Scientific Research Beat

The reason we read the news is to see what is happening in the world at the present moment. We have become so obsessed with the results of hard work that we fail to appreciate the stories of the men and women who dedicate their lives to making the big discovery that is worthy of the front page.

Carl Zimmer is a contributor for both the NY Times and Discover magazine.

Carl Zimmer is a contributor for both the NY Times and Discover magazine (source: Wikipedia).

Staying up to date with the current events of that particular day is important, of course, but I have recently become inspired by the process discovery. Scientists spend countless hours in labs trying to advance the understanding of their particular field of study, and while it may not be the most glamorous of jobs, it is undoubtedly necessary.

That is why I respect the work of scientific journalists. They have to cover the stories that aren’t as bloody, dramatic or relatable as the ones you read on the front pages around the country, but the service they do is unmatched. They are the ones responsible for communicating the progress of the most complex minds in the world in a way that the average Joe Newsreader can digest and understand.

"Popular Science" is an American Magazine that currently has over 1.3 million subscribers (source: Wikipeida)

“Popular Science” is an American Magazine that currently has over 1.3 million subscribers (source: Wikipeida)

This is more difficult than you may think. Imagine trying to explain the significance of the Higgs Boson particle that was recently discovered earlier this year at CERN. These few individuals are given that responsibility and I believe it is worthwhile to examine the great work they do. The Higgs Boson is an a noteworthy example since it is such a complex idea that I could not even begin to do justice explaining, but Dennis Overbye’s does so superbly in his article for the New York Times.

The beauty of this article is that it does not try to merely list off the facts and figures associated with this article, but it adds a human element to the great minds behind such a monumental discovery. Overbye does a great job at reminding his readers that scientists are people too while showing them the power of the human brain in the process. As he includes a strong sense of narrative to his story, the addition of graphics and analogies allows his audience to understand (sort of) the significance of the discovery. Without his work, there would be no source of “laymen’s terms” for the public to fully appreciate such a grand advancement in scientific understanding.

That is why I am interested in this topic so much. The process of boiling down and communicating such complex ideas while telling a story is an art that is underappreciated today. The University of Oregon is a leading research institution, but many people have no idea of what is being worked on right in their own backyard. That is my goal; to give credit to the individuals responsible for adding to the scientific credibility of the institution I am so proud to be a part of.

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