21W.777 | Spring 2017 | Undergraduate

Science Writing in Contemporary Society


Supplemental Readings

Pollan, Michael. “The Intelligent Plant.” The New Yorker. December 23, 2013.

Wortham, Jenna. “Why Can’t Silicon Valley Fix Online Harassment?The New York Times. April 4, 2017.
NY Times columnist Jenna Wortham looks at this conundrum of tech culture.

Keohane, Joe. “What News-Writing Bots Mean for the Future of Journalism.” Wired. February 16, 2017.

Levenson, Thomas. “Why we need NATO—in a single bullet.” Boston Globe. May 6, 2017.
Tom Levenson’s Boston Globe Ideas piece from 5/7/17 contains some interesting thoughts about the value of standardization to the scientific process.

Gefter, Amanda. “The Night Girl Finds a Day Boy.” The New York Times. December 23, 2016.
… in which she describes her circadian sleep dysfunction.

Lepore, Jill. “After the Fact.” The New Yorker. March 21, 2016.
Her recent New Yorker piece on the history of the fact.

Knight, Will. “The Dark Secret at the Heart of AI.” MIT Technology Review. April 11, 2017.

Saum, Steven Boyd. “The Trust Project.” Santa Clara Magazine. March 1, 2017.
Describes a media ethics project launched by Santa Clara U.’s Markkula Center for Ethics.

Marris, Emma. “Cut & Paste Conservation.” Santa Clara Magazine. March 1, 2017.
Recent article from Santa Clara Magazine comments on ethics of CRISPR technology.

Lee, Stephanie M. “Inside the Anti-Science Forces of the Internet.” BuzzFeed News. March 7, 2017.

Ullman, Ellen. “The Scientific Method: Dining with Robots.” The American Scholar 73, no. 4 (2004): 145-50.
This essay by Ellen Ullman is a nice example of our Essay 1 type of essay.

Yang, Wesley. “Is the ‘Anthropocene’ Epoch a Condemnation of Human Interference—or a Call for More?The New York Times Magazine. February 14, 2017.
This “First Words” column by Wesley Yang from the 2/19/17 NY Times Magazine examines the origins of the word and the ways it’s being used in discussions of climate change.

Wessel, Lindzi. “The Marches for Science, on One Global Interactive Map.” Science. February 8, 2017.
Article in Science on the upcoming march for science in D.C., and the controversy about whether scientists should be activists.

Hotez, Peter J. “How the Anti-Vaxxers Are Winning.” The New York Times. February 8, 2017.

Moral Machine. Made by Scalable Cooperation at MIT Media Lab.

Zhang, Sarah. “How Will Trump Use Science to Further His Political Agenda?The Atlantic. December 1, 2016.

Turkle, Sherry. “True Companions.” In Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other. Basic Books, 2012. ISBN: 9780465031467. [Preview with Google Books]

Overbye, Dennis. “A Century Ago, Einstein’s Theory of Relativity Changed Everything.” The New York Times. November 24, 2015.
Dennis Overbye, the NY Times physics writer, discusses the influence of Einstein’s theory of relativity.

Thomas, Lewis. “The Music of This Sphere.” In Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher. Penguin Books, 1978. ISBN: 9780140047431.
A fascinating reflection by biologist Lewis Thomas on the meaning of music.

Dobbs, David. “The Social Lives of Genes.” In The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2014. Mariner Books, 2014. ISBN: 9780544003422. [Preview with Google Books]
A well structured and engaging exploration of epigenetics.

Stickgold, Robert. “Sleep On It!Scientific American. October 2015, 313, 52–57.
This recent Scientific American article describes the latest scientific findings about why we need sleep.

Gero, Shane. “The Lost Culture of Whales.” The New York Times. October 8, 2016.
10/8/16 NY Times Op-Ed article about the need to conserve not just numbers but also cultures of species such as whales.

Khatchadourian, Raffi. “The Doomsday Invention.” The New Yorker. November 23, 2015.
2015 New Yorker article focused on a British philosopher who has grave doubts about the future of AI.

Gopnik, Adam. “Are Liberals on the Wrong Side of History?The New Yorker. March 20, 2017.
Recent New Yorker book review-essay by Adam Gopnik closes with a consideration of the new book Homo Deus, which projects a future in which people, merging with their intelligent machines, will become godlike.

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2017
Learning Resource Types
Written Assignments