the author of 12 books, the most recent of which is Science Ink: Tattoos of the Science Obsessed.


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