I may never be able to write again: The putty problem

It stretches. It shimmers. It shatters. It shapes endless possibilities, and I can’t seem to put it down for very long. My Smart Mass Thinking Putty, a souvenir from Science Online last week, is simultaneously the best and worse toy to enter my life in a long time. I took it to my office, thinking that it could serve as occasional thinking aid or minor stress relief. Major mistake. I can barely put the putty down to put my fingers to the keyboard.

I should have known this was a bad idea. During the #scio12 banquet, I opened the tin, and proceeded to play with the putty through the entire evening’s entertainment.  Waiting in line for the bus, despite lively conversation, I tried to sneak into the tin to touch the putty.  It’s that addictive. So what makes this putty the object of my serious obsession?   Continue reading


Age-Related Macular Degeneration and Stem Cell Success

One big piece of medical news this week was the first indication of potentially successful therapeutic use of human embryonic stem cells.  According to the paper published in the Lancet, researchers wanted to test the safety of injected the stem cells into the eyes of patients who have suffered significant vision lost due to age related macular degeneration, AMD, for short.

Specifically, they used retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) derived from the stem cells, because of the potential for these cells to replace the healthy eye cells that have deteriorated or damaged by AMD.  To the reported surprise of the researchers, not only have the injected RPEs been well tolerated by the two patients, but both women have actually reported vision improvements since the procedure. Continue reading

Science Online 2012: small snippets from the awesomeness

I feel so fortunate that I was able to go to Science Online 2012, the “unconference” at NCSU in Raleigh, NC, that brought together scientists, science journalists, and science educators and communications people together. We talked a lot about the special considerations of science writing, but a lot of what I learned was just great advice for all journalists.  So, I thought I would share a random collection of the bits of advice that really stuck with me from this weekend in which I learned so much I felt my brain start to melt, for the rest of those in my j-school and beyond who couldn’t make the conference. Continue reading

Should Journalists Tell the Truth?

by Steven Perez

At first glance, it seems like a simple question. Duh, we expect our journalists to tell the truth, I learned that as one of the first tenants of journalism.

Today, public editor of the NYTimes, Arthur Brisbane wrote an editorial asking, on the surface, if we want truth-telling to be the primary goal of new-writers?  But really, it seems to me like he’s asking a more nuanced question, like should we put the truth as a priority above perceived balance and objectivity? Continue reading